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Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II update

70-200/2.8L IS II and 70-200/4L IS

Today I shot a third brand-new sample of the new Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II, courtesy of (I was the first to rent the lens). Full analysis is pending at 70/90/135/200mm, but it looks like I’ll be supplementing my previous examples with some additional ones. I’ll leave the existing examples from the first sample in place, because they are useful to see just how nasty lens variation can be.

In my shooting so far of this new sample, I’ve found that it is an immediate improvement over the first two brand-new samples. While it does not have perfect symmetry (it’s off just a little bit), it’s far better than the first one, and except (perhaps) for a tiny trace of degradation at f/8, seems largely free from the f/8 quality loss I’ve been documenting in ny review in DAP.

This both pleases me and displeases me— I am pleased because it looks like the 70-200 can offer the potential that I expected it should have. It’s a lens I’d like to own, though I debate whether the hassle of testing N copies for issues is worth it. Sample #3 is still not perfect, but maybe it’s as good as Canon can deliver. In my view, both Canon’s and Nikon’s fancy new optical designs exist mainly on paper: they cannot be reliably built for the mass market, which is not to say that you won’t luck out.

I am displeased having spent 30 hours or so of work with the first brand-new 70-200/II. For $2500 one gets a shiny new box with mystery meat inside. I can’t fathom how a working pro on deadline could tolerate such nonsense. See Brand-new Blur about how this is hardly the first time Canon quality control is proven an oxymoron. But I guess that’s why the Canon 200mm f/2L IS is so fantastic: it delivers the goods without any nonsense, for only $5K. Worth noting is that my Canon 70-200mm f/4L (adjusted by Canon service) is still notably skewed left/right.

But my tedium accrues to you as a subscriber, as there is a lot of material I’ve gathered for a future offering I have planned, to show you how to ferret out the Bad Stuff.

The 70-200/II is definitely a lens worth owning if you can find a good sample. Testing three samples and finding only one makes the cut is disappointing, but even that one shows slight asymmetry.

By the way, the 70-200/II appears to have just detectable field curvature at 200mm. Now that I have a reasonably symmetric sample this can be seen, though it’s a modest amount and is of little practical impact.

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