I have three zooms in the 70mm to 200mm+ range, and they couldn’t be more different from one another. My favorite of the bunch is the Canon 70-200 f/4 L. I think it’s one of the best lenses I’ve ever owned in terms of sharpness, color fidelity, and that magical X-factor that’s hard to describe, but you see it in the pictures. I keep the 70-200 in my Canon 5D kit for assignments.
I also have an older Canon 70-210 f/3.5-4.5 USM that I bought for the original film-loading Elan body. I liked that lens on the Elan and have many good pictures to show for it. Since I don’t shoot much film anymore, I moved the 70-210 to my lighter, “grab as I run out the door,” Canon XTi kit that also includes the 17-40 f/4 and an older 24-85 f/3.5-4.5 USM. It’s a nice ensemble for bopping around because it’s so light.
The thing that I’ve realized however, is that I can really tell the difference between these two zoom lenses, and need to shoot accordingly with them. I’ve used the 70-200 L on the XTi before, and I know the types of pictures it renders. Yesterday, however, I grabbed the “light kit” on the way out the door to take some snaps at the Giants-Dodgers game at AT&T Park. That meant shooting with the older 70-210.
Note to self: for sporting events, I should swap out the older 70-210 for the newer L lens. Its resolving power is so much better, showing the fine detail in uniforms, etc. even in action shots. But I do like the portraits with the older lens. It has a flattering, softer quality that still renders the eyes nice and sharp, but the skin tones look younger.
So, during the shoot at the Giants game, the action shots weren’t as good as I knew they could be with the 70-200 L, but I did end up with some very nice crowd portraits. I kept in mind the strengths of that old workhorse, and adjusted my shoot accordingly. That being said… I wish I had a 70-200 L in both kits.
Photo by Derrick Story. Canon XTi with 70-210mm f/3.5-4.5 Canon USM lens. Focal length was 155mm, f/6.7 at 350th of a second, ISO 200. RAW file format.