Canon Lens Review

Canon Lens Review & Test

All my life I’ve pretty much shot with Nikon cameras and lenses. I started out with a little Nikon F 60 and progressed, over a couple of years, to a Nikon D300. I’ve always enjoyed Nikon for its quality and ease when shooting. But something happened to me recently…

I decided to break out of my comfort zone and do the “Canon Lens Test” for myself.  I tried the Canon 5D and a brand-new Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8 L IS II USM lens. I would do this so I could write an honest “Canon Lens Review“- straight from the point of view of a consumer and a photographer.

It was born in January of 2010 and it was designed to replace the last telephoto lens Canon brought out in 2001. In fact, this new lens, completely upgraded the design. Canon tells us that they have improved pretty much everything about this lens, optics, focusing capability, image stabilisation and more. But really, Canon can say what they like, but the real test comes from actually using it as a consumer.

I could go on about its optical formula having 23 elements in 19 groups, the minimum focus distance decreasing to give improved magnification etc. Blah, blah, blah. But what I really want to do is answer the question “what is this lens really like?”

It all started early one Saturday morning. I decided to take this lens out for a test drive and use it for a wedding. (I’d heard this was the best canon lens for wedding photography and I wanted to find out for sure.) I had lots of experience with telephoto lenses so I kept an open mind.

I picked up the lens and attached it to the 5D. It felt a little weighty to begin with but didn’t think a great deal about that at the time. Instead, I was focused on the performance of the lens, its capability to respond to what I wanted, and of course the optical quality.

I trundled off to my friends place to begin shooting the day of their wedding. I normally decline when I get asked do shoot weddings but this day was special. It was personal. So I said yes.

Over the course of the day I discovered that the Canon lens had an ability to absolutely lock in what I was aiming at, and not let go, even in dim light. This is thanks to the brand-new image stabilisation Canon has been telling us about. And I have to agree.

I was using automatic focus the whole day. I’m not usually comfortable in auto. I find it extremely limiting. Auto always under exposes the photographs.  I have also found in the past that images taken in auto and never as sharp as manual. This is primarily due to the focusing capabilities of that setting. However this Canon lens enabled me to get just as clear shots in autofocus as manual focus. This was quite impressive, and, pleasantly surprising.

Over the course of the day the lens got heavier and heavier. And by the end of the day it felt like a ton of bricks around my neck. Weddings typically go for a very long time if you’re photographing them. And with normal shooting you wouldn’t spend as much time as you would a wedding. I don’t think this would be the case for normal, everyday shooting.

I found that this lens was very responsive and very quick. Even a maximum aperture of F2 .8 I was certainly faced with a variety of lighting conditions. Even in lowlight conditions the lens continued to be very responsive and give me superior optical quality. It just seemed to see what I saw.

The image stabilisation has certainly improved in leaps and bounds since Canon have introduced this new lens. The following day I did a photo shoot of fields of flowers, in almost gale force winds. If you’ve ever tried to shoot a single flower on a very windy day, then you will know how difficult it is! It was almost impossible to lock the focus on a single flower due to the strong wind. Yet true to its form, like a trustworthy friend, the image stabilisation locked on to my flowers and refused to let go. I was able to get some crystal clear, sharp images regardless of the strong wind.

Not only was this lens super responsive in low light, coupled with cement-like focus locking capabilities, but it reproduced the colour beautifully. I was very fortunate to have overcast conditions to shoot in. , Other cameras and lens I’ve used have never reproduced true colour like this lens. Not only did this lens shoot exactly what I saw, but it picked up the “in-between” colours as well.

When I shot something in ivory or cream, it didn’t give me white. When I shot something that was bluish-purple, it didn’t give me blue. When there was magenta, it didn’t give me pink or red, it gave me magenta. Perhaps that was also the sensor in the 5D. My feeling is that it would not have been able to see those in between colours with an el-cheapo lens.

True colour reproduction is normally an issue I have with digital photography. But this was the first time the colours were true to life. What a refreshing experience!

Now, back to my original question. What does a Nikon user think of the new Canon lens? I think I’ll be defecting….I love it! If you are looking for a lens that responds to what you want quickly and easily, in low light conditions, and gives you sensational quality, then this is definitely the lens I would recommend.

Price? I believe it is around about $3000. You might be shocked and think that’s a lot, but in fact it is chicken feed compared the quality it gives you. This is not something you change over every 12 months, this lens is an investment.


  • Beautiful image quality
  • Superior design
  • image stabilisation from heaven
  • photos sharp in autofocus as well as manual setting


  • very heavy
  • expensive depending on your budget
  • a little susceptible to flare when shooting in direct light

Here are some shots with the new lens:

About the Author

Amy is an multi-award winning photographer from Australia. She teaches enthusiast photographers how to take beautiful, professional photos in easy, plain English. She has a monthly photography emagazine and ebooks to help you create stunning images every time.

Comments (24)

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  1. John Andrews says:

    I use Nikon too and I’ve also used this lens. I found it so sharp and clear. I can’t leve Nikon though, I’ve alreadys spend a lot of money with them! Thanks for your great post Amy.

  2. Daz says:

    I loved it, really gave me some ideas. I really enjoy your articles you have good information that people can use.

  3. Tami says:

    To become a great photographer you need to learn as much as possible about light. This article helps us learn, and it inspired me to try no flash portraits indoors. Thank you for taking the time to write and post it!

  4. Montana says:

    Awesome stuff!! Great article, detailed yet I’m sure also easy for beginners!

  5. Rhotil says:

    Good information about photography.

  6. Gez says:

    The article here is the best read. I am learning a lot about photography.

  7. John says:

    Had I only known about the 70-200mm f/2.8 IS USM MK II before I purchased the 70-200mm f/2.8 IS USM MK I in Feb of this year… and I do notice the MK I to be very “soft” or “bland” compared with my 180L, 135L, 100L mm lenses! Me thinks the MK II is being loaded into the Christmas stocking! :) Thanks Amy! (Canon sure knows their way into my wallet! :)

  8. George says:

    Nikon is better.

  9. Sandy says:

    Are you reviweing any other lenses in the future?

  10. Jacob says:

    What about Nikon?

  11. Teresa says:

    Thank you for this review…The 5 D has been on my wish list, after this review so is the LENS :) I love taken
    Horse photo’s of our beautiful KENTUCKY Horses. And often
    have them printed on Canvas of 20×30 or so. Currently I use film for this. Again thank you for this review.

    Teresa :)

    • Hi Teresa,

      Good to see you back! The 5D is a beauty and I love it. Recently I bought two L series lenses, which I’ll write about soon.

      I’d love to see your horse photos- no pressure- I just love looking at other peoples photos.

      Great to hear you use film. I thought I was the only one!

      • TERESA says:

        HI Amy
        I just saw this post ~ Good to hear you use film I thought I was the only one left in the world who use it. I have a canon film camera that I take out from time to time to shoot the horses.
        As soon as I get the negatives scan to a CD at an professional lab. I will send some to you ~would love for you to see them.
        Thanks for the reply

      • TERESA says:

        HI Amy
        I just saw this post ~ wow good to hear that you still use film :) I thought I was the only one who use film. With film the capture is true…meaning not crop or photo-shop.
        When folks view my photo’s of the horses. They have said to me now days with cropping and photo shop any one can take a great picture. I am like “uh that was taken with film and how you see it is how I took it. I love using film it pushes me to do my best. To me it is real photography…if that makes any sense? I will send you one of the horse photo’s to view…I plan to get the negatives scan to a CD at a professional lab. There aren’t many left that develops film. Or if you want to see one now I could scan the photo which will not look as great ~ but you will see my work.

        Thank you for the reply


        • Hi Teresa,

          Unfortunatley, no, just because there are cropping functions in software doesn’t guarantee the artistic and technical quality of a photo. In other words, photo editing programs do not make us better photographers, it’s our ability to work with light and composition that detirmines our photographic ability or not.

          I love using black and white Illford 100 iso film. I am glad you also use film, isn’t it fun? I’d love to see your horse photos, please send ‘em on through to my email.

          Look forward to helping you,

  12. Tabatha says:

    What do you think of Olympus?

  13. Juni says:

    what about sony

  14. Rick says:

    The f/4, non-IS version of that lens is outstanding if you primarily do landscape photography and use a tripod. It’s well under a grand and delivers high quality, excellent shots.

    • I have always used Nikon Rick, but since seeing the outstanding quality of the Canon Lenses I have defected! I still love Nikon though. You get the high quality at the higher end of the range, but they are still great. I just think Canon are a little sharper.

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