My Gear : Canon 70-200mm 4.0L Lens

canon gear review 70 200 4 0

Last but certainly not least in the gear dept is the Canon 70-200 4.0L non IS! Check out my previous posts to learn more about the 50 1.2L, 35 1.4L and the 100 2.8L Macro.

So yes you read that right I’m shooting with the 4.0 and not the 2.8! I shot all my weddings last year with the 2.8 IS version but that thing was a beast!!! It is crazy expensive, like a mortgage payment and it weighs a ton. Forget lifting weights if you shoot with that sucker all day you’ll have arms of steel after a wedding season. I found myself frustrated that I was only using such an expensive piece of glass for 20-30min a day tops. It was too heavy for me to want to use it at other times but it was a definite necessity for low light churches with my Canon 5d mk1. Since I was looking to upgrade to the new 5d mk3 which has awesome ISO levels I knew that I could easily gain back the stops of light I was losing by going from the 2.8 to the 4.0. Plus most of my weddings are outdoors this year so I knew it wasn’t going to be a major factor.

Next up was deciding between the IS version and the non IS version. With the 2.8 the IS was a necessity especially when using it in dark churches and having to drop my SS to 1/60 or even 1/30 at times. The lens was so heavy there was no way I could hand hold it and sometimes I would prop it on the balcony rail to ensure there was no shake. My second shooter had bought the non IS 4.0 and offered to let me test it while she checked out my 2.8. The weight difference is crazy!!! The 4.0 non IS weighs about half what the 2.8 weighs!! It doesn’t feel any heavier then my 100 2.8L which makes it easy to handhold. Plus the price was half which was a nice buffer to help pay for the 5dmk3! So that is why I downgraded!  Now if I have a wedding in a dark church and I feel that the 2.8 would be a better fit I can always rent it.

Since changing over to the 4.0 I’m more inclined to use it for things other then just the ceremony.  Recently I’ve been using it for family formals which is great because sometimes you end up with a crowd around you at that time and moving around can be difficult.  With the zoom I can get a nice wide shot head to toes and then a waist up and even flip it around and get some verticals without having to move around.  The 4.0 is a great aperture for large groups and keeping everyone in focus plus the compression from the zoom makes the subjects really pop from the background.  Plus since it’s so lightweight I don’t have to worry about needing a tripod so I can rest my arms.  Although I might look into a monopod to help me with keeping everything level so I don’t have to fix it in post later!

So when it comes to ceremonies I have a rule that I don’t go more then halfway up the center aisle but I will go all the way up to the front row on the side aisles.  I don’t want to be a distraction to the guests.  By going up the side aisles with the 70-200 I’m able to get nice close up shots of the brides or grooms face plus get photos of the parents reactions.

ISO 800 f/4 1/800 at 200mm –  This was taken from the side aisle on the grooms side so I could get a nice shot of the bride looking at the groom.  I always shoot the 70-200 wide open at 4.0, I still want to have as shallow depth of field as possible.  Here you can see the bride in crisp focus but the bridesmaids looking on are soft and the sign on the building is almost unreadable.  My ISO is pretty high because I had just come from shooting details inside and hadn’t had a chance to adjust it yet, we were rushing to avoid the threatening rain so things were moving pretty quick!  Typically I would have shot this at 400 ISO.

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ISO 400 f/4 1/500 at 200mm – This was shot from the side aisle on the brides side.  Typically my second shooter and I try to stay opposite of each other so she was getting a shot of the bride at this time.  You can see that the groom and minister were on the same plane from my angle so they are both crisp unlike in the shot above where the bridesmaids were soft.
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ISO 400 f/4 1/320 at 70mm – This was shot from about halfway up the center aisle, with the 70-200 I’m able to zoom out and get a nice wide shot showing more of the scene.


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ISO 400 f/4 1/400 at 200mm – I stayed in the same spot as the image above but zoomed in to get this shot.  By staying in one location I’m less of a distraction to guests

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ISO 400 f/4 1/400 at 200mm on left and 91mm on right-  Again same spot but I was able to get two completely different shots with one lens in just a few seconds!

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ISO 400 f/4 1/500 Left: 104mm Right : 200mm Bottom: 200mm – Here is an example of family formals with the 70-200.  The sun was still pretty high in the sky so we needed to find a spot of open shade and I always love a little bit of back lighting.  For family formals I have learned to shoot wide and tight in case I need to crop for a print later.  This lens lets me stay in one spot and get all those shots in vertical and horizontal.  You can see as you zoom closer in the background fades away and the subject pop out.

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Next week I’ll be talking about my Canon 600 flash




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  • maxOctober 24, 2018 - 8:49 am

    Thanks for the information on this lens.  I’m thinking of buying one myself.  looks really good.  I like your website. 🙂

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