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Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM vs 70-200 f/2.8L non-IS

Christian Beaumet , Dec 31, 2010; 05:31 a.m.

Hello,
I was thinking about replacing my zoom with the 200mm prime. I used the zoom mostly at 70 or 200mm and rarely in between. I do already own a 50/1.4 and an 85/1.8, so adding a 200/2.8 should satisfy my needs in the 70-200 range.
My question now is, how big is the quality difference of both lenses. I couldn't find direct comparisons online. Would anyone of you recommend this lens change? I always found the zoom a bit heavy to carry around.
When the 200/2.8 is attached to an EOS 7D + battery grip, is there a need for a tripod collar, when using on a monopod or tripod? Or is the lens "light" enough to be used without?

Kind regards,
Christian

Responses


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Bueh B. , Dec 31, 2010; 07:20 a.m.

Best comparison as always: The Digital Picture. Apparently the new zoom is a tad better, but I seriously doubt that this shows in any real world situation. I have the EF 200mm prime (Mk.1 -- same glass/AF) and it is a stellar lens. It leaves nothing to be desired save IS.

The lens is light enough to be used without support (I use it mostly hand-held). A tripod/monopod on the camera should be fine. I love its relatively low weight and inconspicuousness.

John Crowe , Dec 31, 2010; 08:30 a.m.

I always take the on-line samples with a big grain of salt. I have seen too many instances when they've had the focus wrong. However, using the same site above the increase in IQ from your zoom to the 200/2.8 is far greater than the increase from the 200/2.8 to the IS II zoom.

If you are keeping the zoom for those times when you need to zoom then the addition of the 200/2.8 L would appear to be a real bargain. For many years I always had a 200mm focal length prime and only last year switched to an f2.8 zoom since I needed it for my kids soccer and other action sports. Like you I originally had a zoom (30 years ago!) and only used it at either end so had replaced it with a fast prime.

P.S. You will find the 200/2.8 L far more agile than the big zoom, and it will save your back and shoulders on a long day of shooting.

Philip Wilson , Dec 31, 2010; 11:55 a.m.

Christian - you may also want to consider the 70-200 f4 L IS. I have this lens and the 70-200 f2.8 non IS. I love the 70-200 F2.8 L non IS but find it a lot to carry and thus it only gets used for sports. THe F4 IS zoom is half the weight and more compact so this is my walk around long lens. While it is slower at F4 and thus not great for indoor sports it is fine for most other uses. The IS on this lens is the latest "4 stop" version and so it is very easy to use handheld. Quality is very good and it is about the same weight as the 200 f2.8. It is however about $400 more. Here is the digital picture comp with the 200 F2.8
(link)

Alan Bryant , Dec 31, 2010; 01:09 p.m.

Bueh's link actually shows the 200/2.8 vs the newer 70-200/2.8 IS II. Here's the link for the non-IS 70-200/2.8...

(link)

The prime is a tiny bit sharper, but not enough to make a huge difference. It is substantially lighter and cheaper, though.

Puppy Face , Dec 31, 2010; 01:12 p.m.

I have the 200 2.8L and the 70-200 4L IS. Of course the prime is better at F2.8! In normal use there is little IQ difference between the two at 200. The prime handles flare better and has slightly less distortion. The prime also has nicer bokeh. With the Extender 1.4X, the prime is an amazingly sharp 280mm, although the zoom isn't too far behind. Prior to the 70-200 4L IS, I owned the non-IS version for years and must say the IS version is a notch up in IQ over the non-IS one.

Perhaps the biggest differences are in handling. The prime is much smaller, black and focuses faster. As a street lens it doesn't attract nearly as much attention as the 70-200.

Arie Vandervelden , Dec 31, 2010; 02:08 p.m.

... and the two lenses the OP asked about
(link)

Lester Wareham , Dec 31, 2010; 03:51 p.m.

The prIme is great, although I don't have the zoom to compare. As noted very good with the 1.4X also very serviceable with the 2x.

I went with the prime because having had a 70-200 on my FD system I found I preferred primes back then in that range.

David Stephens , Dec 31, 2010; 07:02 p.m.

You'd lose a bunch of versatility on the short end, BUT if you want to shoot birds with a compact rig, then you can add the 2x TC for a 400mm f/5.6 with the prime. So, you'd have 200mm, a 280mm and a 400mm, which would be good for lots of wildlife and many birds. This would be a light, quick rig.
Of course, the 70-200mm f/2.8 will do all of that, and more, but it's heavy and bulky. Still, if you're not going to shoot birds, then I'd suggest the 70-200mm f/4L IS with the 1.4x TC. I use this rig on my 7D and 5D MkII and love it. I do shoot birds, but I've got the 500mm f/4L IS as my main birding lens.

I think you'll be able to use the 200mm prime without a lens collar, but not the 70-200mm f/2.8.

IS is a big issue. I rely on mine MOST of the time with my 70-200mm f/4L IS. With the IS I almost never feel a need for the tripod, even when I have the 1.4x TC; however, using a 2x TC you'll be more likely to want the tripod. With IS you've got the option to go without it. I'm shooting my 500mm with the 1.4x TC handheld with good results, so you will do this with either of these lens IF you have IS. Without IS you'll need very high shutter speed or something to brace against.

Philip Wilson , Jan 01, 2011; 12:12 a.m.

Christian it all depends on what you shoot. In my case the 70-200 F2.8 non IS is perfect for indoor sports (like Ice hockey). I usually shoot handheld and need fast shutter speeds to stop the action. In this situation there is no real benefit from IS so the lens works well for me. A 200 f2.8 would also be OK but the lack of zoom would make it less useful for stadium type sports. For indoor sports use the F2.8 is vital and you really need a newer body so you have good high ISO performance.
For walking around I find the 70-200 f2.8 rather big and heavy so I added the 70-200 F4 IS which is a great lens for handheld use and half the weight. At a push the F4IS zoom can be used for outdoor sports successfully. Again the 200 f2.8 gives you IS, an extra stop and is the same weight as the F4 zoom. If you never need the zoom functionality then get the prime - in my case I have too many shots between 100 and 150mm for me to switch back to a prime (I spent many years using the old FD 200 f2.8 lenses but now like the versatility of the prime - especially as the new EF lenses are bigger and heavier than their FD predecessors)


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