Review: Canon 70-200mm F4 L IS USM II (Canon EF)

With the Canon 70-200mm f4 L IS USM II, photographers have a great option for travel photography.

When the Canon 70-200mm f4 L IS USM II was announced, I thought it would make for a fantastic travel photography lens; one that will appeal to enthusiasts quite a bit. Canon, after all, decided to do a revamp of the lens rather than the most minimal amount of effort they put into their f2.8 option. Though I’ve given Canon quite a bit of heat over the years, this new Canon 70-200mm f4 L IS USM II is where I’ll concede to them; they created a fantastic lens that is lighter than lots of telephoto prime lenses out there. With some solid autofocusing abilities, great image stabilization of over four stops, light weight, and good optics, I need to give Canon a lot of credit for the Canon 70-200mm f4 L IS USM II.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Sharp output
  • Fast and accurate focusing
  • Beautiful colors
  • Light weight
  • Small, can be stuffed in a bag attached to the camera with ease
  • Weather sealing
  • $1,299 price tag isn’t bad.

Cons

  • Honestly, not a thing.

Gear Used

The Canon 70-200mm f4 L IS USM II was used with the Canon 6D MK II.

Tech Specs

Specs taken from our original post.

Lens

Focal Length & Maximum Aperture

70–200mm f/4

Lens Construction

20 elements in 15 groups

Diagonal Angle of View

34°–12°

Focus Adjustment

AF with full-time manual

Closest Focusing Distance

3.28 ft. / 1m

Filter Size

72mm

Max. Diameter x Length, Weight

  • Advanced users that want lightweight and sometimes even APS-C bodies
  • Better IS; from 3 stops to 5 stop IS
  • Focusing closer at 1 meter
  • Reduced ghosting due to new coatings
  • Improved durability with fluorine coatings to front and rear elements.
  • Claims of being able to shoot at 200mm to 1/2 second handheld by Canon reps in their offices
  • More silent image stabilization
  • Not an STM motor
  • IS Mode 3 panning. IS 1 is all around. 2 is panning. 3 kicks in right before you press the shutter
  • 20 elements in 15 groups; different arrangements
  • 1 fluorite and 2 UD lenses
  • 72mm front filter thread
  • Slightly less white exterior
  • Optional tripod mount ring
  • 9 aperture blades
  • 176mm total length
  • 800 grams weight
  • Weather sealing is improved and matches all the other L series lenses
  • Pricing: $1,299.00
  • Availability: Ships in June 2018

Additional noteworthy features of the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II USM include:

  • One fluorite lens and two UD lenses helps to provide high-image quality
  • Minimum focusing distance shortened from 1.2m to 1m (3.9ft to 3.3ft)
  • Super Spectra Coating technology and optimized lens element placement helps minimize ghosting and flaring
  • Circular nine blade aperture producing a beautiful bokeh quality, ideal for portrait shooting
  • Lens features 20 lens elements in 15 groups
  • Fluorine coating on front and rear elements helps to reduce smears and fingerprints
  • Inner focusing system with Ring Ultrasonic Motor

Ergonomics

When you look at the Canon 70-200mm f4 L IS USM II, you spot that it’s designed to look pretty much exactly like the f2.8 versions. There is one ring for zooming and another for focusing. It’s an internally focusing lens. Of course, you know that it’s an L lens due to the red ring around the front.

What photographers will also spot is the distance meter.

When you take the lens hood off, you’ll see that the Canon 70-200mm f4 L IS USM II doesn’t get all that much smaller. There is almost no reason to do so.

Turn to the side of the Canon 70-200mm f4 L IS USM II and you’ll see the controls. There is autofocus control, image stabilization, stabilization type, focus limiter, etc. Notice how there is no tripod collar.

The Canon 70-200mm f4 L IS USM II has a 72mm filter thread. Canon says that it isn’t needed to complete the weather sealing.

Build Quality

The Canon 70-200mm f4 L IS USM II has weather sealing built into it. You can tell this from the rubber gasket put on mount of the lens. The weather sealing is also built into and incorporated throughout the lens. In addition to that, Canon says the sealing is up there with its f2.8 version. Crazy, right? I mean, if you don’t need an f2.8 version of the lens then you may as well go straight for this one. In the hand, you’ll see how amazingly lightweight it is and just how well it will conform to your hand when you hold it. Canon did a spectacular job with this lens.

Autofocus

In almost every situation that I shot the Canon 70-200mm f4 L IS USM II in, it nailed focusing. The only exception is the few misfires that I had with a dancer. But for the most part still, it was able to keep tracking the subject when using AI Servo and autofocusing zones. Lots of the images were shot wide open. Again, I’m really happy with the results.

Through this series you can see how the Canon 70-200mm f4 L IS USM II was able to track Lydia.

Image Quality

Image quality on the Canon 70-200mm f4 L IS USM II is really, really top notch. I’d rate it right up there with Sony’s option. I like the bokeh, the colors, the sharpness, and photographers have almost nothing to worry about when it comes to CA. Considering that this is Canon, you’ll also like the skin tones.

Bokeh

Even though this isn’t an f2.8 lens, you’re still going to get great bokeh. In fact, what’s nice is that you don’t really need to stop the lens down at all. Just focus on a subject and shoot.

Sony 70-200mm f4

Canon 70-200mm f4 L IS USM II

As a quick and informal comparison, I have to say that the bokeh on each of them is great. I can’t sit there and dislike the photos I get.

Chromatic Aberration

In my tests I couldn’t find very much in the way of chromatic aberration. The distortion and fringing issues are negligent and in the case of the former, I didn’t find any. There’s nothing to complain about.

Color Rendition

With Canon’s auto white balance algorithms, you’re going to get fantastic skin tones. It’s when you manually white balance that you may not get the warm tones I know a lot of you want even though these are a lot more accurate.

Here are those warm tones. You know you like them.

Sharpness

The sharpness of this lens is fantastic. I only wish that I could have tested it on a Canon 5DSr, but Canon only had a 6D Mk II. When using a flash, the sharpness becomes even better.

Extra Image Samples

Conclusions

Likes

  • Bokeh
  • Autofocus
  • Autofocus speed
  • Weather sealing
  • Light weight
  • Priced right

Dislikes

  • Nothing

The Canon 70-200mm f4 L IS USM II has to be one of the best lenses I’ve seen Canon put out in years. It amazes me as I’ve known the company to place more emphasis on their zooms than their primes. So what makes the Canon 70-200mm f4 L IS USM II so great? It has weather sealing, nice bokeh, great autofocusing abilities, sharp image quality, and it’s very light. In the hand, it feels great and you can easily carry it around with you all day if you wish. In fact, I did that a number of times.

If I still owned a Canon DSLR, I’d probably buy this lens ASAP.

The Canon 70-200mm f4 L IS USM II earns five out of five stars and earns our Editor’s Choice award.