Compared to Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8 L IS USM

Here's the EF 70-200mm F2.8 L IS II USM side-by-side with the previous version, plus Nikon's latest AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm F2.8G ED VR II for comparison. The new lens is not only named near-identically to it's predecessor, it's visually a doppelganger too. Presumably on the basis that there was not a lot wrong for Canon to change, the differences are extremely subtle, the most obvious being the enlarged focus ring. The switch panel on the side of the lens has slimmed down a little, the barrel shape has been slightly re-sculpted, and the distance scale restyled. The new lens also gains a new hood, which has a locking button on the side to prevent it from being accidentally rotated or knocked off. The new and old hoods are not cross-compatible.

Internally, though, the lenses are rather different. The revised optical formula now has five UD glass elements rather than four, and includes an element made from the most exotic material in Canon's armory - fluorite. The IS has been updated to Canon's latest 4-stop system, and the minimum focus distance slightly improved from 1.4m to 1.2m, with a corresponding increase in maximum magnification to 0.21x.

These changes result in a tiny, but measurable increase in size and weight; the barrel is slightly larger in diameter towards the front, and it's fractionally longer too. But if you're already lugging around a lens this size, you certainly won't notice the difference.

Specifications compared

The table below gives a summary of the key specification differences between the two lenses:

Canon 70-200mm F2.8 L IS II USM
Canon 70-200mm F2.8 L IS USM
Lens Construction • 23 elements/19 groups
• 5 UD elements
• 1 Fluorite element
• 23 elements/18 groups
• 4 UD elements
Minimum focus 1.2m 1.4m
Maximum magnification 0.21x at 200mm 0.17x at 200mm
Image stabilization 4 stops claimed 3 stops claimed
Weight (lens only) 1486g (3.28 lb) 1470g (3.25 lb)
Weight with accs* 1720 g (3.80 lb) 1704 g (3.75 lb)
Dimensions 89 mm diameter x 199 mm length
(3.5 x 7.8 in)
86.2 mm diameter x 197 mm length
(3.4 x 7.8 in)
Hood ET-87 (has locking button) ET-86

*Measured weight with all accessories: tripod mount ring, hood, and front and rear caps