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Canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS II
Full-Frame EF L USM
(2010-today)

World's Sharpest Zoom Lens
© 2013 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations

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Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II USM (77mm filters, 4 feet/1.2m close-focus, 52.4 oz./1,485g without collar, about $2,200.) enlarge. I got this one at Adorama. I'd also get it at Amazon or at J&R.

My biggest source of support for this free website is when you use those or any of these links when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. It helps me keep adding to this free website when you get your things through these links — but I receive nothing for my efforts if you buy elsewhere. Thanks for your support! Ken.

Adorama pays top dollar for your used gear, especially the older model Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM.

 

May 2013    Canon Reviews    Canon Lenses    All Reviews

See also:

Canon 70-200 Comparison Table.

Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS (2001-2010)

Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L (1995-)

Canon 80-200mm f/2.8L (1989-1995)

Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS (2006-)

Canon 70-200mm f/4L (1999-)

 

Introduction       top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations

Adorama pays top dollar for your used gear.

B&H Photo - Video - Pro Audio

Ritz Camera

The Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM is astonishing. It really is the sharpest zoom I've ever tested. Heck, after shooting mostly LEICA for the past couple of years, I forgot that my 5D Mark II could make images this sharp.

Not only is the 70-200/2.8 IS II sharp, it also has less distortion than any other 70-200mm zoom.

Not only is it sharper and has less distortion than any other tele zoom, it focuses almost instantly. It's scary: silently and without vibration, things magically just pop into focus.

As we expect, just grab the manual focus ring at any time for instant manual focus override.

It's also got Canon's fantastic Image Stabilization (IS), rated for four stops of improvement. You can leave the tripod at home.

No wonder this lens is in every pro's bag. For people, weddings, portraits, nature, landscape, and well, anything for which you need the best tele zoom you can get, this is the lens if you're a full-time pro. Long zooms are the lenses on which each maker stakes it reputation, and they therefore are the very best each maker can do. Canon has spared no expense in making this the best lens they can, and it shows.

For $2,400, Canon graciously throws in not only caps, but also the ET-87 hood and very nice LZ1326 zippered, padded case.

For more casual use, the Canon 70-200mm f/4 IS costs and weighs a lot less, but if you're counting every pixel or need even faster autofocus, this new lens really does live up to its price. It's astounding; it's the real deal.

This Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens replaces the first Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM that was introduced in 2001.

 

Compatibility and Formats

This L lens is optimized for 35mm film and full-frame digital, and of course works on 1.3x and 1.6x Canon cameras.

This Canon EF EOS 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II works perfectly with every Canon EOS camera ever made, meaning every Canon DSLR and every Canon autofocus 35mm camera made since 1987.

This means of course it works great on today's 5D Mark II and Canon 7D, but it works just as well on my original Canon EOS 620 from 1987!

As a full-frame lens, this works on all Canon SLRs, regardless of format. As a professional lens, I will be reviewing this lens on full-frame.

 

Specifications         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations

 

Name

Canon calls this the CANON ZOOM LENS EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM.

EF means "electronic focus," meaning that there is an autofocus motor in the lens itself. All Canon lenses since 1987 have been EF.

L only means as expensive as L; it means nothing technically.

IS is Image Stabilization, which makes tripod obsolete most of the time.

II means that this is the second Canon 70-200/2.8 IS. The earlier one was made from 2001-2010.

USM means Ultra-Sonic Motor. This means autofocus is almost silent, and that you can grab the big focus ring for instant manual focus override at any time.

 

Optics       top

23 (!) elements in 19 (!) groups.

1 fluorite and 5 UD elements.

Internal focus and internal zoom; nothing moves externally as focused or zoomed.

 

Focal Length

70~200mm.

On 1.3x Canon cameras it will see angles-of-view similar to what a 90~260mm lens would see on a 35mm camera.

On 1.6x Canon cameras it will see angles-of-view similar to what a 115~320mm lens would see on a 35mm camera.

 

Angle of View (on 35mm and full-frame cameras)

34º ~ 12º diagonal.

19.5º ~ 7º vertical.

29º ~ 10º   horizontal.

 

Close Focus       top

4 feet (1.2m), specified, from the image plane.

 

Maximum Reproduction Ratio       top

1:4.8.

 

Image Stabilization       top

Rated for four stops (16 times) reduction in camera-shake induced image blur.

 

Teleconverters

This lens may be used with either of the Canon EF 1.4x II or Canon EF 2x II Teleconverters.

 

Extension Tubes

Use the Canon EF12 II to get close-ups to about one-quarter life-size at the image sensor.

Use the Canon EF25 II to get close-ups to about 4/10 life-size at the image sensor.

 

Close-up Lenses

Use the Canon 500D to get close-ups to about 6/10 life-size at the image sensor.

 

Diaphragm       top

8 blades.

Stops down to f/32.

Reasonably round up to f/8, octagonal at f/11 ~ f/32.

Like most SLR lenses, it's never perfectly symmetrical at the smallest settings.

 

Hard Infinity Focus Stop?        top

No.

You have to let the AF system focus for you at infinity.

 

Focus Scale       top

Yes.

The ring turns from infinity to the closest focus distance in about 120.º

 

Depth-of-Field Scale       top

No.

 

Infra-Red Focus Indices       top

Yes, marks for 70mm and 100mm focal lengths.

These marks are for the 800 nm wavelength.

 

Filter Thread       top

77mm.

Metal.

Does not move, ever.

 

Size       top

Canon specifies 3.5" (88.8mm) diameter by 7.8" (199mm) long.

It doesn't change size as zoomed.

 

Weight       top

52.385 oz. (1,485.2g), measured without tripod collar.

56.432 oz. (1,599.85g), measured with collar.

Canon specifies 52.6 oz. (1,490g).

 

Hood       top

Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II USM with included ET-87 hood. enlarge.

$62 plastic bayonet ET-87, included.

 

Case       top

Canon LZ1326 case

Canon LZ1326 case, included.

$60 LZ1326 zippered, padded case, included.

It's nice: the dual zippers are connected, and if you pull them down, Velcro at the top can keep it closed.

 

Caps       top

Standard 77mm ET-77U front, included.

Standard EOS cap rear.

 

Introduced       top

05 January 2010.

 

Quality       top

Made in Japan.

 

Price, USA        top

$2,200 after rebate, May 2013.

$2,400, October 2011.

 

Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II

Box, Canon 70-200/2.8L IS II (7 x 7 x 12" / 185 x 185 x 300mm).

 

Performance       top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations

Overall    Autofocus    Bokeh   Breathing   Color   Distortion

Ergonomics   Falloff    Filters     Lateral Color Fringes

Mechanics   Sharpness   Spherochromatism   Sunstars

 

Overall     performance      top

The Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II is optically and mechanically superb.

It's also big, heavy and expensive.

If you're a pro, you've already got one either in your bag, or on your wish list.

 

Autofocus     performance      top

Autofocus is fast and silent.

It always seems instantaneous.

 

Auto/Manual Switching

Just grab the focus ring at any time for instant manual-focus override.

Only move the AF-MF switch to MF if you want to disable the camera from auto focusing.

 

AF Speed

AF is fast!, as Canons always are.

It's actually faster than the 70-200mm f/4 IS L and many other Canon lenses.

The AF motor is silent. All you'll hear is some internal sliding.

 

AF Accuracy and Consistency

I saw no autofocus error on my Canon 5D Mark II.

Especially at f/2.8, all my shots are dead-on perfect at every focal length.

Yes!

 

Manual Focus

Manual focus is easy; just grab the ring at any time.

It takes only 120º to go from end-to-end of the focus scale.

 

Bokeh     performance      top

Bokeh, the quality of out-of-focus areas as opposed to the degree of defocus, is beautiful. Backgrounds just melt away, regardless of the zoom setting.

 

Focus Breathing     performance      top

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.

The image from the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L always gets larger as focused more closely.

 

Color Rendition     performance      top

The color balance of this 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II seems to match my other Canon EF lenses.

 

Distortion     performance      top

The Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 USM has less distortion than any other moderate tele zoom I've ever tested.

It's got some barrel distortion at 70mm and some pincushion distortion at 200mm, but never very much at any setting.

For critical use, use these values in Photoshop's Lens Distortion tool to remove it:

at 10' (3m)
70mm
+1.5
+1.0
100mm
0.0
0.0
135mm
-1.0
0.0
200mm
-1.5
0.0

© 2011 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

 

Ergonomics     performance      top

Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II

Canon 70-200/2.8L II USM. enlarge.

This is a big, fat, heavy lens optimized for a man's hands.

The zoom and focus rings can be moved with one fingertip, but it takes some effort. They work much better if you can get your hand around them. The zoom feels as if it's working through a geartrain!

There are a lot more switches than just the AF-MF slider on the side. Canon has included various ridges so that you can differentiate them by feel.

 

Falloff (darkened corners)     performance      top

Falloff is visible at f/2.8 at the long end, and gone by f/4. It's not visible at the short end.

My Canon 5D Mark II (as of firmware 2.0.4) doesn't have the data to correct this automatically in its Peripheral Illumination Correction menu option. If you go find the data and load it into your camera (I'm too lazy), it should correct for this automatically.

I've greatly exaggerated this by shooting a flat gray target and presenting it against a gray background.

 

Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L II falloff on full-frame

No peripheral illumination correction

 
f/2.8
f/4
f/5.6
70mm Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 falloff Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 falloff Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 falloff
100mm Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 falloff Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 falloff Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 falloff
135mm Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 falloff Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 falloff Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 falloff
200mm Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 falloff Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 falloff Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 falloff

© 2011 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

 

 

Filters, Use with     performance      top

Filters are easy.

The sturdy and precise metal threads don't move, and there isn't any problem with vignetting. Feel free to use thick rotating filters. There is no need for expensive "thin" polarizers.

 

Lateral Color Fringes     performance      top

There are no lateral color fringes as seen on my Canon 5D Mark II at 135mm and 200mm.

At 100mm there is a tiny bit of green/magenta color fringing.

At 70mm there is a little green/magenta color fringing.

 

Mechanics     performance      top

Canon 70-200mm f/2.8

Rear, Canon 70-200 f/2.8 L. enlarge.

The Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II is quite different from Canon's usual plastic lenses in the under-$2,000 bin. This beast feels more like it comes from Canon's professional TV camera lens division: it's almost all metal and built like a tank.

Canon claims good dust and rain sealing, and I believe them. Sports pros shoot this out in the rain all the time, although you won't find me out there!

 

Filter Threads

Metal.

 

Hood Mount

Metal.

 

Identity Ring

Metal.

 

Fore Barrel

Plastic.

 

Focus Ring

Metal, rubber-covered.

 

Mid-barrel

Plastic.

 

Internals

Seem like metal.

 

Zoom Ring

Metal, rubber-covered.

 

Rear barrel

Metal.

 

Moisture seal at mount

Yes.

 

Mount

Chromed metal.

 

Markings

Paint.

 

Serial Number

Engraved into bottom of lens barrel and filled with black paint.

 

Date Code

Yes, hot-stamped into the rear light shield.

See Canon Date Codes to find your lens' birthday.

This sample is stamped UY0100, meaning January 2010.

 

Noises When Shaken

Moderately loud rattling and clunking.

 

Made in

Japan.

 

Sharpness     performance      top

Lens sharpness doesn't matter much, but it sure distracts amateurs who confuse lens sharpness with picture sharpness.

As shot on the 5D Mark II under test conditions at infinity, the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II is the sharpest zoom I've ever tested, especially at f/2.8.

The sharpness of the 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II doesn't vary much except from diffraction at f/11 and smaller. It's just as sharp and contrasty at f/2.8 in the center as it is at f/8.

The biggest detriments to sharpness will be camera shake, subject motion and heat shimmer.

Here are Canon's claimed MTF curves, which agree with what I see:

Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 MTF     Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 MTF

Canon's MTF Curves.

 

Spherochromatism     performance      top

I see no spherochromatism

Spherochromatism, misnamed "color bokeh" by laymen, is when out-of-focus highlights take on color fringes. The Canon 70-200/2.8L's out-of-focus highlights have no color fringes.

Spherochromatism is a completely different aberration from lateral color fringes.

 

Sunstars     performance      top

With its mostly rounded 8-bladed diaphragm, this Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II shouldn't make much in the way of sunstars at most apertures. At the smallest apertures, expect boring Canon-standard 8-pointed sunstars on brilliant points of light.

 

Compared       top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations

This 70-200mm is the choice of the pros because of its superior mechanics, instant autofocus, fast f/2.8 speed and of course ultra sharpness at every setting.

 

Versus the 70-200/4 IS

It's so sharp that it's sharper at f/2.8 than the 70-200/4 IS is at f/4.

The 70-200/4 IS is popular with lazy people like me who don't want to carry this huge f/2.8 beast, but for the people willing to carry it, it's sharper, tougher, has less distortion and is faster to focus than the 70-200/4 IS.

 

Versus the previous 70-200/2.8L IS

This new II lens focuses more closely, along with 10 years of other optical innovations. If you already own the previous lens, nothing is forcing you to own the best, but you should.

See Is It Worth It.

 

Canon 70-200mm Comparison Table        top

 
Anni
2010-
2001-2010
1995-
2006-
1999-
1989-1995
Max. Aperture
f/2.8
f/2.8
f/2.8
f/4
f/4
f/2.8
Stabilization
IS
IS
none
IS
none
none
Close focus
4'/1.2m
4.6'/1.4m
5'/1.5m
4'/1.2m
4'/1.2m
5.9'/1.8m
Filter
77mm
77mm
77mm
67mm
67mm
72mm
Filter Threads
Metal
Metal
Metal
plastic
plastic
Metal
Zoom Feel
Slow and damped
Slow and damped
Slow and damped
A fast flick
Fast
A fast flick
Sharpness
Extreme
Very good
Excellent
Excellent
Very good
Excellent
Distortion (W~T)
Materials
Mostly metal
Mostly metal
Mostly metal
Metal and plastic
Metal and plastic
All Metal
Hood
Clumsy, but tough, bayonet
Clumsy, but tough, bayonet
Clumsy, but tough, bayonet
Clumsy, but tough, bayonet
Clumsy, but tough, bayonet
Convenient, but lighter, snap-on
Tripod collar ergonomics
Clumsy
Clumsy
Clumsy
optional
optional
Brilliant!
Weight w/collar if included
1,600g
1,471g
1,370g
756g
711g
1,412g
Price, 11/2011

$1,600 used

$750 used
Price, 4/2012

$1,700 used

$760 used
Best for
Rich guys & full-time pros.
Pros on a budget.
Tripod use, action and sports pros.
Nature and landscape shots in the field without tripod.
Budget tripod, sports or family shooters demanding high quality.
Tripod use, action and sports pros.

 

Usage       top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations

Canon 70-200/2.8 IS II

Canon 70-200/2.8 IS L II. bigger.

Focus Limiter (top switch)

Leave it in the "1.2m ~ ∞" position.

The "2.5m ~ ∞" position prevents the lens from focusing any closer than 2.5 meters (8 feet). You might use this if you're shooting action at a distance and the lens is wasting time trying to focus this close and back looking for things.

 

AF - MF Switch

Leave this in AF. Just grab the focus ring at any time for instant manual-focus override.

Only set it to MF if you want it to be locked into manual focus.

 

Image Stabilizer

Leave this on. It eliminates camera shake for sharper pictures. It replaces a tripod, except indoors or at night.

The stabilizer works even when using a monopod.

The only time to turn it off is if you're on a very sturdy tripod.

The stabilizer even works with the Canon EF 1.4x II and Canon EF 2x II teleconverters, and the Canon EF12 II and Canon EF25 II extension tubes.

 

Stabilizer Mode

Presuming you have the Stabilizer ON:

Mode 1 is the usual mode. It lets the stabilizer to do the best job of keeping the picture sharp. It lets the stabilizer work in all directions.

Mode 2 is only for panning shots where you want a motion-blurred background. It disables the stabilizer from working in the direction in which you are panning.

 

Tripod Collar

Use this only if you're using a monopod. With Image Stabilization, you don't need a tripod.

I'd loosen the collar's knob, rotate the collar, pull it off towards the rear of the lens, and leave it in the box.

 

Recommendations       top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations

The Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II is a favorite lens of thousands of professional photographers because of its fabulous optics, instant autofocus and tough mechanics.

It's heavy and expensive. Its performance and durability are what earn it a spot in most pro's bags. There is no better zoom for your Canon.

Personally, as an outdoor nature and landscape shooter, I'm too lazy to want to haul this beast around the woods with me. I own the 70-200mm f/4 IS for when I want a zoom, and use the EF 100mm f/2 for when I can forgo a zoom and want fantastic optics in an even smaller package.

This 70-200/2.8 II is for very serious photographers and full-time pros who will be spending more time shooting with this lens than carrying it around their necks.

Seeing how Amazon's customer reviews are also nearly 100% 5-stars, it's not just me who loves this 70-200/2.8 II. Everyone does!

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 these directly to it at Adorama or at Amazon, when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live.

Thanks!

Ken.

 

More Information:

Canon's 70-200/2.8 L II Instruction Manual.

Canon, USA's data.

 

Help me help you         top

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Thanks for reading!

 

 

Mr. & Mrs. Ken Rockwell, Ryan and Katie.

 

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Dec 2011