In 2001, Canon released its first Canon 70-200 mm 2.8 with image stabilization and with that, Canon was far ahead of the competition. The Canon 70-200 mm 2.8 IS lens quickly became popular with sports photographers and wedding photographers; and in the studio, this lens was a welcome guest. In 2010, Canon released a worthy successor, the Canon 70-200 2.8 L IS II. This lens too is designed to use with a full frame camera. When using a camera with an APS-C sensor, the angle changes significantly; in some applications, it can be a disadvantage. On the other hand, the zoomrange extends to a 320 mm full frame equivalent. In the meantime, The Canon 70-200 mm 2.8 II has gotten a competitor: the Sigma 70-200 mm 2.8 OS. Originally we tested the Canon 70-200 mm 2.8 IS MK2 in combination with the Canon 7D. But the resolution of jpg files of modern camera's is higher. That's why we tested this lens again. This time with the Canon 650D.
Canon 70-200 mm 2.8 L IS II @ 70 mm
Canon 70-200 mm 2.8 L IS II @ 70 mm
The Canon 70-200 mm 2.8 zoom lens is due to its large aperture very suitable for action photography, where you freeze the action (pun intended). A telephoto lens not only makes your subject appear closer, but it also compresses the perspective.
Click on the images for a larger crop.
No in-camera correction: Recent camera's, like the Canon 650D offer you the posiibility to correct for chromatic aberration and vignetting. That is: if a correction profile is available in the camera. The Canon 650D had no correction profile available in this test. No in-camera correction thus has been applied to the jpg files used in this test.
Construction and autofocus
Unlike many consumer zoom lenses, this lens has a constant initial aperture; f/2.8 in this case. The lens has a metal body and is sealed against dust and water using special gaskets. The focus ring and zoom ring run smoothly and without play. The filter does not rotate when focusing and the lens does not increase when focusing. The lens comes with a large lens hood and a tripod mount.
The autofocus is of the type USM. Focusing is reasonably fast with a Canon 7D: at a focal length of 135 mm, from 15 meters to 1.50 meters in 0.28 seconds. Focusing is quiet and in low light, the camera rarely commutes.
The effectiveness of the built-in image stabilization is measured at a focal length of 200 mm. Due to the crop factor of 1.6, you should take photographs out of hand without much chance of blurred images with 1/320/second. The gain is therefore more than 3 stops; due to the image stabilization, the lens becomes the more employable.
Below you see two crops from images taken with IS and without IS at a focal length of 200mm. Diffraction of the picture taken without IS @ Move your mouse over the image to find out, which one is shoy with IS.
Canon 70-200 mm 2.8 L IS II @ 200 mm
The vignetting, expressed in stops, is very low at all focal length-aperture combinations. In practice, you will never have to take this into account.
The distortion, expressed as a percentage, is low at the different focal lengths and the left-over can always be corrected with the appropriate software.
In backlight, we see both flare and unwanted ghosting.
The resolution, expressed in LW/PH, already reaches a good value at 70 mm in the center at f/4.0 to get to the top at f/5.6. The resolution is already very nice at 135 mm in the center at full aperture. Stopping down twice and the corners have turned around. At both 70 mm and 135 mm, the difference between the center and the corners is small. The resolution achieves very nice values at 200 mm from f/4.0 in the center where the corners clearly stay away.
WYSIWYG score: This table shows the performance of this lens if you save the files in the camera as jpg, where you have all available in-camera lens corrections applied. This score will give you for this lens/camera combination test: "What you see is what you get".
Effective image stabilization
Built like a tank
Sealed against water and dust
Sensitive to backlight
Big and heavy
High purchase price
Many photographers use jpg files from the camera directly, in stead of RAW files. Therefore, we report here the resolution of the Canon 70-200 mm IS 2.8 MK2 & Canon 650D jpg files.
The Canon 70-200 mm 2.8 II is big, heavy and expensive. But the lens has many advantages; low vignetting, low distortion and good image stabilization. In addition, this lens is remarkably sharp with the exception of the corners at a focal length of 200 mm. If you do not often work with full aperture, the Sigma 70-200 mm 2.8 OS with image stabilization is a good option and significantly cheaper than the Canon 70-200 mm 2.8 II.
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