Canon 55-200mm f/4.5-5.6
Canon EF 55-200mm f/4.5-5.6 USM II (52mm filters, 4"/1.2m close-focus, 10.6 oz./300g, about $150 used.) enlarge. This free website's biggest source of support is when you use these links, especially this link directly to them at eBay (see How to Win at eBay) when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. It helps me keep reviewing these oldies when you get yours through these links, thanks! Ken.
NEW: Sample Images 20 April 2012
The Canon EF 55-200mm f/4.5-5.6 II is a super-lightweight, full-frame plastic telephoto zoom for all Canon EOS digital and 35mm autofocus cameras.
It was originally introduced in 1998 for use with Canon's IX240 APS cameras, and it also covers full-frame. A "II" version, shown and tested here, replaced the original in 2003. The "II" version is claimed to have faster autofocus, and while not having an original here for review, this II USM version has spectacularly fast autofocus.
There is no instant manual-focus override; you must move the switch. When you do, there is no focus ring: you must turn the front of the lens itself.
This 55-200mm has great ergonomics; it zooms easily and smoothly to any setting, and it's extra-wide range starting at 55mm makes it much more useful than any of the 70-200mm lenses.
Used on older cameras like the Canon 5D Mark II, it has awful optics, loaded with color fringes. Used on a modern camera like the Canon 5D Mark III, which corrects these color fringes in-camera when a lens profile is loaded, its optics are surprisingly competitive.
Because of the new lateral color fringe correction in the Canon 5D Mark III, I prefer to carry this dinky lens instead of any of the much heavier 70-200mm L lenses. If the photos look the same most of the time, why bother with all the weight and limited 70mm wide end, when this plastic thing focuses just as close, and carries and zooms much more easily than Canon's best L-series 70-200mm lenses? My 70-200mm f/4 L IS is staying home now that I have my 5D Mark III. I get paid to make pictures, not to carry equipment.
Compatibility and Formats
This Canon EF EOS 55-200mm f/4.5-5.6 II works perfectly with every Canon EOS camera ever made, meaning every Canon DSLR and every Canon autofocus 35mm camera made since 1987.
As a full-frame lens, this works on all Canon SLRs, regardless of format. As a full-frame lens, I will be reviewing this lens on full-frame.
Canon 55-200 4.5-5.6 II. enlarge.
Canon calls this the CANON ZOOM LENS EF 55-200mm f/4.5-5.6 II ULTRASONIC.
EF means "electronic focus," meaning that there is an autofocus motor in the lens itself. All Canon lenses since 1987 have been EF.
ULTRASONIC means USM or UltraSonic Motor, meaning nothing whirs as it focuses.
13 elements in 13 groups.
Pumps in and out as zoomed.
Front group focus.
On 1.3x Canon cameras it will see angles-of-view similar to what a 72~260mm lens would see on a 35mm camera.
On 1.6x Canon cameras it will see angles-of-view similar to what an 88~320mm lens would see on a 35mm camera.
Angle of View (on 35mm and full-frame cameras)
36° ~ 10° diagonal.
25° ~ 7° vertical.
43° ~ 12° horizontal.
Close Focus top
4 feet (1.2m) from the image plane, specified.
Maximum Reproduction Ratio top
Use the Canon EF-12 or Canon EF12 II to get close-ups of 0.29 to 0.06 x.
Use the Canon EF-25 or Canon EF25 II to get close-ups of 0.50 to 0.14 x.
Front, Canon 55-200mm at 55mm (EF diaphragm not visible). enlarge.
Stops down to f/22-29.
Focus Scale top
The front of the lens rotates about 100º from infinity to the closest focus distance.
Depth-of-Field Scale top
Infra-Red Focus Indices top
Filter Thread top
Rotates with focus and pumps in and out with zoom.
Canon specifies 2.8 " (70mm) diameter by 3.8" (97mm) long.
It gets longer when zoomed towards 200mm, or focused more closely.
It is longest (not specified) at 200mm and focused at 4 feet.
10.579 oz. (299.85g), measured.
Canon specifies 10.9 ounces (310g).
Plastic bayonet ET-54 ($23), not included.
LP1016 sack, ($27), not included.
52mm E-52U front, included. (ultrasonic cap with gold "ULTRASONIC" and silver "Canon" logos.)
Standard EOS cap rear.
Made in Japan.
Price, USA top
2012 April: about about $150 used.
2005 December: $200 gray, $210 USA (equivalent to $235/250 with inflation in 2012).
The Canon 55-200mm f/4.5-5.6 II is a dinky, plastic-barreled lens with crappy optics that miraculously work quite well with the automatic correction of the Canon 5D Mark III.
Autofocus is amazingly instantaneous. It pops from four feet to infinity immediately.
You always must move AF-MF switch.There is no manual-focus override.
AF is fast!, as Canons always are.
AF Accuracy and Consistency
AF accuracy is fine on my Canon 5D Mark III.
Manual focus is silly. You must twist the front of the lens.
Bokeh, the quality of out-of-focus areas as opposed to the degree of defocus, is usually very good.
Focus breathing (the image changing size as focused) is mostly of interest to cinematographers who don't want the image changing size ("breathing") as the lens is focused among different subjects.
As a conventional front-group focusing lens, the image from the Canon 55-200mm f/4.5-5.6 II gets larger as focused more closely.
The color balance of this 55-200mm f/4.5-5.6 II matches my other Canon EF lenses.
This Canon 55-200mm f/4.5-5.6 II has strong barrel distortion at the shorter settings, and strong pincushion distortion at the longer settings.
The distortion is easy to correct completely in Photoshop's Lens Distortion tool using these figures:
© 2012 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.
For less distortion use the professional Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II, which has half the distortion.
Canon 55-200/4.5-5.6 II. enlarge.
Ergonomics are just about perfect.
The plastic zoom ring, which is most of the lens, is easy to turn, and it's designed properly so that it's just as easy to set precise framing regardless of where you are in the range.
Manual focus is foolish, but I never need to use it.
The plastic mount is weak, but much smoother for mounting and unmounting.
There's no problem with vignetting even with thick or rotating filters, or combinations of them.
There is a slight red ghost opposite a source of light around 165mm under extreme conditions. You won't see it otherwise.
Rear, Canon 55-200 f/4.5-5.6 II. enlarge.
The Canon 55-200mm f/4.5-5.6 II is an all-plastic lens.
It works fine, but don't bang it on anything and don't grab your camera by it.
Moisture seal at mount
Laser-melted into rear light baffle on back of lens, only visible when not mounted on a camera.
Noises When Shaken
With that warning, it was really awful on my old Canon 5D Mark II, softer on one side than the other from sloppy mechanics and loaded with sharpness-robbing color fringes.
Astoundingly, on my 5D Mark III in actual use, it's pretty good!
On my 5D Mark III, it's always sharp and contrasty in the center and most of the time on the left side. The right side is a bit softer, especially wide-open, but still amazingly saleable when used at normal apertures. The 5D Mark III really does turn this lens from crap to very usable for careful work.
With its 6-bladed diaphragm, it makes soft 6-pointed sunstars on brilliant points of light.
This 55-200/4.5-5.6 II is a dinky plastic lens that works surprisingly well on the 5D Mk III if you're traveling light, as you should. No Canon 70-200mm focuses more closely, and most don't focus as close as this 55-200mm lens.
This 55-200mm also zooms wider than any of Canon's 70-200mm lenses, making for three ways in which this little lens expands your photographic envelope. I doubt the slight additional sharpness of the other lenses is worth having a heavier lens that restricts your travel range, that can't focus as close and can't zoom out as far.
Only have $150 for a Canon tele zoom?
Shooting a 35mm EOS Rebel?
Shooting a 5D Mark III?
Heading out for an around-the-world budget trip, or backpacking?
This is your lens.
If you're just some nerd shooting test targets who spends more time online than out in the world shooting, sure, get any of the other Canon L zooms. They'll be sharper — but none will handle as well or let you travel as far.
If you've found the time I've spent sharing this professional review helpful, this free website's biggest source of support is when you use these links, especially this link directly to them at eBay (see How to Win at eBay) when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. It helps me keep reviewing these oldies when you get yours through these links.
More Information top
Many thanks to Nicholas from Sydney, Australia, who sent me this lens to review.
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