Gear Review - Canon 200mm F/2.8 L MK II

There are times when you need a little extra reach, and a 200mm lens can do the trick. I’ve owned the Canon 70-200L IS  F/2.8 MK1, and it was a great lens. This lens, at 200mm is sharper than my 70-200L was. If you are in the market for a nice telephoto lens, and you want something very close in performance to the Canon 135L but with more reach, then you should continue reading this review.

I decided to sell the 70-200L, I wasn’t sure if buying the 200L F/2.8 was going to be a good move or not? I own the Canon 135L, and it’s a stellar lens and I thought 135mm was more than enough range to keep me happy. Well, I found myself wanting a little more reach. Like most of you, I researched the net, read the reviews, and looked at some sample photos and
charts. Charts…they serve a purpose. If you are a chart’s person, fantastic!  I’m not one.  I want to see how the lens performs first hand. How is the color, the contrast, is it sharp and how fast is the focus? How loud is the lens? You would be surprised with the noise some lenses produce. The only time I’ve used charts would be a focus chart. Each lens I purchase I use Lens Align Pro to adjust the camera, by micro adjustment settings, to the lens. This takes all the guess work out of wondering if the lens is performing as it should when it comes to focusing issues.

I took the leap and instead of buying a Canon 1.4x teleconverter to turn my Canon 135L into a 189mm lens, I purchased the Canon 200L F/2.8 instead. Which, by the way, can use Canon’s teleconverters to extend the reach. It’s not much bigger than the Canon 135L. It’s very well built as you should expect the Canon “L” series lenses to be. The weight of the lens isn’t bad at all. I think it balances very well with the Canon 5Ds and a battery grip. The one thing I like about my particular lens lineup is all of them take filters at 72mm. This saves me money in the log run as I do not have to buy multiple filters for different lenses.

Speed/focusing–When shifting from close subjects, the lens has a minimum focusing distance of about 5ft, to far subjects the lens is very quick. I think this would be a dream setup on any of the Canon cameras geared for fast moving subjects. It’s a quick lens, not as quick as the Canon 200mm F/2.0 L IS and if you have $6K to invest, this might be the lens of your choice, if not, the Canon 200L F/2.8 is very reasonably priced for such a quality lens.

Color/Contrast/Sharpness. The colors/contrast are right up there with the Canon 135L. Love the look this lens has for portraits. It is very sharp wide open and only gets better stopped down. You get nice compression from the lens which in most cases is very flattering in portraits.

I’ve found the lens to be a great replacement for my 70-200L zoom. Yes… I’ve lost 70-199mm’s in the process…and image stabilization… but…my feet now provide me with all my zooming needs, and a monopod lends a had when needed. Not to get in a prime vs. zoom debate. For my shooting style, I’ve found primes have made me a better photographer. I have to move around more, and by doing so, my compositions change, and I see things I might not have seen just standing in one place with a zoom. Don’t get me wrong, I do love the flexibility of a zoom. But…for me… it was the right move.

This is a winner of a lens for the money you will invest. Very solid performer! Easy to hand hold, super sharp wide open. The colors are great, and you won’t get tired holding it all day long like the big 200mm’s out there. It’s black and small, so it doesn’t draw a lot of attention.

If you are on the fence, think about renting one first to see what you think. It doesn’t have to image stabilization like the big 200, so you need to pay a little more attention to your shutter speeds in low light situations. This is where the tripod collar comes into play, I often use mine on a monopod. It keeps things very steady… which helps keep the images sharp.

If I were to complain about the lens, it wouldn’t be the lens, it would be the price of the tripod collar which is sold separately. It’s $140… not cheap! Useful for sure, but an extra expense if you feel you need it. All in all… very happy to have this lens in my collection. It’s a great tool! I think if you give it a try, you will fall in love with it.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to post them below. I’d be happy to chat with you.


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