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Advice on buying a used 70-200 USM IS ii


Greetings all. I am ready to invest in a serious lens. I am strongly leaning towards the 70-200 f2.8L IS USM ii. I am planning on lookin at one for sale tomorrow. I have NO experience with used leneses, especially of this level. Aside from the obvious things like "does it work", what should I be looking out for? Anything specific to this lens to be aware of? Thanks in advance!!



I would take your camera along to do some quick test shots with a camera with which you are highly familiar and do so with the various IS modes on and off along with using the focusing limiter and of course trying several focal lengths.


Basically first take a good look at it for signs of rough handling, some gear will bear a lot of wear marks but be careful of gear carelessly treated.  GENTLY shake it and listen for any unusual noise. The zoom and focus rings should move smoothly and the AF motor is very quiet on this so there shouldn't be any unusual AF noise.  Set the camera to a couple of closed down aperture values and press your DoF preview button while looking into the front of the lens, you should see the aperture petals close smoothly to the selected setting without sticking or jittering behavior.


Take a look at both the front and rear exposed glass taking a close look for scratches or damage to the coating on the front.  There may be a clear protective front filter in place, I use a quality one on all of my smaller lens that have a front filter thread.  The weather sealing ring on the rear and the mounts and contacts will give you a good idea if this is a lens that has been on and off of cameras a lot.


And of course make sure you have a good idea of the value of a lens in that condition, compare some of the well known large online authorized Canon dealers along with completed auctions on ebay looking for similar condition glass.


Make sure the standard accessories are accounted for (lens hood, case, caps).



EOS 1DX M3, 1DX M2, 1DX, 5DS R, M6 Mark II, 1D M2, EOS 650 (film), many lenses, XF400 video

Excellent!! Thank you so much!! I am a bit nervous dropping this kind of money on a lens, especially one without a warranty.

If you're unsure of what lens may be good for you, you can always rent to try them out.  Unless of course you can minimally try out the used lens to gather enough impressions.


When looking for a second lens to pair up with my 50mm, I too was looking at the 70-200 along with a 135 prime. I rented the 70-200 version III, but found it too heavy for what I was willing to put up with. I returned it immediately and used the rest of the rental period to try out the lighter f/4 version. Didn't like that for other reasons. So I finally settled on the 135 f/2.  Renting thus really helped steer me towards a lens I'd be happy with.


Camera: EOS 5D IV, EF 50mm f/1.2L, EF 135mm f/2L
Lighting: Profoto Lights & Modifiers

Thanks! Yes, I have rented several prime lenses for documentary movie work, but need one for sports and other shoots. This one seems to be a very solid go to. My concern was what to look for when checking out an expensive high end used lens. Dropping this kind of money on an as is basis is always nerve racking.

The 70-200 2.8 is a great Canon zoom and it used to be the lens I used for the majority of photos and it still may be but I haven't analyzed the data from my photos 🙂 


There is always some risk buying a used lens but if it passes a thorough test before you buy it and the price is right I would say it is worth the risk.  It is a lens that Canon still services and if you are a CPS member you may be able to qualify for a significant discount on service if it is needed in the future.


Good luck and I hope the transaction goes well for you.  It is a very versatile lens that focuses quickly and provides sharp images.



EOS 1DX M3, 1DX M2, 1DX, 5DS R, M6 Mark II, 1D M2, EOS 650 (film), many lenses, XF400 video

" Dropping this kind of money on an as is basis is always nerve racking."


I understand, been there done that. But to put your mind to rest a bit, this lens is a workhorse.  It is designed to take whatever is thrown at it and keep on ticking. However, that said you can break one but lenses of this level can usually be repaired for a long time after they are manufactured.


You might consider whether you need a lens that is built like a tank.  Maybe you don't but that fact is a plus when considering used.  A good alternative if you want to go new might be the Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Lens.  Personally I would rather have a used Canon lens than any off brand new lens. The IQ of the two is comparable with the Canon on top as you might expect. Be real careful buying a used off brand lens.  They are not Canons!


As for renting I am usually against it.  I only rent lenses I can't afford or will use one time.  If you know what FL you need and you are considering real Canon lenses, you already have the best possible. And, if you are just trying out things you might spend enough to buy a lens!


If money is tight as suggested, avoid all prime lenses.  They are hard to use and don't offer the flexibility of the current crop of  zooms. Primes are specific use lenses.  Like sports or portraits and that is only a tiny fraction of their usefulness as the zooms here are still the better choice. The EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM has replaced the famous primes of past as the preferred portrait lens for instance.

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

I used to have a full kit of Canon in the film days. LOVED my Canon glass! I had a 300 f2.8. The reason I am investing now is that I have been tasked to shoot my son's lacrosse games. When they saw my pix for JV they recruited me for varsity too. They started using the images for promotion and social media (with permission) but I was not happy with the quality. I have been using the simple kit lenses to date. Now that they are doing more than simply giving the shots to parents, I want to take it to where I know it can and should be quality wise. I strongly considered a 300 2.8 but did not want to carry two cameras for the games. I have met several local sports photogs who use the 70-200 and they rave about it. I am really excited to go check this one out tomorrow. The seller has been great with information, provided tons of pix and is willing to negotiate a bit. The asking price is fair as is. From the pics the lens looks to be in excellent shape. He said he purchased it shortly before switching to Panasonic FF and it's jsut been sitting with the rest of his Canon gear. Finger's crossed it all works out well. I know what you mean about primes. I have rented a couple for video shoots. I had a really nice short zoom but it was dropped and destroyed. My son wanted to use the camera while on holida in Europe. While at the Summer Palace in Vienna he used his left hand to zoom, hit the release button and dropped the lends directly onto the granite. There was no hope for it. LOL. Why cameras don't have a dual mount lock is beyond me.

"... I have been tasked to shoot my son's lacrosse games."


I don't know the first thing about lacrosse.  That said what I have glanced at on ESPN and such, I doubt a 200mm lens is enough FL. I would consider the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports Lens.  Are the games played in daylight?  If they are the slower f-ratio won't be a problem. It may not even under good lights at night.  Plus this lens is also built like a tank and will take anything you throw at it. And, it is not a piggy bank smasher.

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

Ernie makes a great point about the build quality of Canon glass, particularly the L series.  Anything can break but the majority of Canon lens are far from problematic.


I agree that image quality from the 70-200 is excellent.  In that focal length range I also own the excellent Canon EF 135 F2 and EF 200 F2 and if you captured the same image at the same focal length with the primes also set to F2.8  you could probably tell them apart in a side by side comparison but in a gallery of photos taken with these three Canon lens someone would have a very difficult time identifying which lens was used for which image without seeing the EXIF data. 


In addition to the EF 200 F2 I also have the 300 F2.8 and 400 F2.8 primes and these are all magical lens and under demanding conditions they will outperform a generalist zoom lens with faster AF, improved sharpness (especially if you use a 1.4X or god forbid a 2X converter) and of course the wider maximum aperture but for most situations the best quality Canon zoom glass is just fine.  I really did want to retire my EF 400 F2.8 IS II in favor of the excellent and versatile Canon 200-400 F4 with its built in 1.4X and I really struggled with the decision but in this case I just couldn't bring myself to make even the very slight quality tradeoff that would occur with the 200-400 but it was VERY close and it is more about the incredible quality of the EF 400 F2.8 because the 200-400 is really excellent and extremely versatile. 


The ultimate deciding factor for me is because I shoot a lot of high school football with poor lighting making the F2.8 ability hard to give up. With the high ISO performance of the 1DX III the F4 isn't an issue but the 200-400 is marginally slower at acquiring focus compared to the superb EF 400 F2.8 and that difference is magnified when lighting conditions are terrible.  And there will definitely be situations in the soon to start soccer season where I will wish I was using the 200-400 but life is always a series of compromises.


I was curious about how the shots were divided between lens last Friday when I covered two basketball games with senior night sandwiched in between.  I used the EF 300 F2.8 on my new 1DX III, the EF 70-200 F2.8 on the 1DX II, and the EF 24-70 F2.8 on the 1DX.  I shot the most images on the 1DX III / 300 F2.8  pair (583)  but that was heavily skewed because it was the first game I shot with the new camera and I wanted to try several setup changes and I also had it set to its 16 FPS burst setting and also experimented with it.  The 1DX II / EF 70-200 F2.8 was in second place with 380 exposures and I suspect if I hadn't been experimenting with the 1DX III that would have been the image count leader.  The 1DX with 24-70 F2.8 was in a distant third (122 exposures) because I only used it for a few group shots and some limited in game shots. 


If the 300 F2.8 malfunctioned during a game I would miss it and switch to the 200 F2 during a game break and if the 24-70 malfunctioned it wouldn't be a big deal but if a problem occurred with the 70-200 I would immediately scramble to probably put the 135 F2 in place and I would really miss that versatile lens.  It is a beautiful lens that handles very nicely and does everything you can reasonably ask of it.



EOS 1DX M3, 1DX M2, 1DX, 5DS R, M6 Mark II, 1D M2, EOS 650 (film), many lenses, XF400 video
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