Canon brings a long awaited update to one of their longer lenses with the second edition of the EF 70-200/2.8L USM. Combining image stabilization and proven optics in a sturdy metal barrel, this product does not give the impression of having shortcuts. Weighing a monstrous 3 pounds, it would in fact be best described as an agile giant.
Exterior and Handling
From top to bottom, the lens is shrouded in a metal casing, and a sturdy one at that. If you were to accidentally bump something against it, your emotional distress would likely be far greater than any physical damage. The zoom and focus rings are hard rubberized grips along the length, giving an accurate tactile feel to the controls. All of the adjustable optics are handled internally, which means that the length of the lens remains a constant at all times. There is also a detachable tripod mount on it, which can be removed for more comfortable handheld maneuvering. Four switches find a home between the two control rings, giving access to options such as AF range and stabilization modes.
Performance and Use
Still, patient, and watchful may be the mode of operation for this lens, but the option to have the tripod mount removable shows that this lens was also meant to be moved around. This is where image stabilization becomes an important addition, as even at the longer focal lengths, sharp images are possible in shaky hands. Shutter speeds can go as slow as 1/10 of a second before handheld operation begins to be a detriment. While this hulk of a device is certainly something that wears on the user, it is nonetheless nice to know it performs well in both aspects. There is one particular switch of interest on the camera, one that selects an AF range between 1.2m and infinity, or 2.5m and the latter. The reason for this is that the last 1.3m of this range takes half a second to cycle through, whereas the entirety of the way out to infinity from 2.5m takes about 3/4 of this time. If you know your subject will always be more than 10 feet away from you, ensuring that the AF will always keep up is a matter of toggling of this switch. Autofocus is also enhanced by USM operation, which on this lens actually means entirely inaudible function. Juxtapositioned over this, though, is the fact that some will see use of this lens at a roaring sports game, for example, where the comparative noise of actuating motors is subatomic.
This is a professional grade product, and as such, there really are no compromises made, a clear list is set out of what this lens ought to be capable of, and is designed to exactly fulfill them. A robust, powerful, yet quiet and fast device, The Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM is a faithful ally, should you decide to lug him around.