The 70-200 zoom lens is a useful lens, and is my lens of choice for zoo and wildlife photography, and since I shoot Canon the choice of lens is the Canon branded 70mm – 200mm L series lens. There are four variants of the Canon 70 – 200 lens consisting of:
The F2.8L IS is the flagship lens and is the most expensive, whereas the F4L is the budget model. Regardless of whether you use the low end F4L or the top end F2.8L IS, I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed with the images.
Even though I own the Canon 70mm – 200mm F2.8L IS lens my lens of choice for zoo photography is the Canon 70 – 200 F4L IS. The F2.8L IS is a beast of a lens, and gets very tiring by the end of the day. The other thing that puts me off using the F2.8L IS is the fact that it is very expensive and with zoos being busy places there is a real risk of being nudged or barged into and damaging the lens. Whilst I would be gutted if my F4L IS lens sustained damage I am prepared to risk it more than my F2.8L IS lens.
The F4L IS lens doesn’t have the F2.8 maximum aperture (obviously) but the F4 is generally wide enough to through the bars and cage out of focus whilst taking a photo of the animals. There are times when the animals are too close to the bars for F4 to be sufficient to throw the bars out of focus, but then again there are times when an F2.8 aperture is not sufficient to throw the bars out of focus. This happens with animal/zoo photography, and there are times when you simply won’t get the shot because the animal refuses to play ball and move away from the side of the cage.
The F4 has image stabilisation, which is useful for capturing sharp hand held shots when using slower shutter speeds, such as when the light starts to fade. In my opinion image stabilisation is essential and this is the reason why I chose the F4L IS over the F4L, despite the higher price tag. The image quality of the F4L and the F4L IS is identical, but the image stabilisation technology does, as you already know, increase the price a bit.
The F4L IS offers the best compromise between size and weight, technology and price and it is a lens that gives a lot of bang for the buck. The image quality is simply superb, and all of the photos below were taken using the Canon 70mm – 200mm F4L IS lens.