Sabyasachi Patra

Canon 70-200 f2.8 L IS II USM Review

Canon 70-200 f2.8 L IS II USM Lens Review 

Many people had requested me for a Canon 70-200 f2.8 L IS II USM lens review. I use it for photography as well as for filming. This is a good lens for filming handheld.

The Canon EF 70-200 f2.8 L IS II USM lens was used to film a rhino calf suckling from elephant back. Watch it in the film “Mother and Child’ below – In the same film you can see a Wild Ass calf suckling from the mother. I had used a 2x II TC with the EF 70-200 f2.8 L IS II USM lens and Canon Cinema EOS C300 camera to film handheld.


Canon 70-200 IS USM lens

Canon 70-200 IS USM lens


Canon introduced the EF 70-200 f2.8 L IS II USM lens in January 2010. This lens is also a L series lens, which indicates quality.


First Impressions while Unpacking Canon 70-200 Lens:

The first thing I noticed is the box was huge and when I saw the insde foam inserts I felt good that Canon is taking good care of packing. Infact, I have taken out the O Ring made out of thermo coal and have kept it in my lens bag.
When I pulled out the lens from the pack, I found that the new lens hood ET-87 has a lock. You need to press the lock to release the lens hood. Certainly a good design as the lens hood doesn’t come out. When you are clicking or filming wildlife there are many moments of lens hoods, lens caps etc falling when you are on an elephant back. The same thing applies for treks as well.

ET-87 Lens hood of 70-200 f2.8 L IS II USM lens

Lens hood of 70-200 f2.8 L IS II USM lens


Construction of the Canon 70-200 Lens:

This lens weighs 1490 gms. It has a dia of 89 mm and length of 199mm. Filter thread remains the same at 77mm. So this lens is 20gms heavier than the 70-200 f2.8 L IS USM lens that it replaced.

The maximum aperture of the lens is f2.8 and the minimum Aperture is F32.

The lens focus and zoom barrel is textured and apart from ease of use it gives a very good impression about the quality. The buttons are thoughtfully designed. For example the Image Stabilser ON/OFF button shape, size and texture is different than the other three buttons (stabilser mode, AF and focal length limiter) so that one can feel and switch on/off the Image Stabiliser.

The minimum focusing distance is 1.2 meters vis-à-vis 1.4 meters of the previous version and has a maximum magnification of 0.21x (vs 0.17x of the previous 70-200 f2.8 L IS USM lens).

This lens has a better environmental sealing. There is a rubber seal on the outside if the EF mount to protect it from dust and moisture.

This lens has got 23 elements divided into 19 groups. It has 5 UD (Ultra Dispersion) elements and 1 Fluorite element.

I would like to remind our readers that the previous version had a similar 23 elements but those were divided into 18 groups. And the new lens has one more UD element than the previous. The previous version didn’t have a fluorite element.

This lens retains the 8 blade circular aperture that we had loved in the previous version.


Image Stabilisation of Canon 70-200 lens:

The image stabilization is rated at 4 stops. This actually feels better in low light.

Auto Focusing Speed:

As was expected, this lens focuses internally and hence there is no protruding element. This lens has a ring type ultrasonic motor for silent focusing. It focuses fast and works well in low light. This lens has a full time manual focus override allows for slight fine-tuning of focus even when you are using AF.

MTF Charts: Source Canon

For people who are technically inclined, I am adding the MTF charts here. One can see that the quality is great.


Impressions of the Canon 70-200 f2.8 L IS II USM lens in the Field:

My impressions of this lens after testing it for more than a year is that this lens is fabulous. This lens works well with Canon EF 1.4x as well as the 2x TCs.

Infact, most of the times the 2xII TC remains mated with this lens. The reason being, I shift my camera with 2xII TC between the 70-200 f2.8 L IS II USM lens and the 400mm f2.8 L IS USM lens as both these two lenses work well with the TX II TCs and also because by doing that, I don’t expose my camera sensor to dust.

The first trip with this lens would have been the last. I was trekking to the Bandhavgarh Fort. I had the Mark IV plus the 70-200 f2.8 L IS II USM lens attached with a 2xII converter in between. This combination was slung from my shoulder. I was using an optitek strap and it was about 4 yrs old. Suddenly the strap gave way and the camera fell with the lens pointed downwards. Due to my reflex action, I could catch hold of the strap and miraculously the point where I caught the strap was just right as the lens remained dangling an inch above the ground. I stood still for a minute, gathered my wits and pulled up the camera and lens. God is Great! A great learning. Never allow a camera or lens to hang from your neck without you holding some part of the strap.

The contrast and colour rendition is nice. This lens appears to be controlling the flare better. So shooting against the light is much better.

With the previous version of this lens ie. 70-200 f2.8 L IS USM, clicking with a 2x TC attached at 400 mm focal length at f5.6 aperture, the sharpness was not to my liking. However, I have no problems in shooting at f5.6 using a 2x TC at 400mm with the EF70-200 f2.8 L IS II USM lens.

This image was clicked with Canon EOS 1D Mark IV, at f7.1, 1/800, ISO 400, ISO 400, full frame image.

Wild India Tiger B2

B2 – An adult male tiger walking

This Jungle cat image was clicked with Canon EOS 1D Mark IV, Canon EF 70-200 2.8 L IS II USM at f5.6, ISO 1000, 1/500, EC: +1/3, Full frame image.

Wild India - A Jungle Cat in Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve

A Jungle Cat in Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve

Canon EOS 1D Mark IV, Canon EF 70-200 f2.8 L IS II USM with EX 2xII TC at 370mm, ISO 320, f6.3, 1/1600. I was in a boat in Ranganathittu, near mysore and saw this pelican flying in. I half turned and fired.

Bird Photography - Pelican in Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary

Bird Photography – Pelican in Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary

This wild tiger was clicked in Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, India using Canon EOS 1D Mark IV, Canon EF 70-200 f2.8 L IS II USM plus EF 2xII TC at f5.6, ISO 200, 1/250, full frame image, handheld. I love the sharpness from this lens.

Wild India, Tiger from Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve

Tiger from Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve

This nocturnal Palm Civet is difficult to sight in the day time. Clicked with Canon EOS 1D Mark IV, Canon EF 70-200 f2.8 L IS II USM at 200mm f2.8, 1/125, ISO 1600, Full frame image at BR Hills Sanctuary. I used 200mm for a wide composition to show the habitat.

Endangered - Palm Civet in BR Hills

Endangered – Palm Civet in BR Hills

The review of the previous Canon EF 70-200 f2.8 L IS USM lens can be found here:


This is a fantastic lens. This lens is very sharp, good for handholding, nice construction and works well with Teleconverters. Apart from still photography, I am using this more for my filming requirements. It gives me the ability to change perspectives easily and helps in wide establishing shots in wildlife filming as well as in zooming in to get the details. This has given a big boost to my filming wildlife as well as sports, corporates, documentaries and commercials etc. There is some magic in this lens which I don’t get in other still lenses. I have extensively used the EF 100-400 f4.5-5.6 L IS USM lens for filming. However, today I prefer this lens over the 100-400.

This lens is costly. However, if you don’t want to compromise on quality then this is the lens. If you have any queries on the Canon EF 70-200 f2.8 L IS II USM lens review then please ask in the comments below.


Verdict: Highly Recommended.

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Sabyasachi Patra

Sabyasachi is an award winning Cinematographer and shoots for international broadcasters, feature films and corporates to make a living. He is a passionate wildlife filmmaker and photographer and has won awards and accolades for his documentary 'A Call in the Rainforest'. He has been striving to make his films and photographs full of life and emotion and write articles to educate and evangelise the need for conserving the last tracts of vanishing wilderness and wildlife in our country. He hopes that his wildlife films, photographs and writings force people to pause, look, ponder and ultimately take action.
Sabyasachi Patra
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