This is a new version of one of Canon’s most popular lenses and considering the success of the old Canon 70-200 f4L it’s a really important release for them. Not only does this version feature image stabilisation - it features the latest version of the system and Canon are claiming a huge four stops gain in hand holdability. Other IS lenses claim up to two stops.
So is the new Canon 70-200mm f4L IS USM really that good?
Optical performance and build quality are as you would expect from a Canon L series lens and the new version of Canon’s image stabilisation system really does seem to deliver. Image quality at full aperture is excellent - yes there is a small drop in sharpness and a tiny amount of CA in the corners with the 20D but that’s being really picky, and viewed at less than 100% neither would be noticeable. What is obvious though is the high percentage of pin sharp results I got even shooting at 1/30 second and 200mm. The hit rate for my test frames - sharp frames at each setting - was 100% at 200mm down to 1/200 then about 75% at 1/100 but still about 50% at 1/30 - that’s with a focal length equivalent to 300mm with film. At 70mm most frames at 1/30 or higher were pin sharp.
Based on this limited test the new Canon 70-200f4L IS looks like being a really good lens - the new image stabilisation system is a very worthwhile addition.
Unfortunately there is some bad news here and that’s the cost - In the UK the excellent existing lens, the Canon EF 70-200mm f4L sells for about £ 550 whereas this new version costs over £ 900 / $ 1200. Ouch
OK the new IS system is great but that price is much higher than I would have expected, and surprisingly close to the cost of the Canon 70-200 f2.8 L IS. It’s even more expensive than the still available non IS Canon 70-200 f2.8L can be found for about £ 700. At these prices, I think I’d pay the extra for the F2.8, or buy the existing Canon 70-200 f4L, save over £ 400 and really, really try to use a tripod more often.
photo courtesy of Canon