Telephoto lenses are widely used for wildlife photography, sports photography and even for landscape and journalistic photography. Medium range telephoto lenses such as a 200mm lens are routinely used for wedding photography assignments as well. They offer the photographer the convenience to zoom in and capture a moment without ever needing to move closer to the action and thereby reveal himself.
For wildlife photography it is imperative that the photographer knows how to use his tele-lenses in a discreet manner as otherwise he can never hope to capture anything meaningful or of any photographic value. Here we shall be looking at one of the best entry level telephoto lenses, retailing at under $1000. It is very difficult to get reliable telephoto lenses of excellent build quality and performance at these prices and thankfully the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM meets that requirement.
The Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM
Canon’s EF 70-200mm f/4L USM lens carries the L tag which is an indication that the lens is well made. The lens incorporates 16 elements in 13 groups and is one of the best 70-200mm lenses for a telephoto enthusiast. The lens is one of the cheapest of Canon’s premium L series lenses. It has a constant aperture of f/4 across its focal length which means it is possible to properly expose a shot no matter whether you’re zoomed in at 200mm or fully zoomed out at 70mm.
The 8 blade aperture of the EF 70-200mm gives wonderful bokeh at f/4. If a photographer is looking to capture wonderful bokeh, then this lens does that effortlessly. Though not as fast as a lens with a wider f-stop of say f/2 or f/1.8 would be, the lens handles both tricky lighting conditions and lens vignetting well.
Two things make the EF 70-200mm a great lens to use in wildlife photography requirements. First thing is the availability of Canon’s ring-type USM (Ultra-sonic motor) and the second is the availability of FTM (full time manual focusing). There are two different types of USM systems offered by Canon. When selecting a lens, it is best to check the exact type in the lens of your choice. MicroMotor type USM is usually present in the cheaper varieties of Canon lenses and they make an awful amount of noise when focusing. They should not be your ideal lens unless you don’t care or would be shooting in a loud environment anyway. The other is the Ring-Type which is fast, accurate and very very silent.
Full time manual focusing
The presence of full time manual (FTM) focusing allows the photographer to adjust the focusing ring manually even when the lens is trying to auto-focus. This does not require the photographer to flip the AF/MF switch before manually engaging the focusing ring.
The final verdict about the EF 70-200mm f/4L USM lens
Retailing at $710 this lens is much cheaper than our threshold target of $1000 and yet gives everything that a photographer is looking for in a medium range telephoto lens.
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