Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens Review:

 

I usually review lenses that I have used for extended period of time in the field. Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM is the only exception here. My friend Serge has one. He upgraded from old Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM and he is so excited about it, that he said I must try it and see myself. He kindly borrowed me this wonderful lens for a day. I must say that I was greatly impressed with it's performance.


Improving upon one of the most celebrated lenses in the Canon EF line is no easy feat, but Canon has done just that. The all-new EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM increases the speed, performance and optical quality of the EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS USM while maintaining all of the characteristics that have made it a legend for professionals and advanced amateurs alike. The EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM features one fluorite and five UD elements for increased optical quality and reduced chromatic aberration. It has a minimum focusing distance of 1.2m/3.9 ft. at all zoom settings, which is useful for photographers in smaller spaces trying to get closer to a subject. It features a next-generation Optical Image Stabilizer, providing up to 4 stops of correction at all focal lengths. And as with all L-series lenses, the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM is dust- and moisture-resistant and designed for use in the challenging environments typical of rigorous professional use. – this is a short description from official Canon web site.

 

 

Roller girl, Canon 7D, 182mm, 1/400s, f/3.2, ISO 400.

 

 

 

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM is an outstanding lens. It is the sharpest zoom lens I ever touched. It compares very well with Canon 100mm f/2.8L IS macro USM. Even my Canon 200mm f/2.8L II USM is not on par with it optically, but it is much lighter and costs 4 times less.

Optically Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM is nearly flawless. I dare say that this lens is outstanding! It is on par with Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L macro IS USM and surpasses Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM. I was surprised here, Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM is a very good quality prime lens, but I see a visible difference in image quality, especially wide open. Old Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM was noticably softer at 200mm than the prime, but version II is not only better than the lens it replaces, but it beats prime wide open, it's an achievent! Kudos to Canon engineers. New lens is sharper and has virually none chromatic aberrations, its impressive.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM is very sharp even wide open at any focal length. It improves very slightly stopped down. So you need to adjust apperture settings for proper depth of field or desired shutter speed only. Color reproduction is very accurate and lifelike; saturation and contrast are excellent, what is common for Canon L glass. It captures almost all fine details, look at feather and painted metal details on sample shots! Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM renders very beautiful pictures that gives 3D fealing, just look at the roller girl sample above. Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM has no visible cromatic aberrations even wide open. It has nice and smooth bokeh. Nice bokeh, accurate reproduction of skin tones, natural colors and convinient focal length range makes it a very good portrait lens.

Vignetting is not field relevant on Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM. If you use supplied lens hood it is very unlikely to get any shots spoiled by flare. Distorsion is not field relevant also, actually I never seen telephoto lens, where distorsion is an issue.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM is big and heavy and as most L lenses it is build to last. The lens barrel is made of metal and feels very solid in your hand. Both zoom and focus rings are in a right position, are covered with rubber for better grip and operate precise and smoothly, without any play. Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM zoom and focus rings mechanical quality is better than was on original IS version.

The lens is equipped with a powerful ring-type USM for fast and silent AF operation, and allows full time manual override. AF speed is excellent, it focuses very quick, my Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM is not faster. AF accuracy is also very good. I never experienced a single problem with AF with this lens. Even combined with Canon EF 25mm extension tube its AF is fast enough to track insects in flight, see sample below. Tracking insect in flight is a very challenging task, shooting motorsports or running people demands much less AF speed.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM is focusing internally. The lens doesn't change its size while focusing or zooming. Filter thread is fixed and doesn't rotate, so it accepts polarizing and gradient filters well. I recommend using high quality UV or protection filter, that doesn't degrade image quality, to protect the front element from accidental fingerprints, dust, water drips and scratches. Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM has 77mm filter thread. Good examples are Canon Protect filter, or B+W UV MRC filter. B+W UV MRC filters are probably the best, as they don't degrade image quality at all, and cleans very easily, thanks to special coating. I feel much more comfortable cleaning dust and fingerprints from filter than from an expensive lens, sure one shouldn't expose lens to this, but unfortunately it happens sometimes.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM is weather sealed. For the lens that is primary used by professional photographers, it is really a big plus.

 

 

Small bird on the nest, Canon 7D, 170mm, 1/50s, f/4, ISO 400, Canon EF 25mm extension tube.

Small bird on the nest 100% crop, Canon 7D, 170mm, 1/50s, f/4, ISO 400, Canon EF 25mm extension tube.

Fieldfare nestling. Canon 7D, 200mm, 1/40s, f/3.2, ISO 400.

Fieldfare nestling, 100% crop. Canon 7D, 200mm, 1/40s, f/3.2, ISO 400.

 

 

Image stabilization is a very useful feature on Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM. It helps greatly when you shoot in low light situations. Wedding ceremony in a church, indoor portraits or wildlife in a forest are good examples where IS can be handy. IS may be very helpful for action shots as well, for example if you shoot motorsport. It's a joy to shoot with this lens with panning handheld. Canon claims that IS is 4 stops effective. Judging by my experience I can say that it is about 2-4 stops improvement. It depends on a combination of shooting and my personal conditions.

When you shoot from a sturdy tripod or with shutter speed short enough to handhold steady, you better keep IS turned OFF, turning IS ON when shooting from tripod makes resulting images slightly softer. Image stabilization will not prevent motion blur if your subject moves. New IS system in Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM is much better than IS in the first version of the 70-200 zoom, let aside ancient image stabilization found in Canon EF 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L IS USM. It works much faster and smoother, so it doesn't interfere much with AF system when shooting something that moves fast and has erratic trajectory. But if you shot some action with a fast pace I recommend turning IS off to save battery life and make your camera's AF work a bit easier.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM has minimal focusing distance of 1.2m, this is enough for tight portraits or flower shots. Combined with Canon EF 25mm extension tube it can serve as 1:3 to 1:2 macro lens. It will allow you to shoot flowers and relatively large insects like dragonflies or butterflies.

 

Insect on a leaf, Canon 7D, 175mm, f/5.6, 1/200s, ISO 400, , Canon EF 25mm extension tube.

Fly in flight, Canon 7D, 175mm, f/5.6, 1/200s, ISO 400, , Canon EF 25mm extension tube._

Old phone box, Canon 7D, 70mm, f/4, 1/160s, ISO 200._

Old phone box, 100% crop, Canon 7D, 70mm, f/4, 1/160s, ISO 200._

 

 

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM ships with tripod collar, lens case LZ1326 and lens hood ET-87. Lens hood has improved locking mechanism with release button. I like it more than old style bayonet hoods, as it is much easier to install and remove.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM has a very useful focal length range. It will serve you well in any application when you need telephoto lens. It is very convenient portrait lens. It is suitable for shooting from full body portraits to tight headshots. Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM with it's accurate color and tonal rendition and nice bokeh is an excellent portrait lens. If you shoot events it is probably the best lens from Canon. A set of primes may give you slightly better results, as there are primes with faster apertures, but they lack IS and, what is more important it is not comfortable to change lenses in dark and crowded environment. So if you shoot at concerts or weddings this lens is a very good choice. If you shoot sports this lens is a good choice too, due to relatively fast 2.8 aperture and excellent AF performance. Nature and wildelife shooters will find this lens very useful too.

What about the competition? Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM is also excellent, it is smaller in size, lighter and cheaper, but it has f/4 maximum aperture only. Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM is also very good lens, especially for the money. Both f/4 versions are noticeably smaller and lighter so if you don't need f/2.8 aperture you should give them a serious consideration. If you need only 200mm lens Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM is an excellent choice, as it is smaller, lighter, and less expensive when compared to 70-200 zoom lenses.

If you shoot Canon and want the best 200mm 2.8 lens it is probably the best choice. Canon EF 200mm f/2.0L IS is even better but its weight, price and image quality puts it in a league of its own. Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM is an outstanding lens. It is the sharpest zoom lens I ever touched. So if you can afford its price and weight, I definitely recommend it.

 

There are some shots with this lens in my gallery.

 

You can buy Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM here (use these links to support this site) :

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens is on sale at Adorama for $1974!

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens at Amazon.com

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens at B&H Photo

Rebates awailable for this lens!

 

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