Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 USM L IS II - APS-C Review / Lab Test Report
Lens Reviews - Canon EOS (APS-C)
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Review by Klaus Schroiff, published April 2010

You may forgive us that we've reused most of the corresponding full format review here.


Fast tele zoom lenses a la 70-200mm f/2.8 are one of the key players in a lens lineup. These lenses are used by many profession photographers, especially photo journalists, and they're also very popular among "prosumers". The EF 70-200mm f/2.8 USM L IS mk I wasn't as stellar as it should have been and in early 2010 Canon listened to the calls by releasing an improved EF 70-200mm f/2.8 USM L II featuring a next generation IS and, of course, a better performance. We've already checked the (impressive) behavior on a full format DSLR so let's have a brief look into the corresponding APS-C format results now.

The build quality of the 70-200mm f/2.8 USM L II is truly superb. It's mostly made of tightly assembled metal parts - there's no wobbling whatsoever and the rubberized control rings operate very smooth. Just like its predecessors the lens does not extend during zooming nor focusing. Thanks to an IF ("inner focusing") system the front element does not rotate so using a polarizer is no problem.

The lens incorporates a new third-generation Image Stabilizer (IS) with a claimed gain of 4 f-stops for hand held photography (at cost of shutter speed). This is indeed achievable in field conditions. Unlike the consumer variants the IS system has 2 modes - a normal one for static shooting (horizontal + vertical stabilization) and a panning mode (horizontal OR vertical stabilization - the panning direction is automatically detected). It also features tripod detection so the IS can stay activated here.

Typical for most modern EF lenses it features a ring-type USM drive which offers near silent and extremely fast AF operations. The AF accuracy was great during our field tests. The 70-200mm mk II is compatible to both the EF 1.4x (-> 98-280mm f/4) and EF 2x (-> 140-400mm f/5.6) tele-converters. Live-View AF is decently fast although not comparable to the normal phase detection AF - this is more a limitation by the camera rather than the lens though.

The similarities between the various 70-200mm f/2.8 variants are quite interesting so let's have a short look at the paperwork here before going on to the test results.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 USM L Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 USM L IS Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 USM L IS II
Release Date 1995 2001 2010
APS-C: equivalent focal length and aperture "112-320mm f/4" (f-stops in terms of depth-of-field, not speed)
Elements/Groups 18/15 23/18 23/19
Special Elements 4x UD 4x UD 1x CaF2 + 5x UD
Image Stabilizer Efficiency (*) none 3 f-stops (with tripod detection) 4 f-stops (with tripod detection)
Aperture blades 8 8 (circular) 8 (circular)
Min. focus (magnification) 1.5m (1:6.25) 1.3m (1:5.9) 1.2m (1:4.8)
focal length @ min. focus (200mm) 178mm 161mm 172mm
AF motor ultrasonic with FTM ultrasonic with FTM ultrasonic with FTM
Zoom type "true" IF "true" IF "true" IF
Size 85x194mm 86x197mm 89x199mm
Weight 1310g 1470g 1490g
Filter size 77mm 77mm 77mm
water/dust protection no yes yes
approx. Price (EUR) ~1200€/US$ ~1850€/US$
(now discontinued)