A Review of the Canon 70-200mm f/4 IS II USM Lens

There’s nothing more exciting than getting an opportunity to use new equipment to test and explore when either doing video or stills. In this case, I had the pleasure of being able to try a new lens that has held my interest since it’s announcement and I could not have been more excited for the opportunity.

Earlier this year Canon announced two brand new 70-200mm lenses. The Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens, and the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II USM Lens. Having never used the original f/4 IS USM lens, I thought this would be a great time to take advantage of the opportunity I was given to test the lens. And what better way to test a lens than to take it with you outside the country? Colombia, here we come! However, before we get to the trip, let’s look at the lens as a whole.

Out of the two announced lenses, Canon made the f/4 IS II stand out even more than it’s 2.8 brothers. How, you might ask? Well, Canon has included inside the lens brand new optics featuring one fluorite element and two UD elements with coatings to help control aberrations and flare. The Image Stabilizer has also been improved and is now able to compensate for up to five stops of shutter speed. For improved handling, the minimum focus distance has reduced to 3.3′ for close-up imaging. Also, this lens now has a nine-blade aperture instead of 8 blades. The new lens is also 20 grams heavier and features a large filter thread – no longer a 67, but now a 72.

While the change in weight is subtle, this lens can be easily carried on the camera body for long periods of time without wearing out your shoulder or neck, depending on how you wear the camera. The lens remains to be weather sealed, which will help against dust and moisture from getting into the lens or camera body.

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As I had mentioned before, the best way to use a lens is to take it out and shoot with it. So I took this lens with me to the Tayrona National Park in Colombia. There, the lens was paired with my Canon 5D Mark II and was attached to the outside of my camera bag using the Peak Design Capture Clip. With the lens placed on the outside of the bag, it did get to experience some adverse weather. Tayrona is located in Northern Colombia along the Caribbean coastline, just east of Santa Marta. There the weather continually changes throughout the day. It could be bright and sunny one minute and humid and rainy the next.

Carrying the lens around, when attached to the camera, was a joy. It’s quite lite and not bulky by any means. Which is great, because I could just let the lens and the camera hang from my side for up to an hour an a half to two hours before my shoulder started to notice the hanging weight. Even when using the Capture Clip, I could let the camera and lens hang comfortably without worrying about the lens weighing me down.

Regarding sharpness, this thing is sharp. Sharp enough to cut butter (this is a metaphor, do not use your camera lenses like a knife). As you will see with the examples that I have attached, even when cropping the photo, you can see that these images are usable in terms of overall sharpness.

Even at the long end of the lens at 200mm, it’s fantastically sharp, even after a crop – as can be seen in the images of the Monkey and the Iguana, who just happened to model for me.

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The lens does offer a close-focusing distance of 3.3′ for those people are interested in macro photography without the need of owning a macro lens. But for the price of a macro, you can get the Canon 100mm f/2.8L for $699, the lowest price that lens has ever been.

If you’re the type of person who likes the background blown out of focus, you can achieve this look, though it won’t be as strong as using a faster aperture on a prime lens or select zoom lens. While you can create some beautiful smooth out of focus areas at f/4, you need to have the subject far enough from the background to be able to achieve that.

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While this lens is not designed for wide-angle photography, you can achieve a wide-angle field of view by creating a panoramic image to illustrate the environment, which any photographer can create using Lightroom or Photoshop. However, if you wanted to have a different perspective of landscapes and architecture, then using a long telephoto lens like this will do the trick.

The lens is incredibly fast and accurate when using the autofocus in most shooting situations. However, I Let me explain. On some down time before heading to the coast, I found myself putting the autofocus of the lens through its paces. Aiming the lens at bicyclists that were traversing past me, I would grab the camera and begin to track their movements. Despite using single point autofocus, I found that my shots for moving subjects were somewhat soft and at times out of focus. In no way is this the lenses fault, but rather my own. When there were people that would walk by or stop on the other side of the road, I would quickly grab a photo of them.

So who is this for? This lens is for the professional who doesn’t need a fast aperture zoom. It’s for the hobbyist who is looking to isolate their subjects from the background through compression, or for those who want to get closer to their subjects without disturbing them. The lens can be used for sports and wildlife photography and can be used with Canon’s Extender EF 1.4III and the 2X Teleconverters. Note: Using the 2X teleconverter with this lens will negate the lenses autofocus capabilities making it a manual focusing lens only.

After carrying the lens around for a week, I would say this lens is a must have if you are in the market for a less expensive 70-200 lens, at $1200, this is a steal, though if you are looking for a 2.8 alternative at the same price, the Tamron 70-200mm 2.8 G2 isn’t a bad option to look at either. There is also the Tamron 70-210mm f/4 Di VC USD Lens is priced at $799 and is an excellent alternative if you’re looking for a lite option with the same aperture.

If you would like to purchase this lens online, please click here, visit our store in person, or call us over the phone at 215-547-2841.

Peak Design Replaces 2018 Anchors For Free

Hi everyone, if you use the Peak Design products you may want to read the following.

Peak Design has announced an update for the Anchor connectors, they're the little connectors that come with all Peak Design camera straps. Customers with earlier versions of the Anchors may be eligible for a free Anchor Update Kit.

Peak Design has written the following:

This is actually the 4th time we've updated our Anchors, meaning that our new Anchors are actually version 4 (or V4). We began making V3 Anchors in August 2017, which featured a thinner cord that could fit directly in smaller camera eyelets. In Spring 2018 we got a few reports (7 total) of V3 Anchors prematurely wearing out and failing. To put things in perspective, we've sold over 1 million V3 Anchors, so the observed failure rate is 7 in 1,000,000 (or 1 in every 17,000 users). Though small, this failure rate is unacceptable for us and hence we're updating our Anchors to prevent this issue from happening to anybody else.

If you purchased a strap before June 5, 2018, take the Anchor Update Survey to see if you qualify for a free Anchor Update Kit.

So how can you tell if you're using a version 1 or version 3 Anchor? Refer to the image or video below.

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Have you experienced or noticed anything with your Anchors? Leave us a comment below and share your experience with us.

Tamron Issue Service Advisory for 28-75mm lens for Sony E-mount

If you recently purchased a Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD for your Sony mirrorless camera, you may or may not have noticed that the lens has some focusing issues when shooting in the video mode on the camera. Unfortunately, Tamron has announced that the lens has an issue.

May 31, 2018, Commack, New York

Dear Tamron product users and potential purchasers.

Thank you for your interest in Tamron products.

We would like to announce that we discovered some issues with the auto focus of our new lens, model A036FS; 28-75mm F/2.8 Di III RXD for SONY mirrorless cameras, released on May 24, 2018. The issues occur primarily when using the camera in video recording mode.

Rest assured, we are evaluating the cause of the error and for the solution to this matter. We expect this issue to be resolved very shortly and we will release a firmware update at that time.

Regarding the firmware updating process, please be assured that the process is accomplished directly through the SONY camera and supported by the Sony firmware updating function. As soon as the process is finalized, we will explain the process in detail on our website.

We sincerely apologize to all users and potential purchasers for any inconvenience this issue may cause.

If you have purchased this lens, have you experienced any of these issues? Let us know in the comments section.

Product Review: The One About the Peak Design Shell

Like taking pictures while hiking or being active outdoors? As many of you know, the weather can be quite unforgiving when it comes to your camera gear.  Even if your equipment is weather-sealed it is best to be as careful as possible to protect your gear.

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Recently I have been going out shooting in terrible weather conditions.  After using the disposable Optech Rain Sleeves, which are an excellent alternative for less than $10, I decided to invest in my very first Peak Design accessory and purchased the Peak Design Shell.  The Shell uses a stretchy fabric with a waterproof membrane that keeps the camera safe and protected from the elements- water, snow, dust, and abrasions.

 

The Shell comes in three different sizes, small, medium, and large, which are designed to cover different equipment configurations (check out the graphic below).  I purchased the medium Shell for my Canon 5D Mark II and Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 lens.  After getting the Shell pulled over the camera and secured with the built-in drawstrings, I was impressed with the snug fit.

 

Peak designed the Shell with two small inserts, called anchor ports, intended to work with other Peak Design products- Slide, ClutchSlide Lite.

The fabric is soft and can be easily folded into a ball carrying when not in use.  If it gets dirty it is hand or machine washable, just let it air dry.

I tested the Shell during our most recent snowfall.  When I wanted to review my images in the field, I had to peel the rear of the Shell back from the camera exposing it to the wet snow.  Accessing my shooting controls was also tricky as I had to pull most of the fabric off the camera, which defeats the purpose of having the camera protected from the elements.  I tried changing aperture and shutter speed through the fabric itself but it was too difficult.

While the design of the Shell isn't perfect, it does provide excellent protection from the elements.  My suggestions to improve future versions are:

  • A small hole that allows the eyepiece of the camera to use, similar to that of the Think Tank Hydrophobia system.
  • A transparent window in the back to be able to see the LCD screen of the camera that is weatherproofed and can be easily opened to make quick adjustments.

Overall the Peak Design Shell is an excellent product if you need to keep your camera protected from the elements while traveling.  I highly recommend this product for anyone shooting outdoors.  If you would like to pick up a copy of the Peak Design Shell, please call our store at 215-547-2841 or visit our website.

01- Snow Day with the Canon 85mm f/1.4 IS

This has been a pretty busy winter for me, what with work and some major camera and lens announcements coming out of WPPI in Las Vegas. So many exciting things are happening. On the other hand there are less exciting things going on as well, for example- the weather.

In all honesty, I’m sick of it. I’ve spent most of my life growing up in Florida where we’ve had warm weather just about year round, we’ll not quite, but it’s Florida, so hopefully, you get the point. But now I'm getting off topic, so let's get back on track, shall we?

Yesterday afternoon the Eastern Coast was hit with what was considered a winter storm and pretty much shut down the entire city of Philadelphia. So what better thing to do than sit at home all playing video games or catching up on the latest episodes of that favorite tv show on Netflix, but to go outside and photograph the storm. 

Now let me preface what is to come. I do a lot of street shooting, where I use one lens and one lens only, which is the Tamron SP 35mm 1.8 VC, however this time around I choose to use the new Canon 85mm f/1.4 IS lens. I had been shooting with it for about a week at this point and have really enjoyed the images that it has produced. Normally for street photography, you do not want to be using a telephoto prime, such as the 85. You want to be using a wide angle lens for street, anywhere between 45mm and 24mm, with 35 being the sweet spot.

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Upon stepping out into the cold, I immediately wished I had a wider lens with me. And I have to say I really enjoyed using this lens for street portraits.

Canon has done something incredible with this lens, taking a que from Tamron, Canon is the second lens manufacturer to introduce a prime lens with I.S. (Image Stabalization). Not only that, this lens is faster focusing than the older Canon 85mm f/1.2 which is bigger and heavier, but also the slowest autofocusing lens that Canon has put out.

Because I was borrowing the lens and that I didn’t have a filter or lens hood, I used an optec raincover to go over the lens and camera keeping them dry and my hand warm. Yes, this lens is weather sealed, however my Canon 5D Mark II doesn’t have the best seals and wanted to make sure that I had no issues while walking around.  

 

While roaming the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, I came across a couple of acrobatics who were trying to break a record. As you can see for an impromptu photo shoot, these images are sharp and usable.  The  Front element of the lens was covered in melted snow, concerned I didn’t get the shots because of the droplets, I took the pictures hoping there was something useable. 

When I got home from shooting, I discovered that the shoots were useable and that the water droplets didn’t show in the frame. A sigh of relief if you ask me.

I think this is a great lens and that many people will enjoy using it for portraits. It’s very sharp from the center to the edges. In the coming week I will wrote a full review of the lens. Until then, see you around! 

My Thoughts Post WPPI 2018

After the world wind that was WPPI (the Wedding and Portrait Photography International Conference), we've now had a little time to process all the information that was announced during the conference. There was a lot, Fuji showed off their brand new X-H1 camera, that is oriented towards Videographers, Sony announced the brand new A7III (exciting), Tamron showed the all-new native Sony E-mount lens, the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 lens (no release or pricing has been announced), Sigma announced that their Art series of lenses will be arriving in Sony E-mount as well, and Canon brings the M50 and the 470EX-AI to the table.

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These are some of the biggest announcements out of February so far. Going into March, I'm excited to see where everything goes - how the new X-H1 stacks up against the X-T2, where it stands in the video market and how photographers feel about IBIS for the first time in this system.

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Tamron, which is a brand that I love and enjoy, is the first third-party lens company to announce a native Sony E-mount lens. This is great news for Sony users. If you currently shoot Sony and own a Tamron lens, then this is big news for you, mostly because the market for third-party lenses just became a little bigger for your system.  One thing I do hope that Tamron puts out, hopefully later this year, will be an adapter like the Sigma MC-11 to allow Tamron EF mount lenses to work on the Sony mirrorless bodies. Tamron, if you read this, please do this. It's needed.

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Sigma once again astonishes the photographic world by announcing that all of their Art lenses, including their zooms, will be getting the native Sony E-mount treatment. This is great news for those Sony users who already own a Sony body and have the MC-11 and EF version of those lenses. No longer will you have to adapt! I believe pricing will be the same for these new lenses and that they should begin shipping sometime in April. There are two ways that you can go about getting your hands on one of these new lenses - pre-order your copy, which you can do so here, call our store at 215-547-2841 or send your existing Sigma lenses in to Sigma to have the mount converted (a process that I hear takes up to a month).

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Canon announced two new items into their photographic repertoire, the all-new M50 mirrorless camera, and the 470EX-AI Speedlite. The M50 falls into the new mirrorless category and is placed just above the Canon M100 camera that was released late last year. The new features that this camera brings an improved Dual Pixel CMOS AF, a 24.1MP APS-C CMOS sensor resulting in less noise and high definition in low-light situations, and the capability of recording 4K video (with an additional crop), the EOS M50 will capture crisp, photographic expressions in various situations. The camera is light and quite fast to focus. If you enjoy something super tiny and have small hands and do not want or have a need to shoot with a DSLR, this is the camera for you.

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Canon's 470EX-AI is a unique speedlight that has been introduced into the mix, replacing the 430EX-II, this is the first intelligent flash (that I know of) on the market, with a sensor designed to measure the distance between the Speedlite and your subject, as well as the flash-to-ceiling distance. When using the auto intelligent bounce mode, simply double-tap the shutter, and the motor will position the flash automatically, for an optimal bounce. This technology will be helpful to those photographers who don't completely understand flash or have never used a flash and are looking to add one to their kit.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on these exciting announcements. Post a comment in the box below and let me know what you looking forward to the most.