A Canon EF 70 to 200 f2.8L IS USM Lens Album

In the low light around dusk in St. Augustine, Florida, I really appreciated the ability to shoot without a tripod, thanks to the wide maximum aperture and the IS mechanism of this lens. Even when using ISO 50 film, plus a dark polarizing filter, I was able to make razor sharp images. (At f/2.8, 1/30 sec, 70mm; B+W polarizer; Fujichrome Velvia.)
Photos © 2002, Peter K. Burianl, All Rights Reserved

While shooting stock images around historic St. Augustine, Florida, and closer to home during Veterans Day events, I used this lens extensively for people, birds, architecture, and various travel subjects to assess autofocus response, IS effectiveness, and optical quality. The new model met or exceeded my highest expectations in every category. Even when used with the Extender EF 1.4x II--a new/improved accessory with superior coatings and moisture resistance--the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM produced extremely sharp images with excellent color rendition.

Optical Evaluation
As expected, this zoom produced incredibly high sharpness across the entire frame at all apertures and focal lengths. My slides taken at f/2.8 are well within professional standards and optimum performance is reached by f/4, precluding the need to stop down to smaller apertures. In extreme close focusing--at a mere 4.3 ft--ideal for tight close-ups of children's faces and for images of small artifacts--sharpness was excellent, particularly in the f/5.6 to f/11 range. With the EF 1.4x converter there was no apparent loss of resolution; my slides remained just as sharp with this accessory. These factors are essential in a professional lens and the consistency at all f/stops and focal lengths confirms superior optical design.

Although I generally used the new Extender EF 1.4x II, I occasionally tried the older Extender EF 2x. Even with that accessory, at 400mm at an effective aperture of f/5.6, autofocus was reliable, IS helped counter the effects of camera shake, and image quality remained surprisingly high. (At 1/125 sec; Manfrotto monopod; Provia 100F.)

Major Upgrades At A Glance

  • Optical Image Stabilizer (IS) with two modes: for static subjects and for panning with motion
  • Third generation IS system with high-performance gyro sensor offers smoother movement and effectiveness at longer shutter speeds (three vs. two step advantage); IS remains effective even when lens is used on a tripod to counter vibration from wind or reflex mirror action
  • New aperture diaphragm remains nearly circular from f/2.8-f/5.6
  • Revised autofocus drive circuit and AF algorithm for higher AF speed with current high-end EOS cameras
  • Shorter minimum focusing distance
  • Five extra optical elements
  • Water/dust-resistant construction for adverse shooting conditions
--Peter K. Burian