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Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens Review

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens Review - Gary Wolstenholme reviews the latest incarnation of Canon's 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.

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Category : Interchangeable Lenses
Product : Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM
Price : £1,800
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Features and Handling
Performance
Verdict
Specification
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM
The latest incarnation of Canon's 70-200mm f/2.8 lens sports fast silent ultrasonic focusing, weather sealed construction and a four stop image stabiliser and costs around £1800.

Those looking for a Canon marque lens of this specification, but without the budget for this new lens may also consider the non-image stabilised version which costs around £980.

Sigma also offer an image stabilised 70-200mm f/2.8, which costs around £1000 sporting silent focusing and a four stop stabiliser, but no weather sealing.

Tamron's SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di LD is a much more basic lens, with no stabilisation, or silent focusing to speak of, but it does cost a lot less than these other lenses at around £630.

In this review we'll investigate just how well this new professional optic from Canon performs.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM: Handling and features

Weighing 1490g, this lens has a fair bit of heft to it and you certainly notice its there when being carried about for long periods. Still it balances extremely well on the EOS 5D MkII used for testing with the controls all being in very natural positions for operating the lens and supporting the weight at the same time. High quality materials have been used throughout and a rubber gasket is located around the lens mount to keep dust and moisture from the camera.

As focus and zooming actions are preformed internally, the 77mm front filter does not rotate during use, making use of polarising filters quite a pleasant experience. A petal-shaped lens hood comes supplied, which fit onto the bayonet around the front.

The zoom action is smooth requiring little force to move it through the range, but providing enough resistance to stay put and avoid zoom creep. The manual focus ring is silky in operation and well-enough damped for easy manual focus adjustments.

Focusing is lighting quick and virtually silent on the EOS 5D MkII used for testing and the minimum focusing distance of 1.2m is fairly typical for modern lenses of this ilk.

A four stop image stabiliser comes fitted to this optic and it performs excellently. Shooting at 200mm, I could manage four out of five shots sharp at a 1/25sec and around two out of three shots sharp at 1/13sec, which is four stops slower than the usual rule of thumb for sharp hand held images dictates.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM: Performance

Shooting wide open at 70mm yields images which have sharpness approaching excellent levels in the centre of the image area and approaching good towards the edges. Peak quality across the frame is achieved at f/11, where the quality towards the edges catches up with that of the centre.

At 135mm and f/2.8 the sharpness in the centre is still very good and the quality towards the edges improves to very good levels. Peak quality across the frame is achieved at f/8, where sharpness is excellent across the frame.

By 200mm, this lens really comes into its own. Sharpness in the centre at f/2.8 is excellent, and the quality towards the edges is very good. Peak quality across the frame is achieved between f/5.6 and f/8, where the sharpness in the centre is outstanding and the quality towards the edges is excellent.

Resolution at 70mm Resolution at 135mm
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Resolution at 70mm Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Resolution at 135mm
Resolution at 200mm

How to read our graphs

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. Averaging them out gives the red weighted column.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution. The taller the column, the better the lens performance. Simple.

For this review, the lens was tested on an Canon EOS 5D MkII using Imatest.
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Resolution at 200mm

Chromatic aberrations are very well controlled throughout the range. The worst Imatest was able to detect fringing covering 0.61 pixel widths, which should barely be visible, even in very large prints on in harsh crops from near the edge of the image area.

Chromatic Aberrations at 70mm Chromatic Aberrations at 135mm
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Chromatic Aberrations at 70mm Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Chromatic Aberrations at 135mm
Chromatic Aberrations at 200mm

How to read our charts

Chromatic aberration is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on an Canon EOS 5D MkII using Imatest.
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Chromatic Aberrations at 200mm

Falloff off illumination towards the corners can be quite pronounced at maximum aperture. At 70mm the corners are 1.92 stops darker than the image centre and visually uniform illumination is achieved at f/5.6, whereas at 200mm the corners are 2.6 stops darker than the centre and visually uniform illumination isn't achieved until f/8.

Distortion is minimal at 70mm with Imatast detecting 1.96% barrelling. At 200mm 1.12% pincushion distortion is present, which is a moderate level, but may be noticeable under certain circumstances. At both ends of the zoom the distortion pattern is uniform across the image area, which should make it simple to correct in image editing software afterwards.

During use this lens showed few signs of flare or loss of contrast, even when shooting into the light. The supplied petal shaped hood does an excellent job of keeping extraneous light out of the lens, further improving this lens' ability to cope under harsh conditions.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Maximum magnification   Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM bokeh
Maximum magnification – ISO200, 1/125, f/11, 200mm   Bokeh – ISO100, 1/400, f/4, 200mm
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM wide-angle   Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM telephoto
Wideangle – ISO100, 1/80, f/16, 70mm   Telephoto – ISO100, 1/60, f/16, 200mm

DxOMark provides objective, independent, RAW-based image quality performance data for lenses and digital cameras to help you select the best equipment to meet your photographic needs.

Visit the DxOMark website for tests performed on the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM: Verdict

During testing this lens proved itself capable of producing sharp, contrasty images at all apertures and focal lengths. Besides that, it is built like a tank, focuses quickly and the four stop image stabiliser does a superb job of ironing out the effects of a few too many cups of coffee.

The price be a little on the high side, but with performance like this, I don't believe Canon designed this lens to a price. If quality matters, the extra may just be worth saving that bit longer for.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM: Pros

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Excellent weather sealed build
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lightening quick focusing
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Effective four stop stabiliser
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Very sharp at all apertures and focal lengths

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM: Cons

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Price may be beyond some people's budget
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Falloff of illumination towards the corners at 200mm

FEATURES Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM
HANDLING Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM
PERFORMANCE Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM
VALUE FOR MONEY Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM
OVERALL Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM: Specification

Price £1799.99
Contact www.canon.co.uk
Filter size 77mm
Format Full-frame
Construction 23 elements in 19 groups
Angle-of-view 34° - 12°
35mm equivalent focal length (on APS-C body) 112 - 320mm
Internal focusing Yes
Image stabilisation Yes
Minimum focus 1.2m
Maximum aperture f/2.8
Minimum aperture f/32
Weight 1490g
Size (lxw) 88.8 x 199mm
In the box LZ1326 lens case, ET-87 lens hood, lens cap

The Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM costs £1799.99 and is available from Warehouse Express here:

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM

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