Canon 70-200 Lenses f2.8 f4
Canon's 70-200 lenses, and a Sigma thrown in for good measure. Not to scale.

Best 70-200mm Lenses for Canon : Comparison

Which 70-200 Lens Should I Buy? A Quick Guide

With the release of Canon’s latest offering, the EF 70-200 f2.8 USM IS II, Canon has at least 5 pro-quality lenses in the same focal length range. If you include the original EF 80-200 f2.8 from the 1990s (now discontinued, but still available used), the count is up to 6. And then there are the offerings from Sigma, Tamron, Tokina, and the other third parties. Tokina’s lens in this range, now over 8 years old, has fallen out of favor, and I’ll leave it out of this comparison. Tamron’s offering is very impressive optically, but does not currently have image stabilization. Sigma has recently announced the addition of a new, image stabilized version of their very popular lens (and we can hope for some minor improvements to image quality that is already very good).

As expected, with the differences in features, the prices run the gamut, from a very reasonable $700 to a very hefty $2500. The chart below should cover many of the details.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 USM L ISCanon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 USM L ISCanon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 USM L IS IICanon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L USMSigma 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG APO Macro HSM IISigma 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSMTamron 70-200mm F/2.8 Di LD (IF) Macro
Price : Amazon$1130$1899$2069$1300$790$1699$769
Weight (g)760g (1 lb 10.8 oz.)1470g (3 lb 3.85 oz.)1490g (3 lb 4.55 oz.)1310g1369g1430g1150g (2lb 8.6oz)
Dimensions76 x 172mm3.4″ x 7.8″ / 86.2mm x 197mm3.5″ x 7.8″ / 88.8 x 199mm85x194mm86 x 1843.4" x 7.8" / 86.4 x 197.6 mm3.5" x 7.6" / 89.5 x 194.3mm
IS Performance4 f-stops3 f-stops4 f-stopsnonenone4 f-stopsnone
Motor TypeUSMUSMUSMUSMSilent WaveSilent WaveStandard Micro
Minimum Focal Distance1.2m1.3m1.2m1.5m1.8m1.4m.95m
Filter Size67mm77mm77mm77mm77mm77mm77mm
Lens HoodET-74 (Cost: $55)ET-86 (Cost: $65)ET-87 (Cost: $74.95)ET-83II (Cost: $65)IncludedIncludedIncluded
Tripod Collaryesyesyesyesyesyesyes
Internal Focusingyesyesyesyesyesyesyes
MTF at Center and Edge at f8
2092 , 1993.5
1868, 1866.5
2394, 2376
1908.5 , 1990.5
2029 , 1972.5
MTF at Center and Edge at f4
2090.5 , 2004.5
1917.5, 1827.5
(excellent, very good)
2530, 2437
1930.5 , 1922
1984 , 1813
(excellent, very good)
MTF at Center and edge at f8
2084 , 2047
1880.5 , 1873.5
2319, 2298
1956 , 1812
(excellent, very good)
1772.5 , 1801
(very good)
MTF at Center and edge at f4
2024 , 2018.5
1735.5 , 1682.5
(very good)
2499, 2318
1987.5 , 1894.5
1748.5 , 1635
(very good)

The MTF 50 numbers provided are all from independent tests ( on similar equipment. I’ve refrained from providing MTF data for the other lenses (which are not currently tested at because MTF numbers are notoriously poor comparatives when testing conditions are not identical. Keep in mind that in each case, higher numbers are better, and the somewhat arbitrary cutoff point between the attribution of “excellent” and “very good” is 1850.

For what it’s worth, tests on the latest Canon lens (the mark II) have produced very impressive results. In addition to the improved IS, the image quality is now remarkably high; so high, in fact, that DPreviews give it a “best in class”, as it outperforms even the latest comparable Nikon lens.

How to Decide?

Determinations on what to buy will most likely come down to three factors. The most important is probably subject matter, followed by output type, and finally, your budget!

All of these lenses are designed for use in low light situations, with either a large maximum aperture, image stabilization, or both. Additionally, all of these lenses are designed for full-frame sensor cameras (such as the Canon 5D MarkII) but will also work on APS-C sensor cameras (like the Canon 7D, T2i, 50D, etc). With the APS-C models, you’ll benefit from the sweet-spot effect and get the least vignetting and most consistent sharpness from center to edge.

You can choose a lens with a slightly smaller aperture (f4) but with IS :

  • if you shoot in low light but photograph subjects that are not fast moving. An image stabilized f4 lens will give you the equivalent of 3 times more light (3 f-stops) in a situation for hand-holding, but since your shutter speeds will still be slower you won’t have action stopping power.  If an f2.8 lens were shooting at 1/250th of a second, an f4 would need to shoot at 1/125th. A non-IS 200mm lens should not be hand held below 1/250th sec, whereas an IS lens can safely be held at 1/30th in many cases.
  • if you primarily shoot scenics, architecture, etc, or shoot tripod mounted. If you use a tripod, then the matter of image stabilization is moot, and the aperture is much less important.
  • if you don’t shoot in low light. Canon’s f4 IS lens has amazing resolution and is relatively inexpensive, so unless you need the single extra f-stop, it’s a great choice.

You can buy a non-image stabilized lens :

  • if you primarily shoot from a tripod or monopod, or need to stop action. Sports photographers and wildlife photographers will not benefit as much from image stabilization because they’re required to shoot at high shutter speeds to stop the action, which already reduces the need for IS. Although IS does help sometimes, it can also sometimes make small adjustments in composition slow or otherwise awkward, too.
  • if you shoot with flash, or in bright light. If you shoot with flash but want to keep bright lights/windows etc in the background sharp, IS can be handy, though.

You should buy an f2.8 image stabilized lens :

  • if you can afford it. They are the most expensive, but give you the most flexibility.
  • if you frequently shoot in low light, especially with high ISO, and with relatively slow moving subjects. News and Wedding photography really require this type of flexibility, unless you’re a heavy flash user/strobist.


What have your experiences been with these lenses? Although I’ve used most of them, I have not tested many of them thoroughly. I’d be interested to hear your stories and recommendations!

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Help… I would like to start taking photographs of my grandsons who team rope and show cattle in livestock competitions. I have an older canon t2i camera. Would I need to upgrade my camera? What is a decent lens I could use?

Lucy Thompson

My very first venture into the L series lens. I just purchased the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 USM L IS II. Wow, it is a very heavy lens. I am trying to decide if I should return the lens and further research my options. I do both outdoor (Primarily) and indoor portraits and about 6 weddings a year (by choice). I really need and want to take my work to the next level. I especially need the new lens for low light wedding ceremony and venue situations. I take the close up ceremony shots from an unpredictable distance and my second takes the wide angle shots. (and not to add boo hoo comments, but I am a partially disabled photographer…stage 3 colon 10 year cancer survivor with permanent neuropathy, Walking alot helps me tremendously, however, with my camera and lens bag, due to the numerous abdominal surgeries, was just told if able have my customers carry heavy items.) So sorry for all the backstory, just added to help you with recommendations. I have a Canon 80D and almost purchased the Sigma 50-100mm F1.8 Art DC HSM Lens, but that too weighs 3 lbs. Help and thank you.


Hi Matthew,

So here’s the situation. Hopefully you can assist.

I want to shoot sports and wildlife, I have about 4 years experience and I currently own an EF-S 18-200mm f3.5-5.6 with a Canon 7D and whilst this lens has taken some nice shots, in all honesty it’s really just not good enough. I other worlds I’m looking for a decent upgrade.

I have been told a prime lens such as the 400mm f5.6 would not be appropriate because its not very flexible. Would you agree with this for this?

Here are the zoom options and why I like/dislike them. My two biggest factors will be durability/weather resistance and focal length if this helps.

* 70-200 f2.8 IS I (With 1.4x or 2x extender) (Probably my favourite, however reading this review maybe not)
* 70-200 f2.8 (With 1.4x or 2x extender) ( No IS could be an issue and no weather resistance) (At least the price is good)
* 70-200 f2.8 IS II (With 1.4x or 2x extender)
* 70-200 f4 IS (With 1.4x or 2x extender)
* 70-300L (It has had good reviews, but the aperture is annoying for the price you pay)
* 100-400 I or II (Both great because of the range, but not good in low light and version one is a bit average)

Very importantly, how do these lens operate with the two Canon teleconverters?

In particular between the 70-200 and 100-400 which would you prefer? I’m been doing research for months and I starting to struggle. I find an excellent lens, but then find out the price, or like the look of a lens, but then it too short or poor light. I really need a hand.

Thanks in advance,



Hi Matt,

Thanks for your help, yes I did watch your video. Did you end up resolving the issue with the Mark II?

I think my best bet is one of the Canon 70-200 f/2.8. But 200mm (320mm) on a 7D is really not enough reach for me. So would the Canon 1.4x teleconverter deliver good results? This would give me reach of up to 450mm.

So the options stand at this.
* 70-200 USM
* 70-200 IS
* 70-200 IS II

In terms of quality obviously the Mark II is superior, but which would pair best with a 1.4x tele, and overall perform the best?

Thanks again for the professional help, hopefully you can give me some advice.

Cheers, Daniel


Hi Matt,

I have almost made a decision. Just one last thing if you don’t mind.

My final decision lies between the 70-200 USM IS I and the 70-200 USM IS II.

I’m completely sold if someone including you can tell me that the mark I works well (as long as it’s better than my 18-200) IQ and auto focus wise with a Canon x2 III teleconverter? If so I don’t see the need to spend an additional $1000 to get the overpriced mark II.

Hoping you have had good experiences, thanks again,



Why did you list the prices for the Canon hoods? (they are included for free with the lenses)


Hi Neil,

If you purchase one of these lenses used it may not come with a lens hood.


I hired the 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II for a wedding and regretted it to an extent, for two reasons. Firstly, the depth of field was so shallow at f/2.8 that while I usually had the eyes of the main subject in shot, other important elements were out of focus, so I was often stopping down to about f/4 anyway. On a good body, the loss of a stop in aperture is easily compensated by adding a stop to ISO. Secondly, with two camera bodies on my person the whole day, the extra weight of the 70-200 was a real issue.

Next time I hire, I’m going for the 70-200mm f/4 IS to save the weight (and money), and remove the temptation of going too shallow in depth of field.

Foto nunta Brasov

I love this lens. I was torn between this and the 2.8, but ultimately I couldn’t convince myself to spend twice as much. Maybe sometime. Anyhow, this lens is sharp, AF is very fast, and its not really all that heavy. Very happy.


Hi I am really stuck and a little confused, I would like a canon 70-200 but not sure which one to choose? my camera is the 7D with the Tamron sp 70-300 f4-5.6 ” tamron is ok but too slow I feel”
I go to airshows twice a year for a total of about 7 days & shoot about 2500+ images of slow and extremely fast aircraft.
I am also going semi pro/pro for portrait & weddings.
I would like a lens that will accommodate both of these aspects of photography, I do not mind what it costs but I need to make sure that I do not make a costly mistake.
I keep leaning to the 70-200 F2.8 IS ii but still do not know if this is the right choice

Any help would be really appreciated



Between the 70-200 f4 L IS USM or f2.8 L II USM (no IS), which would be better?

Paul Petrut

Hello Matt and happy birthday ! Thank you for all the advices you gave me ! It means a lot to me ! You see more realistic then me ! In Romania everything happens quickly at wedding ! For the artisic session with the groom and the bride you have only half an hour ! Sometimes 45 minutes ! And very rare an hour ! Every body are stressed and you know well is hard to work under this condition ! I wish to do more and better but without time we can’t do always something special ! For next year i put the condition to receive more time otherwise i will refuse ! But you said something very right , it is better to have an assistant ! I hope i’m not boring you and maybe ,when you have the time , you will critic more of my photos ! I wish you a happy new year ,a better year with much more achievements ! Thank you for your time ! All the best…Paul

Paul Petrut

Hello Matt ! I just wanted to say hello and give you a link where you can see a little of my work,because you told me to post some pictures ! I want your critics ! It is important to me to know a pro sincere opinion ! Excuse me of i make mistakes in my writing ! Thank you , respect ..Paul

Paul Petrut

Thank you very much Matt ! You solved my dilemma ! I’m going to buy the tamron 70-200 and sail my 28-200 Sigma ! And on 50d ,i keep my Sigma 18-125, for now ! I will not hesitate to ask your advice again ! You will get tired of me !  … Thanks

Paul Petrut

hello ! My name is Paul, i’m a wedding photographer ! i have a canon eos 50d and a 5d mark 2 camera ! i want to buy a tele lens and and a wide lens ! i don’t have the money for a canon 70-200 at 2.8 and i have a dilemma to choose between a sigma or a tamron both at 70-200 at 2.8 . i’m interest in image quality not high speed focusing or silence ! Also i want to ask about the canon lens 24-105 at f4 and sigma 24-70 at 2.8 if is it ok ?! Thank you !


Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG APOMacro HSM II
To me the scores on the table look quite good. Would anyone buy this lens? I would like to buy the Canon F4 without IS form my needs, but with the price of the Sigma I can afford the 2.8. I do not know any lenses outside the normal 18-75mm, Sony I have.


Thank you very much then, for what I do most, I must go for the Canon.

Sasi Subramaniam

Hi Matthew..
I’m new for photojournalism..And I going to buy a 70-200 f2.8 non IS lens(including Law lit works).I also like to do some micro photography..then I need to buy canon 100 2.8 micro.. can I do some micro works with 70-200 f2.8 lens? How is canon 70-200 f4 non IS + canon 100 2.8 micro.If I buy both lenses for canon 70-200 f2.8 price,I can do some indoor micro works with canon 100 2.8 micro.What is your Idea..I am not doing more indoor shootings.

Sasi Subramaniam

Thanks I will go with 70-200 2.8 non IS.


Hey Matthew, I am a first time reader of your blog and happy that I found you. I shoot a wide spectrum of photography at the moment as I started shooting professionally about 3 years ago. With budget concerns of starting up I have choose to use the Canon 50D with a mix of L and EF-S lenses. One of the lenses I am using is the EF 70-200 f2.8 USM lens (without IS). I primarily bought it for low light portraits and fast action however, because it has proven to be my ‘best’ lens in my arsenal I have been using it for my Wedding Portraits as well. However, when I use it for weddings I use it hand-held. Though most weddings are during the day, and I use anywhere from 1-3 580EX flashes for the formal shots, it really does get the job done. However the other day I was shooting some business portraits. The shots were done inside and I was mixing flash and sunlight to get the effect I wanted. However I had to shoot at almost 1/80th AND I did not have my tripod handy. (One of my stands I use for my flashes failed and I used a 580EX with the tripod mount with my tripod) I got less then exciting results. Most of the shots were blurry when magnified. Though they looked ok at smaller sizes (even in print). If this becomes a trend I assume you would recommend trading up to the IS but would my money be better spent on the f4 IS? Let me know what you think. I appreciate it greatly!!


Thank you so much for your response! Very good point about doing shots at 2.8 and at 4.0 and compare. In fact I originally had the 70-200 f4 L USM originally but found the 2.8 counterpart for the same price so I even traded the lenses. I too started a long time ago with 35mm film and was in the camp that the faster the lens the better and that I would literally trade my left arm for that 1 stop if i needed it, especially in a Zoom lens being that the faster lenses usually meant a great deal more quality as well. Ok long story short, I did compare the 4.0 shots that I had with the 2.8 lens shots I replaced it with and I have to say, tho the 2.8 is nice in ultra low light, the degree of separation at 85mm or greater was so shallow its ‘almost’ unusable in some situations. In fact if I am at 200mm at 2.8, a portrait is sometimes too ‘soft’ to be considered. Anyway, thanks for the food for thought! I appreciate it greatly!!!!