Canon 70-200mm f/4L USM or 100-300mm f/4.5-5.6


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Aug 22, 2007
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Eastern Washington
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Ok so my next question is regarding a good telephoto zoom lens. I'm going in to the brick and mortar store tomorrow to see how much range difference there is between these two.

There's a big price difference here $600 vs $300, but I don't mind paying the money for a better lens if it's something I'll be more happy with and be able to get higher IQ pics out of.

I've got a Canon XSi and I'm looking for something I can take hiking with me MAINLY for close landscapes... I don't really care for really wide landscapes... I'm more of a cool picture of a tree and a rock in a creek kind of guy ;)... but I also want to use it to capture some some wildlife. I also plan on carrying a tripod so I can try out some HDR.

Wondering if the range of the 300mm will be worth it or not, plus several reviews on Amazon say that IQ drops beyond 200mm on this lens. Is a 70-200 a good tele lens to go with as long as I'm not planning on trying to watch birds from several hundred feet away? :)

Is there another lens < $600 I should consider? (I prefer EF to EF-S, for later body upgrades).

EDIT: See some samples of the types of pics I'm looking for in #6

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The 70-200 is IMO, in a completely different class than the 100-300. The two cannot even be compared. If you shop right, I have seen them go for as little as $436. A great buy.
I agree :) I've been reading a lot about this lens and I think it's worth the extra money. I'm just wondering if it's the right lens for what I want to do. Since I'm just starting out, I think a good zoom rather than a prime might be right for me. I also like to take nice shots of mountains and such, but not so wide that you get the entire mountain range, you know? Wondering if an 85mm might be a good choice for a prime... hopefully I get some good help at the shop tomorrow as well!
a 70-200mm lens is rather too short for wildlife in general - wildlife lenses tend to start at 300mm minimum. However you need good image quality at that 300mm point which is why many of the cheaper zoom lenses which get to that range are not ideal for wildlife.
I can say that I have used a 70-200mm lens for some spot landscape shots (not many though its not my best area) and it did well at the job, so I think it could be the right lens- but you will have to test this out for yourself and see if its got the range for you.
Yeah wildlife capture would only be something I would shoot if I saw, definitely not my favorite subjects. I hear that the 1.4 and 2x extenders w/ the 70-200mm make it a pretty decent zoom for such jobs though also?

Here are some random flickr images of the types of compositions I like to shoot, this is the kind of range I'd like out of my "hiking lens" :)



the 1.4 teleconverter works well with the 70-200mm and it hardly takes any of a knock with image quality - with the 2* though it does take a bigger hit - a bright day and stopped down to say f8 and on a tripod you can get decent shots and for landscape it might work out well - wildlife it tends to only work if the extra range lets you fill the frame to a considerable amount with the subject otherwise you just won't get the details in the shot I find.

Looking at your shots I would say defiantly go for the 70-200mm lens - that backed up with something in the shorter ranges would make a good setup for the sorts of shots your after I think
This is actually the same exact debate I'm having with my first DSLR. I've been reading about several other posts with the same nature/landscape photography question and this one seemed to be almost my exact situation.

I too like to hike and look for great landscapes/scenic shots while only taking pictures of animals if I stumble across them. The L series did seem like an altogether different class of lens when I saw and read about it, but the 300 kept coming up as having the better range. I'm pretty sure I'm going with the 70-200 L too, though just wish I could get that extra couple hundred for the IS.

Could anyone explain how big the difference is between the two 70-200 with and without the IS?

Thanks for the help guys, and good luck dakkon. :) Sorry if I hijacked your thread!
the only difference is the IS - optically they both deliver the same results.
There is a slight optical quality difference between the f4 and f2.8 versions of the lens with the f4 being a bit sharper at f4 than the 2.8 - however its a very sharp lens to start with so any differences are very minimal.
ok, so from what I'm seeing... from the photos you've given, I don't see any of them that probably used a focal length over 50. the 2nd and the 3rd were both probably pretty wide, I would guess 18-24 range (though, since you know where you found these, you could probably check the exif on flickr).

I'm pretty sure the first one would be pretty wide as well, but, that I'm not quite as sure about. If those are the types of shots you're wanting... I'm not sure either lens would be the one for you. Anyway, the 70-200 is definitely the better lens, and can be found used for quite a good deal.
Could anyone explain how big the difference is between the two 70-200 with and without the IS?

Thanks for the help guys, and good luck dakkon. :) Sorry if I hijacked your thread!

There is really not much visual difference between the two. I would recommend going with the IS, especially if you do a lot of off-tripod shooting. You dont realize how much it helps until you have used it!
There is really not much visual difference between the two. I would recommend going with the IS, especially if you do a lot of off-tripod shooting. You dont realize how much it helps until you have used it!

Ahh I should've mentioned that I do tend to run around without my tripod, but that was using a little Canon Powershot G9. I've seen many threads where people say "I've seen ___ lenses go for as low as $___" so is there anywhere anyone could recommend to buy these L series lenses at lower-than-average prices? I've been planning on just going to my local Rowe Photo store to buy the 70-200 f4 without IS, but if I could bring the IS lens a bit closer in price range I may be able to go with that instead!
for cheaper lenses look at B&H, Adorama, Amazon - it the price is much less than those places then there is a very very good chance that the store is a switch and bait operation (there appear to be a lot of them in the US)
run a store through this website first:
Store Ratings and Reviews by Real People - Trusted Online Shopping

Also you might try the second hand market - some of the above mentioned stores sell second hand gear (amazon is probably the most risky as it does not check the stock themselves) or try a local store
I went with the non-IS version since I plan on packing a tripod or at least a monopod with me when I take this lens out. Here's one of the first shots I took with it at the full 200mm hand held... just shooting at a crappy tree from my balcony, was about 100' away. Was amazed at how sharp those pods came out on the original, so far I'm loving this lens!
I just got the 70-300 with IS, and I went with it over the L series for the IS alone. Especially since I tend to use it on the long side, and I didn't want to limit myself to having naturally perfect light in order to keep the image quality.

I've been happy with it so far. A HUGE step up from the kit lens, and the length is perfect for what I need (shoot dogs, wild life, kids, etc).

Mind you, I haven't used a lens that doesn't have IS, so I have nothing to compare it to, but I don't have the steadiest hands so...

ETA: Duh.. just saw you already got your lens. Nevermind. lol

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