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I'm interested about shooting within the ~70-100mm range. I found out on google shop that these two lenses are priced $750[24-105mm, new] and $550 [70-200mm, new], respectively.

Which one do you think is better within the common range? Would it be problematic to shoot using the 70-200mm without tripod?

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2  
Since you noted that the 70-200mm is $550 - the assumption is that you are speaking of the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L lens. Canon has 4 current 70-200mm lenses, so this is important to note and clarify. –  dpollitt Jan 10 '13 at 0:41
    
I own the 24-105 and my GF has one of the 70-200mm. We call that lens, The Beast. It isn't even close to being small. So, IQ issues aside, you might want to physically hold one before buying. (And you do this at your local camera shop, and if they are decent, they'll match the online prices.) –  Paul Cezanne Jan 10 '13 at 13:28
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@PaulCezanne - They are asking specifically about the 70-200 f/4 L I believe. The 70-200m f4 L is only 35g/.08lbs heavier then the 24-105mm, a bit thinner and 7cm/2.5in longer. I've owned both, I don't think size or weight is a HUGE differentiator here, although it is present. Now, a 70-200 f/2.8 IS is a HUGE difference, but they aren't asking about that. –  dpollitt Jan 10 '13 at 18:09
    
Ahhh yes, I should have know that. She has the 2.8, not the f4. So, never mind! :- ) –  Paul Cezanne Jan 10 '13 at 18:25

4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

It depends what you mean by "better".

The Canon 24-105mm f/4 IS L has image stabilization of around 3 stops. The Canon 70-200mm f/4 L lens has no image stabilization but a similar f/4 aperture. If you are simply interested in hand-holdability then the 24-105mm is superior due to it's image stabilization feature.

If you are interested in image IQ in regards to sharpness, they are very similar but the 70-200 will likely win out here. You can compare them a bit using this tool. The Canon 24-105mm does not excel in the 70-105mm range, that is probably it's weakest area. That is one of the reasons why many professionals prefer the 24-70mm L with a 70-200mm L lens as opposed to using the 24-105mm L's extra focal length range(the other is f/2.8 on the 24-70mm).

Generally speaking they are both fantastic lenses, and both are very popular. I would buy whichever one has the additional focal length that would be useful to you. If you ever shoot in the 24-70mm range, then the 24-105 is the way to go, if you ever shoot in the 105-200mm range, then go with the 70-200mm f/4 L. They really are completely different lenses. If you really want something in the 100mm range at the highest quality - I wouldn't look at either of these, but rather one of the 100mm macro lenses in this range.

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If you are going to use the lenses dpollitt reccomended (at f/4) then you might want to consider if you'll have any additional use of the lens. If you primarily find yourself indoors or in tight spaces, you might want to consider the 24-105mm for the flexibility it gives you when shooting inside. It might save you time changing between lenses. Alternatively, if you spend a lot of time outdoors then you might find that the 70-200 would be helpful if you want to zoom in on different areas that might be inaccessible (for example animals in trees).

Just a different way of looking at the problem.

Cheers,

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I own the 24-105 F4L, and it's a great lens. Good AF, and the images are amazing, crisp and clear. The reason I bought it instead of the 24-70L is I feel it's a better street lens because it gives you more range when you need it, so you don't need to carry a second lens (and a bag to put it in, and etc....). A body and a 24-105 make a good walk-around combo where you can leave everything else at home except a spare battery and some cards in your pocket.

I also own the 70-200 F2.8l IS II (and an older 70-200 F2.8L IS I plan on selling). I don't own the 70-200 F4 but there are times when I want to because the 2.8's are beasts. Amazing, amazing lenses but they aren't small. Or light. Or easy to carry. Or cheap.

The real answer here is "what are you planning on doing?" -- either lens you suggest is a good, solid lens. What really matters is what you are going to do. If your primary range is around 100mm, I'd lean towards the 70-200, but I'd stop and see what my secondary range tendency is (if you use lightroom, you can dig into the image data and see what MM images were shot at). If it tends towards the wide angle range, go for the 24-105. If you tend towards telephoto, go for the 70-200. You don't give us any real info on what you're doing so it's hard to say. I think in the 100mm range the 70-200F4 will be crisper, but it won't be a significant difference.

But also think about shooting conditions. Low light? Movement? Fast AF? If you need those things, that pushes you towards the 24-105.

Think about future upgrades. If you but the 70-200, what will you do about covering the wide angle when you need it? Are there reasons why you might want to move from the 70-200F4 to an F2.8?

Either one should serve you well. Which one you should buy (first. honestly, I think almost all photogs need to have lens coverage in the 30-200 range, which means all photogs could benefit by these two lenses, or equivalent ones) depends on where your photography goes when it leaves that primary range you're interested in. Does it go wide? Or does it go for power? That'll lean you one way or the other.

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I own both lenses and I've taken some very good (for me) photos with both. I don't have anything bad to say about either. However, if I specifically wanted a lens for shooting in the 70-100mm range, I'd definitely consider the EF 85mm f/1.8. It's been recommended to me by several people, routinely gets 5 star reviews on Amazon, and only costs $359. Being a prime lens it doesn't zoom, but it's also 2+ stops faster than either of the lenses you're considering.

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