canon make 4 70-200 lenses, they know how to make a great telephoto zoom lens.
the 70-200 f2.8 is an essential lens for professional photography- covering everything from close range sports, photojournalism, weddings, portraits and more.
it is a heavy lens, so unless you have strong arms you probably wouldnt want to take it on holiday or use it for fun, this is not a fun lens to use, but if image quality is your priority then you can handle the weight. It works best when using a monopod or tripod
with a fast 2.8 apperture it creates great background blur, it is a perfect lens for portraits. Being 2.8 it also works well in dimly lit churches, so combined with Image stabilisation means that you can shoot telephoto in really low light, it is easier to handhold this lens than it is to shoot with f2 primes like the 135L.
The construction quality of this lens is fantastic, it really is such a joy to use, nothing moves when you zoom or focus. focussing speed is blazingly quick, the quickest i've ever used.
it is also weather sealed, and i've dropped mine into a mount of snow before and there was no ill effect. Just watch out for the dust seal at the back of the lens if you buy an older one, sometimes they can get torn. the non IS version is not weather sealed
my only criticism is that the switches are easy to knock out of place- so that's why professionals tape up the switches because they can't afford to miss shots.
compared to the newer mk II version, the mk II is sharper at 2.8, the switches are less easy to change by accident and has a one stop better IS and works better with teleconverters- all are fairly minor improvements though
a fantastic lens and if you don't need the 2.8 apperture the 70-200 f4 IS the the one to get
To call it by its true name the 70-200mm F2.8 L IS is and will for a long time be, I believe, the best lens I have had the fortune of owning and using. Despite using this with a 350D the results I have managed to achieve have been beyond expectation. Colour, crisp edges and fine bokeh come as standard for this glass. Construction is a sturdy metal chassis enclosing top quality mechanisms, both for high speed autofocus and IS actions. For sports and motion shots a number of modes are provided to 'customise' the IS to account for this. Note this is a heavy tool, if you feel you may not have the strength to work for periods of time without a tripod you may wish to consider the F4 which is substantially lighter.
Just a matter of time before I can afford the MKII however if you find yourself in a position to pick up a MKI I promise you will not be disappointed, this has truely earned its 'L' class markings.
This lens is sharp, fast and focuses quickly. Comes with a lens hood and tripod mount. The IS will give you a 3 stop advantage over a non IS lens. A great lens for portraits as well as sports. Does wonderful bocca at wide apertures. If you can afford this lens it is a fantastic lens. Canon also makes the 70-200 2.8 non IS and also the 70-200 F4 non IS. These two lens are also great but if you shoot in low light conditions without a tripod or monopod then this is the lens to buy.
Somebody asked about the IS. I use image stabilizer only for hand held shots. If the camera is on a tripod then the IS actually becomes disabled even when switched on. The IS works both in vertical and horizontal modes that's why there are two modes. I'm not sure which mode is which. I think that mode 1 is for horizontal and mode 2 is for verticals.
You can tell when IS is activated because it takes a moment for the lens to lock on before taking the picture. The moment is only a fraction of second but you can feel the gyroscope kick in then the lens locks on to the subject and the image is taken.
My son bought the 70-200 F4 for a trip to Africa this summer. There are differences between the two lens. The color is slightly more warmer with my F2.8 and also more accurate. I think the sharpness is pretty much the same. The big difference is in low light shots hand held. The F4 is only one stop different from the F2.8 but the IS is the difference. There truly is 3 stops difference between the two lens. If you shoot mainly in bright light then the IS doesn't matter. It's when you're shooting in low light conditions is where the IS matters. The price difference is almost 3 times so you have to determine if you need the IS.
If you can afford it the IS is a great lens. However the F4 or even the 2.8 non IS are just as good for lens quality and sharpness.
I just thought of another thing. I use a 5D which is full frame. When I shoot 200mm then the shutter speed should be around 1/200th without IS or with IS about 1/60th. With a 1.6 conversion the lens becomes a 320mm lens which means you need about 1/320th shutter speed or less with IS. That's about a stop different. So the IS is more important with camera's such as the 30D, 20d or the 10D because of the conversion.