Tuesday, December 1st, 2009 at 3:43 pm
Caption: Portrait of female leopard (Panthera pardus), profile view, Sabi Sand Game Reserve, South Africa.
Camera: Canon EOS 400D (Digital Rebel XTi); Lens: Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM; Focal Length: 200mm; Shutter speed: 1/400; Aperture: f2.8; ISO: 400.
Additional Info: This image was taken quite late in the afternoon in mid-winter, so the light was fading fast. Fortunately I was using a “fast” lens – a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM zoom – that helped save the day for me. I had already cranked the ISO up to 400, which I try to keep as my limit for wildlife photography, although I will occasionally push this to 800 when I have no other options.
On my rather basic camera bodies — an EOS 400D (Digital Rebel XTi) and 450D (Digital Rebel XSi) — I’m happy to accept the small amount of visible noise at 400 ISO in return for the extra shutter speed.
The EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS is a wonderful lens for wildlife photography as the big f/2.8 maximum aperture allows shooting in low light at shutter speeds fast enough to counter camera shake and subject movement, while also throwing the background out of focus.
For the above picture, I was able to shoot at 1/400 by keeping the aperture wide open, which helped ensure a sharp image. Of course image stabilization helps, but one must also take into account the 1.6x crop factor of the EOS 400D, which meant I was using an “equivalent” focal length of 320mm.
The one downside of this lens that users regularly complain about is the size and weight, a result of all the glass necessary to provide a constant f/2.8 aperture throughout the zoom range, while not compromising on the image quality expected of a Canon L series lens.
A very popular alternative is the smaller brother — the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM zoom. This is a lens that elicits only superlatives from its users, with some swearing that it’s sharper than the f/2.8. The main advantage however is its smaller size — length of 6.8″ (172mm) v 7.8″ (197mm), and significantly lighter weight — 1.67 lbs (760g) vs 3.24 lbs (1470g).
This makes it ideal as a travel lens when weight is critical but you still need superior optical quality plus weather sealing to keep out dust and moisture. The advanced image stabilizer provides up to four stops of camera shake correction, making it easier to hand-hold than its heavier sibling. For more, including user ratings and reviews, see Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM telephoto zoom.