Canon EF 70-200mm f4 Review For Video Canon 5D Mark ii or iii, 7D, T2i, T3i, T4i, T5i, 60D, 70D, and any other Canon DSLR with an EF mount
The Canon EF 70-200mm f4 zoom is a pretty darn good lens for filmmaking on your Canon 5D Mark ii or iii, 7D, T2i, T3i, T4i, T5i, 60D, 70D, and any other Canon DSLR with an EF mount. It's a really nice option over the EF 70-200mm f2.8 because it's much lighter, smaller and less expensive. F2.8 is nice but in most cases f4 is fast enough and allows more of your image to be in focus and sharp.
The f4 lens is just as sharp as the f2.8 version for photography or video and can be picked up for under $500 used or around $700 new.
The mechanics of the EF 70-200mm f4 is superb. The zoom ring feels smooth and precise and has a very nice accurate range and hard stops. The focus ring has semi hard stops and is also very smooth and accurate.
The tripod collar helps tremendously especially for the longer focal lengths. Without IS this lens will show vibration easily so always be sure to mount the tripod collar to your mounting plate before shooting. You can still use a RedRock Micro or other follow focus rig when mounting to the collar and this way you get the best stability possible.
The hood bayonets on to the front, offering excellent flare control and protection of the front glass which is not deeply recessed into the body. This adds a lot of length but is well worth it if you're not using a professional matte box.
The distance scale is not made for use in a professional film making environment where a focus puller would be referencing it to mark the follow focus. It's made as an after thought for photographers and it does work but since it's on the top of the lens you probably won't look at it much while shooting. If you need to grab focus quickly on your 5D Mark ii or iii, just turn off live view and touch the shutter button for instant focus, then go back to live view to start shooting.
This lens offers the best quality images you can get with f4 and a range of 70-200mm, all being very sharp. But you don't really buy this lens for the image quality it delivers; you buy it for the build quality first, then image quality. Again, it delivers top notch images, with the only setback being the relatively slow f4 aperture. If you can live it that, which I know I can, especially since at f2.8 you don't have enough in focus, then this is an excellent option.
Applications for filmmaking
The Canon EF 70-200mm f4 really only makes since on a full frame DSLR for shooting video. The range is a very useful 70-200mm. 70mm is actually pretty wide on full frame, but when mounted on a crop sensor camera like the 7D, 60D, etc., you are getting a super telephoto lens at that point, and the range doesn't make as much sense and will limit its usefulness, especially shooting video. If you're into shooting wildlife or sports video - perhaps trying to build a portfolio as a wildlife cinematographer - I'd say that would be the best intended special application for this lens. Then again, you might need something even longer in that case.
Canon makes several other zooms, but none of them really compete directly with the EF 70-200mm f4 except maybe the EF 70-300mm f4-5.6 IS but that lens is made with lots of plastic and won't hold up under daily use in the field. It does offer IS, however, which is very useful for handheld shots.
The Canon EF 70-200mm f4 IS is the sister lens to this one, being the same lens but with Image Stabilization. It's also double the price.
If you don't need a zoom and want a faster aperture, the Canon EF 135mm f2 or EF 200mm f2.8 are both excellent lenses. I would recommend getting a zoom over a prime because you get more use out of one than a prime. With a zoom you can zoom in or out manually during a shot to give it some style, or you can quickly reframe your shot before a take without moving your feet or tripod - something very useful during interviews or professional shoots where you're trying to change the angle and get a wider or tighter shot quickly.
Nikons with adapters are popular for use on Canon EF mount DSLRs, especially for video because you don't need auto focus. Just make sure you get a quality adapter. The Nikon 80-200mm f2.8 ED AF (push-pull version) is a great lens for the price - you can get one for about $450. The only drawback is the focus can be a little rough. I had one for a while that I loved to use, and may pick up another when one presents itself. It's a great deal for a quality f2.8 lens.