There’s nothing more exciting than getting an opportunity to use new equipment to test and explore when either doing video or stills. In this case, I had the pleasure of being able to try a new lens that has held my interest since it’s announcement and I could not have been more excited for the opportunity.
Earlier this year Canon announced two brand new 70-200mm lenses. The Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens, and the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II USM Lens. Having never used the original f/4 IS USM lens, I thought this would be a great time to take advantage of the opportunity I was given to test the lens. And what better way to test a lens than to take it with you outside the country? Colombia, here we come! However, before we get to the trip, let’s look at the lens as a whole.
Out of the two announced lenses, Canon made the f/4 IS II stand out even more than it’s 2.8 brothers. How, you might ask? Well, Canon has included inside the lens brand new optics featuring one fluorite element and two UD elements with coatings to help control aberrations and flare. The Image Stabilizer has also been improved and is now able to compensate for up to five stops of shutter speed. For improved handling, the minimum focus distance has reduced to 3.3′ for close-up imaging. Also, this lens now has a nine-blade aperture instead of 8 blades. The new lens is also 20 grams heavier and features a large filter thread – no longer a 67, but now a 72.
While the change in weight is subtle, this lens can be easily carried on the camera body for long periods of time without wearing out your shoulder or neck, depending on how you wear the camera. The lens remains to be weather sealed, which will help against dust and moisture from getting into the lens or camera body.
As I had mentioned before, the best way to use a lens is to take it out and shoot with it. So I took this lens with me to the Tayrona National Park in Colombia. There, the lens was paired with my Canon 5D Mark II and was attached to the outside of my camera bag using the Peak Design Capture Clip. With the lens placed on the outside of the bag, it did get to experience some adverse weather. Tayrona is located in Northern Colombia along the Caribbean coastline, just east of Santa Marta. There the weather continually changes throughout the day. It could be bright and sunny one minute and humid and rainy the next.
Carrying the lens around, when attached to the camera, was a joy. It’s quite lite and not bulky by any means. Which is great, because I could just let the lens and the camera hang from my side for up to an hour an a half to two hours before my shoulder started to notice the hanging weight. Even when using the Capture Clip, I could let the camera and lens hang comfortably without worrying about the lens weighing me down.
Regarding sharpness, this thing is sharp. Sharp enough to cut butter (this is a metaphor, do not use your camera lenses like a knife). As you will see with the examples that I have attached, even when cropping the photo, you can see that these images are usable in terms of overall sharpness.
Even at the long end of the lens at 200mm, it’s fantastically sharp, even after a crop – as can be seen in the images of the Monkey and the Iguana, who just happened to model for me.
The lens does offer a close-focusing distance of 3.3′ for those people are interested in macro photography without the need of owning a macro lens. But for the price of a macro, you can get the Canon 100mm f/2.8L for $699, the lowest price that lens has ever been.
If you’re the type of person who likes the background blown out of focus, you can achieve this look, though it won’t be as strong as using a faster aperture on a prime lens or select zoom lens. While you can create some beautiful smooth out of focus areas at f/4, you need to have the subject far enough from the background to be able to achieve that.
While this lens is not designed for wide-angle photography, you can achieve a wide-angle field of view by creating a panoramic image to illustrate the environment, which any photographer can create using Lightroom or Photoshop. However, if you wanted to have a different perspective of landscapes and architecture, then using a long telephoto lens like this will do the trick.
The lens is incredibly fast and accurate when using the autofocus in most shooting situations. However, I Let me explain. On some down time before heading to the coast, I found myself putting the autofocus of the lens through its paces. Aiming the lens at bicyclists that were traversing past me, I would grab the camera and begin to track their movements. Despite using single point autofocus, I found that my shots for moving subjects were somewhat soft and at times out of focus. In no way is this the lenses fault, but rather my own. When there were people that would walk by or stop on the other side of the road, I would quickly grab a photo of them.
So who is this for? This lens is for the professional who doesn’t need a fast aperture zoom. It’s for the hobbyist who is looking to isolate their subjects from the background through compression, or for those who want to get closer to their subjects without disturbing them. The lens can be used for sports and wildlife photography and can be used with Canon’s Extender EF 1.4III and the 2X Teleconverters. Note: Using the 2X teleconverter with this lens will negate the lenses autofocus capabilities making it a manual focusing lens only.
After carrying the lens around for a week, I would say this lens is a must have if you are in the market for a less expensive 70-200 lens, at $1200, this is a steal, though if you are looking for a 2.8 alternative at the same price, the Tamron 70-200mm 2.8 G2 isn’t a bad option to look at either. There is also the Tamron 70-210mm f/4 Di VC USD Lens is priced at $799 and is an excellent alternative if you’re looking for a lite option with the same aperture.
If you would like to purchase this lens online, please click here, visit our store in person, or call us over the phone at 215-547-2841.