Parting Thoughts on the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS Mark II lens
When I first received the new 70-200mm lens from Canon Professional Services, I was instantly reminded why I sold my old 70-200mm f/2.8 (non-IS) a few years ago: it’s big and it’s heavy. But it lets in a lot of light, and you can achieve very nice, selective focus with it. I didn’t have an opportunity to make any portraits with it, which is too bad because I think it would be an excellent lens for that application. I did take it out on the street, but I was very conscious of walking with an enormous white monstrosity: subtlety is not an option with this lens.
A Worthwhile Upgrade?
The image quality is remarkably high (although I wouldn’t consider its resolution to be any greater than it’s f/4 stable-mate, and while the image stabilization is improved over the previous version, I did not think it any better than the aforementioned 70-200mm f/4L IS. That said, this is the first zoom lens that I would consider using with the 2x teleconverter on a regular basis.
If you currently own the older IS version of this lens, you might wonder if it’s worth the upgrade. I would offer that I believe the image stabilization is certainly better, but if you shoot sports, that might not matter to you at all. The image quality is higher, and will enable you to use the 2x teleconverter freely. If neither of these features interest you, then you can probably pass on this lens and wait for something “better.”
Over the weekend, Arthur Morris posted on his blog that he was experimenting with the new 70-200mm f/2.8L IS Mk. II lens with Canon’s 2x II teleconverter, which turns the lens into a 140-400mm f/5.6 lens. When using this combination, the short end should be avoided with this combination because 140mm is encompassed by the lens’ natural zoom range. I was intrigued by Artie’s post because he was so excited by the image quality he was getting with this combination, and since I had such a lens on hand from Canon Professional Services, I thought I’d go out and give it a try, and I was impressed: it is sharp, and it works well!
Now, I could do this with my 70-200mm f/4L IS lens, but then I’d be working at f/8, and would have to stop down to f/11 to overcome the vignetting that is inherent to working with teleconverters, so I usually only work with the 1.4x TC. The bottom line is that this is a surprisingly useful application for the new zoom lens, especially for nature photographers, but for most other forms of photography as well. I certainly wouldn’t argue it’s “as good” as having a 300mm prime and a 400mm prime lens, but not everyone carries those two lenses with them daily!
For the next few days I’ll be trying out the new Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS Mark II telephoto zoom lens care of CPS. Once upon a time I had the non-IS version of this lens and, like this new version, it was big and heavy but achieved impressive results. However, I sold that lens several years ago to buy a Gitzo tripod and the smaller and lighter 70-200mm f/4L, which I then sold to buy the 70-200mm f/4L IS two years ago. I’ve also had access to the the lens that this “Mark II” replaces while I’ve been a student at the University of Missouri, so I’ve had a lot of experience with Canon’s lenses in this zoom range.
While I’ll have more thoughts in the coming days, I should note that of all of Canon’s black plastic detachable lens hoods, this is the best bar none. It goes on smoothly and actually “locks.” There’s a button on the lens hood that one has to depress in order to take it back off. Nice.
By comparison, most of these black plastic lens hoods suck, as noted by Mark Dubovoy in an essay on the Luminous Landscape: “…all the typical Japanese lens hoods are way too flimsy and they are a veritable royal pain in the butt to take off, reverse, install and all that. They constantly refuse to go in, or go in crooked, or jam or break. It is a miserable bad design, with flimsy bad construction to make matters even worse.” After several years of working with these hoods, and now that my 24-70mm’s hood only stays on if I use gaffer’s tape, I would agree whole-heartedly. I can only hope that this new hood on the Mark II 70-200mm is a sign of things to come!