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Canon improves its two L-series 70-200mm zooms

Create: 10/17/2018 - 22:42
Canon EF 70-200 f/4.0 II and 70-200 f/2.8 III


  • f/4.0 lens offers improved image stabilization
  • f/2.8 lens uses “air sphere coating” to combat chromatic aberration
  • Both are for full-frame and APS-C cameras and are weather resistant

When it comes to lenses, Canon’s L series are always held in high regard. Just look at the sidelines at any sporting event, and you’ll see lots of the off-white lens barrels.

For those who need an excellent all-purpose telephoto zoom, Canon has updated two of its most popular lenses.

The Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II USM and Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM should satisfy those looking for a high-quality optic.

Canon says the target buyer for this are advanced amateurs and pros. These are EF lenses, which means that they can be fitted to full-frame cameras, as well as those that use APS-C sensors. When fitted with the correct adapter, they also can be used with Canon’s EOS M mirrorless line.

Both lenses are natively autofocus with an option for full-time manual focus.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II USM, US$1,299

Canon says that it’s made several improvements over the original lens, notably with the optical image stabilization system. Now boasting up to five stops of compensation (up from three), the lens offers three IS modes:

Mode 1 is for low-light use. Mode 2 is to compensate for camera shake when panning across the scene. In Mode 3, image stabilization doesn’t go into effect until the shutter release is pressed. Canon says it also has reduced the noise associated with stabilization.

The Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II USM uses 20 elements in 15 groups and includes one fluorite element and two low-dispersion UD elements. Canon says the lens is highly resistant to dust and moisture with seals around the mount, switches, zoom ring and other locations.

Nine elements form the aperture.

The close-focus distance is now about 3.3 feet compared with 3.9 feet for the original.

One thing that buyers might not enjoy with a lens at this price level is the lack of a tripod collar. Canon’s AII (WII) Tripod Mount Ring costs US$168. This is a new collar, and the lens collar for the previous lens reportedly does not fit.

The lens uses 72mm filters. The lens is 3.2 x 6.9 inches (80 x 176mm) and weighs 1.7 pounds (780 grams).

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM, US$2,099

For those who need a faster lens, there is the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM. The f/2.8 speed provides for a brighter viewfinder image and more accurate focusing.

The lens has 23 elements in 19 groups and uses eight aperture blades. Canon says “Air Sphere Coating” helps reduce chromatic aberration. It accepts 77mm filters.

Optical image stabilization provides up to 3.5 stops of compensation.

The lens is protected against dust and moisture with seals around the mount, switches, zoom ring and other areas.

Canon says the internal focus system uses “a high-speed CPU and optimized AF algorithms” to quickly achieve correct focus.

The lens includes a tripod collar. It is 3.5 x 7.8 inches (88.8 x 199mm) and weighs 3.3 pounds (1,480 grams).

About the Author

Mike Elek is a longtime journalist and was one of the original editors for The Wall Street Journal Online. He also has worked as a reporter and editor in Pittsburgh; Philadelphia; Vineland, N.J.; Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; New York City; and Hong Kong. He is a U.S. Air Force veteran. He shoots with film and digital cameras.