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I have other lenses that I favour over this one however, I cannot deny that it's a great piece of equipment...because it is. Before you read any further, before you consider buying this lens any more - ask yourself one simple question: do you want to take your photography to a professional level? That's the same question I asked myself upon buying this product and if your answer is the same as mine then I'm about to make your decision a good deal easier. Like I said - the Canon 70-200 2.8 IS II is truly a great piece of equipment.
Let's get technical for a second. This lens is from the Canon professional 'L' series and its body is cream/white in colour with a red ring close to the front. There is a tripod collar with a screw mount for improved balance and to control the focus and zoom, there are two large black rings and four switches that control the image stabilisation.
The sheer size of this lens is enough to put anyone off but perseverance is key and it has definitely payed off for me. It is a 20cm long and 8cm wide lens so I'm not going to lie, it gets pretty difficult to use something that weighs 1.5kgs for long periods of time. I feel as if I should just have one big muscular arm by now.
This lens is a serious step up and I mainly use it for sports photography and concert photography. I know that many of my photography idols use lens and cameras from Canon so I would highly recommend both this product and others from the range.
Even considering to buy this lens will mean that you want to take your photography to levels comparable to professionals and would also mean this review will help to you over the edge in choosing to buy the Canon 70-200 2.8 IS II.
The lens is from Canon's range of professional 'L' series and as such comes in a creamy white colour for the body with a thin red ring near the front of the lens. The lens has two large black rubber rings used to control the zoom and focus and four small switches on the side to control the image stabilisation, the type of image stabilisation you want a manual focus switch and one to control the distance you want to focus. Also a part of the lens is a tripod collar, this is a rotatable, removable ring with a screw mount you can attach to a tripod and is there for a better balance when mounted.
Two things will strike you when you get hands on with this lens, the first is that this large.It is a cylinder about 20 cm long and 8 cm wide made larger when you attach the tripod collar on and screw on the included lens hood. The second is then the weight of the thing, it comes in around 1.5 KG and boy do you feel it when you start using it. I consider myself fit and healthy but could feel my arms starting to shake after 10 minutes of using this lens on my camera. Both of these you will have to learn to live with and eventually you should get used to them and adapt yourself to handle this lens so you neither look stupid or have bodybuilder arms.
Onto the picture quality, this lens has large aperture throughout the zooms range and is one of the reasons for the high cost. When taking photos at this setting, there is obvious darkening in the corners of the images and this will have to be corrected when you load the photos on your computer. At smaller apertures, this no longer becomes a problem. When photos taken with this lens are inspected at 100%, you can see they will be pin sharp, everything you want to be in focus will be clearly defined and although I have not printed any photos taken with this lens yet, I feel that A3 prints should be no problem and the prints will be spectacular at that size.
As mentioned, this lens is very heavy but thankfully, it has image stabilisation. I would say that this is a no brainer and you will require the stabilisation when taking pictures for long periods of time or taking photos at the longer end of the zoom. This stabilisation also has an effect on your camera and will reduce your battery life at a much quicker rate. You can feel a the slight internal movements as it works to make your photos stable.
I have used this lens for taking photos of sport inside gyms where a fast motion in dim light let the capabilities of the lens shine, portrait photos where the large aperture and longer range give buttery smooth background blur to isolate your subject and for taking photos of the night sky where the range and quality means I can see Saturn and some of it's moons.
There is a reason this lens is in every professional photographer's camera bag, it mixes great photo quality, usability, build quality and weather proofing but will come at a cost. This lens is a clear step up if you want to become more serious in your photography, if you can stomach the cost and then get over the usual buyer's remorse you will love what this lens can do and end up taking more photos and unleashing a more creative side.