The Canon 70-200mm F2.8L IS II Review with Sample Photos
I feel like there aren't enough good real world reviews of lenses these days. I think it's because you can't just do it from your garage with test charts. You actually have to go outside and experience the lens. And that's what I do. I've been shooting this lens for a year and a half now and it still impresses me. I've dropped it in the death valley Sand Dunes. It's been to Japan and Bali with me, and of course to the zoo. This lens was designed for the Zoo. I'm joking. Here is my experience using the lens.
This lens isn't like a lot of other lenses that I buy. Where you unbox it, walk around your neighborhood for a few hours and immediately get buyers remorse because it's not really performing as you expected. Then you have to really learn and figure out how to use the lens and shoot what it likes. This usually happens with my Ultrawide lenses but I did not experience that with this lens. I immediately felt like a pro. You even look like one too.
I've decided to share a lot of my photos that I haven't done a ton of heavy post processing work on so you can actually see the pristine quality of this lens.
At the 70mm end wide open you will find it vignettes a bit. Especially with filters. I don't shoot with filters anymore unless I absolutely have to but this still vignettes slightly. If you have lightroom or photoshop you can instantly correct it with it's lens profiles so I never worry about lens vignetting unless it's very significant.
Focusing is pretty fast. It has a dial allowing you to set the minimum focal distance from 1.2m to 2.5m. Set it to 2.5m when you're shooting something at a distance and it will allow the lens to search for focus quicker since it skips anything closer than that.
There are also two types of image stabilization. Mode 1 and Mode 2. Activate mode two when on a tripod and panning. it will turn off the horizontal axis so the stabilizer will not fight you as you pan. Mode 1 stabilizes on both axis for handheld.
The quality of this lens has been amazing to me. It's got this rich color and contrast that just looks great right out of the camera. The only drawback I have is I wish it would come in black. I started getting nervous walking around Bali Indonesia last time I was there because everyone, I mean everyone would stop to stare at me while walking the streets. They know it's an expensive lens and I don't like the attention it draws. Everywhere I go everyone goes, "Wow, that's a nice camera." Then I say, no, my camera's old. It's actually a nice lens. So now I don't really keep it on the camera until I'm actually using it. Plus it's heavy.
On a technical side, I have noticed a bit of chromatic aberration along the edges. Nothing abnormal for any lens really.
The biggest downside to this lens is it's cost. It will run you $2,000 - $2,400 depending if it's on sale or not. I got mine for $2,000 which I think is worth it for what this lens is.
It's sharp at all f stops, feels solid and is weather sealed. But there is some gap where the focus rings mount. I recently dropped it in some sand dunes getting tiny sand all over it, it was in my focus ring and my zoom ring. I had to sit there for about an hour with a blower trying to blow them all out. I think I missed one piece that got under the focus ring and I can kind of feel it scratching sometimes. I haven't tested it in the rain yet like my 16-35mm. Usually the L series lenses can handle rain and weather but now those tiny gaps make me nervous.
Quick Note: If your lens for some reason makes a buzzing almost grinding noise when the Image Stabalizer is turned on, this is normal. I was at first freaked out thinking it was broken but then did a ton of research. It should buzz slightly with the Image Stabalizer turned on.
You can check current prices on Amazon.
Amazon - Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM
More Canon 70-200mm f2.8L IS II Sample Photos
Queen Mary Fireworks 4th of July - 70mm f/16 1/30sec ISO 200
The 200mm end has excellent reach, amazing sharpness and clarity and very shallow depth of field even when shooting things far away.
Lesser Flamingos - 200mm f/4.5 1/1000sec ISO 250 + Polarizer
Sleeping Lion - 165mm f/4.5 1/750 sec ISO 320 + Polarizer - Cropped in slightly
Great example of the shallow depth with objects far away.
Gazelle - 200mm f/2.8 1/3000sec ISO 320 + Polarizer - Cropped in about 50%
Lioness - 200mm f/4.5 1/500sec ISO 250 + Polarizer - cropped in almost 100%
The image stabilizer on this lens is one of my favorite features. It allows you to shoot at slower shutters while still preserving sharpness. Also great for handheld HDR shots like the one below.
White Rhino 1 of 7 left in the world - HDR 200mm f/4.5 1/250 - 1/1000sec shutter ISO 320 + Polarizer
Golden Gate Bridge - 200mm f/11 1/90sec ISO 320 + Polarizer
San Francisco - 160mm f/6.7 1/90sec ISO 320
If these aren't enough for you and you want to see some untouched raws just shoot me an email and I'll be more than happy to send you some of my B shots.