Buyers Guides |Best 70-200mm lenses

The Buyers guide to...Best 70-200mm lenses

The best 70-200mm lenses offer a weather-proof design and fast aperture, with smaller, lighter bodies and built-in image stabilisation

Nikon Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S review
Buyers Guide

The best 70-200mm lenses have traditionally offered a weather-proof design and fast aperture. But in recent years lens makers have refined these versatile optics with smaller, lighter bodies and built-in image stabilisation. These days, most manufacturers will offer a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens in a lightweight build with vibration reduction technology.

A 70-200mm lens is a versatile optic with uses for wildlife, wedding, sports, landscape and even portrait photographers. The option of having short, medium and long telephoto focal lengths in one lens with a fast constant aperture gives photographers so many creative options. Not only do they give you the reach to capture subjects from afar or hone in on details, but the best 70-200mm lenses offer a fast aperture that allow you to create shallow depth of field effects.

What is a 70-200mm lens good for?

One of the most useful benefits of a 70-200mm lens is its ability to give the effect of a compressed perspective. When shooting a portrait, for example, with your subject in the foreground, a 70-200mm lens appears to crunch the middle ground and bring your background further into the frame.

The 70-200mm focal range is also useful in so many disciplines of photography. It gets you closer to the action if shooting sport, or lets you hone in on interesting details in the landscape. What’s more, that focal range allows you to crop distracting elements out of your frame.

The rise of mirrorless cameras has also seen manufacturers develop lighter 70-200mm lens bodies with lens-equipped stabilisation, meaning you can now shoot more subjects handheld that weren’t as easy in the past.

The best 70-200mm lenses you can buy today

Nikon Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S

Nikon Nikkor Z 70-200mm F2-8 S

Specification

  • Product type: Wide-angle zoom lens
  • Mount: Nikon Z
  • Format: Full-frame (FX)
  • Focal length: 70-200mm
  • Maximum aperture: f/2.8
  • Minimum aperture: f/22
  • Construction: 21 elements in 18 groups (including 6 ED lens elements, 2 aspherical elements, 1 fluorite element, 1 SR lens element
  • Coatings: Nano Crystal and ARNEO coats, and a fluorine-coated front lens element
  • Focusing system: Internal autfocusing
  • Minimum focus distance: at 70mm: 0.5m / 1.64 ft, 85mm: 0.63m / 2.07ft, 105mm: 0.68m / 2.23ft, 135mm: 0.8m / 2.62ft, 200mm: 1.0m / 3.28ft from focal plane
  • Maximum reproduction ratio: 0.2x
  • Stabilisation: Yes
  • Number of diaphragm blades: 9
  • Filter size: 77mm
  • Weight: 1440g / 3lb 2.8 oz with the tripod collar, 1360g 3lb without the tripod collar
  • Diameter x length (extension from lens mount): 89 x 220mm

Nikon’s engineers have constructed the lens from 21 elements in 18 groups with no less than 6 ED lens elements, 2 aspherical elements, 1 fluorite element and 1 SR lens element. That makes 10 special elements out of the 21.

Nikon has also included its ARNEO and Nano Crystal coatings to combat ghosting and flare.

Although Nikon’s Z-series cameras have in-body image stabilisation (IBIS), or in-body VR (Vibration Reduction) as Nikon refers to it, the Nikon Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S is stabilised. That’s because lens-based stabilisation is better at correcting some movements with telephoto lenses than in-body stabilisation. The Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S’s VR works with the camera’s IBIS.

A 70-200mm f/2.8 lens is a cornerstone in a manufacturer’s lens line up and the Nikon Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S is worthy of that status. It’s a delight to use and it delivers exceptionally sharp images throughout its focal length range. It’s especially impressive at maximum aperture.

You can find the Nikon Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Price when reviewed
£2299
$2596
Check current price

For

  • Superb image quality even at maximum aperture
  • Fast and super-quiet AF
  • Excellent handling

Against

  • This type of lens doesn't come cheap

Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM

Canon launch new RF 70-200mm and RF 85mm lenses

Specification

  • Lens type: Full-frame telephoto zoom
  • Mount: Canon RF
  • Focal length: 70-200mm
  • Maximum aperture: f/2.8
  • Minimum aperture: f/32
  • Stabilisation: Lens-based to 5EV, up to 7.5EV with the Canon EOS R5 or R6
  • Aperture diaphragm blades: 9
  • Weather-sealed: Yes
  • Close focusing distance: 0.70
  • Maximum magnification: 0.23x
  • Lens construction: 17 elements in 13 groups
  • Filter thread: 77
  • Weight: 1070g
  • Dimensions: 89.9mm x 146mm

This lens is a kit bag essential for any EOS R mount owner and will enable you to capture subjects using a bright f/2.8 aperture and zoom range.

The lens weighs in at a very slimline 1,070g and measures in at 146mm in length at its shortest. Compared to the EF equivalent, that’s a 28% weight saving and 27% shorter.

This lens also introduced support for an electronic floating focus control that drives the two lens groups individually with Dual Nano USMs. This cutting-edge design helps to provide a high degree of quietness, power saving and high-speed operation without sacrificing the lens’s size and weight. 

The Dual Nano USMs enable the RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM to achieves high-precision still image AF and smooth movie AF in combination with the EOS R series Dual Pixel CMOS AF.

Filmmakers will welcome the improvements made in the AF design that help to reduce focus breathing, and a 5 Stop IS (Image Stabiliser) enables pin-sharp images even with slow shutter speeds enabling. This marks a vastly improved low light performance compared with the present EF lens.

You can buy the Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Price when reviewed
£2730
$3699.99
Check current price

For

  • Superb image quality in low light
  • Much lighter than EF equivalent

Against

  • Very expensive

Canon RF 70-200mm F4L IS USM

Canon RF 70-200mm F4L IS USM

Specification

  • Lens type: Full-frame telephoto zoom
  • Announced: 4th November 2020
  • Mount: Canon RF
  • Focal length: 70-200mm
  • Maximum aperture: f/4
  • Stabilisation: Lens-based to 5EV, up to 7.5EV with the Canon EOS R5 or R6
  • Weather-sealed: Yes

The Canon RF 70-200mm F4L IS USM is the world’s shortest and lightest interchangeable 70-200mm f/4 lens.

It has a collapsible design and although when it’s extended it’s almost identical in length to the EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II USM, when it’s collapsed its just 11.9cm long so it will fit in the space normally occupied by a standard f/4 zoom lens. It also weighs just 695g.

The RF 70-200mm F4L IS USM has Air Sphere Coating, four Ultra Low Dispersion (UD) lenses, and a focusing distance of 0.6m – down from 1m with the EF lens. It also has a 9-blade aperture which is a constant f/4 throughout the zoom range.

In addition, it is dust- and weather-sealed while the lens’ front element is fluorine-coated to help repel dirt and water droplets.

The IS in its name indicates that the RF 70-200mm F4L IS USM has Canon’s Optical Image Stabilizer, which in this case offers up to 5 stops of shutter speed compensation. When mounted on the Canon EOS R6 or R5, however, the compensation reaches up to 7.5 stops.

The RF 70-200mm F4L IS USM features Dual Nano USM autofocus motors for near-silent focusing, making it suitable for use when shooting video.

You can buy the Canon RF 70-200mm F4L IS USM at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Price when reviewed
£1700
€1969.99
Check current price

For

  • Collapsible design
  • Canon’s Optical Image Stabilizer provides 5 stops compensation

Against

  • Expensive

Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS

Best telephoto zoom lens for Sony E-mount

Specification

  • Product type: Telephoto zoom lens
  • Mount: Sony E
  • Format: Full-frame
  • Focal length: 70-200mm
  • Maximum aperture: f/2.8
  • Minimum aperture: f/22
  • Construction: 21 elements in 18 groups (including 6 ED lens elements, 2 aspherical elements, 1 fluorite element, 1 SR lens element
  • Coatings: Sony Nano AR Coating
  • Minimum focus distance: 0.96m
  • Maximum reproduction ratio: 0.25x
  • Stabilisation: Yes
  • Number of diaphragm blades: 11
  • Filter size: 77mm
  • Weight: 1480g
  • Diameter x length (extension from lens mount): 88 x 200mm

The Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS is an excellent lens. Its sharpness is outstanding, maintaining its image quality into the corners, especially if you stop down a little.

If you shoot in very low light on a frequent basis, that extra stop of light brought by the f/2.8 is useful. If you want the absolute best results and you don’t mind the extra weight, the FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS is the lens to go for if you’re a Sony user looking for a telephoto zoom.

Even in dim light its focus acquisition is lightning fast, and the lens is capable of capturing plenty of detail.

You can find the Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Price when reviewed
£2129
$2729
Check current price

For

  • Sharp from edge to edge
  • Fast and super-quiet AF
  • Excellent handling

Against

  • A bit on the heavy side

Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS

Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 vs f2.8

Specification

  • Product type: Telephoto zoom lens
  • Mount: Sony E
  • Format: Full-frame
  • Focal length: 70-200mm
  • Maximum aperture: f/2.8
  • Minimum aperture: f/22
  • Construction: 21 elements in 15 groups
  • Coatings: Sony Nano AR Coating
  • Focusing system: Internal autofocusing
  • Minimum focus distance: 1-1.5m
  • Maximum reproduction ratio: 0.13x
  • Stabilisation: Yes
  • Number of diaphragm blades: 9
  • Filter size: 72mm
  • Weight: 840g
  • Diameter x length (extension from lens mount): 80 x 175mm

Sony’s FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS is nearly a grand cheaper than its f/2.8 sibling. Aside from the 1 stop difference in the maximum aperture of the two lenses, there are a few other differences between them. The f/4 version has a minimum focus distance of 1-1.5m when focusing with the AF system and 1-1.35m when focusing manually. The f/2.8 optic can focus as close as 0.96m regardless of the focal length and focusing method.

This means that the f/4 lens has a maximum magnification ratio of 0.13x while the f/2.8’s is 0.25x. Their construction is also different. The f/4 is constructed from 21 elements in 15 groups while the f/2.8 has 23 elements in 18 groups.

The Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS is an excellent lens. It’s a nice size and weight for use with a Sony A7-series camera and it lets the AF systems in the A7 III and A7R III do their thing. It means you get moving subjects sharp and the Eye AF works well. 

Its sharpness at the centre of the frame is superb. For the majority of photographers, the FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS makes a great choice. It strikes a good balance between price and image quality.

You can buy the Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Price when reviewed
£1095
$1530
Check current price

For

  • Lightweight design
  • Affordable
  • Superb sharpness in the centre

Against

  • Some vignetting in the corners

Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM | S

Sigma unveils 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM, trio of f/1.4 primes

Specification

  • Product type: Telephoto zoom lens
  • Mount: Nikon F, Canon EF, Sigma SA
  • Format: Full-frame
  • Focal length: 70-200mm
  • Maximum aperture: f/2.8
  • Minimum aperture: f/22
  • Construction: 24 elements in 22 groups
  • Minimum focus distance: 120cm
  • Maximum reproduction ratio: 1:4.8
  • Stabilisation: Yes
  • Number of diaphragm blades: 11
  • Filter size: 82mm
  • Weight: 1805g
  • Diameter x length (extension from lens mount): 94.2 × 202.9mm

As part of Sigma’s excellent Sports range of optics, the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM is comprised of nine F Low Dispersion glass elements and one Special Low Dispersion glass element to keep colour aberration at bay.

Sigma’s 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM delivers high resolution from the centre to the corners of your frame, and an updated Hyper Sonic Monitor offers high-speed AF performance. What’s more, the AF Function button can be customised for a variety of different options.

The Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM is also dust-, water-, splash- and oil-resistant, meaning you can shoot in most locations and conditions. And considering this is an f/2.8 lens, its price is very reasonable.

You can find the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM | S at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Price when reviewed
£1269
$1379
Check current price

For

  • Sharp from edge to edge
  • Solid build
  • Reasonably priced

Against

  • Bigger than competing lenses

Panasonic Lumix S Pro 70-200mm f/2.8 OIS

LUMIX S PRO 70-200mm f/2.8 OIS

Specification

  • Product type: Telephoto zoom lens
  • Mount: L mount
  • Format: Full-frame
  • Focal length: 70-200mm
  • Maximum aperture: f/2.8
  • Minimum aperture: f/22
  • Construction: 22 elements in 17 groups (1 aspherical lens, 3 ED lenses, 2 UED lenses)
  • Minimum focus distance: 0.95m
  • Maximum reproduction ratio: 0.21x
  • Stabilisation: Yes
  • Number of diaphragm blades: 11
  • Filter size: 82mm
  • Weight: 1570g
  • Diameter x length (extension from lens mount): 94.4 × 208.6mm

Panasonic’s stunning LUMIX S PRO 70-200mm f/2.8 O.I.S telephoto zoom is comprised of 22 elements in 17 groups, of which there are two Ultra Extra-low Dispersion lenses and three Extra-low Dispersion lenses.

A double focus system helps reduce aberrations, and the new Panasonic L-mount lens corrects astigmatism using an aspherical lens.

The LUMIX S PRO 70-200mm f/2.8’s Optical Image Stabiliser, when combined with a camera’s in-body stabilisation and 5-AxisDual Image Stabilisation, makes it possible to shoot at shutter speeds up to seven stops slower.

The new Panasonic L-mount 70-200mm f/2.8 is also splash and dust resistant and can be used at temperatures down to -10C.

You can find the Panasonic Lumix S Pro 70-200mm f/2.8 OIS at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Price when reviewed
£2599
$2599
Check current price

For

  • Excellent build quality
  • Superb image quality
  • Customisable buttons

Against

  • Very heavy
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments