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70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM vs original

CapeCodDan
Enthusiast

I have a 13-year-old 70-200mm f/2.8L.  What differences will I notice with the present (III) iteration of this lens?  

2 ACCEPTED SOLUTIONS

Tronhard
Authority

I have a 13-year-old 70-200mm f/2.8L.  What differences will I notice with the present (III) iteration of this lens?  

As you indicate it is the original MkI version, that dates back to 1995.  You do not indicate that the lens you have is image stabilized, so is it actually with or without IS?

At the time of its release it was quite ground-breaking and enhanced Canon's reputation as a lens manufacturer, and within itself is still a good lens.   That said, lot has changed in terms of the sophistication of image stabilization and lens coatings.  It is a simple matter to look up the relative specs for the evolution of these lenses via DPReview.com, or via Wikipedia, for that matter: Canon EF 70–200mm lens - Wikipedia

Really, a lot depends on what you want the lens to do and how you will use it, including types of subjects - so some guidance on that would be of significant assistance.  Also, what you intend to produce: the demands on technology for large, fine Art prints are vastly different from those for posting on the web or showing on a digital device. 

Furthermore, some details of the kinds of cameras you are, and especially intend to use it on, given that bodies age much faster than lenses and there is a quantum shift in progress as Canon moves to the new R platform.  I see you have posted some time ago about using a Canon EOS 6D MkII, is that still your camera body?

If you can assist us with that contextual information, we can be of much more assistance.

cheers Trevor

"All the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris
"A good swordsman is more important than a good sword" Amit Kalantri

Technique will always Outlast Tech - Me

View solution in original post

If I was upgrading to a newer model, I would personally go for the MkII - it's performance is not significantly different from the MkIII and it will be cheaper.  If you can get a good one - they are out there - my 70-200 f/2.8 L has been used about 4 times in 10 years as I tend to use longer FL's. 

I can see you use the 100-400 lens (I have the MkII unit: it's brilliant), so I am not sure exactly what you will use the 70-200 range for.  My point is that if you did studio work (for example) and the camera was tripod mounted, you could save weight and cost by not getting the IS variant.  However, if you are going to hand-hold the 70-200, I would definitely recommend IS!

One other lens to consider is the f/4 L IS MkII variant that is much lighter 730g vs. 1.48kg (worth thinking about as we mature).  It came out about the same time as the f/2.8 MkIII and is a beautiful lens.  It was not produced for that a long time as it came late (2018) and production was ended last year in favour of RF glass.  I have that one and it is a beaut: light, great optics, and if you don't need that extra stop, much easier to handle for long periods and more agile if you're doing a lot of panning. I bet you could get one refurbished by Canon for a good price.  I recommend this review from Justin Abbott: HERE 
The following image shows the f/2.8 IS MkII on a Canon 5DIV body (sorry, I don't have a 6DII, but it's pretty close), beside the f/4 IS MkII on a 90D body.  The difference in size is obvious.  The f/4 is a much better balance on the 90D in particular.

DSCF0264 copy.jpg

BTW, a valid moan from the f/4 users was that Canon did not provide a tripod mount for this lens, but Canon suggested it was so light that it didn't need one - which is a fair comment.  Still, I wanted one and got a 3rd party mount for the MkI (which is the same) for about $20 - sorted, even though the colour is slightly different, but I will live with that for the difference in price.

While I have some RF glass, I actually prefer either of the EF 70-200 units over the RF offering at the same FL.  The EF ones don't extend, while the RF one does.  Given I am using a mirrorless camera with the sensor exposed during use, and even though all of these are weather-sealed, I like the idea of the extra protection of a non-extending lens.  Anyway, they are both excellent units, so why upgrade to an expensive RF version that does extend?

cheers Trevor

"All the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris
"A good swordsman is more important than a good sword" Amit Kalantri

Technique will always Outlast Tech - Me

View solution in original post

9 REPLIES 9

Tronhard
Authority

I have a 13-year-old 70-200mm f/2.8L.  What differences will I notice with the present (III) iteration of this lens?  

As you indicate it is the original MkI version, that dates back to 1995.  You do not indicate that the lens you have is image stabilized, so is it actually with or without IS?

At the time of its release it was quite ground-breaking and enhanced Canon's reputation as a lens manufacturer, and within itself is still a good lens.   That said, lot has changed in terms of the sophistication of image stabilization and lens coatings.  It is a simple matter to look up the relative specs for the evolution of these lenses via DPReview.com, or via Wikipedia, for that matter: Canon EF 70–200mm lens - Wikipedia

Really, a lot depends on what you want the lens to do and how you will use it, including types of subjects - so some guidance on that would be of significant assistance.  Also, what you intend to produce: the demands on technology for large, fine Art prints are vastly different from those for posting on the web or showing on a digital device. 

Furthermore, some details of the kinds of cameras you are, and especially intend to use it on, given that bodies age much faster than lenses and there is a quantum shift in progress as Canon moves to the new R platform.  I see you have posted some time ago about using a Canon EOS 6D MkII, is that still your camera body?

If you can assist us with that contextual information, we can be of much more assistance.

cheers Trevor

"All the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris
"A good swordsman is more important than a good sword" Amit Kalantri

Technique will always Outlast Tech - Me

HI Trevor - thanks!  Mine is not IS.  I use it mostly for sports action; I'm starting to notice its ability to AI servo focus is not as quick as my (much newer) 24-70L and 100-400L.  This happens on both my 6D MkII and my 90D.  Also, feels like the images are not quite as sharp as from my 100-400.

If I was upgrading to a newer model, I would personally go for the MkII - it's performance is not significantly different from the MkIII and it will be cheaper.  If you can get a good one - they are out there - my 70-200 f/2.8 L has been used about 4 times in 10 years as I tend to use longer FL's. 

I can see you use the 100-400 lens (I have the MkII unit: it's brilliant), so I am not sure exactly what you will use the 70-200 range for.  My point is that if you did studio work (for example) and the camera was tripod mounted, you could save weight and cost by not getting the IS variant.  However, if you are going to hand-hold the 70-200, I would definitely recommend IS!

One other lens to consider is the f/4 L IS MkII variant that is much lighter 730g vs. 1.48kg (worth thinking about as we mature).  It came out about the same time as the f/2.8 MkIII and is a beautiful lens.  It was not produced for that a long time as it came late (2018) and production was ended last year in favour of RF glass.  I have that one and it is a beaut: light, great optics, and if you don't need that extra stop, much easier to handle for long periods and more agile if you're doing a lot of panning. I bet you could get one refurbished by Canon for a good price.  I recommend this review from Justin Abbott: HERE 
The following image shows the f/2.8 IS MkII on a Canon 5DIV body (sorry, I don't have a 6DII, but it's pretty close), beside the f/4 IS MkII on a 90D body.  The difference in size is obvious.  The f/4 is a much better balance on the 90D in particular.

DSCF0264 copy.jpg

BTW, a valid moan from the f/4 users was that Canon did not provide a tripod mount for this lens, but Canon suggested it was so light that it didn't need one - which is a fair comment.  Still, I wanted one and got a 3rd party mount for the MkI (which is the same) for about $20 - sorted, even though the colour is slightly different, but I will live with that for the difference in price.

While I have some RF glass, I actually prefer either of the EF 70-200 units over the RF offering at the same FL.  The EF ones don't extend, while the RF one does.  Given I am using a mirrorless camera with the sensor exposed during use, and even though all of these are weather-sealed, I like the idea of the extra protection of a non-extending lens.  Anyway, they are both excellent units, so why upgrade to an expensive RF version that does extend?

cheers Trevor

"All the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris
"A good swordsman is more important than a good sword" Amit Kalantri

Technique will always Outlast Tech - Me

Waddizzle
Legend

Another significant difference between the 70-200 and the newer 70-200 IS lenses is that the IS models are weather sealed.  The non-IS models were not weather sealed.  This would not make much of a difference for me, because all of them are more robust than I am.

--------------------------------------------------------
"The right mouse button is your friend."

I hear you about being robust!  Was shooting a baseball game couple weeks back with three other pros, all about my age...I asked, if we were still using film F1's with manual focus, would we still be working?  Everyone shook their head, "no way!" 😆

ebiggs1
Legend

"What differences will I notice with the present (III) iteration of this lens?"

 

It's a different color!  😁

Seriously you really want IS. The Mk III will be somewhat sharper. It has better lens coatings.

 

"I'm starting to notice its ability to AI servo focus is not as quick as my (much newer) 24-70L and 100-400L."

 

Not a meaningful comparison actually. But if you say it is much worse, noticeably slower, than the first mobel 100-400mm push-pull zoom, I would say your old 70-200mm has issues. Remember the lens doesn't Ai-servo, the camera does.

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!

CapeCodDan
Enthusiast

Thanks all for the deep dive on my question....I need the 2.8 for indoor sports, and for events for which I don't need the reach of my 100-400L IS USM.  Thinking I should get it sooner rather than later before Canon stops making the EF mount.  You guys are terrific, I appreciate the help!

We are glad to help. 

Definitely, I would go for the f2.8 IS version then.  For indoor sports the light will be low and without pushing your ISO too high you may want slower shutter speeds - of course depending on the speed of the action! 🙂

If you feel you have found your solution, please mark as resolved in case others have a similar question.

cheers Trevor

"All the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris
"A good swordsman is more important than a good sword" Amit Kalantri

Technique will always Outlast Tech - Me

ebiggs1
Legend

"Definitely, I would go for the f2.8 IS version then."

 

The difference is just on stop. Deal maker or breaker on one stop? Of course you will always have that one stop advantage but one stop is well in the realm of Raw adjustment. Any camera/lens purchase should be based on the entire unit not a single spec.

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!
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