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70-200mm Lenses For Canon

Updated on September 13, 2014

Canon's Flagship Lens - The 70-200mm Lens Is Amazing

If you own a Canon Digital SLR, chances are pretty good that you are familiar with a Canon 70-200mm Lens. If you are not familiar, let me introduce you.

Every photographer has a place in their bag for this amazing piece of equipment. It should actually be the second lens you buy if your budget allows it.

Photo by Wayne Rasku
Taken with a Canon 70-200mm f/4.0L lens.

On a personal note, it was not my second purchase. I simply did not have the funds for it. However, it was on my "want list" from day one. And, quite honestly, I should have just saved my money at the start rather than getting a cheaper lens to fill that spot. I was totally dissatisfied with my "cheap" purchase.

The Canon 70-200mm lens is considered a "medium telephoto" lens. The range of focal lengths is very important to most photographers.

In fact, the importance and quality of this lens, no matter which one you get, has made it the flagship lens in the Canon lens lineup. It's the one that every pro and semi-pro deems necessary in the camera kit, no matter what type of photography they specialize in.

The 70-200mm lens can fill a long list of needs, including wild-life photography, to close-ups, to portraits, and most things in between.

Canon 70-200mm f/4.0L Lens - This is the cheapest "L" lens

As an amateur photographer, I have found this lens to be simply amazing. It has a configuration of 16 elements in 13 groups, which means very little to me except that the other lenses in this focal range, which also carry the distinction of being "L" lenses, have more elements in more groups.

But, it performs as advertised - exceptionally well.

I find it very convenient that, unlike other zoom lenses, there is no movement at all when you go even to the most powerful distance of 200mm. The length of the lens remains constant. My other telephoto lenses extend physically, but this one does not.

The time to focus is usually instantaneous. Press the shutter button part way down, and the lens is focused "right now".

Pictures are "tack sharp," as well.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM Telephoto Zoom Lens for Canon SLR Cameras
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM Telephoto Zoom Lens for Canon SLR Cameras

The photo of the Heron in early morning is by the author and was taken with the Canon EOS 70-200mm F/4.0 Lens.

The photo of the moon is from the Amazon Photo gallery for the same lens.


Canon 70-200mm F/4.0L IS USM Lens

This lens is just a bit newer on the market than the less expensive F/4.0 lens.

The biggest difference is the addition of IS, which stands for "Image Stabilization." You should be able to hold the camera and lens to get less blur using the IS system. Basically, it compensates for camera shake at slower shutter speeds. And, according to user reviews, it works really well.

The addition of IS and a few more glass elements results in this lens being 1.8 ounces heavier than its cheaper sibling.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L IS USM Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L IS USM Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras

Stop the action with this Canon 70-200mm lensWith 4, count 'em, lenses at this focal range, it is difficult to decide how to speak about the quality of each individually. After all, they are all GREAT (capitalized for emphasis).

This particular one has some heavy duty fans, pros who have many expensive lenses in their kit.

The IS of this version has proven to be as effective as proclaimed, adding the ability to shoot a hand-held shot in less light at up to 4 stops. In layman's terms, this means that you can be assured of sharp images even when you would have to put a "normal" lens on a tripod.

Image quality is always the number one concern of a lens, and this one has proven to be one of the best in that category.


Adding a wider aperture adds increased functionality to the 70-200mm lens. Increasing the aperture to F/2.8 does several things.

First, you now have much faster shutter speeds at wider apertures.

Second, the lens is larger and heavier, essentially adding about 3/4 inch and 6 ounces.

Third, the cost goes up.

And don't forget that this model also has the added bonus of IS (image stabilization).

The photo on the right is an incredible example of what this lens can do. It is from the Amazon Photo Gallery. It is actually a crop of a much larger picture showing the details that are captured with precision accuracy.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Telephoto Zoom Lens for Canon SLR Cameras
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Telephoto Zoom Lens for Canon SLR Cameras

This particular lens is the most desired of those listed here. It is also the most expensive, but if you will read the testimonials, you will see that the price is merely a reflection of the quality that is represented here.

Canon has not held back anything in manufacturing one of the finest lenses in their lineup. It is indeed THE flagship lens for Canon Corp.


Taking another step up the ladder, we find the Canon EF 70-200mm F/2.8 L USM Lens. It is better than the f/4.0 models in that it has the capability of wider aperture, hence faster action. This model does not have IS, so it is fairly competitive in price with the f/4.0 IS version.

The choice you have to make is simple (not really - nothing is simple when deciding on your next Canon lens).. do you want a wider aperture or Image Stability?

The photo of the Black-Necked Stilt was taken with a Canon 40D and the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L lens by Grant Brummett. It is from the Amazon Image Gallery.

Add These To Your Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 Lens

The lens hood and UV filter will protect your lens.

70-200mm lenses from "other" makers
70-200mm lenses from "other" makers

What About "Off-Brand" 70-200mm Lenses?

Other manufacturers make extraordinary lenses in the same focal range - 70-200mm. The most notable are Sigma and Tamron.

You can save some money by purchasing wisely.

On a personal note, when I was just getting started buying lenses for my own Canon Rebel digital SLR, cost was an important consideration.

I ended up buying several lenses that were made by either Sigma or Tamron. I have never been disappointed in my choices.

There is one major thing to keep in mind here, though. Not every lens is made equal, and there are many lenses that just do not measure up to those that are considered the best. This includes Canon lenses as well as those made by other manufacturers for Canon cameras.

Sigma Lens = Awesome

Make sure you are buying quality, and you will not be unhappy.

The Sigma 70-200mm lens for Canon digital SLR cameras has the same technical specifications as the most expensive Canon lens, but the cost is a fraction at about $1300.

As always, you will find those that find fault with lenses and other equipment that is not made by Canon. However, if you look and read closely, you will notice that the users are quite satisfied with this product.

The Tamron 70-200mm lens for Canon is not quite impressive as the Sigma, but the cost is a significant savings. Again, I have had very positive results with my Tamron lens, but I do not have personal experience with the particular one.


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