I’m a big fan of buying lenses that will grow with me as a photographer. I won’t spend $600 on a lens when I really want the $1200 lens, when I outgrow the $600 lens it will cost twice as much to upgrade. I’d rather save my money and buy the lens I can grow into, it’s much cheaper in the long run. When I had a DX camera (Nikon) I would buy FX lenses (full frame) because I had a sneaky suspicion I’d be outgrowing the DX format within a year or so. When you buy your camera gear this way you need to be smart about it and only buy the essentials. The 70-200mm zoom lens is a must, every camera maker spends extra money on research and development to make these lens as close to perfect as possible. The 70-200mm zoom lens is the lens that most photographers would choose as the only lens they could not live without, it’s that important.
Canon and Nikon both have great 70-200mm lenses. If you’re a Nikon owner check out my review of the newest lens, the Nikon 70-200 f/4G ED VR AF-S Nikkor Zoom Lens. If you’re a Canon owner then you will be happy to know that the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM is one of the sharpest zoom lenses available. I don’t mean it’s the sharpest Canon zoom, I mean it’s the sharpest zoom lens across all the lens manufacturers I’ve had a chance to sample. The reviews across the web echo what I’ve just said.
The lens has very little distortion (less than other 70-200mm lenses) and it’s bokeh is phenomenal at every focal length. Auto-focus is instantaneous and quiet. If you’d like to manually focus this beast all you need to do is move the focus ring and you’re instantly manually focusing. All these wonderful things come as a price, literally and figuratively. This lens is big and heavy, it’s got to be to house all that amazing glass inside. The cost is just shy of $2k, seriously it’s a penny shy of $2,ooo. This is one of those situations where it’s a good idea to work with your kit lens for a year if you have to and save up for this masterpiece. The Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 is about half the cost of the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 and is perfect if you’re on a budget, the image quality of the f4 version is a little lower but it’s lighter and, well, half the cost.
If you are in the market for a new lens and you want the best money can buy then the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 will exceed your expectations. If you want to buy the best lens you can afford, and a grand is the limit, the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 is the best at this price point. Either lens will induce jealousy in your photog friends.