Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS III USM Review

May 30, 2019 | Mark Goldstein |

Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS III USM Introduction

The Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS III USM is a new updated version of the classic L-series telephoto zoom lens for Canon full-frame and APS-C DSLR cameras.

This weather-sealed lens features a constant aperture of f/2.8 throughout the range, built-in 3.5-stop image stabilisation system, minimum focus distance of 1.2m, an ultrasonic focus motor for quiet and fast AF operation, removable tripod collar and a dust- and moisture-sealed construction.

The optical formula is comprised of 23 elements in 19 groups with one fluorite element and five ultra-low dispersion glass elements, and it has an iris diaphragm with eight rounded aperture blades. It's also compatible with the optional Canon 1.4x and 2x teleconverters.

The Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS III USM lens officially retails for £2,149.99 / $2099.99 in the UK and USA respectively.

Ease of Use

Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS III USM

In terms of its size and weight, the Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS III USM is in the middle of the pack for an F2.8 70-200mm lens, measuring 20cms in length and weighing in at 1.48kg. It's about the same size as the Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 and noticeably lighter than the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Sports lenses.

While you can use it on a smaller APS-C body, the EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS III USM won't balance particularly well unless you attach a battery grip to the camera. Note that the focal length will also change, becoming 112-320mm, although some may users regard this as a positive.

Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS III USM

Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS III USM

As demonstrated by the product images below, it's a much better match for a professional-grade, full-frame camera like the Canon EOS 5DS R that we tested it with, where it feels better balanced, although we'd still suggest fitting a battery grip to that camera too for more protracted use.

The lens has a non-retractable design, so it does not extend at all when zoomed out from 70mm to 200mm.

Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS III USM

Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS III USM

Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS III USM

Build quality is excellent, with a weather-resistant design that protects the lens from dust and moisture and fluorine-coated front and rear elements which are easy to clean. The 23 elements in 19 groups are made of high-grade glass with one fluorite element and five ultra-low dispersion glass elements.

In terms of features, the Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS III USM offers everything that you need from a professional telephoto zoom lens.

Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS III USM

Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS III USM

Focusing is internal and manual focusing is possible when set via the Focus switch on the lens barrel. Full-time manual focus override is also available by at any time simply by rotating the focus ring to make fine adjustments.

The Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS III USM lens has a very generously sized focus ring, which is ridged for easier grip. There are hard stops at both ends of the range, making it easier to set focus at infinity. Polariser users should be pleased that the 77mm filter thread doesn't rotate on focus.

When it comes to auto-focusing, this lens is a very quick performer, taking about 0.10 seconds to lock onto the subject when mounted on the Canon EOS 5DS R that we tested it with. We didn't experience very much "hunting" at all, either in good or bad light, with the lens accurately focusing virtually all of the time. It's also a very quiet performer, thanks to the built-in ring-type USM (Ultra Sonic Motor).

Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS III USM

Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS III USM

The focus limiter switch has two settings, 1.2m-infinity and 2.5m-infinity, which helps speed up the auto-focusing if you know how far your subject is from the lens. A clear distance scale in both feet and meters runs from the closest focusing distance of 1.2m to infinity.

Built-in vibration reduction is activated by the Stabilizer switch on the lens barrel, which offers around 3.5 stops of compensation. The OS system has two modes - mode 1 is suitable for general photography, and mode 2 is best for panning shots.

Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS III USM

Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS III USM

The Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS III USM features a non-removable tripod collar which has a locking knob that allows the lens and camera to rotate freely to position them horizontally or vertically. The tripod collar foot is both Arca Swiss compatible and has a standard 1/4"-20 female tripod socket on the bottom. It can also be completely removed for use with different tripod or monopod heads.

The lens ships with a good quality padded case and a very large, lockable petal-shaped plastic lens hood (ET-87). The lens is fully compatible with both of the optional EF 1.4X and EF 2X teleconverters.

Chromatic Aberrations

Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as purple or blue fringes along contrasty edges, are impressively well controlled with this lens, so much so that we couldn't find any examples in our test shots.

Focal Range

The Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS III USM offers a classic focal range for full-frame DSLR owners.

Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS III USM70mm

Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS III USM200mm

Light Fall-off and Distortion

With the Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS III USM wide open at f/2.8, you can see some noticeable light fall-off in the corners at both ends of the zoom range. Stopping down helps, although to completely get rid of this phenomenon, you will need to use an f-stop of f/5.6 or smaller.

Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS III USM70mm

Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS III USM200mm

Macro

The Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS III USM is not a macro lens. The close-focus point is at 120cm / 47.2in. from the film/sensor plane and the magnification ratio is 0.21x at 200mm. The following example illustrates how close you can get to the subject with the lens set to 200mm to aid magnification, in this case a CompactFlash card.

Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS III USM

Bokeh

Bokeh is a word used for the out-of-focus areas of a photograph, and is usually described in qualitative terms, such as smooth / creamy / harsh etc. One of the reason to buy a fast lens is to be able to isolate the subject from the background. Canon have employed an iris diaphragm with 8 rounded aperture blades for a pleasing rendering of the out-of-focus highlights. Based on what we have seen, we can say that they largely succeeded. Below you'll find some examples, but you are also encouraged to check out our sample images.

Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS III USM

Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS III USM

Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS III USM

Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS III USM

Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS III USM

Sharpness

In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following pages.