Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8 L IS USM lens
29/01/10For many professional photographers this lens is an essential item. It has an excellent reputation and this is reflected in it's retail price.
Some will fiercely debate whether to go for the f4 70-200mm lens or the f2.8 one. I guess it depends on whether you really need that extra stop of light. The f4 lens is less than two thirds the price of the one reviewed here and is also half the weight. Image quality from both is excellent. I need the one stop advantage so had to stump up the cash and carry the weight. If money is tight then I'd recommend considering the Canon 200mm f2.8 L II prime lens. You need to be able to live without the versatility of a zoom lens but it is significantly less expensive than any of Canon's 70-200 L lenses and pulls in superb results.
Anyway, back to the f2.8 zoom. The lens comes with a lens hood, a tripod collar and a good quality protective case. The engineering is to the standard you'd expect from a Canon L lens - excellent. The IS enables a three stop improvement in effective shutter speed when handholding and it can be set to a panning mode (mode 2) to give a pleasant impression of movement to a background when tracking a horizontally moving target. The autofocus locks on very quickly even in low light and tracks well. The f2.8 eight-bladed circular maximum aperture allows for superb foreground/background blur. Images are very crisp even when shooting wide open and show excellent colour and contrast.
I've used both 1.4x and 2x extenders with this lens to good effect. Autofocus works even with a 2x converter on consumer DSLRs. Inevitably there is some loss of quality with either teleconverter but with Canon extenders the results are still very good. I've not tried teleconverters from independent manufacturers .
So, what about disadvantages? In practice, the weight doesn't really bother me and seems even less of an issue when using a neoprene camera strap to absorb some of the shocks when walking around. However, if I just needed an f4 lens I'd be very happy to have a lighter lens. Apart from that, the only downside for me is the 'white' colour. Let's get this straight - this is not a subtle lens. It inevitably attracts comment and as such this can hamper candid shooting when doing street or wedding photography.
Overall Rating: 5/5
Ease of use: 4/5
Value for money: 4/5
Build quality: 5/5
UPDATE January 2010. Please note that Canon have now updated this lens with a Mark II version. By all accounts it is slightly sharper and has an improved image stabiliser. It's also more expensive!