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Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L review (with embedded rants)

Intro: At one point, I was a firm believer in prime lenses. I owned a 20/50/100/200/300 suite of primes, and 90% of the time, I was completely satisfied with them. Unfortunately, the other 10% of the time happened to be during situations where time was of the essence. As you may of guessed... storm chasing can be fit into this category.

In a perfect world, we would have an infinite amount of time to setup, the light would remain constant, and there would be no dust. Storm chasing is a far cry from this photographer's utopia. In a hobby where mother nature can mix things up in seconds, switching lenses simply became too much of a liability. Sure primes have their benefits; they are low weight, sharp, good low light performers, and relatively cheap. They have a place in every photographer's lens collection, but now they will play a much smaller role in mine (I am only keeping the 50/1.4).

With that in mind, I bring to you my review of Canon's esteemed short to midrange telephoto. The Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L.

The word WOW comes to mind after using this lens for a day.

---Construction---
As part of Canon's L series, it is no wonder this lens gets a 10/10 in my book for construction. Solid metal body, firm but smooth turning focus/zoom rings, and a sturdy tripod mount all contribute to a lens that has the word business written all over it.

---Optical Quality---
When I purchased this lens, I accepted the fact that I would be taking a small step backwards in optical quality from my previous 100 and 200mm lenses. While I have shipped off my 200mm prime already, I was able to test the zoom againt my Canon 100/2 prime. The results were shocking... at f/2.8, the zoom out performed the prime by a slight margin. At f/4-f/8 they were practically equal, and up to at f/16, the prime appeared like it had a *very* slight edge. As for contrast and saturation, both lenses seemed to be on par. When I was viewing the images in photoshop, I had to use the file names to tell them apart.



While I was not able to test the lens at 200mm against a prime, I did shoot many shots at that focal length. The results satisfied my thirst for sharpness.

Final score: 9.5/10

So far, the verdict is a postive one for this lens. While the true test will be how it performs while chasing, I am confident it will live up to my expectations.

Final notes:

Canon also produces an IS (image stablization) version of this lens. This feature lets you take shots at insanely slow shutter speeds (like 1/15 at 200mm!). While this would be extremely handy chasing (it also features all-weather seals), it is simply too far out of my budget at $1500~.

Image gallery of the lens and shots with it from today:
http://ww2.convectionconnection.com:8080/CANON70-200/
 
It runs around $1200.00 don't it?

I can't afford Canons big glass lenses
I got the Sigma 70-200 2.8 for Canon for $799.00
It's been my work horse lens for sure. I have no problem with it, or using generic lenses like Sigma & Tamron. They seem do just as good a job as Canon & Nikon's lens... 'cept a lot cheaper.

My gear is:
Sigma 28-70/ 2.8
Sigma 70-200/ 2.8
Sigma 135-400/5.6
Tamron 70-300 /5.6
Phoenix 100 Macro lens w/ 1:1 Adaptor
 
Several years ago I purchased the Canon 75-300 lense and I really loved the performance. It was great for taking pics of the kids in plays and ceremonies and not having to get up and walk to the front of the room!! Even when I enlarged the pics to 8x10, the clarity was fantastic. That was with the 35 mm Canon Rebel. I just purchased the Canon Rebel Digital this past summer and one of the reasons I chose the Digital Rebel is the fact that I had the lenses. The Digital Rebel has (as close as I can tell) the same clarity with the 75-300 lense as did the Rebel 35mm film.
If the 70-200 works as well as my 75-300, you surely should be happy with it.
 
Well, you can buy it new under $1100, but I got it in "new condition" used for $940. The only reason I was able to afford it was because I offloaded some of my primes. Nice thing about decent glass is it doesn't deappreciate to much with time. I actually made $50 on my 200mm lens.

Aaron
 
Originally posted by John Olexa

I can't afford Canons big glass lenses
I got the Sigma 70-200 2.8 for Canon for $799.00
It's been my work horse lens for sure. I have no problem with it, or using generic lenses like Sigma & Tamron. They seem do just as good a job as Canon & Nikon's lens... 'cept a lot cheaper.

I also have the Sigma 70-200 2.8 APO and find it to be a very nice lens, and compares very similar to Canon's 70-200 2.8 in optical quality.. I got mine at Delta International for $608 - I could have bougt 2 of them for the price of L glass.
I have never used it for storm photography other then some distant shots of a windmill at sunset.
I also have a Sigma 15mm fisheye which is one of my favorite lenses for structure shots. The Sigma 12-24 EX lens looks like a great wide angle zoom for the 1.6 crop cameras.
 
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