Hi all -
I recently acquired a 70-200L 2.8 II that is not producing sharp images. I got it from a friend at a super price and is in like-new condition. It was sold to me at rock-bottom as it doesn't produce up-to-par sharpness. It has not suffered any notable impacts. There's hardly any visible scratches/marks on the barrel!
It has however been professionally calibrated to multiple Canon bodies; (EOS 5D IV, 6D II, 1DX) and the results are all more or less the same. The image in the finder is sharp and on par with my other EF 70-200 lenses, but the resulting image is not. Even when manually focused.
There are two images at the bottom. The top was taken with my older EF 70-200 IS USM from 2004, the bottom was with the new 70-200 f2.8 MK2. Controlled environment, on a steady Manfrotto tripod at 200mm. Manual exposed over a stop or so to highlight detail. 1/80, f2.8, ISO 6400. IS was disabled.
Focal length doesn't change the outcome, though the images are marginally softer at 200mm.
" It has not suffered any notable impacts. There's hardly any visible scratches/marks on the barrel!"
So it has suffered impacts and there are barrel scratches.
Who did the "professional calibration"?
Send it to Canon for evaluation. You will need to register it.
Have you tried shooting in live view mode to see if the problem goes away. When testing live view make sure Quick AF is set to OFF. Quick AF drops the mirror and uses the dedicated viewfinder AF system to find focus. When the camera locks focus the mirror goes back into to the lockup position.
In a modern digital camera its hard to tell if a large aperture lens is in focus in the viewfinder. You said that a local camera shop has made AFMA adjustments and it still hasn't fixed the problem. I would follow @jrhoffman75 advice. If the lens can't attain correct focus in live view and viewfinder modes the lens needs to be sent to Canon for repair.
You aren’t actually changing anything in the lens. Instead, lens calibration is fine-tuning the communication between the camera and the lens. Once a lens is born at the factory there isn't anything that can be done to improve IQ. There is, however, a lot that can done to decrease or inhibit IQ. The poorly defined and used term "lens calibration" is misleading. It is actually adjusting the camera. Perhaps "camera calibration" would make more sense. A lens that gets rough use or is dropped or gets wet, etc., can cause IQ to go south.
"Controlled environment, on a steady Manfrotto tripod at 200mm. Manual exposed over a stop or so to highlight detail. 1/80, f2.8, ISO 6400. IS was disabled."
Your test probably confirms your camera needs "calibration. All lenses are not created equal. Even though they came off the same assembly line on the same day by the same technician small to tiny tolerances can affect the final lens IQ. All do have to meet a certain standard which every Canon lens must meet and is very high and strict.
When I retired nearly 20 years ago now, I decided I would like to test and play around with lenses. I had a unique opportunity where I worked because the company had a huge inventory of lenses. Made for a good start. But I bought and sold a lot of lenses myself. I don't and didn't have a big selection of the same lens but there were a few where I did get several copies of the same lens. Never more than three, however, which is still a very small sampling.
I had get fun and I learned a lot. I have really stopped doing it since it has become a hassle and I am older and don't care as much for "hassles" any longer. I still have some 40 lenses in my formerly stop bath stained now coverterted darkroom to storage room. Mostly just sitting on the shelf. Probably sell them off too at some point but the mount change by Canon has affected their value.
My number one fact I learned is don't trust reviews posted on the ole inner web. I have owned two copies of the Canon ef 70-200mm f2.8L. Both were superb and I consider it to be the gold standard of zooms in this focal range. Bar none. I sold one and still use the other one to this day. It is a version II just like yours. It's a great lens.
It looks like that the new lens may have an issue with astigmatism. Looking at the wood grain pattern above versus below the plaque, to me the grain appears sharper/better defined to the top. Or this could be from the lens not being perfectly parallel to the wall.
But it would be helpful to shoot another test photo in better light so the ISO isn't pushed that high. Although I regularly shoot sports with my 1DX III @ ISO 6400 and higher there is no question that detail is lost to noise/noise reduction when the sensor output is amplified at those greater ISO levels.
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