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The Beloved Canon 70-200mm Lenses Just Got Better

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Among the most popular lenses in Canon's DSLR arsenal is the venerable 70-200mm. I believe this is because it offers a range that just makes sense for most people and, after decades of development, it can provide outstanding image quality. Today, Canon is upgrading its full-frame telephoto zoom lineup with two updates: the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM and EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II USM.

Starting off with the new flagship, the third-gen f/2.8L now uses Canon's Air Sphere Coating (ASC) for dramatically reduced flare and ghosting. It, obviously, still maintains its fast f/2.8 aperture throughout the entire range and has Optical Image Stabilization rated to 3.5 stops for sharp imagery. Also, it is built well, with dust and water resistance and it features a fluorine coating on the front and rear elements for minimizing smears and fingerprints. Optics are high quality, with one fluorite and five UD elements present to combat various aberrations, and the inner focusing ring Ultrasonic Motor can focus as close as 3.9'. 

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II USM
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II USM

Personally, while the f/2.8L is certainly nice, the f/4L update is more dramatic news because this is a major upgrade over its predecessor. Optics feature one fluorite element and two UD elements and coatings to help control aberrations and flare. The Image Stabilizer is now able to compensate for up to five stops of shutter speed. For improved handling, the minimum focus distance has been reduced to 3.3' for close-up imaging. Also, this lens now has a nine-blade aperture. Some new accessories are available, as well, including the ET-78B Lens Hood and AII(WII) Tripod Mount Ring.

Canon ET-78B Lens Hood
Canon ET-78B Lens Hood
Canon AII(WII) Tripod Mount Ring
Canon AII(WII) Tripod Mount Ring

What are your thoughts on Canon's latest updates? Let us know in the Comments section, below!

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15 Comments

The Mark-I version of the 70-200mm f/4L IS has been my favorite lens which I have carried all over the world in tandem with an EFS 17-55mm f/2.8 IS lens on a pair of crop cameras.  It is also my favorite portrait lens for people and the hundreds of rescue dogs I photograph each year.

I don't think that any major improvements are needed for the f/4L IS Mark-I lens.  My philosophy is, "IF SOMETHING AIN'T BROKE, DON'T FIX IT"  However, the MFD decrease from 4-feet to 3.3-feet would be nice.

I went the "el-cheapo" route when I purchased my first tripod ring for that lens and bought a third party offering from Bay.  It was an absolute piece of crap and I got rid of it and found a used OEM ring on eBay for a fraction of the new price.  On the other hand, this lens is light enough to use with the camera mounted to the tripod. The tripod ring is nice but not a necessity.  BTW: IMO, Canon has really dropped the ball with their tripod rings(for all their lenses) by not milling a pair of groves at the bottom which would allow the rings to mount directly to an Arca Compatible clamp. I use a third party Kiwiphotos Arca Compatible quick release plate on my f/4L IS lens.  I also use my 70-200mm f.4L IS Mark-I lens hand-held most of the time...

I wish that Canon had produced a lens hood for the 70-200mm f/4L IS lens with a door to rotate a CPL (like the hood for my 100-400mm f/4L IS II has).  The original OEM hoods for this lens are crappy and will not lock on securely.  I lost one in Venice and another in China and have taken to securing the hood with gaffer's tape.

I certainly won't trade in my f/4L IS Mark-I lens for the middling improvements of the Mark-II model but, I would recommend a person purchase the Mark-II as their first 70-200mm f/4 lens.  Unless (and this is a big unless) they can get the f4L IS Mark-I at a much better price than the Mark-II...

Coming from large format, the simpler the design of the lens, the better the performance and the less add-on enhancements needed to correct various aberrations. This is why I use a long lens Nikkor 300M for large format, not a telephoto design.

I'm not sure how these two lenses can be called "beloved". I've used both of them in the 1st version. The 2.8L had so much colour fringing when I shot indoors. The 4L had so much flare and ghosting when I had a spectacular sunset shot of a bay with a heron in the foreground. I've had many great images with them though, but these few times got me quite disappointed.

So, I switched my system to Leica. Surely, it's much more expensive glass, but the results are worth it and the greater percentage of sellable images make it more cost-effective. I'm glad they're continuing to improve on these L lenses though.

Louie, the Mark II IS is an incredible lens without the Leica price tag!

Louie, when I noticed flare/color effect on my friends leica photos, he told me that is art.  When similar effect is seen from my canon photos he calls it flare and color fringing >_<.  By the way, the Mark II IS is an awesome lens.  I even owned the Canon 200mm f2.0L IS previously then sold it due to size and weight.  Even though f2L is awesome...the mark II IS doesn't fall very far behind in sharpness...although the bokeh on f2L is out of this world.

So, you've never owned the any of the Canon 70-200's. You then compare oranges to bicycles with Leica, which doesn't even have a comparable lens. OK, thank you.

I've owned every version of this lens since I bought the fantastic Canon 80-200 2.8 in 1993. Every new version has been a marked improvement. I strongly suspect that the Mk III will continue the trend.

My first Audi was terrible, it rusted away and the gearbox was made of old paper. OK it was an Audi 100GL from 1973 but it was total crap. You compare your Leica with and very old version 1 of the 70-200, which is the same as me comparing my Audi 100GL with the present Audi 100 the A6, total irrelevant and without any use full information.

It's been such a long time waiting on the f4 upgrade.  I had the old non-IS f4 lens and it was as sharp as it gets.  I sold it when I purchased the f2.8II version.  It will be interesting to see f4 the hands on reviews.

I’ve had every f/2.8 version going back to the black 80-200 in the early 90s. The Mark II has been the best so far. It will be interesting to see if the 9 blade aperture changes the bokeh enough, and if the lens IQ improves enough to warrant an upgrade purchase.

Note that the tripod mount ring does not come with the lens this time. Although the lens appears to be list priced the same as the Version II it replaces, the mount ring will now cost you an additional $210 (ouch). Very clever marketing. The new lens mount ring (Canon AII(WII) Tripod Mount Ring) appears to be removable without unmounting the lens. This may or may not be an improvement. We'll see how many lenses get dropped when the ring loosens and opens inadvertently. The new lens ring appears to rely on a groove on the lens and not the 4 screws that were previously tapped in the barrel. This may be an improvement as the old mechanism used to sometimes hang up if the screws loosened (which they frequently did). I suspect this arrangement will be more fluid in its rotation. The specifications indicate that the new lens hood (Canon ET-78B Lens Hood) is included in the box and the design is an improvement (IMHO) over the tulip version associated with Versions I and II of the lens. Lets hope the lens mount for the hood has been improved. The old OEM version fell off way too easily. I found that after market versions locked on better and were more robust for much less money. As a professional photographer, I find lens hoods to be cheap insurance against the dings of daily use. I used them daily for this reason and infrequently to reduce flare. All that being said, IMHO the Canon 70-200 is one of the best lenses ever made for sports photography and look forward to seeing if this one is improved enough to be worth the upgrade. Version I has been my bread and butter lens for well over a decade.

George S.

The new f/2.8 still comes with the lens hood and tripod ring just like the previous versions. The new f/4 comes with only the lens hood, and the tripod collar is an option just like my first version. I will admit that the prices Canon charges for these tripod collars is ridiculous; you can buy third party versions cheaper but I wouldn't trust most of them. Their policy of not including lens hoods with ALL of their non-L lenses is also very disappointing. 

Don't worry, the aftermarket folks will jump at this and compete with Canon on tripod ring.

hmmmm.  the new tripod ring looks just like the old one and in fact has the same number (AII). 

Dang!  Right after I bought the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS version 2.

I'd love to see a side-by-side comparison of specs between version 2 and version 3, then a side-by-side comparison of real world results

Jared I concur. The 9 blade aperture does sound appealing though. 

I have the version 2 that use for shooting events. I would love to hear the comparison of 2 to this new one.

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