70-200 F2.8 IS focus issues

Started Apr 17, 2008 | Discussions
Timberland Veteran Member • Posts: 3,217
70-200 F2.8 IS focus issues

Hi there,

After much debate (in several other threads and on different forums)
I purchased a 70-200 F2.8 IS lens for my 40D last Saturday. I was
really happy that I finally made up my mind.
After shooting some test shots of my girlfriend I looked at them on
my computer. They were all unsharp, blurry. Okay maybe focus was lost
or shutter speed not fast enough (it was actually, 1/2000s). So I
tried some tests. I lined up batteries and shot some test shots (on
tripod, IS off, ML, selftimer, central focus point only, F2.8). Those
shots were also blurry. I photographed the focus chart, same thing. I
tried the lens on a body of a friend (350D), still the same.

So I returned this lens as it was clearly not working like it should.
I was really expecting excellent sharpness with F2.8. I mean this
lens costs me €1600,- so it should work.

I got another copy of this lens (that I still have). It's better than
the first copy, it can focus! Still I'm disappointed with the
results. So again I tested the lens. And here are the results.

Canon 40D, 70-200mm F2.8 IS, sturdy tripod, center focus point only,
self timer 10 s, ML, IS turned off.

All the photos are shown as in Zoombrowser at actual size.

70mm F2.8

70mm F3.2

70mm F3.5

70mm F4

100mm F2.8

100mm F3.2

100mm F3.5

100mm F4

135mm F2.8

135mm F3.2

135mm F3.5

135mm F4

200mm F2.8

200mm F3.2

200mm F3.5

200mm F4

I think the 70mm shots are reasonable. The 100mm shots are front
focussed IMO. The 135mm are not very sharp. And I think that the
200mm shots are not very sharp and have a strange haze look to them.
I had the same results shooting other objects as well (batteries and
real life subjects).
Do you think this is acceptable for this lens? Am I asking to much
from this lens. I really do think my 24-105L is much sharper.
Please do not say that I cannot shoot with a F2.8 lens because I have
experience shooting a 85mm at F1.8 with great (and very sharp)
results on a 400D.

Today is the only and last day I can return this lens. I called Canon
The Netherlands and they were not sure what causes the problem. They
told me to maybe try another 70-200mm F2.8 IS, but I'm not going the
same route again (as this already is my second copy).

What should I do? Are these results acceptable (I don't think so)?
I'm thinking of returning it and maybe buy the F4IS version. I really
wanted F2.8 but not if the results are not or barely usable at
F2.8... When I buy a lens (especially a L lens) I want to use it wide
open. Of course I know lenses perform (a little) better stopped down
a bit, but come on.

Please help!

Tim

 Timberland's gear list:Timberland's gear list
Canon EOS 7D Canon EOS 5D Mark III Canon EF 135mm F2L USM Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM Canon EF 17-40mm f/4.0L USM +2 more
Mark van Oostveen Regular Member • Posts: 365
Re: 70-200 F2.8 IS focus issues

Hi,

I, am not shore but it seem to me the lens/camera com-by front focus-us.

If you want to stick to the 70-200 2.8 it is possible to calibrate it to your camera if
the camera is still under warty it is for free.

Camera and lenses almost always have a tolerance on focus if the tolerance on the lens is exactly the opposite of your camera it will not function correctly.

If it was me I would stick to the 2.8 IS but I "need" 2.8 for my work.
I live in the Netherlands in Utrecht (where are you? you could try mine.)

If you want to we can communicate trough e-mail in dutch.

kind regards

Mark
--
Time is Critical.

Ed Ellks Contributing Member • Posts: 979
Canon service

How difficult would it be to take it to a Canon Factory Service Center? Assuming they're like the ones here in the States, they do an excellent job and I had my camera and all my lenses back in a week. You will want to send both the camera body and lens together so they can be calibrated separately then tweaked as a unit. When my 70-200mm f/2.8 came back, it was on-the-money accurate.

OP Timberland Veteran Member • Posts: 3,217
Re: 70-200 F2.8 IS focus issues

Hi Mark,

Thanks for your reply. Thanks for the offer, it would be fantastic to try your lens out. In that way I could check if it's the lens (or if this is the best it can do) or my 40D. But I live under Den Bosch and today is decision day (afkoelperiode is morgen afgelopen dan moet ik werken, vandaag ben ik vrij en kan ik de lens retourneren).

How is your 70-200 when looking at my test shots? Do you witness the same issues as I do?

Thanks,
Tim

Mark van Oostveen wrote:

Hi,

I, am not shore but it seem to me the lens/camera com-by front focus-us.
If you want to stick to the 70-200 2.8 it is possible to calibrate it
to your camera if
the camera is still under warty it is for free.
Camera and lenses almost always have a tolerance on focus if the
tolerance on the lens is exactly the opposite of your camera it will
not function correctly.

If it was me I would stick to the 2.8 IS but I "need" 2.8 for my work.
I live in the Netherlands in Utrecht (where are you? you could try
mine.)

If you want to we can communicate trough e-mail in dutch.

kind regards

Mark
--
Time is Critical.

 Timberland's gear list:Timberland's gear list
Canon EOS 7D Canon EOS 5D Mark III Canon EF 135mm F2L USM Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM Canon EF 17-40mm f/4.0L USM +2 more
Mark van Oostveen Regular Member • Posts: 365
Re: 70-200 F2.8 IS focus issues

ha die Tim,get this don quiqly (disision time)

(sorry for the dutch conversation but we need to get this don quickly (decision time)

Je kunt als je wilt vandaag langs komen, ik heb geen test shots met de lens gemaakt maar hij is gekalibreerd op mijn 1D en ik vind het goed genoeg.

Ik vind de scherpte niet overweldigend maar vergelijk hem dan ook met mijn 85mm 1.2 en 100mm 2.8 macro.

neemt niet weg dat hij wel rag scherp kan zijn zal even zoeken naar wat foto's

mail me maar op mark11janssen@gmail.com als je wilt natuurlijk

Ik moet vandaag nog wat met de kinderen doen maar heb vanavond wel tijd voor je.

ik hoor het wel

Timberland wrote:
Hi Mark,

Thanks for your reply. Thanks for the offer, it would be fantastic to
try your lens out. In that way I could check if it's the lens (or if
this is the best it can do) or my 40D. But I live under Den Bosch and
today is decision day (afkoelperiode is morgen afgelopen dan moet ik
werken, vandaag ben ik vrij en kan ik de lens retourneren).
How is your 70-200 when looking at my test shots? Do you witness the
same issues as I do?

Thanks,
Tim

Mark van Oostveen wrote:

Hi,

I, am not shore but it seem to me the lens/camera com-by front focus-us.
If you want to stick to the 70-200 2.8 it is possible to calibrate it
to your camera if
the camera is still under warty it is for free.
Camera and lenses almost always have a tolerance on focus if the
tolerance on the lens is exactly the opposite of your camera it will
not function correctly.

If it was me I would stick to the 2.8 IS but I "need" 2.8 for my work.
I live in the Netherlands in Utrecht (where are you? you could try
mine.)

If you want to we can communicate trough e-mail in dutch.

kind regards

Mark
--
Time is Critical.

-- hide signature --

Time is Critical.

OP Timberland Veteran Member • Posts: 3,217
Re: Canon service

That would be quite difficult. Today is the last day I can return it.

And I'm not certain it would be completely solved then. I really think I'm going to return it.

Ed Ellks wrote:

How difficult would it be to take it to a Canon Factory Service
Center? Assuming they're like the ones here in the States, they do
an excellent job and I had my camera and all my lenses back in a
week. You will want to send both the camera body and lens together
so they can be calibrated separately then tweaked as a unit. When my
70-200mm f/2.8 came back, it was on-the-money accurate.

 Timberland's gear list:Timberland's gear list
Canon EOS 7D Canon EOS 5D Mark III Canon EF 135mm F2L USM Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM Canon EF 17-40mm f/4.0L USM +2 more
Mark van Oostveen Regular Member • Posts: 365
Re: 70-200 F2.8 IS focus issues

ha die Tim

we komen in tjd problemen ik heb je mail de eerste keer niet goed gelezen.

ik ben pas om 17.00 uur thuis en dan kan je hem nooit meer op tijd retouneren als het vandaag moet (mischien dat je uitstel kan krijgen.)

je bent in ieder geval welkom (in utrecht)

groet
Mark

Kiddpeat Contributing Member • Posts: 986
How far away from the target was the front of the

lense?

You do know that the 70-200 cannot focus any closer than about 7-10 feet don't you? It looks like you were too close.

My 70-200 is tack sharp, but it also cannot achieve focus when too close to a subject. It gets a bit questionable when both the 40D and the 350 deliver the same result.

Did you attempt to manually focus the lense? I did not notice that shot although, with so many shots, I stopped looking very closely after the first few.

OP Timberland Veteran Member • Posts: 3,217
Re: 70-200 F2.8 IS focus issues

Erg vriendelijk Mark! Bedankt voor je voorstel.

Ik heb de lens toch teruggebracht. De lens kon absoluut niet voldoen aan mijn verwachtingen. Niet accurate focus and weinig echte scherpte. De bokeh en bouw van de lens vond ik prachtig, maar goed daar betaal ik geen €1600,- voor.

Nu ga ik even kijken wat ik dan ga aanschaffen. Ik vind het erg lastig. Nog steeds weet ik ook niet of dat mijn body 100% is.

Tim

Mark van Oostveen wrote:

ha die Tim

we komen in tjd problemen ik heb je mail de eerste keer niet goed
gelezen.
ik ben pas om 17.00 uur thuis en dan kan je hem nooit meer op tijd
retouneren als het vandaag moet (mischien dat je uitstel kan krijgen.)

je bent in ieder geval welkom (in utrecht)

groet
Mark

 Timberland's gear list:Timberland's gear list
Canon EOS 7D Canon EOS 5D Mark III Canon EF 135mm F2L USM Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM Canon EF 17-40mm f/4.0L USM +2 more
IANWuk Regular Member • Posts: 231
Re: How far away from the target was the front of the

Kiddpeat wrote:

lense?

You do know that the 70-200 cannot focus any closer than about 7-10
feet don't you? It looks like you were too close.

My 70-200 is tack sharp, but it also cannot achieve focus when too
close to a subject. It gets a bit questionable when both the 40D and
the 350 deliver the same result.

Did you attempt to manually focus the lense? I did not notice that
shot although, with so many shots, I stopped looking very closely
after the first few.

My thoughts exactly, take this lens outdoors, at 200 it's not an indoor lens to be tested on focus charts in low light at close range, close focusing abilities are not exactly the strong point for this type of lens.

OP Timberland Veteran Member • Posts: 3,217
Re: How far away from the target was the front of the

Of course the correct distance was used. Otherwise the lens is unable to obtain focus. Focus was locked on the subject. Unfortunately this was not shown on the photos.

I tried manual focusing. I got somewhat better results (although I find it very difficult to do MF from 1.5m distance. I much prefer an old analogue SLR camera for MF).

Kiddpeat wrote:

lense?

You do know that the 70-200 cannot focus any closer than about 7-10
feet don't you? It looks like you were too close.

My 70-200 is tack sharp, but it also cannot achieve focus when too
close to a subject. It gets a bit questionable when both the 40D and
the 350 deliver the same result.

Did you attempt to manually focus the lense? I did not notice that
shot although, with so many shots, I stopped looking very closely
after the first few.

 Timberland's gear list:Timberland's gear list
Canon EOS 7D Canon EOS 5D Mark III Canon EF 135mm F2L USM Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM Canon EF 17-40mm f/4.0L USM +2 more
IANWuk Regular Member • Posts: 231
Re: How far away from the target was the front of the

Well when I intially set up my Sigma 70-200 F2.8 indoors I had similar results, mine confirmed focus too, but if your close to it's infinity focus, you will get poor results, and will need to pull further back, even if the camera is telling you it's in focus, and it is more forgiving at the short end, which you stated gave better results.

OP Timberland Veteran Member • Posts: 3,217
Re: How far away from the target was the front of the

That was not the thing in this case. I photographed sign posts, cars, etc. The same thing.

IANWuk wrote:

Well when I intially set up my Sigma 70-200 F2.8 indoors I had
similar results, mine confirmed focus too, but if your close to it's
infinity focus, you will get poor results, and will need to pull
further back, even if the camera is telling you it's in focus, and it
is more forgiving at the short end, which you stated gave better
results.

 Timberland's gear list:Timberland's gear list
Canon EOS 7D Canon EOS 5D Mark III Canon EF 135mm F2L USM Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM Canon EF 17-40mm f/4.0L USM +2 more
IANWuk Regular Member • Posts: 231
Re: How far away from the target was the front of the

Ok then point taken, looks like you will have to send it in for servicing.

Glenn W. Veteran Member • Posts: 6,428
Re: How far away from the target was the front of the

I realize you have indicated that you also see problems at further distances... However it's my understanding that none of the Canon 70-200mm lenses focus very well when they at minimum focus distance and above 135mm... Focus locks, it just doesn't provide accurate focus this way... Many people report that to get AF to work really well at those the longer focal lengths you need roughly twice the minimum focus distance...

Having said that, I returned a 70-200mm f4 for bad focus.... I then bought a f4 IS version of the lens and it's focused worked quite well, other then at minimum focus distance near 200mm... If I'm shooting things beyond about 7 feet away, it focuses quite well at all focal lengths.

Timberland wrote:
Of course the correct distance was used. Otherwise the lens is unable
to obtain focus. Focus was locked on the subject. Unfortunately this
was not shown on the photos.
I tried manual focusing. I got somewhat better results (although I
find it very difficult to do MF from 1.5m distance. I much prefer an
old analogue SLR camera for MF).

Kiddpeat wrote:

lense?

You do know that the 70-200 cannot focus any closer than about 7-10
feet don't you? It looks like you were too close.

My 70-200 is tack sharp, but it also cannot achieve focus when too
close to a subject. It gets a bit questionable when both the 40D and
the 350 deliver the same result.

Did you attempt to manually focus the lense? I did not notice that
shot although, with so many shots, I stopped looking very closely
after the first few.

Kiddpeat Contributing Member • Posts: 986
1.5 meters is about 5 feet.

That's too close. It's telling that you could not get a good focus manually. The lens is too close to the target.

You need to get farther away, put it on a tripod, turn off the IS, and use Live View to manually focus.

OP Timberland Veteran Member • Posts: 3,217
Re: 70-200 F2.8 IS focus issues

Thanks for all the replies. Of course I also tested the lens on other object than just charts and batteries.

The results were poor. Faces were not sharp at all. Sometimes when I shot a portrait and AF on the nose the ears were sharp and at other focal lengths nothing appeared to be sharp. All in all very disappointing for such an expensive lens.

So I called Canon The Netherlands and after talking to their technicians they told be to return in to the store. I'm glad I did, this was absolutely not worth the money.

I compared photos taken with my 24-105 (and even portraits taken with my Sigma 100-300 @F4) and they were SO MUCH sharper. In fact I was expecting at least that sharpness. Not expecting AF not to be accurate and soft shots all the time.

Also thanks for the link in that last post ( http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/ISO-12233-Sample-Crops.aspx?Lens=103&Camera=9&Sample=0&FLIComp=4&APIComp=0&LensComp=404&CameraComp=9&SampleComp=0&FLI=4&API=0 ). I've checked it out, I really do think that all those F2.8 shots (@ 70mm, 100mm, 135mm and 200mm) are not very sharp. In fact I find the F4IS shots @4 compared to the F2.8IS sharper at all focal lengths, that's quite an achievement considering the F4IS is wide open and the F2.8IS is stopped down!

Is this really all it can do? I'm now really reconsidering if I want to spend €1600,- on a so so sharp lens. At this time I'm thinking of buying the F4IS (hate to loose a stop and loved the bokeh of the F2.8IS) because it's much sharper and much cheaper (considering what you get with F2.8IS @F2.8).

Maybe it's me, or I had too high expectations or I had bad luck with two bad copies. I don't know. So far I'm not impressed at all with the 70-200 F2.8IS. Come on, when you buy such an expensive lens, you want to use it at all the focal lengths @F2.8. If F2.8 is unusable why buy the F2.8 version, the F4IS is cheaper, sharper and lighter.

 Timberland's gear list:Timberland's gear list
Canon EOS 7D Canon EOS 5D Mark III Canon EF 135mm F2L USM Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM Canon EF 17-40mm f/4.0L USM +2 more
Gary S Veteran Member • Posts: 6,230
That's why I keep the prime

We often see people disappointed with the sharpness of a 70-200 f2.8 IS zoom, mostly at f2.8 though. But not everyone, so sample variation must play a significant part. If you can get a good one or have that one calibrated it may work out great for you.

When using a 70-200 zoom I usually found myself shooting at 200mm with it anyway, so I've continued to use the prime. And I do want the f2.8 aperture. Rarely do you hear about a soft copy. Plus it's cheaper, lighter and smaller. Fits nicely into my lineup, 50, 100, 200, 300, 400.

If a prime would work for your shooting style too, might be a good choice.

For other photographers, the zoom is a must. Only you can decide.....

 Gary S's gear list:Gary S's gear list
Canon EOS 7D Mark II Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM Canon EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Canon EF 100-400mm F4.5-5.6L IS II
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