REAL WORLD Lens Test
EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM

These lens tests are designed to show you what a rank amateur can do with these lenses.
Very little adjustment has been done to these images and, in certain photos, actual straight-from-the-camera images are provided. In other words, if "I" can get these results, you should be able to, as well.

This is the lens that everyone raves about*. This is supposed to be the telephoto zoom lens by which all others are judged. Just over one year after I bought my first DSLR, I rented this particular lens for a couple of weeks, to see if all the hype was true.

First impression

The hype was true. Over the years, I've rented this lens (or a variant) on four occasions, and have never been disappointed. I first rented the f/2.8 without image stabilization and was mightily impressed. I would shoot random subjects and marvel at how clear the images were. "Tack sharp" is a term reviewers like to throw around about this lens, and it's true. The f/2.8 aperture lets you shoot with less light and the IS allows a faster shutter speed - basically opens up ever more possibilities.

Note: Canon has four variations of the 70-200: f/2.8 and f/4, both with or without IS, retail prices range from $649.99 to $2,099. *Also note: Canon released a Mark II update of this lens in 2010 or so, which I haven't seen.

Canon 70-200L

On the barrel are the requisite switches to choose from two stabilizer modes and to turn stabilizer on or off, a switch for auto/manual focus, another to limit the focus range for faster focusing. Twist one ring for zoom, twist the other for focus.

Canon 70-200L

I can't do this lens justice. The capabilities of this lens are far beyond my mediocre skills. This is one of those things that you can grow with, stretch with, improve with. That said, here is one of my first shots with this lens, a flag atop a hotel down and across the street. This photo is untouched.

Canon 70-200L

I'm just going to be quiet now and show some samples of casual shooting with this lens.

Canon 70-200L sample

f/3.2, 1/100sec., ISO400, 200mm links to 4752 x 3168 original

Canon 70-200L sample

f/10, 1/500sec., ISO200, 200mm links to 3456 x 2304 original

Canon 70-200L sample

f/5, 1/500sec., ISO400, 200mm links to 4752 x 3168 original

Canon 70-200L sample

f/11, 1/100sec., ISO200, 70mm links to 4752 x 3168 original

Canon 70-200L sample

f/11, 1/100sec., ISO200, 70mm links to 4752 x 3168 original

SAMPLES: See a slideshow of various images from the 70-200mm L telephoto zoom

bottom line

If you can only afford the f/4 without IS, you'll still end up with an excellent lens. But if you can wait and save up your pennies, that f/2.8 IS Mark II looks like the ultimate in glass. Judgment call: it may be worth selling off other lenses to buy this one. Just sayin'.

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dwight munroe
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