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Thread started 05 Apr 2015 (Sunday) 11:32
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Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L USM, reviewed by Hatch1921

TOGGLE RATINGS BETWEEN ALL AND Hatch1921 (showing now: Hatch1921)
Overall Rating9
Overall Image Quality9
Value for Money10
Bokeh9.5
Sharpness9
Contrast9
Focusing9
Must Have9.5
Suitability to Intended Use9.5
Got What I Expected9.5
Ownership Status: "own"

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List all reviews of Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L USM
 
Hatch1921
Cream of the Crop
Hatch1921's Avatar
Joined Mar 2006
Phoenix AZ
Apr 05, 2015 11:32 |  #1

***Older review... still holds true today***

There are times when you need a little extra reach, and a 200mm lens can do the trick. I’ve owned the Canon 70-200L IS F/2.8 MK1, and it was a great lens. This lens, at 200mm is sharper than my 70-200L was. If you are in the market for a nice telephoto lens, and you want something very close in performance to the Canon 135L but with more reach, then you should continue reading this review.


IMAGE: https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8758/16420767874_3e29dff878_o.jpg



IMAGE: https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7586/17042368121_59898503a9_o.jpg

After purchasing the Canon 5d MK2 camera I ran into a situation where I was having troubles trying to get the most out of my zoom lenses. The Canon 70-200L F/2.8 IS MK1 lens is a great lens, and it served me well. On the 5D classic, I never had an issue with the camera/lens combo. Moving to the 5d2 I wasn’t comfortable trying to micro adjust my camera to the lens somewhere in the middle of what I thought might be acceptable. I just couldn’t trust it. This isn’t to say 5D2 owners with zooms have had the same experiences I’ve had with my camera, or we would all be shooting primes. I’m just stating I lost my appeal for zoom lenses on my 5D2.

I decided to sell the 70-200L and I wasn’t sure if buying the 200L F/2.8 was going to be a good move or not? I own the Canon 135L and it’s a stellar lens and I thought 135mm was more than enough range to keep me happy. Well, I found myself wanting a little more reach. Like most of you, I researched the net, read the reviews and looked at some sample photos and charts. Which is essentially what I’m posting, just with my thoughts about how the lens has performed.

Charts… they serve a purpose. If you are a charts person, fantastic! I’m not one. I want to see how the lens performs first hand. How is the color, the contrast, is it sharp and how fast is the focus. How loud is the lens. You would be surprised at the noise some lenses produce.

The only time I’ve used charts would be a focus chart. Each lens I purchase I use Lens Align Pro to adjust the camera, by micro adjustment settings, to the lens. This takes all the guess work out of wondering if the lens is performing as it should when it comes to focus issues.

I took the leap and instead of buying a Canon 1.4x teleconverter to turn my Canon 135L into a 189mm lens, I purchased the Canon 200L F/2.8 instead. Which, by the way, can use Canon’s teleconverters to extend the reach.

My thoughts…

It’s not much bigger than the Canon 135L. It’s very well built as you should expect the Canon “L” series lenses to be. The weight of the lens isn’t bad at all. I think it balances very well with the 5D2 and a battery grip. The one thing I like about my particular lens lineup is all of them take filters at 72mm. This saves me money in the log run as I do not have to buy multiple filters for different lenses.

Speed/focusing. When shifting from close subjects, the lens has a minimum focusing distance of about 5ft, to far subjects the lens is very quick. I think this would be a dream setup on any of the Canon cameras geared for fast moving subjects. I used it recently with the splash dog's event. It’s a quick lens, not as fast as the Canon 200mm F/2.0 L IS and if you have $6K to invest, this might be the lens of your choice. If not, the Canon 200L F/2.8 is very reasonably priced for such a quality lens.

Color/Contrast/Sharpne​ss. The colors/contrast are right up there with the Canon 135L. Love the look this lens has for portraits. It is very sharp wide open and only gets better stopped down. You get nice compression from the lens which in most cases is very flattering in portraits.

Here is a 100% crop from a portrait session. You can see the lens is sharp and shows a lot of detail.

IMAGE: https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8731/17042368231_4383890417_o.jpg

Both images were shot F/8.0 for head shots. Post processing was an import to Lightroom, tonal/exposure adjustments, sharpening set to 55 then exported to what you see here.
IMAGE: https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7710/17017207016_7307beb583_o.jpg

Here’s a shot of a burrowing owl at F/4.0 same post work as mentioned above.

IMAGE: https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8817/17041747242_51946ed537_o.jpg


And to see how the lens handles colors and how it destroys backgrounds (in a good way), here is a shot you might enjoy. Shot at F/3.2...

IMAGE: https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7614/16856985019_91089d2523_b.jpg


Final thoughts

I’ve found the lens to be a great replacement for my 70-200L zoom. Yes… I’ve lost 70-199mm’s in the process…and image stabilization… but.. my feet now provide me with all my zooming needs, and a monopod lends a had when needed.

Not to get in a prime vs. zoom debate. For my shooting style, I’ve found primes have made me a better photographer. I have to move around more, and by doing so, my compositions change, and I see things I might not have seen just standing in one place with a zoom. Don’t get me wrong, I do love the flexibility of a zoom. But…for me… it was the right move.

This is a winner of a lens for the money you will invest. Very solid performer! Easy to hand hold, super sharp wide open. The colors are great, and you won’t get tired holding it all day long like the big 200mm’s out there. It’s black and small, so it doesn’t draw a lot of attention.

If you are on the fence, think about renting one first to see what you think. It doesn’t have image stabilization like the big 200’s, so you need to pay a little more attention to your shutter speeds in low light situations. This is where the tripod collar comes into play. I use mine on a monopod a lot. It keeps things very steady… which helps keep the images sharp.

If I were to complain about the lens, it wouldn’t be the lens, it would be the price of the tripod collar which is sold separately. It’s $140… not cheap! Useful for sure, but an extra expense if you feel you need it.

All in all… very happy to have this lens in my collection. It’s a great tool! I think if you give it a try, you will fall in love with it.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to post them below. I’d be happy to chat with you.

Hatch

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tjbrock42
Senior Member
944 posts
Joined Jan 2010
Indiana
Apr 05, 2015 21:19 |  #2

Nice review, samples look great! I've always wanted this lens. Thanks for sharing.


6D
24-105L, 50 STM, 135L, 430EX II
For Sale: 40D

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Hatch1921
THREAD ­ STARTER
Cream of the Crop
Hatch1921's Avatar
Joined Mar 2006
Phoenix AZ
Apr 25, 2015 14:34 as a reply to tjbrock42's post |  #3

Very welcome and thank you. It's a great lens IMO.

Hatch


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Michhiker28
Member
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36 posts
Joined Jun 2014
May 06, 2015 07:35 |  #4

Bought it, based on this. Love it! Thank you.


2 x Canon 7D gripped | Canon EF-S 10-22, EF-S 24 f/2.8 STM, 24-105L f4, 28-135 IS, 50/1.8 II, 50/1.4, 200/2.8L II, 70-200L f/4, | Canon 2 x Speedlite 430EX II

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johnandbentley
Senior Member
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Joined Jun 2010
Twin Cities
May 06, 2015 07:40 |  #5

One of my favorites and at one of my favorite focal lengths. Such a great portrait/ sports/ street photography lens and love that it is black and not a big white lens


6D, Sigma 35, Sigma 85

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Hatch1921
THREAD ­ STARTER
Cream of the Crop
Hatch1921's Avatar
Joined Mar 2006
Phoenix AZ
May 06, 2015 17:34 |  #6

Michhiker28 wrote in post #17545676external link
Bought it, based on this. Love it! Thank you.

So glad you enjoy the lens and I'm glad the little review helped :) Enjoy the lens and be sure to post some shots.

johnandbentley wrote in post #17545684external link
One of my favorites and at one of my favorite focal lengths. Such a great portrait/ sports/ street photography lens and love that it is black and not a big white lens

Very true... it's a lens IMO that doesn't get enough praise. It's super sharp... crushes backgrounds and is overall fun to shoot.

Hatch


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mickeyb105
Goldmember
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Joined Dec 2011
Vero Beach, FL
May 06, 2015 23:56 |  #7

Great review, Hatch!

I've had my 200 2.8 ii for 2.5 years, originally because I needed something longer than the 100 f2 to shoot field sports with. With the help of a monopod, I feel confident shooting right next to shooters armed with their 70-200 ii and 300 2.8 glass. My best is going to be close to their best , but at a fraction of the cost. It isn't hard to find a clean copy of this lens in the $500 range, and at times you can find the first version of the lens for $100 less. This is a great way for an enthusiast, or even a pro starting out, to get a fast-focusing/high-IQ piece of glass on the cheap.

For those outdoor portrait shooters who have lusted after a 135L, perhaps think of the 200 2.8L as cost-effective alternative. Same colors/contrast, same AF, similar bokeh. Don't want to choose? That's fine, because they pair well in tandem. Put the 200 on a crop body and the 135 on FF--wearing both combos at once is light enough to be tolerable!

Want to take your camera to a sporting event? The 200 2.8 will make it in. Amway Arena (Magic Game), Raymond James Stadium (Outback Bowl) and five different Spring Training venues have let this black beauty in with either a 60D or 6D strapped to it. White lenses usually need press credentials.


Sony A99ii, RX-100ii, Sonnar T* 135mm f/1.8 ZA, Minolta HS 200 2.8 APO, Zeiss 24/2 ZA, Minolta 2xTC APO, HVL-F43M
Flickr (external link)

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Hatch1921
THREAD ­ STARTER
Cream of the Crop
Hatch1921's Avatar
Joined Mar 2006
Phoenix AZ
May 09, 2015 12:33 |  #8

mickeyb105 wrote in post #17546770external link
Great review, Hatch!

I've had my 200 2.8 ii for 2.5 years, originally because I needed something longer than the 100 f2 to shoot field sports with. With the help of a monopod, I feel confident shooting right next to shooters armed with their 70-200 ii and 300 2.8 glass. My best is going to be close to their best , but at a fraction of the cost. It isn't hard to find a clean copy of this lens in the $500 range, and at times you can find the first version of the lens for $100 less. This is a great way for an enthusiast, or even a pro starting out, to get a fast-focusing/high-IQ piece of glass on the cheap.

For those outdoor portrait shooters who have lusted after a 135L, perhaps think of the 200 2.8L as cost-effective alternative. Same colors/contrast, same AF, similar bokeh. Don't want to choose? That's fine, because they pair well in tandem. Put the 200 on a crop body and the 135 on FF--wearing both combos at once is light enough to be tolerable!

Want to take your camera to a sporting event? The 200 2.8 will make it in. Amway Arena (Magic Game), Raymond James Stadium (Outback Bowl) and five different Spring Training venues have let this black beauty in with either a 60D or 6D strapped to it. White lenses usually need press credentials.


It is a versatile lens... I used it often for all sorts of shoots as well. Glad you enjoy your lens... it's well worth the money.
Hatch


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PCousins
Senior Member
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Joined Nov 2014
Weston-Super-Mare (UK)
May 09, 2015 17:05 |  #9

Yes a very well written review and excellent images......thanks


Gear List

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Hatch1921
THREAD ­ STARTER
Cream of the Crop
Hatch1921's Avatar
Joined Mar 2006
Phoenix AZ
May 10, 2015 15:17 |  #10

PCousins wrote in post #17549840external link
Yes a very well written review and excellent images......thanks


Many thanks :) Glad you found it useful.
Hatch


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raksphoto
Senior Member
Joined Jun 2010
California
May 17, 2015 08:15 |  #11

Thanks for the review! I just got mine yesterday, my situation analogous to yours, albeit I'm using 7D Mark II.

I have had (and also borrowed) the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS, but for daylong shows hand-held, it's just too heavy. Initially, I tried the 70-200mm f/4L (non-IS), but f/4 lacks for stage light applications, and the colors and contrast were just not there -- like the luscious 135mm f/2L had. This caused a multi-year longing for the 200mm f/2.8L II. What a difference a good fast prime makes!

I'm doing an annual belly dance show next weekend, in all-primes; most probably the 135mm amd 200mm will figure prominently, due to distance to the stage. Looking forward to much cleaner results.

And what a fabulous value the 200mm f/2.8L II is!


7D Mk II | 70D | 7D | 1D Mk III
EF-S 10-18mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM | EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM |
EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS | EF-S 50-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II | EF 70-200mm f/4L |
EF 135mm f/2L | EF 100mm f/2 | EF 85mm f/1.8 | EF 50mm f/1.2L | EF 35mm f/1.4L
The main camera gear I use

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Hatch1921
THREAD ­ STARTER
Cream of the Crop
Hatch1921's Avatar
Joined Mar 2006
Phoenix AZ
May 17, 2015 10:34 |  #12

raksphoto wrote in post #17559658external link
Thanks for the review! I just got mine yesterday, my situation analogous to yours, albeit I'm using 7D Mark II.

I have had (and also borrowed) the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS, but for daylong shows hand-held, it's just too heavy. Initially, I tried the 70-200mm f/4L (non-IS), but f/4 lacks for stage light applications, and the colors and contrast were just not there -- like the luscious 135mm f/2L had. This caused a multi-year longing for the 200mm f/2.8L II. What a difference a good fast prime makes!

I'm doing an annual belly dance show next weekend, in all-primes; most probably the 135mm amd 200mm will figure prominently, due to distance to the stage. Looking forward to much cleaner results.

And what a fabulous value the 200mm f/2.8L II is!


Congrats on the lens. :) It's a lens which is often overlooked by many people and under appreciated....until you own one. It's just a good as the 135L IMO... except of course not being about to shoot @ F/2.0. If someone is in the market for a lens with longer reach... I always point them in the direction the 200mm F/2.8 for a great starting point. No.. it doesn't have IS... but a monopod or tripod takes care of that for you. :) But...for the price to performance ratio you get from this lens... it's hard not to have one in your bag.

Congrats again!
Hatch


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MAIN SITE (external link)
Great site to buy gear through and save some money. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. Greentoe.com (external link)

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Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L USM, reviewed by Hatch1921
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