Reader Poll: How Do You Feel About Canon's f/4 IS Lenses?

Reader Poll: How Do You Feel About Canon's f/4 IS Lenses?

There has been significant chatter on both the Fstoppers staff and in the general comments we've been hearing and reading regarding Canon's move to introduce slower lens iterations, but with image stabilization, of their older faster glass. We've heard arguments on both sides of the table, but we're curious: what do you think?

When Canon introduced their $1500 24-70mm f/4 lens, there was quite a bit of confusion as to why such a lens needed to exist. If you wanted f/4, there was already the 24-105mm f/4. If you wanted 24-70, there was already the 24-70mm f/2.8. For Canon faithful, it was a lens that not only didn't need to be made, but it was an insult added to the injury for those who waited so long for an updated 24-70mm only to be rewarded for their patience with a lens few of them could afford.

More recently Canon announced the 16-35mm f/4 IS lens that has just as many L-glass lovers scratching their heads, especially when the 16-35mm f/2.8 II costs only a few hundred dollars more.

So what do you think? Vote in the poll below then tell us in the comments why you like or dislike what Canon is apparently doing with their lenses. Is this what you want from Canon, or no?

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For wedding photographers (who I assume make up a large portion of the reader base here) this doesn't make a whole lot of sense. People move and require a minimum shutter speed of 1/15 to 1/1000 depending on how fast they are moving. Having IS doesn't help with this at all.

For travel & landscape photography this makes perfect sense and would be preferred to the 2.8 version. You get a cheaper, lighter, better performing lens that you can use without a tripod.

Totally agree with you Sean. For me as a landscape photographer I've been looking forward to Canon providing an update to the 17-40f/4L with improved performance. I don't care much about IS on the new lens as I shoot mostly on tripods at longer shutter speeds but will happily take it (albeit at additional cost). Price is reasonable.

I can see how wedding photographers are confused - IS will not help with freezing motion at lower shutter speeds. Until Canon confirms if the new lens is a replacement for the 2.8 version, or for the 17-40 it's all speculation. I'm guessing they'll release a new 2.8 version with IS at a premium, but not any time soon!

I agree with you Stu. I think having the handheld option is a great bonus for landscape. It enables you shoot handheld at slightly lower shutter speeds when time is at a premium during the last minutes of the Golden Hour. Sometimes it's great to take the camera off tripod and use the UWA down low.

After shooting a long day at a wedding, I've noticed that my hands get a bit shaky. Image stabilized lenses have helped a great deal with my shots. It seems to be a neglected topic: how to shoot as stabile as possible without a tripod.

Robert Slowley's picture

Is there a clever reason why controversial is spelt contravertial here?

Jaron Schneider's picture

Because I am far from infallible?

Robert Slowley's picture

Ah! Me too. I thought it was something clever I'd missed, like VERT being a special Canon term.

Isn't it obvious these new stabilised f4 lens are geared for the ever increasing video users? Bloggers stiring the pot as usual and sucking you all in.

Jaron Schneider's picture

Of course people realize that. I realize that. However I have heard arguments from relatively informed professionals that this isn't necessarily a "video lens." Canon's own press release says nothing about shooting video. If it's a video lens, then Canon needs to explain that as part of the product brief and not leave it up to the masses to try and figure out what they're going for.

Why do they need to explain? Can't people make decisions for themselves? Videographers/Cinematographers know what they would use this for. If someone doesn't know then it isn't for them.

Jaron Schneider's picture

In short, no, not really. People actually can't make decisions for themselves. In marketing and sales, perception drives sales. Few things kill sales faster than a confused message.

Mike Wilkinson's picture

I find this interesting as well. The lens seems catered to fill a gap: wide angle lenses with IS. And the market most interested in that glass (I would guess) is video shooters. I've been wishing for more wide angle lenses with IS, and am using the new Sony 10-18 f4 OSS on my next big project just because it has the stabilizer.

Maybe there are internal battles and they don't want to appear to be eating into the video segment of their products?

Jaron Schneider's picture

Another explanation is they didn't want to shoehorn themselves into calling this a video lens. If they said "this is a video lens" they probably feared they would turn away a lot of still photographers who would otherwise be interested.

Except by choosing to totally ignore video shooters in their release they only further confused the topic. They needed some middle ground here.

marc osborne jr's picture

Here is some Pro talk about the is lenses. These are exciting lenses, especially to those rocking c100s! IS is very important and Canon doesn't have a Super-wide zoom with IS..

Zach Sutton's picture

I understand that. But why do you need IS on a 16mm lens? At that focal length, you'd be able to handhold it and have pretty stabilized footage... The focal length doesn't need IS, for video or otherwise.

Remember that a 16-35 zooms all the way to 35. With 4 stops stabilization and a steady hand you can use shutter speeds up towards half a second (though not much more, because at that point rotational/roll shake will start to be noticeable).

A lot of people said the same thing about stabilized 24-70s, but I must say the amount of light I get from my stabilized tamron at f/2.8 0.5s (even at 70mm) is more than I could ever get from any f/1.4 unstabilized lens.

It obviously depends on what you are doing. IS will never get you fast shutter speeds, but it will get you more light, and often more than the prime lens options. And if you also want a larger depth of field...

Mike Wilkinson's picture

IS is huge for video, I've done the tests at home to prove it. I got smoother handheld footage on an 18mm with IS than I did on an 11mm without it... but then again for some events I shoot handheld for long stretches of time, and even DSLR rigs get heavy after a bit. This lens is very appealing to me, and as a video shooter I'd likely get it instead of the 16-35L II 2.8.

Pretty stabilised and exceptionally stabilised are two different matters. Canon are of course not going to pigeon hole their own release. Trust me handheld video on the 2.8 is crap. Even for me as a studio photographer (work) and landscape (hobbiest) I would prefer this lens for the f8 and above I tend to shoot. A fashion photographer shooting outside and needing some extra bokeh would opt for the 2.8 and have to pay the difference. But hey isn't just fantastic to have a choice and be able to save a few quid by dropping the elements you don't require?

I would say for the bloggers and 'professionals' that don't get it. Buy Nikon and the choice is made for you.

Daniel Pryce's picture

Even for photography, you would be surprised how useful it is.

When will they listen to me and offer the compact, carbon fiber 14mm-300mm f/1.4 L IS USM? Until that lens exists, I'll continue to hope.

Now why would you like a heavy 7-pound lens that's almost 2 feet long and almost 7 inches in diameter? I'm being serious here.

Because I'm being facetious, that's why. :)

Bro, that would be so much larger than 7 pounds. A 300 f2.8 is 7 pounds. A 300 f1.4 would probably be about 40 pounds. A zoom of that range would probably weigh several hundred pounds.

14mm-300mm f/0.8 L IS USM??

Patrick Hall's picture

My biggest concern with this, and the Nikkor 24-70 since I use that lens, is why can Tamron produce a killer 24-70 2.8 lens with Stabilization yet Nikon and Canon haven't yet? I've always been a big fan of buying the best you can buy in lenses but these days I actually use the Tamron way more than the Nikkor simply because the quality is almost negligible and the VC is so handy.

Considering the price gap between the 70-200 IS vs non-IS (both f/4 and f/2.8), and the new 24, 28 and 35, a Canon 24-70 2.8 IS would be stupidly expensive (at this rate).

What I think would be more interesting is what Sigma comes up with. They have an f/1.8 zoom, and a telezoom that goes to 300 f/2.8, and two new excellently sharp prime lenses. I think they can create something interesting in this range, or possibly slightly wider.

Patrick Hall's picture

Canon has always had so many options. Nikon would just retire the current 24-70 and offer a new one that is both 2.8 and has VR. If they did that, the price should only be about $200 more than the current version.

It's marketing.

They what their NEXT lens to have it so they can charge more for a novelty that is really just an old tech newly applied to an existed product.

See Apple for more example on that.

I had the 24-70 afs. Instant focus, practically. The tamron was nice, but whirled and took about a sec to focus. In the wedding world 1 sec is eternal & you missed the shot. Plus the nikon focused better in low light. It all boils down to technique vs being more lax and letting the mechanics do the work for you.