Lens review

Canon EF 70-200 mm f/2.8L USM

24 February 2010
Arkadiusz Olech

4. Image resolution

At the beginning let’s remind us of how other lenses of this class, also tested on RAW files from the Canon 20D, fared in this category,. The EF 70-200 f/2.8 IS USM model had a very even results in the frame centre, being the best at the shortest and the worst at the longest focal length. The differences were rather small, though, and one thing that we would like to see improved was a bit better results by f/2.8 in the 135-200 mm range and a better cooperation with the teleconverter. The Sigma fared very well in the 70-135 mm range but at 200 mm it lagged significantly behind the Canon.

Let’s see how the EF 70-200 f/2.8L USM performs in the frame centre.

Canon EF 70-200 mm f/2.8L USM - Image resolution

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At 70 mm the graphs of the stabilized and not stabilized model are virtually identical, of course within the margin of error. Both lenses present here a performance which can be undoubtedly called outstanding. Interesting things happen at 135 mm. The stabilized Canon fared here a bit worse than at 70 mm whereas the EF 70-200 f/2.8L USM - a bit better, presenting a really sensational level straight from the maximum relative aperture. The 200 mm focal length is again very similar to that of the stabilized model. What’s interesting, the model without stabilization cooperates with the TC 1.4x converter much better but still it lags behind the Canon EF 70-200 f/4L IS USM.

Overall, in the frame centre the EF 70-200 f/2.8L USM performed a bit better than its stabilized equivalent. The differences are slight and they would be rather difficult to notice in real photos; they are the most visible at 135 mm focal length and after connecting to the converter.

How does the situation look at the frame edge? Let’s consult the picture below.

Canon EF 70-200 mm f/2.8L USM - Image resolution

Here the situation is different although the differences are once again rather not very significant. Both lenses fare almost identically at 70 and 200 mm and after connecting to the converter. What’s interesting, at 135 mm the order is reversed – the stabilized model is a bit better for a change.

Our test results seem to explain why the users have had so many problems with choosing which of these L-series Canon lenses is better. Firstly, the differences are really slight – you can notice them in the test charts but it is really much more difficult in real pictures. Secondly, the model without stabilization, compared to its stabilized equivalent, fares a bit better in the frame centre but a bit worse at the edge. This effect can be the source of contrary opinions because the results depend on the focal length and the object of your assessment. There is no clear winner of this duel but you can confidently say that both lenses perform very well allowing you to take really sharp photos at all focal lengths and even at the maximum relative aperture; they certainly meet the requirements for professional lenses of the highest class.

Canon EF 70-200 mm f/2.8L USM - Image resolution