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

Distortion

The level of distortion is very low for a zoom lens with very slight barrel distortion at 70mm and minor pincushion distortion at 135mm, 200mm and with attached EF 1.4x II. An exceptional performance similar to the EF 70-200mm f/4L and the EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS.

70mm:

135mm:

200mm:

280mm (w/1.4x):

The chart above has a real-world size of about 120x80cm. Possibly expect more distortion towards closer focus distances.

Vignetting

Vignetting is very well controlled with the lens - at least on an APS-C DSLR. At 70mm and 135mm @ f/2.8 vignetting is already well below disturbing levels and hardly detectable anymore at f/4. At the long end it's more pronounced wide-open with ~0.6EV. Usually not a problem but noticeable in extreme situations. One stop down it is greatly reduced to a negligible degree. When combined with the Canon EF 1.4x II tele converter the vignetting is at ~0.3EV wide-open which is a non-issue in the field. One stop down it's beyond detectable limits.

MTF (resolution)

In the lab the lens showed that it is far from being qualified for retirement. In fact the performance figures beat both its IS sister lens as well as the EF 70-200mm f/4L - not by much (about a half "school mark") but clearly measurable. At all focal length it scratches the resolution limits of the 8MP APS-C sensor. At f/2.8 the results are already very-good at f/4-5.6 they're excellent. Even when combined with the EF 1.4x II there's only a marginal performance penalty.

Below is a simplified summary of the formal findings. The chart shows line widths per picture height (LW/PH) which can be taken as a measure for sharpness. If you want to know more about the MTF50 figures you may check out the corresponding Imatest Explanations

Chromatic Aberrations

The lens also showed an very good behavior regarding chromatic aberrations (color shadows at harsh light transitions) peaking at about 0.6 pixels on the average at the image borders - nothing to worry about by most standards. As expected CAs get a little worse with the EF 1.4x II but the issue remains well within acceptable limits here as well.




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