A fast, high-performance, professional-quality zoom lens for sports, events and portrait photographers.Improving on the popular EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM lens, Canon's new EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM comes with a next-generation image stabiliser that claims up to four f-stops of shutter speed advantage at all focal length settings. Designed for professional photographers and serious photo enthusiasts who require robust construction and excellent imaging performance, the new lens also provides a shorter minimum focusing distance and better dust- and moisture-proof sealing. . . [more]
Improving on the popular EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM lens, Canon's new EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM comes with a next-generation image stabiliser that claims up to four f-stops of shutter speed advantage at all focal length settings. Designed for professional photographers and serious photo enthusiasts who require robust construction and excellent imaging performance, the new lens also provides a shorter minimum focusing distance and better dust- and moisture-proof sealing.
Canon's new EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens. (Source: Canon.)
The re-jigged optical design consists of 23 elements in 19 groups and includes a high-performance fluorite element plus five ultra-low dispersion (UD) elements, drastically reducing chromatic aberration throughout the zoom range. The inclusion of fluorite elements not used in its predecessor and an additional UD lens element enable the new lens to produce high contrast images that are sharp edge-to-edge.
The above diagram shows the location of various components in the new lens. (Source: Canon.)
Both focusing and zoom mechanisms are internal, and rear focusing means the lens remains the same length throughout the zoom range. No zoom lock is required. In addition, the front element doesn't rotate, allowing easy use of angle-critical attachments. The table below shows the main differences between the new lens and its predecessor.
EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM
EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM
23 elements in 19 groups
23 elements in 18 groups
1x Fluorite, 5x UD
Dimensions (diameter x length)
88.9 x 199 mm
86 x 197 mm
Canon has upgraded the ring-type USM (Ultrasonic motor) in the new lens with a new high-speed CPU and an optimised AF algorithm to make autofocusing both faster and quieter. The shorter minimum focusing distance of 1.2 metres and improved 0.21x magnification will allow photographers to move in closer to subjects without needing to exchange lenses. This could be handy for news and events photographers for whom the previous lens was a popular choice.
The new lens is built to professional standards and has a solid metal barrel. The stainless steel lens mount has a rubber ring that prevents dust and moisture getting in and the focus mode and stabiliser switches and zoom and focusing rings all feature a completely dust and moisture-proof structure when used with EOS professional bodies.
The lens barrel is coated with the standard Canon professional beige paint that reflects much more IR radiation than the black paint on other manufacturers' lenses. This keeps internal temperatures more stable, thereby providing a more stable column of air for the imaging light to pass through.
The focusing ring is 44 mm wide and situated just under 30 mm back from the front of the lens. It is rubber coated with narrow ridges and two contoured bands to provide a secure grip. Behind it is a 34 mm section of the lens barrel that carries the distance scale window, which has indicators marks in metres and feet plus infinity compensation and infrared index marks.
Also on this section of the lens barrel is an adjustment panel with four sliders. The top one is an AF limiter switch that lets you set the minimum distance for scanning to either 1.2 metres or 2.5 metres. This minimises any tendency for the lens to ‘hunt' when scanning distances in a subject. The second is the AF mode selector, which has two positions: AF and MF. Manual focusing is enabled even during AF mode through full-time mechanical focusing.
The remaining sliders handle stabiliser settings with the top one switching stabilisation on and off and the lower one setting the stabiliser mode. Two modes are provided: Mode 1 steadies the image in both vertical and horizontal directions while Mode 2, which is used for panning, only stabilises in one direction - but can automatically detect whether it should be horizontal or vertical.
Behind this section of the lens barrel lies the zoom ring, which is 40 mm wide and has a 33 mm wide, deeply ridged rubber coating. Engraved on the trailing edge of this ring are four focal length settings: 70, 100, 135 and 200mm. The supplied tripod mount fits just behind the focus ring and carries a prominent mark for lining up the focal length settings. A locking knob allows it to be attached and detached quickly and easily.
No adjustments are found on the rest of the lens barrel, which carries the red lens mount index button and a series of 7 mm wide moulded ridges to provide a secure grip when the lens is changed. The stainless steel mounting plate carries 10 electrical contact points that allow the lens to communicate with the camera body.
Supplied accessories include the new ET-87 Lens Hood and Ring-Type Tripod Collar. The LZ1326 Lens Case is also included as standard. Optional accessories include the EF 1.4x II and EF 2x II Lens Extenders, EF 12 II and EF 25 II Extension Tubes and 77mm filters.
The handling characteristics, focal length, fast aperture and effective image stabiliser on this lens all contribute to it being an excellent workhorse lens for professional photographers. In addition, its overall design and robust construction make it a reliable lens for day-to-day use under challenging conditions.
Because of its size and weight, it is best matched with Canon's professional cameras, where its extensive weatherproofing is fully effective. Although it is also compatible with the larger ‘pro-sumer' camera bodies, it feels out of balance with the lighter bodies of the entry-level consumer cameras.
The new design also provides an improved grip and more comfortable handling plus improved usability during manual focusing. In addition, the switch panel on the side of the lens barrel has been re-designed to reduce the chances that sliders will be accidentally moved when the lens is in use.
The minimum focusing distance of 1.2 metres limits usage of this lens for close-ups and makes it unusable for macro photography. However, because this limit applies throughout the focal length range, we were able to shoot some usable close-ups of clusters of flowers with the 200mm focal length setting (as shown in the Sample Images section below).
Interestingly, in manual focusing mode zooming the lens changes its focus - although only slightly. This is unlikely to matter for most photographers who will generally use the lens in AF mode, but could be of interest to scientific and technical photographers.
For our Imatest tests we used the EOS 5D body, which is our standard test platform for lenses of this type. Some of our shooting tests were carried out with the EOS ID Mark IV body during a Canon-organised event.
The AF system on the review lens was very responsive and consistently accurate in a wide variety of shooting situations. Not only was it quick to lock onto subjects; it also maintained focus when subjects were moving - even at high speeds. Thanks to the Ring USM (Ultrasonic Motor), it was also almost silent.
The ability to restrict the focus distance range enabled us to optimise AF performance for both close subjects and those more than 2.5 metres from the camera. Setting the distance to 2.5m - infinity ensured a high percentage of sharp pictures when shooting fast-moving cars.
The new stabilisation system appeared to be very effective - if the viewfinder image is to be believed. It was stable right from start-up, making it easier to frame shots accurately both when panning and in poorly-lit situations. It was also almost silent, save for a just-perceptible buzz when it starts and stops.
According to Canon, the IS system in the EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II USM lens can provide up to four f-stops of shutter speed compensation. This means you should be able to use shutter speeds as slow as 1/8 second at the 70mm focal length and 1/25 second at 200mm. If you're prepared to take lots of shots and discard more than half of them, you can better this, as shown in the Sample Images section below.
Imatest showed the review lens to be a stellar performer, with excellent flatness of field across the focal length range and at all aperture settings. In line with normal practice, our conclusions are based on JPEG test shots but sample results from CR2.RAW files are also provided at the end of this review to show how much detail can be extracted by experienced photographers. The graph below plots resolution performance based on JPEG test shots.
Lateral chromatic aberration was negligible throughout the focal length range and at all aperture settings, as shown in the graph below. (The red line marks the border between negligible and low CA.) No coloured fringing was detected in any test shots.
Rectilinear distortion was minimal with very slight barrel distortion at 70mm and minor pincushioning at 200mm. No distortion was evident between 100mm and 135mm. Some vignetting could be seen at the widest apertures at all four focal length settings. However it was eliminated by stopping down to f/4 and, therefore, of minimal concern to most photographers.
Bokeh was much as you'd expect from a fast, high-quality lens with a rounded eight-blade aperture. With an f/2.8 maximum aperture across the entire focal length range, this lens can create strongly blurred backgrounds with very smooth tonal transitions.
Backlit subjects were generally handled well, although the review lens wasn't totally flare-free. However, with most of our test shots using the EOS 5D Mark II and EOS 40D bodies, contrast was maintained to an acceptable level and the majority of shots were usable.
Buy this lens if:
- You want a general-purpose, medium-zoom lens to pair with one of Canon's Professional EOS bodies.
- You want high resolution at all focal lengths, along with good flatness of field.
- You'd like very effective built-in image stabilisation.
- You'd like a lens that requires no readjustment when you fit polarisers and graduated filters.
Don't buy this lens if:
- You need close focusing and macro capabilities.
- You want a lens for a lighter, APS-C sensor EOS body.
(based on files from the Canon EOS 5D)
CR2.RAW files converted into 16-bit TIFF files with Adobe Camera Raw
Distortion at 70mm; ISO 200, 1/160 second at f/8.
Distortion at 200mm; ISO 200, 1/160 second at f/8.
Vignetting at 70mm f/2.8. ISO 100, 1/1448 second exposure.
Vignetting at 200mm f/2.8. ISO 100, 1/1024 second exposure.
70mm focal length on EOS 40D;ISO 200,1/350 second at f/9.9.
200mm focal length on EOS 40D; ISO 200,1/500 second at f/8.
70mm focal length on EOS 5D; ISO 200, 1/500 second at f/8.
200mm focal length on EOS 5D; ISO 200, 1/500 second at f/8.
70mm focal length on EOS 1D Mark IV; ISO 1600, 1/30 second at f/12.9.
200mm focal length on EOS 1D Mark IV; ISO 1600, 1/21 second at f/12.9.
70mm focal length on EOS 1D Mark IV; ISO 400, 1/30 second at f/9.1.
200mm focal length on EOS 1D Mark IV; ISO 400, 1/30 second at f/9.1.
EOS 1D Mark IV; 145mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/395 second at f/11.
EOS 1D Mark IV; 165mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/80 second at f/18.
EOS 1D Mark IV; 165mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/80 second at f/18.
EOS 1D Mark IV; 95mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/166 second at f/10.
EOS 1D Mark IV; 200mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/250 second at f/11.
EOS 1D Mark IV; 110mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/332 second at f/9.
EOS 1D Mark IV; 200mm focal length, ISO 800, 1/125 second at f/3.5.
EOS 1D Mark IV; 200mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/500 second at f/5.6.
EOS 1D Mark IV; 168mm focal length, ISO 800, 1/21 second at f/9.9.
EOS 1D Mark IV; 200mm focal length, ISO 3200, 1/250 second at f/5.
EOS 1D Mark IV; 70mm focal length, ISO 6400, 1/12 second at f/4.
EOS 1D Mark IV; 70mm focal length, ISO 6400, 1/25 second at f/2.8.
EOS 1D Mark IV; 145mm focal length, ISO 800, 1/30 second at f/4.6.
EOS 1D Mark IV; 130mm focal length, ISO 3200, 1/6 second at f/4.6.
EOS 1D Mark IV; 100mm focal length, ISO 3200, 1/12 second at f/9.9.
EOS 5D; close-up at 70mm; ISO 200, 1/500 second at f/2.8.
EOS 5D; close-up at 200mm; ISO 200, 1/350 second at f/3.4.
EOS 5D; backlighting; 200mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/320 second at f/4.5.
EOS 40D; backlighting;200mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/500 second at f/7.
Picture angle: 34 degrees to 12 degrees (diagonal)
Maximum aperture: f/2.8
Minimum aperture: f/32
Lens construction: 23 elements in 19 groups (one Fluorite plus 5 UD elements)
Lens mount: Canon EF
Diaphragm Blades: 8
Stabilisation: Built-in; up to 4 stops of compensation
Focus drive: Ring-type USM; full-time manual focus
Minimum focus: 1.2 metres
Maximum magnification: 0.21x (at 200mm)
Filter size: 77 mm
Dimensions (Diameter x L): 88.9 x 199 mm
Weight: 1.49 kilograms
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