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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Sean Mason's picture

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.

Stu's picture

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!

Stephen Hunt's picture

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.

Nicholas gonzalez's picture

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.

CrustyJuggler66's picture

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.

C S's picture

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.

Anders Petersen's picture

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.

CrustyJuggler66's picture

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.

Alex's picture

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.

Anthony Cayetano's picture

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.

Alex's picture

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

Anthony Cayetano's picture


Veldask Krofkomanov's picture

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.

mary-mary's picture

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.

Anders Petersen's picture

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.

Mr Blah's picture

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.

Jc Murcia's picture

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.

marc osborne jr's picture

I'm a filmmaker who lives in Alaska and the L lenses are the only ones that can handle a beating in the wild. I am super pumped for the 16-35 f4 IS. Blowing up my old Tokina 11-16 on a movie theater screen really shows the lack of web videos it isn't as jarring. But I, for one, am very excited about that lens. Newshooter has a good little thing.about them. You wedding pros think every lens is made just for you! :P

Benjamin Anderson's picture

IMHO, I believe Canon is capitalizing, especially in the instance of the 24/70mm 'franchise, if you will' that the 24/70 is an amazing portrait lens, and I am quite sure the unreachable-for-some price point in the f/2.8 version reflects that known fact. I say this because if you ask pros as well as up-and-comers what lens they think is the 'best' the 24/70 is 'the one' to have, and I bet many will say this because of all the places to read pros' gear lists and find an awful lot of great portrait shooters list the 24/70 2.8.

Now let's look at someone with several years in the industry, they have $400 or more invested in a 85 1.8, are drooling over the 1.4 or 1.2 cousins, and if theyve been shooting for more than a little bit they have no doubt read any gazillions of blogs, Creative Live and ween what guys like Gordon, Kelby, et. al are shooting and say to themselves, "I really need THAT lens."

After their heart begins to beat again after seeing what a 24-70 f2/8 costs, Canon dangles in their face a f/4 variant for a couple hundred bucks less, and now all of a sudden the 'magic' of owning a 24/70 might be within their grasp and they begin to salivate. Once that happens, Canon could make the damn thing a f4-5.6, sarcasm intended, and they would still sell them like Grant through Richmond.

Marketing, marketing, marketing and not all by Canon itself. Our industry itself has marketed the 24/70 as the one to get. Which lens manufacturer has ever printed in their literature "creamy, dreamy bokeh" which you see in Facebook photography groups galore when discussing better than average circle of confusion conveyance in an image. Our industry has done the 'branding' to itself, and as much as I hate to say this, I believe the Camera/Lens manufacturers are driving the semi-trucks loaded with overpriced gear straight through the huge opening in our wallets we as photographers have dreamed up, described to a 'T', and implemented for the manufacturers to drive straight through.

Hell, we even printed the map for 'em.

Do I own a 24/70? No. I'm still shooting with my trusty Ef85 1.8, and a 'I fell for the hype 70-200 f/2.8 IS II...cough...cough' :) so I'm not immune to the marketing either.

A couple hundred bucks for a f/4 rather than a f/2.8 might not seem a worthwhile purchase for a lot of us, but for some, it is just enough.

I bet there is not anyone DPR, DXOlabs, Consumer Reports, or anyone else will be able to make any type of cost vs. performance comparison between the 2.8 and 4 to see if the $200-300 savings is a good deal or not, because after all, isn't our product mostly subjective anyway?

Ben Perrin's picture

It is looking like a perfect lens for landscape photographers. Not every lens out there is going to be pitched towards weddings. Looks like it's going to be very sharp when stopped down beyond f8 and IS for those situations when you don't have a tripod. At f4 it's not going to appeal to everyone obviously but it looks like it'll replace my 17-40 and keep me very happy.

iamjr's picture

Yesterday at Canon I have seen this... woaw
The test images are sharp to the edge. No curvature.
Simply a hammer lens which is better than the f/2.8

MJP's picture

Let's not be confused or controversial - let's recognize different products are suited for different target audiences.

As a landscape photographer I'm THRILLED to see this lens. For years I've been using Canon's 17-40 both on a tripod (extensively) but also as my 'walkaround' lens. I have wished for sharper corners but even more I've wanted IS so I don't have to be so reliant on a tripod for "casual" sharpness. This announcement brings from me a giant yeahhhhh!

BTW, in addition to my 5DMii I also have a Nikon D800 w/ their 16-35 f4 VR. Great combination! Makes perfect sense to me that Canon has matched this Nikon lens offering - including the price point. Even more than for the sensor I was prompted to buy the D800 so I could use their 16-35mm VR and their 14-24mm; these are extraordinary lenses for landscape! Glad to see Canon isn't going to be left entirely in the dust since I love using their gear. Canon, will we someday get an upgraded sensor and better super wide option than the 8-15mm?

For my uses I'd much rather have f4 + IS/VR than the cost and weight of f2.8.

Wedding photographers, portrait artists, and similar others - don't hate me because my needs are a bit different than yours. I continue to be amazed by your art.

Anonymous's picture

I agree 100%. I've got the D800 & Nikon's version of this lens and it is a spectacular combo. I've never missed the extra stop and the VR actually does come in handy in low light & video.

David Stephen Kalonick's picture

I still love my 17-40mm L, so this is right up my alley! I only use it for end of night dance shots with direct flash so the loss of speed isn't missed.

Nicholas gonzalez's picture

There may be controversy, but there is no doubt that it's a lens that many will use. I personally cannot wait to replace my excellent 17-40l lens. Nikon has a 16-35 VR lens along with a number of other ultra wide angle lenses. So should canon. If you don't like it, just don't buy it. I definitely will.

Jason Hudson's picture

Anyone consider that maybe its more of a marketing move? With the introduction of an affordable full sensor camera like the 6D more people are looking toward L glass. Maybe the purpose of releasing this lens is less about selling them and more about getting people to spend that extra few hundred dollars more to "bite the bullet" and buy the 16-25 f/2.8. All the while still selling the 16-35 f/4 to landscape photogs and videographers... and those of you that froth over everything new Canon puts out. Thoughts?

Capion's picture


La Vida Leica's picture

Honestly? "Meh." Much prefer the faster f/2.8 zooms. While IS is no doubt useful, it becomes less useful (personally) the wider the lens' focal length. The age old debate of 24-70mm vs. 24-105mm will now expand to the 16-35mm range. :p

Marcos Villaroman's picture

Compare the weight of the f/2.8 trilogy of zooms against the weight of the f/4.0 version. If you shoot with studio lighting, in good available light, on a tripod, or always stop down for DOF, the f/4.0 set makes a lot of sense.

If you are a wedding or event shooter in changing/challenging lighting conditions, I definitely could see f/2.8 zooms. But, I am not surprised hearing how many of people who shoot f/2.8 eventually buy good rolling camera bags to haul their gear around day after day.

Joshua Brangenberg's picture

There is no need for IS if your shutter speed is faster than the focal length of the lens. I do not think I would ever shoot below 1/20th or 1/40th hand held. A faster lens gives me greater versatility of use rather than needing to use IS.

Ye TZ's picture

If you like/need it , just buy or don't like it, why bother arguing.
If this lens make you happy why not.

Gus Martinez's picture

I can see people using these lenses in SOME cases for video, still, would prefer a faster lens way more than just an IS one.

Jason Berge's picture

I abandoned Canon (5DmkII) last year for Sony A99. Can anybody say IBIS, every lens is "stabilized"

John Dillworth's picture

The MTF charts on the new 16-35 seem to indicate and optically great lens. I love to hate the 24-105 but it finds itself on my camera a lot. I had the money to buy the 70-200 2.8 but when I tried it on my camera it was just to big and heavy to throw in my bag so I bought the f4. They fill a great niche, L lens quality and build, IS, but significantly cheaper than the 2.8's I think they are L's for the rest of us. If I made my living with my camera I might go with the 2.8's but the 4's are fine for weekend warriors

superdan_x's picture

I wish Canon would realize that people in America just want it wrapped in bacon. No matter what it is, wrap in bacon.

sdancer's picture

Frankly, with sensors being as good as they are, the potential savings in price, weight and size are a really good thing. While having f/≤2.8 everything is technically a nice thing, there are so many situations where you just don't need it.

Premium vendors deciding to hawk those lenses for f/fast money is another story, and I can see them getting b███slapped by, say, Sigma.

Martin Håndlykken's picture

As a videoshooter I can see how this fits in. At a cheaper pricepoint I can se a market for it. As a owner of the 16-35mm f2.8 I won't switch. With a tripod/rig/monopod I get stable shots with it. When I run and gun handheld I use the more versatile 24-105mm f4 IS.

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