Canon 70-200 2.8 IS L Quick Field Review

This lens is addictive! I have been using the 70-200 2.8 IS L on a Canon EOS 1DS for a few weeks now and it has never come off the camera. When I first mounted the lens on my camera, I was taken back by its weight and mass. The 70-200 2.8 L IS is heavy at 3.2 pounds and big (3.4″ in diameter and 7.8″ long). My first impression was this lens is more suited for the studio or short sessions outdoors where the lenses physical attributes would not be a problem. Like many first impressions, mine were inaccurate and unfounded.

After a few days of use, I quickly became comfortable using the lens. My concern over the weight issue was short lived after seeing the superb images this lens produces. Resolution, color and contrast are on a level comparable with high quality fixed focal length lenses. I did find in my sample, colors were rendered on the cool side compared to some other lenses I have used. I quickly corrected this phenomenon by switching my camera’s white balance to a cloudy setting.

The level of distortion is remarkably low for a zoom lens especially in the range of 85 to 200mm. Straight lines were rendered accurately even when shooting subjects such as architecture. Handling (once you get used to the weight) was great. The zoom and focusing rings are well placed and silky smooth. The control buttons for the IS and focus limiter are also in the right places. I did find the switches for the AF and IS modes were easily moved in the wrong positions when carrying the lens and by placing it in and removing it from a camera bag or backpack.

The Canon 70-200 2.8 IS L is a feature rich lens and it is loaded with technology. As a L series lens, build quality is extremely high to the point that I can honestly say it is one of the best constructed lenses I have ever worked with. There is no doubt that this lens is built to last many years even under hard daily professional use.

Canon states its image stabilization results in a gain of three f stops. I have no reason to doubt this. I was consistently able to achieve sharp hand-held images at 1/30 second at 200mm as long as I used proper technique. There are two IS modes available. Mode 1 is used for static subjects while mode 2 is designed for panning.

Auto focus was almost instantaneous due to the Ultra Sonic Motor and bright f 2.8 aperture. The AF system worked quietly and flawlessly is every lighting condition I came across. There is a focus limiter switch when engaged results in even faster focusing times.

While the 70-200 2.8L IS might not be your everyday walkaround lens, it surely belongs in your bag if you work in low light and need the fast aperture. The f 2.8 aperture is essential to throw the background out of focus especially for portraiture when working in the 100mm range. In my outdoor photography, I personally like the f 2.8 lens aperture for the added viewfinder brightness which makes it easier for me to compose my subjects in low light and when I focus the lens manually.


Canon EOS 1DS, Canon 70-200 2.8 IS, L (copyright) Adam Turow

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