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70-200 IS or NON IS?

James Cripps , May 15, 2006; 01:01 p.m.

Hi guys. Yet another lens question... I know. I own a Rebel XT and am seriously debating between the 70-200 IS and the 70-200 non IS L series lenses. I mainly want this lens to do portraits with a choice of varying bokeh and the ability to shoot in low-light. It sounds phenomenal from what I hear and the zoom range is perfect. Will I need the IS though? I mean, portraits are basically always shot with a tripod and I have a Manfrotto 190PROB. I can understand indoor sports shooting and such where you might be shooting handheld and the IS would help. I will also use the lens for isolating some scenary shots and things to that nature. Is there any difference whatsoever in the image quality between the two, or the construction or lens elements? Thanks in advance, you guys are always a great help.


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Steve Dunn , May 15, 2006; 01:08 p.m.

This question and its variations are asked very frequently and previous discussions can be found in the archives. Here's a very brief bit of info.

The word is that the non-IS version is slightly sharper. I wouldn't know; I've never used it. I can say that my IS version is a very sharp lens, easily sharper than any other zoom I've used (the 17-40/4L USM is my second-sharpest zoom), and it's pretty darn close to my 50/1.4 USM. That's on a 20D. Perhaps a 1Ds II would show the 70-200's limits, but I don't have one and don't ever expect to.

For your primary use, IS will do nothing for you. If your scenic shots are done on a tripod, you don't need IS there, either; if you prefer to use a monopod or shoot handheld (and I vastly prefer either one to using a tripod), IS is amazingly useful.

Ben Jamin , May 15, 2006; 01:09 p.m.

Get the IS, if you can't afford it now...then save up longer and wait for it, the Image Stabilizer is amazing and worth every single peny, go try it out at the local store and compare it to the non-IS, shoot something in 150~200mm range and be ready see the IS do its magic when you half press the shutter. I bought my 70-200 IS mostly for portraiture, and love it!

Check out my 70-200 IS gallery, all taken handheld! http://www.pbase.com/ben805/70_200is

Pete Woronowski , May 15, 2006; 01:11 p.m.

James, I traded my non IS for the IS version and have no regrets at all. I appreciate your saying with a tripod there will be no difference but the IS version does open up more possibilities should the need occur or your shooting style changes.

Take Care, Pete

Dan Lovell - Orange County, California , May 15, 2006; 01:12 p.m.

For portraits taken from a tripod, then the IS is not needed, and besides, the non-IS version of that lens is a tad sharper anyways. Both lenses have same contrast, and color rendition, which is excellent.

What sensor size you using?

If you're doing mostly portraits, why whould you get a zoom?

Better and cheaper to get primes (assuming full frame):

50mm For Body.

85mm for Head.

Dan Lovell - Orange County, California , May 15, 2006; 01:14 p.m.

Ben Jamin, why would you suggest he get the IS version if he wrote that he shoots mostly portraits AND uses a tripod?!?

Mike Earussi , May 15, 2006; 01:16 p.m.

The image quality of the non-IS is significantly better, especially at the 200mm end.

Check out: http://www.photozone.de/8Reviews/index.html for a detailed review of the lenses.

But if you're mainly doing portraits in a studio setting, why not get a dedicated portrait lens, such as the 85 f 1.2 or 1.8, which provide better optical quality at less money?

And don't think that you'll never want to hand hold for portraits, as some unique angles or moments can't be captured tethered to a tripod. Though you still won't need IS if you are using strobes; but you will if you do any outdoor handheld portraits.

Good luck. Mike

Ben Jamin , May 15, 2006; 01:18 p.m.

By the way, if you're looking for a lens to do ONLY portraiture on a tripod, and have no intention to handhold or use it for anything else, then save yourself a bunch of money by getting the 85mm F1.8 along with the 50mm F1.4 instead, if money is no issue then get the new 85mm 1.2L II, they're the very best portraiture lens Canon ever made.

Ben Jamin , May 15, 2006; 01:21 p.m.


He said "mostly", but NOT solely or all. which mean he will be using it for something else, see my above replies.

James Cripps , May 15, 2006; 01:35 p.m.

Wow thanks for the quick responses, everyone. Dan, like I said I'm using a Rebel XT so it's a 1.6x sensor, not full frame. I'll have to look more into the prime lenses. I've just always been kind of fixated on zooms because of the versatility I can have. There's just more choice with the one lens. Is the image quality VERY noticeably sharper/better with the L series primes as compared to the zoom 70-200 L?

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