A review of the Canon 70-200mm F4 L lens

A review of the Canon 70-200mm F4 L lens

This is a product review of the canon 70-200mm F4 lens. This telephoto lens has been popular with photojournalists from the day that it was released back in 1995. There are currently several different versions of this lens; The f/2.8L USM, f/2.8L IS II USM and the  f/4L IS USM which is the lens that i am looking at today. You are most Like looking to buy this lens because you want something with pretty good range, with professional glass and for it to be robust. The L series has always been for the serious photographer since the beginning as they are worlds ahead of the standard EF series on almost every front.  Most notably in the build quality which I will talk about in this review.

whats in the box?

Canon 70-200mm lens box


lie all canon products the packaging is very efficient. The box has ample padding and the lens is enclosed in a synthetic carry case which will protect it from scuffs and such in the field. Aside from that there really isn’t much apart from an instruction manual, lens hood and a manufacturers warranty.

Canon 70-200mm protection case


a look a the lens

A look at the Canon 70-200mm lens


the canon 70-200mm is a rather hefty lens especially if you are using the provided lens hood. It measures 172mm in length and has a diameter of 67mm. The overall weight is 760g so carrying around a camera with this for hours won’t be for everyone – it’s not stupidly heavy however. The weight can easily be justified when you take a look at the construction and the attention paid to the fine details.

Canon 70-200mm with lens hood

70-200mm lens attached to canon 60d camera


features & performance

First lets make a run down of some stats:

  • Image stabilizer: No
  • Ultrasonic motor: Yes
  • L series: Yes
  • Weather sealing: Yes
  • Macro: No
  • Maximum Aperture: F4.0
  • Closes focusing distance: 1.2m

Firstly this is an L lens which is think means luxury in Canons terminology. What this means in terms of performance is super sharp images due to the high quality glass used. Superior metal construction which is weather sealed too which is great for people who are out in the field and need something that is going to be durable.

The lens from Above


The focus and zoom rings have nice grip and a smooth, accurate rotation. There is both a manual focus option and an auto function which comes in the form of the ultrasonic motor. With my experience of using this product i can tell you that the focus is very responsive with a focusing time of way less than a second. This is something that is expectantly important to sports and journalistic photographers who need not be waiting for a lens to catch up with them. In manual mode there is a distance indicator to help you out:


Canon 70-200mm focus distance meter


The minimum focusing distance is 1.2 meters so its not really a macro lens as such and you have to make sure that you do not come too close to the subject. You can get nice macro shots however if you zoom into 200mm and then take the picture. There is is also this switch:

Focus distance switch

Basically this allows the focus motor to focus to a range of 1.2 meters or to restrict it to 3m. Moving it 3m will make focusing on further away objects will be even quicker.

This picture will give you a better idea of the focal change from 70mm to 200mm:

70mm focal range

200mm focalrange


So it does give you quite a good difference in rage especially when you remember that it already starts at 70mm. This focal range is very popular with photojournalists for this reason.

To conclude i am going to give the Canon 70-200mm F4.0 L lens a 4/5. The image quality that is produces is amazing and the build quality is better than any other lens that i have seen. The only features that i think would help would firstly be an aperture lower than F4.0 because once you get to low light conductions you pretty much need to use a flash. Secondly the lack of image stabilization means that video recording at 200mm is very shaky. Overall though i highly recommend this model for someone who needs a professional level 200mm lens that does not cost thousands upon thousands.



Photographer and writer for jhphotographer.co.uk

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