Canon EF 200mm f/2L IS USM Telephoto Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras – Product Description:
This ultra-fast telephoto, a new member of Canon legendary L-series lenses, has totally new optics to provide better image quality. It uses fluorite and UD lens elements for excellent chromatic aberration correction and consists of 17 elements in 12 groups. The built-in Optical Image Stabilizer gives it up to 4 stops of stabilization correction. The inner USM and optimized AF algorithms result in fast and quiet autofocusing, and the circular aperture can even produce beautiful out-of-focus images. This ultra-high-performance lens also improves its durability – better dust- and water-proofing. The EF 200mm f/2L IS USM is outstanding for many available-light applications, including indoor sports, theater work, fashion, and candids at events.
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Canon EF 200mm f/2L IS USM Telephoto Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras – Review:
AMAZING LENS FROM CANON!
In a word, this lens is “amazing”…not good, not great, but AMAZING. This lens is the culmination of Canons continued improvement in lens design and build quality.
As many know, this 200mm f2.0 replaces the ever popular f1.8 version. For the added .2 stop, you gain, IS, and a much lower weight lens due to a smaller overall glass diameter (granted, its still heavy, but much lighter than the 1.8) In addition to loosing .2 stops of light gathering ability, the lens supposedly looses another 1/3 of a stop, vs. the f1.8, due to the many element surfaces and/or the glass types. This info was compiled by a friend who tested the two side by side. So if shutter speed is your real need, and you always shoot on a tripod, the f1.8 might still be the better option, as the f2.0 version could cost you up to .6 stops of shutter speed if both are shot wide open. The f1.8 was also a truly remarkable design, legendary, as ebay prices reflect such. However, this f2.0 version still performs as a f2.0 lens in regards to shallow DOF, it simply acts as a f2.2 lens as it relates to shutter speed. So two separate issues.
As for image quality, as Canons MTF charts demonstrate, this lens is nearly diffraction limited at f2.0, which is quite an achievement considering f2.0 is considered ultra fast. The IS itself is a potential image degrader, due to the added elements required to stabilize the image. But through better technology, they managed to make this lens near perfect wide open even with IS on. This applies also to the 300mm f2.8 and some of the longer lenses. The 200mm is the shortest fl that has achieved this remarkable image quality wide open. Below this fl, the only close contender is the 135mm f2.0, which is good, but not in the league of the 200mm f2.0 and the longer fl’s.
The IS on this lens is superb, better than any other IS I have experienced from Canon. It has been mentioned that Canon has different grades of IS, based on the price of the lens. I am starting to believe this. Canon rates this IS as a 4-5 stop advantage in the user manual. I thought this was marketing hype, then I started using it, and whamo…. I am now a believer. It’s truly remarkable how Canon can make the image stabilized on such a long lens, which btw, makes this lens VERY monopod friendly.
Clearly, this is a tough lens to hand-hold, although it is possible if your strong enough. However, the lens is very monopod friendly IMO. If you are on the move constantly, considering a strong monopod vs. a tripod. If using a tripod, some consideration should be given to the head type, as all these big lenses are top heavy over a ball head, making them unbalanced and hard to control. A nice Gimbal type head from Wimberly or Kirk is a nice fit. Look for a head that has a vertical axis adjust-on-the-fly balance system, such as the Wimberly. I also suggest you convert the bottom foot plate to the RRS (Really Right Stuff) foot plate, as it uses the Arca-Swiss type dovetail design has become the new universal standard…. and for a lens of this value, it pays have an ultra secure platform the lens is placed in. These plates have safety stops on the front and back of the plate, so the lens can not exit out of the clamp, when the clamp is not fully tightened. It’s worth the $120 considering the value of the lens. Hearing a $5k lens crash onto the concrete is a sound you will never forget.
Image quality at f2.0 is stunning. And lets face it, that is what this lens is all about. If you do not need the fast shutter speed that f2.0 offers or very shallow Depth of Field at the focal plane, there is NO reason to buy this lens. If you find f4 acceptable, as an alternative, consider the 70-200 f4.0 IS lens…. it also is truly stunning at f4 and weighs 80% less than this beast. The 70-200 f4 IS is the latest design of the 70-200 series, and it’s remarkable lens considering its price. At 200mm f4, I would classify it nearly at the diffraction limited point, or near 95%+ MTF across 90% of the image diag. The 2.8 versions of the same 70-200 series are heavier and are not as sharp as the f4, however, if the added stop of shutter speed is desirable, this is a trade-off you must evaluate.
This 200/2.0 lens is designed for sports and wildlife shooters with large $ budgets. However, if you can deal with the weight, and you enjoy the fast shutter speeds and shallow DOF that f2.0 lens provide, you will not be disappointed with this lens.
The lens has a lot of added controls vs. other lesser Canon lenses. These can be viewed on the Canon web site, or the Canon manual, so i won’t get into the controls…. the controls alone designate this lens in the professional category.
In addition to the lens being superb, the lens storage case is probably worth a few hundred dollars by itself. I noticed it for sale separately for $400. The lens has a rock solid metal hood, which is reversible to keep the package small when stowed. Over-all, this lens (as well as Canons other FAST and longer fl’s) is “tops in the world of camera optics”. Its scores a “10” in both image quality and build quality. While the price tag may seem high, you truly get what you pay for at this level. It’s not for everyone, but if you have the ability to own one, or even rent one, it is quite a joy to view the unique images it can produce….
You think those extra few stops don’t help? ISO 100 at 1/8000th, rotor blades frozen…
How about VERY low light photography? Try flash sync at 1/250th in very low light, subject 150 ft away…
If you want to see why the 70-200 f4 IS is no slouch either….
this is at 200mm hand-held at f4
Hope this helps…..
Well, the lens is still stellar…. a beast for sure… but there is a new kid in town I have been eying up..
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Telephoto Zoom
You can read the reviews on Amazon for this lens, which are as stellar as this lens…and I have used it a few times. I might end up buying it…. the advantages are obvious… full range of zoom, nearly 3x, and the Image Quality is stunning…something I would not say about the ver. I of the same lens. Technology keeps moving forward. And, its half the price of this 200mm f2.0. Bottom line is…unless you have an ultra specific need for f2.0 vs. f2.8, its hard IMO to justify the cost, size, and WEIGHT of this f2.0 beast with such a versatile competitor as the 70-200 2.8 II. If selective focusing is your desire, the zoom will be nearly as effective if the subject of interest is isolated…but if the subject is NOT isolated, (other subjects close to the main subject) and you want to selective focus that ONE subject, well, the 2.0 will make a difference. Otherwise, the versatility of this new zoom for the avg. photographer wins. Prime lenses do have limited application when you can not position yourself exactly where you need to be to get the composure you desire. If you can re-position yourself, such as a model shoot in open area, the lack of zoom is not as significant, and the f2.0 might still produce slightly better IQ, but not by much. So as they say, horses for courses. decisions, decisions…