Which 70-200, How to Make Images Pop?

Mark I or Mark II 70-200 lens. Does the IQ difference justify the cost?

Q. Choosing a 70-200 Lens

Hi Nick,

Panasonic Flagship Mirrorless-Camera with 70-200mm Lens

Once again I find myself in a predicament and am seeking your well respected advice regarding gear. You’ve steered me in the right directions both times I’ve emailed albeit costly but I’m wrapped with my choices i.e. your advice.

I’m looking at getting a 70-200mm 2.8 for my 5d Mark II. As there is a new kid on the block I wondered if you had a chance to sample one.

Once again me being a weekend warrior I’m thinking of getting a mark i which is secondhand. Would this be advised? Or am I better off buying the new mark 2 version. Bearing in mind I’m on a budget. The Mark 2 sounds amazing but will I really need it if I can get my hands on a mint mark 1?

I’ve also taken your advice and bought a neutral grad filter and a neutral dens filter. I have to thank you on this recommendation on your website, I’m having great results. Without taking too much of your time Nick, I watched the video you made of your recent trip to London. By the way, I loved the shots and the cool video.

My question here is I’m finding my photos don’t seem to have the pop that you describe. I’m working between both Lightroom and Photoshop for minor adjustments but seeing very bland results. What makes a photo really POP? I’m reluctant to make too many adjustments and make the image look fake. If you could give me some advice that’d be much appreciated.

As always Nick thank you for your help and thank you for your wonderful advice with your website. You’re one of the few that gives clear useable advice.


Hi Adam,

I would say go for the 70-200 IS 2.8 Mark I, not the second. "How can you improve on near perfection" was my question when they released the mark II. It seemed as though Canon felt the need to upgrade this lens as it had been out for so long and even increased the price by quite a bit.

Personally, this lens (mark I) is one of my favourite lenses. Sharp, great colours, good throughout the range, sturdy and reliable. You won’t be disappointed. Just make sure you check the functionality (all parts move with no problem or noises/grinding etc) and check the glass for damage throughout.

Making an image pop is just as much about when you take the shot as it is during post processing. I use minimal processing in my images. It is all about spotting the right lighting, colours and composition. Processing simply enhances what you already have.

Keep it simple when processing, I see too many people overdoing it with HDR and the likes.

Edit Sept 2021: Ok, things have moved on a fair bit since this question was asked. A lot has been added to lenses with regards to quality of glass, stabilisation, focus speeds and so on. In the image at the top of this page is the Panasonic S1H with the Panasonic 70-200 S series lens.

A stunning combination and the lens is rapid, produces high quality images but it is heavy. Today there is a lot more choice so shop wisely and do serious research. Some of these lenses cost a fortune. Example above is approximately £2500.

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