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Old November 10th, 2014, 03:23 PM   #1
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Canon 70-200mm F/4 vs. F/2.8 for Ceremony

For next year's wedding season I'm looking at purchasing a new lens to use on my Canon C100 during the ceremony instead of my current Canon 24-105 F/4. A friend of mine has the Canon 70-200mm F/2.8 non IS and he used it on our Canon 70D for the last couple weddings that we shot this year. I was really impressed with everything about the lens, but I did notice that for one of the ceremonies where he had to zoom in quite a bit, the minister was in focus but the groom was slightly out of focus. This was inside of a church so he had it wide open at 2.8 to get more light, but I think that shooting wide open was at least part of the reason for this (he was on the left side of the sanctuary and his shot was of the minister, the groom, and the back of the bride.)

I want to find out if others have had this same thing happen when shooting wide open with a very shallow depth of field with the F/2.8 lens? The reason I'm asking is that if this is fairly common when shooting wide open then I would probably stop the lens down to around F/4 and just bump up the ISO in my C100 as necessary. And if I end up doing this then I may as well save quite a bit of money and just buy the 70-200 F/4 version.

Next year we will likely be shooting with two C100s instead of using the 70D, so we could both potentially shoot at F/4 and increase the ISO in dimly lit churches without an unacceptable amount of noise.

So please let me know if anyone else has had this same thing happen when shooting with the 2.8 version wide open or if you have used the lens quite a bit and have figure out how to avoid this from happening.

Thanks,

Mike Silverman
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Old November 10th, 2014, 03:43 PM   #2
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Re: Canon 70-200mm F/4 vs. F/2.8 for Ceremony

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So please let me know if anyone else has had this same thing happen when shooting with the 2.8 version wide open or if you have used the lens quite a bit and have figure out how to avoid this from happening.
If you want a larger dof you have to close down the iris and increase the iso to compensate. Have you not shot with fast lenses before? You can't avoid shallow dof if you open up the iris on larger sensor camera's and it only gets worse on the longer end of a telelens.
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Old November 10th, 2014, 03:46 PM   #3
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Re: Canon 70-200mm F/4 vs. F/2.8 for Ceremony

Well, just using a Mk3 here. What I'm finding is that f/4 is not practical for receptions, and that there are many times where I'm at f/2.8, 6400 ISO and 30 shutter speed and still starving for light.

Your C100 has cleaner high ISO than mine, but I'm sceptical that, even in the really dark environments, you'd want to push beyond 6400 (though I think the a7s could get away with it).

What's your experience been so far? Have you been happy at f/4 with other lenses at receptions?
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Old November 10th, 2014, 04:07 PM   #4
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Re: Canon 70-200mm F/4 vs. F/2.8 for Ceremony

For anytime you NEED to have any depth of field, I'd target f/5.6 or higher. I have gone down to f/4 in a pinch, but then have to pick who will be in focus.

f/2.8 is great during vows, with a clean shot of either the bride or groom's face. Or for your tight shot during the first dance. Really gives that feeling of them being the only people in the world.

Most of the time, though, at the reception its too dark and I need even faster lenses (70d and 5d Mark ii here), like the 85mm f/1.8

For the 70D, why not take full advantage of the focusing ability? The STM lenses like the 40mm f/2.8 or the 18-135mm is a nice 'on the move' lens. Otherwise, for ceremonies, our 70Ds use the 55-250mm f/5.6 STM for it's reach and smooth focusing/tracking, one for each the bride and groom.
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Old November 10th, 2014, 04:10 PM   #5
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Re: Canon 70-200mm F/4 vs. F/2.8 for Ceremony

I have shot with fast lenses before during the reception, but typically during the ceremony I have just used my 24-105 f/4. I will zoom in all the way to 105mm, stay wide open at f/4, and raise the ISO up and I usually get good results. However, I've found that 105mm is not quite as far as I would like to zoom and the 70-200 would give me more than enough reach.

I guess to make my question more concise, has anyone else shot with the 70-200mm f/2.8 wide open and had an issue where they cannot get both the minister and the groom/bride in focus at the same time when zoomed in to like 140-150mm? It's possible that my friend just missed the shot as he was pulling focus manually, but if it's common for the lens to do this at f/2.8 then I'd rather get the f/4 version and just raise up the ISO.
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Old November 10th, 2014, 04:17 PM   #6
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Re: Canon 70-200mm F/4 vs. F/2.8 for Ceremony

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Originally Posted by Robert Benda View Post
For anytime you NEED to have any depth of field, I'd target f/5.6 or higher. I have gone down to f/4 in a pinch, but then have to pick who will be in focus.

f/2.8 is great during vows, with a clean shot of either the bride or groom's face. Or for your tight shot during the first dance. Really gives that feeling of them being the only people in the world.

Most of the time, though, at the reception its too dark and I need even faster lenses (70d and 5d Mark ii here), like the 85mm f/1.8

For the 70D, why not take full advantage of the focusing ability? The STM lenses like the 40mm f/2.8 or the 18-135mm is a nice 'on the move' lens. Otherwise, for ceremonies, our 70Ds use the 55-250mm f/5.6 STM for it's reach and smooth focusing/tracking, one for each the bride and groom.
I just wrote my response before reading this reply. I think this makes a lot of sense that when isolating a single person, f/2.8 works well, but when it's necessary to get multiple people in focus it's better to stop it down. Next year we're planning to swap out the 70D with a C100 mk II (if funds allow us to). We didn't experiment much with the face tracking on the 70D but I think the C100 mk II has that with STM lenses as well. However, the reason why I like the 70-200mm is that the bokeh is amazing for a zoom and it also has the exact reach that I need during the ceremony. I'm just not a fan of having to add a lens support system but I'll get used to it :)
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Old November 10th, 2014, 04:33 PM   #7
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Re: Canon 70-200mm F/4 vs. F/2.8 for Ceremony

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Originally Posted by Michael Silverman View Post
I just wrote my response before reading this reply. I think this makes a lot of sense that when isolating a single person, f/2.8 works well, but when it's necessary to get multiple people in focus it's better to stop it down. Next year we're planning to swap out the 70D with a C100 mk II (if funds allow us to). We didn't experiment much with the face tracking on the 70D but I think the C100 mk II has that with STM lenses as well. However, the reason why I like the 70-200mm is that the bokeh is amazing for a zoom and it also has the exact reach that I need during the ceremony. I'm just not a fan of having to add a lens support system but I'll get used to it :)
The facial tracking is the best! Especially for the processional and recessional. I usually have an STM lens (smooth on the focus) at around 28 or 40mm and, from up front, track everyone as they come in, then, once the bride gets up front, I retreat to my main camera position. It's great.

And if the reception isn't too dark, the 24mm or 40mm f/2.8 STM will do very nicely during dancing. I'm a big fan of camera movement, then, and while I'm decent at pulling focus manually, it's just so easy with the 70D.
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Old November 10th, 2014, 05:06 PM   #8
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Re: Canon 70-200mm F/4 vs. F/2.8 for Ceremony

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Originally Posted by Michael Silverman View Post
It's possible that my friend just missed the shot as he was pulling focus manually
You first said that the minister was in focus but the groom was slightly out of focus so my question would be, who did he want to have in focus? If he wanted to have the groom in focus then yes, he missed the shot.

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Originally Posted by Michael Silverman View Post
has anyone else shot with the 70-200mm f/2.8 wide open and had an issue where they cannot get both the minister and the groom/bride in focus at the same time when zoomed in to like 140-150mm?
Shooting wide open with a f2.8 lens at longer focal lengths, like 140-150mm on a aps-c or larger sensor and depending on your distance to the persons you are shooting it's impossible to have them both in focus if they are in not the same distance from your camera, there is nothing you can do about that. Even at f4 you cannot have them both in focus if one is one meter further from your camera then the other, unless the distance between yourself and them is very large.
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Old November 10th, 2014, 05:07 PM   #9
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Re: Canon 70-200mm F/4 vs. F/2.8 for Ceremony

My main product is stills and I use the 70-200 f2.8 IS a lot during ceremonies.

However I only go down to f2.8 if I absolutely have to because the depth of field is so narrow - even at the short end - that focusing is critical. Missed focus or focus on the wrong thing is much ,more noticeable in stills than in video but I still would avoid risking it for video. No way will you get two people in focus unless they are in exactly the same plane; even then you'll not get the whole head of one person in sharp focus towards the long end.

By all means use it at f2.8 for specific shots you want but don't rely on it for long clips or for shots that really matter unless the light is so low that you have to do that.

The weight and bulk are also significant.

But it is an "insurance policy". If you find yourself in venues where the light is otherwise unusable low it might be f2.8 or nothing.

So I think it would be a false economy to exclude f2.8 or image stabilisation.

You could pick up the mark one version much cheaper than a new mark two and the difference would be unnoticeable except by pixel peepers.

You could probably rent either cheaply in your area to try them out.

Pete
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Old November 10th, 2014, 07:22 PM   #10
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Re: Canon 70-200mm F/4 vs. F/2.8 for Ceremony

This is all really good information. With the 24-105 I've always been able to frame a shot from the side getting the bride and minister in focus while the back of the groom is slightly out of focus when at 105mm at F/4. However, I'm sure that would not be as easy when I'm zoomed into 140mm. From what I've read in this thread, the 70-200mm F/4 non IS will probably meet my needs since I will be on a tripod with very little camera movement (mostly just reframing and I can just cut to another shot then), and with the C100 I'm comfortable taking the ISO to 6400 in the case of a very dark church.

In order to be on the safe side, whenever I'm zoomed in past like 120mm I'll try to frame the shot so that only one person needs to be in focus so that I don't have the same issue my friend had. When I need to get all three in the shot then I can zoom out a bit so that there's a slightly deeper depth of field and I can get both the bride and minister in focus at once.

I like the idea that Robert had of using an STM lens for the processional. Right now I'm using my 24-105 which has worked will with the C100 continuous AF, but I do like the way the STM lenses work with the continuous AF and with the C100 mk II I can use the face recognition.

My friend was using a 70-200 f/2.8 mk I and really likes it. However, I'm always more comfortable buying gear new and I think he said the mk I is only available used. So I'll check out the prices of renting as we have one last wedding in about a month that I could rent it for. But I'd really like to save the money if I can with the F/4 if it's possible.
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Old November 10th, 2014, 07:56 PM   #11
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Re: Canon 70-200mm F/4 vs. F/2.8 for Ceremony

Get the f/4 and crank up your ISO when you need to. 2.8 is obnoxious on telephoto most of the time. The f/4 lens is lighter, cheaper and easier to handle. If you really need to, apply neat video to the DARK stuff and it cleans up like magic. The 2.8 canon is a fantastic lens, but there's a significant price difference that I don't think is worth it 98% of the time. If you foresee needing 2.8, rent or borrow for the day.
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Old November 10th, 2014, 08:58 PM   #12
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Re: Canon 70-200mm F/4 vs. F/2.8 for Ceremony

I'm in a similar position where I'd love to buy a 70-200 (have hired the 2.8 IS for my first two wedding shoots) and I can see that upping ISO could compensate for the difference in f stop. Issue is, in most reception settings my 6D will be pushed in terms of ISO at 2.8, so worry that f4 would simply be too dark.

The Canon 70-200 f4 IS is still more expensive than the Tamron 70-200 2.8 VC, so I'm wondering if anyone has a strong preference for either of these lenses?

Last edited by Mitch Phillips; November 10th, 2014 at 09:05 PM. Reason: Wrong information
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Old November 11th, 2014, 06:42 PM   #13
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Re: Canon 70-200mm F/4 vs. F/2.8 for Ceremony

I use the 70-200 f4 IS on both the C100 and A7S, and anywhere near the far end (150mm onwards) provides a shallow depth of field when shooting at f4. Most of the times I end up stopping down to f5.6 however most often venues tend to be quite dark over here as well so shooting wide open is the only option. Obviously you'd need to choose where you'd like to focus. It's impossible to get both the foreground and background in focus like you were suggesting.

While I've never owned the f2.8 version, I've tried it out and I consider it to be way too bulky and heavy. For me, with the cameras I'm using, the difference between f2.8 and f4 is minimal so I'd rather get something which works better for me in terms of ergonomics. The f4 IS is perfect in terms of weight, so much so that I even do some run&gunning with it at 200mm handheld and manage to get smooth footage thanks to its incredible IS performance.
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Old November 11th, 2014, 06:56 PM   #14
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Re: Canon 70-200mm F/4 vs. F/2.8 for Ceremony

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Originally Posted by Malcolm Debono View Post
I use the 70-200 f4 IS on both the C100 and A7S, and anywhere near the far end (150mm onwards) provides a shallow depth of field when shooting at f4. Most of the times I end up stopping down to f5.6 however most often venues tend to be quite dark over here as well so shooting wide open is the only option. Obviously you'd need to choose where you'd like to focus. It's impossible to get both the foreground and background in focus like you were suggesting.

While I've never owned the f2.8 version, I've tried it out and I consider it to be way too bulky and heavy. For me, with the cameras I'm using, the difference between f2.8 and f4 is minimal so I'd rather get something which works better for me in terms of ergonomics. The f4 IS is perfect in terms of weight, so much so that I even do some run&gunning with it at 200mm handheld and manage to get smooth footage thanks to its incredible IS performance.
Malcom, do you find that the IS is helpful when using the lens on a tripod? I've heard some people say that it's best not to use IS while on sticks while other people say that the IS helps reduce vibrations and any "unsmooth" movements while zoomed in really far. I don't plan on using this lens handheld or on a monopod, so I would only use it on a tripod. The reason I ask is that the non IS version is much less expensive. Right now after mail in rebate, B&H is selling it for $609.
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Old November 12th, 2014, 05:23 AM   #15
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Re: Canon 70-200mm F/4 vs. F/2.8 for Ceremony

I always leave IS on even when the camera is on sticks. At such a focal length (especially on a crop-sensor camera) any sort of camera movement would translate to shake. As wedding videographers, we never know exactly how our environment is going to be - for example being situated on a wooden floor would result in quite a bit of shake every time someone walks by.

Maybe someone who's using the non-IS version can chime in :)
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