I'm in the process of preparing for an upcoming trip and I'm going back and forth between the EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM and EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM as the telephoto lens to purchase to bring along for the trip, although the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM has currently caught my eye as a lower cost option. Right now I'm anticipating that most of my photography will be done with either a EF 17-40mm f/4L USM or EF 50mm f/1.4 USM, although I do have a EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM at my disposal as well, the Canon 40d is my current main camera although I have been contemplating an upgrade at some point in the future so I generally sly away from the EF-S lenses.

In order to save weight and space, I am trying to limit my selection of lenses to one wide-angle lens and one telephoto lens with the 50mm f/1.4 being added in due to it's compact size in my kit. The last time I traveled I did miss out on a couple shots due to not having a sufficient telephoto lens with (was traveling with the 17-40mm and 28-135mm); however, the vast majority of my photographs were taken with the 17-40mm. Quite a bit of my photography will likely be in dusk or night time conditions as I will be attempting to capture the aurora borealis which is another reason that I don't anticipate heavy usage of the telephoto lens.

What would be some recommendations in this situation?


2 Answers 2


Given your intended use as "occasional landscape photography" I'd suggest you get the zoom. I see the 200 f/2.8L as a lens to use when you know you you'll need at least 200mm, for example shooting sports or wildlife.

If you don't know much about what you will be doing the 70-200 is a much more flexible lens, with the ability to zoom out (200 to 50 is a big gap in your range), plus IS is great for photography around dusk. Rare for a zoom, it doesn't really lose anything in image quality compared to the prime.

It will cost you more than double, though. And it's a much heavier lens. If either of these are a concern the f/4 version is also very highly regarded.

  • The weight and size is a major concern with the selection as I will likely need to do a fair bit of hiking to get some of the shots I would like. The size of the 70-200 f/4 compared to say, the 28-135 f/3.5-5.6?
    – anonymous
    Aug 6, 2012 at 14:38
  • Also, I've seen the 80-200 f/2.8 L be recommended on a couple of forums, could that also be a viable option?
    – anonymous
    Aug 6, 2012 at 14:43
  • The "magic drainpipe" 80-200L is good value, you'll have to find one used. I think the 70-200 f/4L IS is still a better choice for low light work, even though it's a stop slower.
    – Matt Grum
    Aug 6, 2012 at 14:55
  • Really? Why is that?
    – anonymous
    Aug 6, 2012 at 14:56
  • The IS version has a four stop image stabilizer, which will ought to be handholdable at 1/25s!
    – Matt Grum
    Aug 6, 2012 at 15:00

If you're shooting with a tripod, I'd look at the 70-200/4L:


It's lighter weight than the 200/2.8. If you're using a tripod at dusk, the IS isn't essential. It's only 6 oz heavier than your current 28-135 and 1.8 lbs lighter than the 70-200/2.8.

If you're wanting more of a zoom range, I highly recommend the 70-300L. I bought that as my telephoto zoom. It's another 10 oz heavier than the 70-200/4, though. It's more expensive, too.

  • I have been considering that as well, but I'm debating trading in my 28-135 if I do that as well as I should be able to get around $150 towards the new lens. However, I'm not sure if I would get that much use out of the 70-200 compared to the use I get out of the 28-135 and 17-40.
    – anonymous
    Aug 6, 2012 at 21:38
  • You were asking about the 70-200mm f/2.8 IS, the 70-200mm f/4 is significantly lighter and still great quality. If you are even remotely considering the 70-200 f/2.8 IS, then the 70-200 f/4 should really be on your list for travel and lightweight purposes. It is excellent.
    – dpollitt
    Aug 7, 2012 at 2:46

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