Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 USM L - Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews - Canon EOS (APS-C)

Review by Klaus Schroiff, published October 2005

Special thanks to Markus Stamm for providing this lens!


The Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 USM L is almost a legend - back in 1995 it was the first professional grade tele zoom featuring a blazingly fast ultrasonic AF drive. As a designated L-grade (Luxury) lens it promised both excellent build quality and high optical performance. Consequently it was and still is immensely popular for sports and press photography but naturally its scope is not limited to that. Despite the introduction of the new EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS the lens is still not discontinued (in some markets at least) and regarding the slightly lower price-tag it remains a very attractive offer.
As usual we'll look into the performance of this lens using a mainstream APS-C DSLR (EOS 350D) where its field-of-view is equivalent to 116-320mm on full format cameras.

The optical design is made of 18 elements in 14 groups, including 4 UD elements. The min. focus distance is 1.5m resulting is a max. object magnification of ~1:6 at 200mm. The lens features 8 aperture blades. The filter size is 77mm.

Typical for lenses of its class the EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L is not exactly small (85x194mm) nor light-weight (1310g) - speed just doesn't come for free. Adding the (included) petal-type hood increases the length substantially as you can observe in the image above. Quite cool looking though. It also has a detachable tripod mount and regarding the hefty weight a more than useful feature for tripod-based photography.

The lens does not extend during zooming and thanks to its inner focusing system the front element does not rotate so using a polarizer is no problem - unless you attach the hood of course. The build quality of this lens is excellent - no wobbling and smooth controls. The lens features a ring-type USM drive so AF speed is extremely fast. When combined with the Canon EF 1.4x (II) or EF 2.x (II) converter the speed is slightly reduced as a side effect of the smaller max. aperture (one, respectively two stops slower). It's worth to note that Canon advises to use the central AF sensor only when using this lens combined with tele-converters (the flanking sensors may cause focus errors) - the reason for that remains a little mysterious.

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