IQ Test: 70-200 f2.8L IS II vs. 100 f2.8L Macro IS

Started Dec 3, 2010 | Discussions thread
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Dianoda
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IQ Test: 70-200 f2.8L IS II vs. 100 f2.8L Macro IS
Dec 3, 2010

B&H sent me a 70-200 f2.8L IS II in the mail the other day, and for posterity's sake I figured I'd go through the trouble of performing an IQ comparison against my 100 f2.8L.

I tested two focal lengths for the 70-200: 100mm for a direct comparison against the macro and 200mm for a measurement of IQ at the long end of the zoom range. Test shots for the 70-200 f2.8L IS II @100mm were taken near MFD, but not quite at (I estimate subject distance was between 5-6 feet, MFD is about 4 feet). I moved the setup further back so test shots @200mm could match the framing at 100mm.

Here's a rundown of test procedure: All shots were taken with a 7D mounted to a tripod (Manfrotto 190CXPRO3 w/ 322RC2 head), ISO 100, Av mode, IS disabled on both lenses, focusing via Live View and fine-tuned manually @ 10x magnification. The shutter was activated via IR remote after giving the tripod at least 5 seconds to dissipate vibration. Image files were converted from RAW to high quality JPEGs (quality set to 10 in DPP) with sharpness and noise reduction set to 0. Each of the images below is a 100% crop from the center of the frame. Lighting was provided by a large skylight about 8 feet above the subject (it was a rather cloudy day). EXIF left intact.

With out further ado, I present to you Andrew Jackson (as featured on a $20 US banknote):

Honestly, I can't find much to fault with regards to the IQ of either lens. I know the 100mm 2.8L to be a terribly sharp lens, especially when stopped down @ f4-f8, and my 70-200 IS II isn't far behind. If I had to guess, I'd say my copy of the IS II is probably a little above average. Both lenses perform similarly at identical apertures at 100mm and although the IS II is not as sharp or contrasted at 200mm, it still performs admirably. IMO, the 100L shows the biggest improvement upon stopping down from f2.8 to f4, where I believe it ultimately produces the best-in-test IQ.

Something else to note is that these test shots demonstrate just how soft the pixel-dense 7D can appear when sharpness is set to 0 in DPP. Increasing sharpness from 0 to 1 or 2 results in a much sharper picture with no visible reduction in IQ. For example, here is how the 70-200mm IS II at 100mm/f4 looks with sharpness set to 2:

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