Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM

Part of Canon’s professional L-series, the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM boasts in-built image stabilisation.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM

It’s the IS in the name that distinguishes the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM from the cheaper 70-200mm f/4L USM. The lenses are virtually the same size and shape, but the more expensive of the pair comes with built-in 4-stop image stabilisation (IS). This makes it ideal for handheld shooting in darker conditions, cutting out unwanted motion blur that can occur when using slower shutter speeds. The lens is part of Canon’s professional L-series line, marked by a red ring around the lens barrel, so has exceptionally high quality glass including one fluorite and two Ultra-low Dispersion elements. There are also advanced lens coatings to cut down on flare and ghosting. Perfect for shooting in very quiet environments, the lens is fitted with Canon’s ring-type Ultra-Sonic Motor (USM), which is both near-silent and very fast. The minimum focusing distance is about average at 120cm. Full-time manual override is built in so that focus can be adjusted with the focus ring even when in AF mode. Weighing just 760g, the Canon is only 55g heavier than the non-IS version, and is the lightest stabilised 70-200mm on the market. Image quality is excellent, with minimal corner softness at wider apertures, though there is some mild chromatic aberration visible.

Canon does manufacture a more expensive f/2.8 version of this lens, giving faster shutter speeds and a shallower depth-of-field, but it’s £750 more expensive and around twice the weight.


With built-in image stabilisation and strong image quality, but the widest aperture of f/4 isn’t the best on the market.


  • Kit price: £559 (Secondhand price as of July 2016)
  • Maximum aperture: f/4
  • Minimum aperture: f/32
  • Minimum focus distance: 120cm
  • Angle-of-view: 34° - 12°
  • Diaphragm blades: 8
  • Elements/groups: 20/15
  • Stabilisation: Yes
  • Lens hood included: Yes
  • Tripod collar: No
  • Fits: Canon
  • Filter size: 67mm
  • Length: 172mm
  • Weight: 760g
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This review was first published in the February 2015 issue of Practical Photography - download back issues here.