Canon 70-200 Advice Needed


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Nov 19, 2011
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Alberta, Canada
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I am looking into canon's 70-200mm lens selection, But I'm not sure if I should get the f4L is/non-is new or the F2.8L. Another option would be a used f2.8L IS vers. 1 for $1575. Price is an issue. I will be shooting outdoor sports and action and nature photography. I also prefer handheld, but can use a tripod if necessary. Thanks.
The nice thing about the f/4 is it's light weight (not too mention the sharpness). Especially if you do a lot of handheld shooting. It's the lens I currently own. If you are shooting sports you won't need to worry about IS. For outdoor sports and nature you would be fine with that. They are going for between 400-500 on CraigsList. You may want to look into the Sigma f/2.8 however. That's the lens that's scheduled to be delivered to me next week. It's a good price, even brand new.
I've owned the f/4 non-IS and didn't like it because it had a major back-focus problem which unfortunately took me a while to realize. I thought I was just missing the focus (over and over again). I did some reading and found several others with back-focus issues.

I now have the 2.8 IS and it is a world of difference having the IS. However, it is significantly heavier. If I were to have to choose between the f/4 IS and the 2.8 non, that'd be a really tough choice for me.
I have the 70-200 f/2.8 IS and I think it is a great lens. Its my most used lens for all types of shooting. I know that the f/4 versions are very sharp and great as well. Outdoors, you most likely would not need the IS or extra stop of speed. However, I think that the extra subject isolation is worth noting. Like I said, this lens is useful with pretty much every facet of shooting, works great with a 1.4x TC (and even a 2x TC for that matter) as well as extension tubes. If you are going to spend the coin on a really nice lens, you might as well get the 2.8 IS and have an incredibly versatile lens. Depending where you are, you might want to check craigslist and hold out for a better price. I got my 70-200 f/2.8L IS for $1400 after talking the guy down from $1500, and that was a year and a half ago. With the MarkII out, you should be able to get a price under $1500.
For sports and action the IS becomes unnecessary. You will actually turn it off as it can cause vibrations in your images. You have to use such a high shutter speed with sports that there is no question of camera shake.
The f/, however may well be an issue. All lenses are NOT at their sharpest wide open. Usually it's about 2 stops down from wide open. With an f/4 lens that puts you at f/8. With an f/2.8 lens that puts you at f/5.6. HUGE difference. REALLY big deal if you will be shooting any night sports or indoor sports. You're going to need to go down to 2.8 at times then.
Money was an issue for me as well and because of it I chose to go with the Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 OS which runs about $1400. I wanted the IS/OS because I do use the lens for other things-A LOT even though sports are my primary function with it. I absolutely love it. However if I could find a Canon version I for the same price I'd go that route first.
Thanks for all the great advice! I have narrowed it down to two: the f2.8 is (v1) or the f2.8. What is the weight difference between these two lenses. I can use a monopod for sports if nessesary, but will be hiking with it a lot so weight does matter.
I just went through this process a couple weeks ago. Kept trying to decide if I should get the F/4 IS, F/2.8 non IS, F/2.8 mark I, or the F/2.8 mark 2. Ending up going with the F/2.8 mark 2 through adorama for under 2k. I knew if I got any of the others (which are great though) that I would end up regretting not going for the best. So if you think you would have those feeling like me it's just something to think about if you ever plan on getting the mark 2. Also the weight of the f/2.8 IS is not bad. Unless your a coach potatoe and don't do any physical work in your life I don't know how people say that is too heavy lol. I walk around with mine for hours without problems.
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If it's sports, outdoor, I use the f/4 IS all the time. The F/2.8 is simply too large & bulky for me. I've never had back-focus or IS problems & have taken 000s of pictures with this lens.
I think I'll just get the f4 IS used for its smaller size and price. I am still a student and will upgrade later.

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