Canon 70-200 IS II With 5D

This wedding season, we’ve determined that we’re going to do things differently. We’ve got plans to be one of the top 10 wedding photographers in the world. Ambitious? Sure, but that’s what makes the journey fun for us. We’ve added a wedding assistant. That was a stroke of genius. We move quicker and have been getting better images with her help.

One of the other things we’re doing is experimenting with new equipment. We recently bought a 5D and Rebel T2i from KEH (see my post on the KEH experience), and I rented a 70-200 2.8 IS II from a local camera store. I actually wanted the non-IS version, but for some reason none of our local camera stores rent the non-IS version. “Our customers want the best” – or at least that’s what they told me. I think they’re trying to get me addicted to the lens so I drop the two thousand dollars buying that lens from them instead of the non-IS version which costs quite a bit less.

Lens magic
Larissa says there’s no magic in the equipment. I think she’s trying to go for the entire “Santa doesn’t exist” effect on me. Yea, didn’t work. I still feel the magic. I’ll let you be the judge though. The images were super sharp, and the bokeh – oh the bokeh! Seriously, I’ve never seen a lens with background blurring creamy goodness like this lens. Say what you want about the lens, but I’m sticking with my case that there IS magic in the lens. Here’s a sample shot from the wedding taken at f2.8, 1/40, 1600 ISO, 130 mm (cropped post-production).
Flowers In Focus

Image stabilization
In the end, I’m glad I had image stabilization as an option. I kept it on all day. It was a little weird when I wasn’t shooting at all to still hear the motor going. I think I especially noticed the motor when I was hanging the camera down to my side. I’ll have to say that hand-held, it really did give me the ability to slow the shutter down quite a bit more than I normally do. Shooting indoors, I found that I had to shoot pretty slow to get decent images with the 5D (I’ll cover the ISO problem next). The only problem that I ran into was not a fault of the image stabilization. At 1/40th of a second (yes, I know that’s too slow – I blame the 5D), any movement going on in the picture is going to create motion blur. Even if the same shot was taken on a tripod, it would be the exact same effect. Seriously, if everyone at the wedding could have been a little more considerate of me and stopped moving when I was shooting, the shots would have come out fine! (sarcastically) Here’s a shot I took at the reception. Pretty typical lighting conditions for the dances – think back of a cave. The shot was taken at f2.8, 1/40, 1600 ISO, 200 mm.
Father Daughter Dance

Focal Length
For doing photojournalistic pictures, the lens was a fantastic fit. Keep in mind that the 5D is a full-frame camera, so the lens was a true 70-200 focal length. If you’re still in the dark about full-frame and cropped sensor, I’ll be writing a post about that in the future, so stay tuned. During the ceremony, I’ll have to say that I did consider changing over to using the 50D to get a little more zoom, but aside from that, I felt like it fit my style well. Larissa used the lens once for pictures on a bridge. She HATED the focal length. Honestly, I don’t think this lens would be a good fit for her. She didn’t like the weight of the lens either. She’s in love with her 24-70. Maybe using the 70-200 made her feel like she was cheating on her first love. Not sure. I sure didn’t feel guilty breaking up with my 50mm for a day.

Pushing the limits of the 5D
I’ve probably heard a hundred photographers saying that instead of investing in a better camera body, you should invest in better glass. I guess they’re right in some ways. You don’t want slow glass (f5.6). On the other side of the coin though, you don’t want to stick with the 10D because you’ve got really expensive glass. Using the 70-200 with the 5D ended up not working out as well as I expected it to. The lens was fine, but the camera had major limitations on ISO. I guess I expected it to be more like the 5D Mark II. It wasn’t. The ISO went to 1600 without enabling the expanded ISO. I enabled the expanded ISO, and I figured out why it wasn’t enabled by default. Grainy, gross. I think if I had supplemented with fill flash all day long, it would have been more usable. I think we’re moving the 5D over to a studio camera where there’s plenty of light. Here’s a shot taken at f2.8, 1/60, 3200 ISO, 70 mm (cropped post production to show grain).

5D Noise

If I had a million dollars
If you read the section header without singing the song, you did it wrong. Go back and try again. Just as unrealistic of an expectation, if Canon called me later today and offered me anything I wanted from their warehouse, I wouldn’t go with either the 70-200 2.8 IS or the 5D. Well, maybe I would get the IS version since I’m not paying for it, but I can’t see us buying that lens ourselves considering the price difference. I think what we’ll end up doing later this year is to pick up another 5D Mark II (we already own one, and my heart still skips a beat when I see one) and a Canon 70-200 2.8 NON-IS. I can crank my ISO to 4000 on the Mark II and still not feel guilty, so I’ll just use higher shutter speeds with the 70-200. That will eliminate the problem with moving subjects causing motion blur too.

What camera body are you using with the 70-200 2.8 IS? Have some of you opted for the non-IS version? Has cost been a major consideration for you when considering any of Canon’s 70-200 lenses?

16 Responses to “Canon 70-200 2.8 IS II With Original 5D”

  1. Kelly says:

    I love reading posts about equipment. I have 70-200 2.8 IS & I’m in love with it. I don’t think I could shoot with a non-IS just because of weight.

    • TJ says:

      What camera body are you shooting with? Do you ever use the lens in darker environments? Thanks for stopping by!

    • Kelly says:

      I shoot with a 50D & I’ve used it in pretty dark churches without any problems.

      • TJ says:

        Yea, the 50D does a good job in low light, so that makes sense. That does mean that you’re super-zoomy though since the 50D is a crop body. It actually would turn the 70-200 into a 112-320. That would be awesome during the ceremony though.

  2. The Canon 70-200 II is wonderful. The images are always crisp, fast focusing, and love doing Weddings with it! Have fun.

    • TJ says:

      Thanks for the visit! Do you use fill flash? Have you found that 2.8 isn’t quite fast enough in some situations?

  3. Susan says:

    I have the non is version with the 5-D but I love the 24-70.

    • TJ says:

      That’s Larissa’s favorite combination too. She likes to work close to people rather than a half mile away. I think for me, I really liked the 70-200 focal length because it was easy to get details and I could shoot photojournalistic images without having to “intrude” on the moment. Thanks for the visit and the comment!

  4. Candy says:

    I have the original 70-200 IS and I love it on my 5D! Blurring creamy goodness is my new favorite term!! :)

    • TJ says:

      Thanks for stopping by. Lol @ blurring creamy goodness. I come up with some of the oddest ways to say stuff =) Thanks for the comment!

  5. Love my Canon 70-200mm 2.8, and I have the f4 as well, when my arm gets tired.

    • TJ says:

      I can’t remember – are you a 5D MkII guy? I went to a trade show last night and saw the 70-200 f4. I couldn’t believe how much smaller it was than the 2.8 version. Crazy!

  6. Yes, 5d, Mark 2, great little camera.

    • TJ says:

      We love our 5D Mark II as well. I think the only camera I could possibly love more is the new 1DS Mk IV. Even then I’m not sure because I think it has a partially cropped sensor. I’m all about the full frame on the 5D Mark II.

  7. Kim Ortiz says:

    I have the 5D Mark II and just bought the 70-200 F2.8 IS II. It’s an amazing lens but wow, it is so big and heavy. I bought it as a gift for my husband. I have the 70-200 F4 IS and I do like that one better for the size but the F2.8 has much better creamy bokeh. I am still trying to learn to use the F2.8 wide open as it seems not as sharp on a tripod with IS off. As for the 5D Mark II, doesn’t any have issues with the camera coming out darker than the view finder? I alway overexposed just to not have dark photos or fix it in Lightroom.

    • TJ McDowell says:

      Sometimes it’s tough to hit the focus right on (at least in video mode) at 200mm with 2.8. It’s definitely a great lens though. I’ve heard similar complaints to the one you’re making about having IS off and trip performance not being as good. Weird.

      We don’t have any issues at all with our viewfinder not showing accurately. I’m pretty sure there are settings for the viewfinder brightness in the menu – maybe those were accidentally adjusted on your camera?