Thursday, May 14, 2009

Canon EF 35-350mm f/3.5-5.6L USM versus Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS USM: A Visual

I recently purchased a Canon 35-350mm f/3.5-5.6L USM zoom lens. (This lens was replaced by the Canon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 L IS USM and is no longer in production.) Due to some of the complaints I heard, I was a little worried the size and weight of it might be a problem...especially over the course of a long day of shooting.

Well, I haven't used it during a long day of shooting yet; but I have used the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS USM at some of my weddings and haven't noticed any major problems with weight. So, just out of curiosity, I thought I would compare the two purely in terms of size and weight.

First, I weighed both of them with their hoods and caps on. The 35-350 weighed in at a fairly substantial 3 pounds and 4.6 ounces. When handling them, it's a little difficult to tell which is heavier because the weight is distributed differently. The 70-200 IS has a larger diameter and looks more substantial. And, as it turns out, it *is* somewhat heavier: 3 pounds and 8.3 ounces.

So, the 70-200 is heavier even though it covers a smaller range of focal lengths. However the 70-200 has two attributes that make it especially heavy: 1) a relatively large and constant maximum aperture of f/2.8, and 2) an image stabilization system.

I took a few photos to further illustrate their differences in size. In the first photo, they're standing upright on a table (the 70-200 is on the left; the 35-350 on the right):

As you can see, when the two lenses are not extended, the 70-200 is longer/taller than the 35-350. How about when they're fully extended?

Actually, the 70-200 doesn't extend when you zoom it out; so its length is unaltered (I know, I know...the 70-200 shows it's at 70mm, not 200mm. Trust me: it's the same length at 200mm). The 35-350, on the other hand, has now surpassed the length of the 70-200 (it's a push-pull zoom like a couple of Canon's other L zooms: 28-300 and 100-400)...and there's a relatively large and heavy piece of lens glass inside that extended end.

How about a photograph of the two with their hoods on?...

To the casual observer, they look like they're almost the same length! I guess this is good as far as the 35-350 not making me "stand out" any more than the 70-200 does. However, much of the length on the far end of the 70-200 is lightweight plastic. The 35-350's hood is quite a bit shorter.

So, even though the 35-350 weighs less than the 70-200 IS, the weight distribution is quite different. I'm a little concerned that when the 35-350 is fully or nearly fully extended, it'll act as a substantial lever with my upper back acting as the counterweight....possibly making it ache after a few hours of shooting.

I guess the proof will be "in the pudding" once I actually shoot an event with it! More on that sometime soon...:-)

Michael Grace-Martin is a professional wedding, portrait, event, stock, and fine art photographer based in Upstate New York. He is also the author of this blog. All images and text are (c) Michael Grace-Martin Photography. His main website is:

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