Of the lenses photographers carry around in their camera bag, one gets used more than any other: the 70–200mm f/2.8. That’s certainly true for this writer.
This, of course, varies from person to person and changes depending on what’s being photographed, but it’s hard to argue with the versatility and performance of any 70–200mm lens on the market. Especially when you’re a sports photographer, as I am.
To show off just how capable and quintessential this lens is, Kai Wong of DigitalRev has created a video explaining “five reasons why you need a 70–200mm lens.” You can watch the video accompanying this story, but we’ve condensed the five reasons into a list:
- It’s a workhorse of a lens: Whether you go with an f/4 or an f/2.8 version for your camera’s lens mount, every 70–200mm lens on the market is built to take a beating while still shooting.
- Useful range of focal lengths: Be it portraits, photojournalism, or sports photography, you can find almost any focal range you need within the 70–200mm range the lens provides. At 70mm, you get just a little more than a standard focal length, while 200mm expands into the telephoto range.
- Performance: You’ll be hard-pressed to find a lens that’s capable of consistently focusing as fast and as smoothly as a 70–200mm. Of course, this depends on the camera you’re using, but so long as your camera has a solid focusing system, the 70–200mm will never have a problem keeping up, even at 14 frames per second.
- Perfect size: As Kai explains, the 70–200mm lens is at a “sweet spot.” Even the larger f/2.8 versions are small enough to hold with your hand, even for extended periods of time. Sure, after an eight-hour wedding shoot or four-hour football game, your wrist might be sore, but it’s nothing compared to lugging around a 300mm lens.
- Image quality: Regardless of what manufacturer you go with for your 70–200mm lens, you shouldn’t have much of a problem with image quality. Across the board, they’re sharp as can be and are capable of producing incredible bokeh, especially at f/2.8.
The best part of all is that you have a lot of options to choose from, meaning you should be able to pick up a 70–200mm lens that fits your budget. A brand new Canon 70–200mm f/4 costs only $600. If you don’t mind spending a fair bit more and want the best of the best, Canon’s latest 70–200mm f/2.8 IS II costs $2,000.
If you want to save a little more, you can always buy secondhand. Just make sure to do your research and check on the lens before making the transaction.
If you’re in the market for a new lens and want versatility merged with performance, you won’t find a better option out there than a 70–200mm lens, regardless of what model you go with.
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