Canon EF 70-200mm 2.8L IS Lens Review & Thoughts on Image Stabilization

Canon 70-200 2.8 LensThis lens has been reviewed to death but after shooting with it for a couple of weeks I understand why people rave about it. I bought mine used/in perfect condition off of eBay.

Here are the main reasons I love this lens:

  • Incredibly smooth bokeh.
  • Fast aperture combined with IS make for a very versatile lens.
  • Did I mention the IS? Up to 3 extra stops makes a huge difference when you’re shooting at the max 200mm range. With my crop frame camera I would ideally need to shoot at around 1/300th of a second without IS. This is not really possible in most indoor situations unless you want to sacrifice on the ISO end. With the IS I can shoot comfortably in the 1/80th range.

Note on Image Stabilization

There are two main reasons for a lack of sharpness in photos – camera shake and subject movement. IS resolves camera shake but has no effect on subject movement. This is why (I assume) lens manufacturers don’t put IS in, for example, a 17-40mm lens. If you’re shooting at 40mm and using the benefits of IS you could conceivably shoot at around 1/6th of a second. That seems nice until you realize that at 1/6th of a second you would always pick up on subject movement. It could be used effectively on static objects but most people shooting at the pro-level will be using tripods in which case IS is worthless. So you wouldn’t be able to shoot anything with movement and you don’t need it for your static shots because you’re using a tripod. Hence image stabilization is pretty pointless for wide-angle and standard telephoto lenses.

Conclusion

If I could recommend only one lens to someone looking for a pro-quality piece of glass it would be the Canon 24-70 2.8L. However, the 70-200 is not far behind and at some point you should have both of them to really fill out your focal length range. Of course, this point is a bit subjective as it depends on what you’re shooting but you get the point that they are both exceptional pieces of hardware.

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