Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM

The Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM is just about the cheapest lens in its class, but are its images top quality or bargain basement? 

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM

Not only is the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM the least expensive 70-200mm lens on the market, it’s also the cheapest glass in Canon’s professional L-series range, making it incredible value for money. It is also very small and light for a 70-200mm, so it’s very convenient to store, carry and use. The main reason for this is that it doesn’t have image stabilisation (IS) built in, and it has an f/4 rather than an f/2.8 aperture – both of which add to the size and weight of a lens. Without these two features, the Canon is less suitable for low light shooting without a tripod, so if you’re photographing, say, a wedding in a church, you’ll have to use a much higher ISO to eliminate camera shake. It’s also not possible to achieve the same shallow depth-of-field as an f/2.8 lens, meaning out-of-focus backgrounds will be less blurry wide open.

There is a USM focusing motor for near-silent AF, and focus can be tweaked manually without switching into manual. The lens performed extremely well on our test charts, producing pro-quality images that are sharp right across the frame, even wide open. There is minor chromatic aberration at longer focal lengths at f/4, but this is easily removed in post-processing.


With a near-silent AF and excellent image quality, this lens represents incredible value.


  • Street price: £324 (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: 16/13
  • Stabilisation: No
  • Lens hood included: Yes
  • Tripod collar: No
  • Fits: Canon
  • Filter size: 67mm
  • Length: 172mm
  • Weight: 705g
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This review was first published in the February 2015 issue of Practical Photography - download back issues here.