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Canon EF 70-200mm 1:2.8 L IS II USM review

May 2010 | By Andy Westlake

The EF 70-200mm F2.8 L IS II USM was announced in January 2010 as a replacement for Canon's fast image-stabilized telephoto zoom, the EF 70-200mm F2.8 L IS USM, which dates from 2001. With the rapid increase in SLR sensor pixel counts placing lenses' optical qualities under ever finer scrutiny, the company clearly felt it was time for an update for this professional workhorse, and has revamped the design accordingly. In the process, it claims to have improved almost every aspect of the lens, including the optics, autofocus, image stabilization, and the mechanical design.

The optical formula is suitably complex - 23 elements in 19 groups - and includes no fewer than five ultra-low dispersion (UD) glass elements, plus one made from fluorite, to minimize chromatic aberration. The minimum focus distance has been decreased giving improved maximum magnification, the IS system updated to give a claimed 4 stops of stabilization, and the autofocus system revised to meet the demands of Canon's latest fast, high-resolution DSLRs such as the EOS-1D Mark IV. The lens is also, as is usual for Canon's L series optics, fully sealed against dust and water.

Of course all this comes at a considerable price - as usual with a new release, the 'II' lens commands a hefty premium over the previous version of the lens, which also makes it around four times as expensive as its (non-image stabilized) third party rivals from the likes of Sigma and Tamron. Indeed with an introductory price well over the $2000 mark, many potential upgraders will surely be wondering whether the improvements can possibly be worth the money. Over the next few pages we'll do our best to find out.

Headline features

  • 70-200mm focal length range; fast F2.8 constant maximum aperture
  • Optical image stabilization – 4 stops
  • Ring-type USM focusing with full-time manual override
  • EF mount for Canon 35mm full-frame and APS-C DSLRS

Angle of view

The pictures below illustrate the focal length range from wide to telephoto, on 35mm full-frame and APS-C camera bodies:

70mm (full frame) 200mm (full frame)
70mm (APS-C; 112mm equivalent) 200mm (APS-C; 320mm equivalent)


Canon EF 70-200mm 1:2.8 L IS II USM specifications

Price • US: $2500
• UK: £2200
Date introduced January 2010
Maximum format size 35mm full frame
Focal length 70-200mm
35mm equivalent focal length
Diagonal Angle of view (FF) 34º - 12º
Diagonal Angle of view (APS-C) 23º - 8º
Maximum aperture F2.8
Minimum aperture F32
Lens Construction • 23 elements/19 groups
• 5 UD elements
• 1 Fluorite element
Number of diaphragm blades 8, rounded
Minimum focus 1.2m
Maximum magnification 0.21x at 200mm
AF motor type • Ring-type Ultrasonic Motor
• Full-time manual focus
Focus method Internal
Zoom method Internal
Image stabilization • 4 stops claimed
• Dual mode - Normal and panning
Filter thread • 77mm
• Does not rotate on focus
Supplied accessories • Front and rear caps
• ET-87 Hood
• LZ1324 Soft Case
Weight 1490 g (3.3 lb)
Dimensions 89 mm diameter x 199 mm length
(3.5 x 7.8 in)
Lens Mount Canon EF only
Other Dust and moisture resistant
Supplies distance information for E-TTL II flash metering

* Supplied accessories may differ in each country or area

If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X, Y, and Z and ideally A, B, and C.

This article is Copyright 1998 - 2015 and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author.

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Total comments: 5

I make 40 X 60 inch prints.... using the 5dMkIII & this lens... I can see noise, grain, distortion---from 8 inches away ... and with a magnifying glass but at 4 ft. where EVERYONE actually stands, its PERFECT. I have a friend who uses a Phase 1 and his 40 X 60 prints are definitely better at 8 inches than mine! His 8 x 10's do not "appear" any "better." (I do NOT wear glasses) Since my customers and I only care about what we see (not what we can imagine from "4k" on 1080 p monitors) I just don't get the fuss --- ??? Are most photogs microscope users?

leica f64

This is, without a doubt, one of Canon's best lenses. Great optics and resolution. I borrowed one last week and was impressed with the results. My only concern is the weight. Most of my work is handheld and involves traveling by foot good distances every day. I already use battery packs on both bodies and the combo makes for one heavy load. I have been using the 70-300L which is shorter and lighter but the difference between the two is telling me to spin the 300 and get this.


I have to disagree, best for what use and on what body? For example: as short range sports weapon on an EOS 1D yes it is superb given the other options from Canon. As a walk about lens or a landscape lens there are much better choices.


I had the great opportunity to get my hands on this lens at a once in a lifetime price .All I can say is wow. From the very first shot I knew it was something special. Very accurate focusing ,very fast ,excellent color and contrast.I upgraded from the old version 70-200 mm 2.8 L non is.

Giang Son

Yes this lens is legendary!

Total comments: 5