on 20 March 2009
I bought this after reading reviews and after having discovered quite how good L series lenses could be. I kind of gulped at the price and trusted what people consistently say about it (just google reviews). The definition it delivers is just amazing (hairs on the legs of a bumble bee from 15 feet, see yourself reflected in the eye of your dog when you view an image at 100% on the computer: that kind of thing), and the contrast and colour is delicious--colour perhaps just a tad less saturated than some other Canon lenses, but entirely natural. It focuses more or less instantly in almost all light conditions including situations where most other lenses would hunt. The round diaphragm gives really good background blur, and the image stabilization does (almost unbelievably) do exactly what Canon claims it does. I can get usable images at about 1/20th second at full zoom. Not all the time, but most of the time. And at 1/60th it's close to 100% of the time. The IS does make a noticeable whirr, but I doubt it would put off any but the shyest subjects. There is also a faint rattle if you shake the lens, but this is not a problem. All the L series lenses are heavier than the cheaper Canon lenses, and feel a little lens heavy with on small light bodies like the EOS 450D; but this lens is remarkably light considering its quality and range, and I could happily carry it around for a day. It's so sharp that even people who are quite fussy about quality should be able to crop images from it on the computer and get an effective zoom range significantly above 200mm (provided you're not printing out in A3). I think it's genuinely amazing. You pay a lot for the IS. If you can afford it, it's really worth it.
on 28 October 2010
Hurry up and buy!
This lens is a varitable boon! Stop thinking about it, as this is the last review you need if you've read loads already trying to make your mind up. Here's a useful tip - there aren't many reviews for this lens on UK amazon but on .com there are TONS of extremely positive reviews.
I seldom bother writing reviews because I'm lazy, but I'm so impressed by this lens that I felt that I would be punished in Hades for eternity or something if I didn't help the evangelism about this brutally good piece of kit.
In terms of my suitability to give reasoned comments on it, I haven't been into photography for long - a mere 3 years or so compared to some people that have reviewed this model after a career's worth of knowledge and practise. It doesn't compare, yet I still know enough to know that this lens is so fantastic that I suspect it has actually been designed by a collaboration between Nasa, the people at Tefal, and captured alien technology from Area 51 in the Nevada Desert. Honestly, it's shirt burstingly good.
In the past 3 years I've owned a 300D, 450D, and most recently a 500D (possibly a 400 as well but I think I imagined that). I've had quite a few lenses in that time to help get the feel of what's what and to help me learn the pros & cons of various kit, along with what works for me personally. I mostly do landscape pics, and casual shots of my kids etc. In the past I've owned (amongst others) an EFS 55-250 IS, an EF 28-135 IS USM, an F1.8 50mm, a 500mm mirror lens, a nasty quality 70-300mm USM lens, the kit lens, a lovely 24-105 L series F4 lens, and most recently my superb walkabout workhorse, the EFS 17-55 IS USM F2.8 lens.
I recently upgraded to a 7D which meant flogging a load of my gear to raise the money so I only kept the 17-55mm IS lens since it's a brilliant all rounder. This left a bit of a hole in terms of the focal range I could now shoot so after raising a bit of money I began looking into a telephoto to complement that.
I began looking at the F4 non IS 70-200mm L series, since I had about £400 to spend and could get a used one for that, albeit being slightly worried about the F4 aperture now I've been spoiled by a constant F2.8 on my other lens.
Then I was lucky and 'er indoors bestowed me with some extra money that I wasn't expecting, meaning I could afford the IS version after all.
This presented a difficult proposition. For around £800 budget should I get the F4 IS version, or the F2.8 non IS one? This question has been agonised over since before the dawn of time itself, indeed there are said to be cave paintings of dinosaurs having philosophical disputes over which one was better, and I could see the pros & cons of both options in many such debates online (albeit not by dinosaurs).
Basically as everyone else says, the 2.8 is better if you intend to do stuff frequently that's moving in poor light. For everything else, get the F4, and certainly the IS one if you can afford to get it. The extra cost over the non IS version is disturbing and wrong, but it really does work better than any human technology has any right to. I had IS on other lenses but the pale into insignificance and gimmickry when compared to the power of the IS on this beauty.
Don't get me wrong, I'd have loved F2.8 but there were so many reasons to go for the F4 it ended up being a really easy choice in the end. One that I'm extremely happy with.
Extra stop to enable capture of faster subjects, or of moving subjects in low light.
Great if you want to show off and get people to look at you and say "Wow, they must be good". I'm not for a moment suggesting that's why most people buy it although I'm sure one or two will, and like it or not it will draw attention to you.
You can get a brand new one for the cost of a used 2.8 Non IS - full warrantee for peace of mind. Mine cost me a smidge less than £800.
Weather sealing. The IS ones have it and the Non IS ones don't (or do but it's not as good - I can't recall the specifics). I don't use my gear in the rain really, but dust is a worry at times. Not with this.
Weight - it's about half the weight of the 2.8. The F4 is skinnier than my 17-55 and not that much longer. I was surprised it wasn't bigger. It's heavy enough to feel very reassuringly solid, like it could be repeatedly used as a 'blunt instrument' and still work reliably, but not heavy enough to be something you resent lugging around.
Cheaper filters (being 67mm instead of 77mm).
Size. It fits in my tamrac backpack easily. Pretty certain the 2.8 wouldn't, meaning I then have to spend another £100 or so on a bigger bag - more bulk etc.
It's still that telltale whiteish colour but is WAY less conspicuous and will draw less attention to you than the 2.8.
SHARPNESS! I have never owned a lens remotely as sharp as this. It is very noticeably sharper than the 24-105 L that I used to own, and also better than the 17-55 IS that I currently have. My pants nearly fell down when I received it and did a couple of idle test shots with it, so amazed was I at the incredible resolution & clarity. It is renowned as being the sharpest of the 70-200 range, and additionally it's often described that at F2.8 on those bigger lenses, they're a bit soft, which to me kind of negates the main benefit of having that extra stop if that is true.
For instance, I took a photo of my daughter where her face took up most of the frame. When I then zoomed in on one of her eyes (after uploading to my laptop) I could see clearly reflected in her pupil (which was a miniscule crop of the full pic) me taking the picture, the sofa I was sitting on, two pictures on the wall behind me and an upright lamp, and the separate colours of the walls & ceiling in my living room. I've never seen anything that's presented this incredible level of detail before, when you consider that the pupil of the eye is a really miniscule proportion of the whole picture in question.
And this was from a handheld shot indoors using the IS function! I'm genuinely so aghast at the pictures this lens can create that I nearly burst into flames, and my hat fell off.
When all is said & done, there's no arguing that if you NEED the 2.8 aperture for the pictures you take then that will of course be the better lens for you, and no amount of praise for the F4 IS will make it suitable if it's not. It would be pointless, futile, and plain stupid to try and claim to the contrary. So if the F2.8 is what you need because of a job necessity, or a repeated specific subject that calls for it then buy that and enjoy it - I'm sure it's fantastic.
If on the other hand you're an amateur like me, that wants a razor sharp telephoto, but is willing to make a slight compromise/tradeoff in flexibility to benefit in numerous other aspects then it would be fiendish and sinful not to buy the F4 IS.
If you're hovering around like so many of us clearly have been before buying, and you can't decide between these two, then it probably means you just want a 70-200 telephoto for 'general' use rather than with very specific needs in mind, and if that's the case I would put my money (well, no, your money actually) on the F4 IS being the right one for you. I'm sure that people who genuinely need that extra aperture size know very well that they do, and don't need to ponder too much about this.
Yes the difference in cost between the IS and non IS versions is pretty despicable, but you also get the weather sealing, and allegedly better optics, and the IS in this case really is some sort of technology brought back from the future, probably taxed off a terminator or something. It's unfeasibly effective and I love it to bits.
Now you see now, when I die, I want this lens to be buried with me so that A) if there is a next world I can use it there, and B) so that no-one else can have it when I've paid for it. It's mine, you hear me!
I saw one person comment in a review that people who speak out against the 2.8 version are bitter that they couldn't afford it. That's just silly. The 2.8 is I'm sure a superb lens if you need the extra stop, but if you don't genuinely 'need' it then the F4 IS has numerous advantages that as I've listed.
Each to their own, and worst case if you find that you do end up getting the one that doesn't suit you , you don't need to fret as long as you haven't paid shedloads above the going rate. The L series lenses hold value well and are always sought after, so it shouldn't be tricky to sell again without a big loss, then you can get a different version.
One last thing, at first I was strongly considering the Sigma equivalent of the 2.8 as it had brutally good reviews and was much cheaper. Ultimately though I read in a few places that it does not autofocus on the 7D, so a huge no-no! Don't do it if you own a 7D!
Sorry for the waffle but hopefully this helps to convince you just how worthy this item is. Hurry up and buy!
on 5 March 2010
Last year I bought the camera and a 24-70mm 2.8L USM lens, the logical next step for me was this lens as it links up just nicely.
The lens is pretty heavy but much shorten than I expected, but this is not a liability.
I find myself using this lens more and more over my 24-70. Probably because I'm not a huge fan of wide lenses. Anyway, the lens works perfectly, very silent and fast. When using the lens for longer periods of time, I take my tripod because body and lens begin to weight pretty much.
Now, a lot of people asked me why not buying the same lens with image stabilisation (IS)...well, as long as you're shooting with shutter speeds above 1/200s you don't need IS (check the stats in any photoguide).
So instead of spending 500 euro more for IS, I used the money I saved on a very good tripod (a carbon tripod, lighter when travelling).
So yes, this was a very good investment for me but everyone has to decide for him/herself what to buy. The only advise I want to give you and the one given to me a few years back: think about how/why you are going to use the product you're buying (For me low light level photography without flash is a must).
on 7 April 2013
Have been looking for a long lens for some time to add to my Canon 550D. Firstly, thanks to all those who have spent time contributing reviews which helped make my mind up. Not having a huge budget, I was looking at the Canon 70-300mm f4.0/5.6 IS USM and it appeared to be the right lens for me at a price I could afford. But the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4.0 L USM kept nagging away in the background. Although over £100 (at the time of writing) more and not as long, I was swayed by the promise of extra quality. And while it may be a small thing, it's nice for once to get a lens hood and pouch included in the package. I added on a polarising filter and two days later it all arrived on my doorstep.
I'm not an expert photographer but love improving and already after just two days of use, I know I made the right choice. The clarity of image quality is a step up from my other Canon lenses - a 50mm plus 10-22mm wide angle, with the supplied kit lens now left behind at home. Have just posted a couple in the "product images" display. Hard to see as the pic sizes displayed there are small but...the first was taken down on the Thames in low light just after dawn on my very first outing with this lens and the second the day after involving the moving target of an approaching steam train at Clapham Junction.
Like many here, I simply could not justify the cost of the IS version of this lens and was concerned about image blur - my hands are steady-ish but not steady enough not to worry about and can move at the wrong moments like anyone else's. Having taken around 200 photos so far of different kinds, it's simply not a problem. Is the lens "too big" for a 550D? No. It is a little heavier than I anticipated from some of the reviews and you wouldn't want to hold the camera with just one hand for too long. But in practice you, of course, hold a second hand on the barrel of the lens, which feels fine weight and balance-wise. And it's also perfectly comfortable hanging from your neck camera strap.
I thought I would also have to purchase a new camera bag but the camera plus new long lens attached fits perfectly in one compartment with the lens hood reversed.
In conclusion - very pleased with the purchase which opens up a whole new area of image possibilities while at the same time enabling me (hopefully) to create better pictures...plus have lots of fun!
on 24 November 2011
I am thinking of buying one of these lenses but like others did prior to buying theirs, I am baulking at the price. So for a recent 2 hour photoshoot I hired one. Simply amazing, absolutely fantabulous. When I first put it on my 40D and took a few shots I thought there was something wrong with it as I couldn't hear the motors for the AF as they were so quiet and smooth sounding. I have a kit Canon 17-85mm f4-5.6 IS USM lens which isn't the quietest or smoothest lens in operation. Back to the big boy, it did feel heavy but I knew it would be, but as I continued to use it, shooting outdoors in a beautiful garden, stunning models, nice sunshie with this baby in my hands I thought life can't get much better!!! The weight of it quickly became a non issue for me as I got used to it pretty much straight away. I needed the IS just to stop me shaking it was taking such good shots. I did try hand holding on 200mm zoom, but I like to shoot on my monopod where possible to get maximum sharpness with my kit lens, so put this lens on my monopod too. The pics it has given me take your breath away. The shots I have are like magazine shots. Knowing you have such a good lens enables you to concentrate on other aspects of a shot. There were a few other other photographers with me on the photoshoot and when they saw this lens they looked like rabbits caught in headlight beams. They quickly got out my way to let me take my shots! It was surreal. The shots I took are absolutely superb. The day was bright and sunny, some shots under trees so dappled shade in some shots, beautiful autumn colours, long shadows, but the lens wasn't fazed one bit getting perfect focus and rich colours across the range of colours, highlights and shadows. Wide open at f2.8 the bokeh is smooth and sets the subject apart from the out of focus back ground. Truly exceptional image quality. I also took some shots in the fog and mist at end of the next day and the images I have got are sublime. Unfortunately at the end of the weekend I had to give it back and then I woke up, no it wasn't a dream unfortunately, as I am now back to using my Canon kit lens 17-85mm f4-5.6 IS USM which is very mediocre in comparison. In fact it is a lens from an earlier era. The only analogy I can think of to describe the performance of this lens is if say, back in the 1920s, people could drive a modern car even if it were merely a Ford Focus not even a Ferrari F455, they would be absolutely blown away. Well this is what this Canon 70-200 f2.8L Mk2 is like now compared to other lenses. It is in a totally different league to any other lens I have used or know of even with the x1.6 factor using the Canon 40D which gives it an amazing 112-320mm zoom range. Simply superb! I am now saving. Some stuff I haven't used for ages will have to go to pay for this lens as I can't go back to using my old kit lens.
The only gripe I have is that Canon ONLY GIVE IT A ONE YEAR WARRANTY which for a Pro lens costing just over £1,700 is frankly pathetic. It might be extremely well made such that it is indestructible, durable, etc, but only a one year warranty is no where near enough Canon. On a lens of this calibre Canon should at least offer a 3 year warranty or the option to purchase an extended Canon warranty. Then Canon would really be able to justify the price they ask for it. For this is the only reason why I would consider the corresponding Nikon pro lens 70-200 f2.8 G ED VR 2 as Nikon give a two year warranty as STANDARD. This is an excellent lens as well. Also the Nikon 24-70mmf2.8 G ED is better than the corresponding Canon 24-70mm f2.8L lens. But if you want the best zoom lens on the planet then it has to be the Canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS USM Mk2.
on 9 August 2011
I was round a friend's the other week and I was trying his lenses on my camera. I have a Canon 5Dii, as does he, and we were discussing how my 28-70L has been a fantastic every-day lens, but lets me down when I want to get into the action from a distance. I live in India and recently took a boat trip on the back waters of Kerala. With my 28-70L I was unable to get a decent shot of the women doing their washing at the edge of the river. It was then that I realised I could do with something to fill the gap.
When I tried my friend's lens on my camera I instantly fell in love with it. For an L lens it is surprisingly light and is demonstratively comfortable cupped in the left hand. I took a few quick images of a tiled roof and was impressed with the depth of colour. With this in mind I ordered one from Amazon and received it yesterday.
I've yet to take this out into the field but I've taken some exposures around the house and in the garden. A close-up of a relative's eye proved how pin-sharp the lens is, whilst a shot taken across the garden of the tip of a rich, red flower in natural sunlight demonstrates the depth of colour beautifully. I'm not familiar with IS lenses but the shot of my father's eye was taken in low light and whilst the 5Dii increased the ISO, I didn't feel like I needed the image stabilising feature.
I'm amazed that Canon can produce an L lens for this price, and at Amazon's discount price this is currently the best price on the market. For anyone looking for a 'budget' zoom (and I use that term loosely), you could do a lot worse than the 70-200L. I feel like I now have the whole focal spectrum covered.
The lens comes with a hood and a nice soft pouch, but be warned: you may need to purchase a larger camera bag!