All the Bells and whistles!

Ok.. no bells, no whistles, could you imaging how annoying that would be on a lens? I’m referring to all the switches on the 70-200 2.8 IS, and similar lenses. What do they all do? Why are they there? Do I need them?

It’s my first blog of the year and I’m already a day behind, so let me rub the sleep out of my eyes, drink my coffee and try to give you some half decent answers.

The first slider is the Focusing Distance Range. This allows two functions, either focusing from 1.2m to infinity, or 2.5m to infinity. If your subject will remain beyond the 2.5m range set the FDR to the second setting. This will allow you to focus faster, as the lens will ignore any subject within 2.5m from the lens.

The second slider is also straight forward. It sets the Focus Mode. To shoot in autofocus select AF, to shoot manual only select MF. Note: Canon L series lenses the focus ring will always allow manual focus.

Stabilization – a quick overview
It’s a feature you think you’d want on all the time, but you actually don’t need it in all situations, and sometimes it even makes your images worse.

The rule of thumb for capturing sharp, handheld images is: don’t handhold a camera at shutter speeds slower than the equivalent reciprocal to the focal length of the lens.
Umm… what? This means at 200mm, the 70-200 lens shouldn’t be handheld when you need shutter speeds slower than 1/200-second(the reciprocal), and at 70mm lens slower than 1/70-second, if you want a crisp image. For me, without IS at 200mm, my shutter speed requirements are 1/160-1/200, but requirements drop to 1/15-1/20 with IS- I can sometimes even get shots at 1/10 or 1/8… but realistically IS still provides between 3 and 4 stops of help.

Real world samples: all at 200mm, handheld
1/200th with IS

1/8th, yes 1/8th second handheld with IS

1/200th with IS OFF

1/40th with IS OFF might get a useable shot.. but hit rate gets very low

And side by side

So I can squeeze out sharper images in even lower light, or step up to f/8 to capture more faces in equivalent light.

Low light, slow shutter, handheld USE IS.

If you have sufficient light and shutter speeds are already in a usable range, IS won’t help that much. It will help steady your view through the viewfinder, but you will also be using up your battery. IS uses power, so if battery life is a factor, turn IS off.

When IS will hurt your image is when on a tripod. The IS will start picking up on vibrations in the camera and try to compensate for a non issue… actually adding vibrations. So- Turn OFF IS when on a tripod. (IS can be used with a monopod)

There are two modes of IS with the 70-200. Mode 1 stabilizes in all directions, great for shooting still subjects while hand holding the camera. Mode 2 compensates for vertical camera shake, when panning horizontally, and compensates for horizontal shake when panning vertically.
USE mode 1 when areas are darker than ideal, fast shutter cannot be used, or you are just shaky in general.
USE mode 2 when panning subjects in motion.

Some lenses even have a mode 3 for shooting action, the EF 300 f/2.8 for example… but never held one, so maybe just a myth.

well… took me most the day to write this… so hope it helps at least one person.

Let me know what you want to see.

Be sure to share with your friends.
Cheers.