Opinion – Canon 70-200 2.8 ISL MKII

I finally made the plunge on Canon’s most popular lens, and it was about time.  I’m not going to rehash all the information already available on this lens.  Frankly, some people have too much time – me, I’d rather be shooting than zooming in at 200% looking for CA.

I have always been a prime snob, and still am at the wide end of lenses but for most of what I do the 100-200 range is where I spend the most time.  To that end, I have a 135 L and 200 L.  Neither of those lenses are light and certainly lack image stabilization.  I rented the previous iteration of 70-200 IS as needed and was always happy with the results but never enough to justify the cost.  The difference alone between the IS and Non-IS was another good prime lens.

Now comes the MKII, and a hefty price increase over the MKI.  Since then, my med-telephoto primes have not left my bag.  The autofocus is much improved.  Shooting ice hockey with available light, in servo focus mode is spot on.  For portraits or event work, the color and contrast is on par with my primes.  Sure you could find images to contradict that, but really?  Go shoot.  The convenience of only needing one lens, w/out swapping out primes out weighs the minor improvements the primes may have.

Is it worth it?  Depends.  If I already had a newer MKI and was not a pro, but a weekend shutter bug, probably not.  Granted, you can still get decent sale price for a MKI but the cost up-tick to MKII is not slight.  If, in my case, I did not have a prior release and wanted something new (v. Craig’s List) then yeah, I think it’s worth it.  This lens will be with you for years.

The only drawback I find is it is the “pro” colored lens.  I love street photography, shooting from a distance capturing people doing what they do.  This lens is not discrete, and people react completely different when you have it on your camera.  That is where I will either fall back to the black primes or buy one of those lame fabric kits for the lens.