Photo packs have come a long way in the past decade, especially those that are targeted toward outdoor and adventure photographers. Alaska-based adventure photographer Dan Bailey takes a closer look...
The Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS II USM, (compare prices) is Canon’s latest version of this very popular lens. It replaced the previous EF 70-200/2.8L IS USM (Mk I) in early 2010. The Mk II lens adds a 5th UD element, improved Image Stabilization, faster AF and closer focusing.
The Canon EF 70-200/2.8L IS II USM utilizes internal focusing and internal zooming, so the length of the lens is constant and the front element does not rotate. There is a focus distance scale, but there are no DOF markings. There are IR focus marks for 70mm and 100mm.
A focus limiter switch is provided which can be set for operation either from 1.5m to Infinity or 2.5m to infinity. The reason for the range limiter is that if the lens has to hunt for focus (which is rare, but can happen in low light), it will cover the 2.5m to infinity range in 0.35 seconds, while to cover the 1.5m to infinity range takes 0.835 seconds. So if you know your subject will be at least 2.5m distant, you can take almost 1/2 second off the focus search time.
The Image stabilization system has three modes. Off, where there is no stabilization, mode 1 which is the normal mode and which stabilizes along both horizontal and vertical axes and mode 2 which is used for panning and so turns off the stabilization on the panning axis. Canon rate the IS system as being good for up to 4 stops of stabilization.
The Canon EF 70-200/2.8L IS II USM comes with a removable tripod ring (the lens must be removed from the camera in order to remove the tripod ring).
A “petal” style hood and a soft case are also supplied with the lens.
As you would expect from a Canon “L” series lens, the construction quality of the lens is high. The barrel of the lens is metal and the rotary zoom and focus rings operate smoothly. The Canon EF 70-200/2.8L IS II USM is weather sealed, which means all the control rings, switches and lens mount have gaskets and/or O-rings to prevent dust and moisture from entering the lens. This does not mean the lens is waterproof, but it does mean that it should withstand use in moderate rain (if attached to a weather-sealed body).
The current (04/12) street price of the Canon EF 70-200/2.8L IS II USM is around $2300
Canon EF 70-200/2.8L IS II USM Specifications
Camera Mount Type
70 – 200 mm
Maximum: f/2.8 Minimum: f/32
35mm Film / Full-Frame Digital Sensor, Canon (APS-C)
Angle of View
34° – 12°
Minimum Focus Distance
3.94ft (1.2 m)
Approx. 3.5 × 7.8" (8.89 × 19.81 cm)
3.28 lb (1.49 kg)
The Canon EF 70-200/2.8L IS II USM is very quiet in operation. In fact I had trouble with an audio recording technique that I use to measure the time taken to focus across the whole focusing range because, even with a microphone in contact with the lens, it was very difficult to record and AF motor noise! In tracking AF mode I couldn’t hear the lens shifting focus at all. AF time from 1.5m to infinity was 0.835s, while with the range limiter on, over the 2.5m to infinity range the lens focused on 0.35s.
Focusing, as you might expect, was fast, silent and accurate. Comparing AF with manual focus on a Canon EOS 7D, (compare prices) (review) using Live View and 10x magnification I saw no signs of front or back focusing. Focal length changes little with focus distance. Some zoom lenses achieve close focus by shortening focal length, but the EF 70-200/2.8L IS II USM shifts focal length very little, even at the closest focusing distance of 1.2m. At 1.2m and 200mm the reproduction ratio is 1:4.7, or a magnification ratio of 0.21×.
Although it weighs a little over 3lbs, the Canon EF 70-200/2.8L IS II USM feels well balanced. The tripod mounting ring can be removed, which makes handholding a little more convenient. The IS system lives up to Canon’s claims and while you are unlikely to get 100% of shots unaffected by camera movement at 4 stops below the usual “handholding speed” at 200mm, you may well get 50% that are pretty good at shutter speeds as low as 1/15s. At 70mm you can probably expect most shots taken at 1/10s to be sharp and even a good fraction taken at 1/5s to be acceptable. Overall this is very good stabilization and is probably close to “state of the art” for current lenses.