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Lens review

Canon EF 70-200 mm f/4L IS II USM

6 November 2019
Maciej Latałło

3. Build quality and image stabilization

The following chart  presents a comparison between basic parameters of the Canon EF 70-200 mm f/4L IS USM II and other stabilized, full frame lenses produced by rival companies. As me mentioned in the introduction, the new Canon is heavier and bigger when compared to its predecessor but stacked up against other contemporary competitors it presents itself pretty well, being physically the lightest and, along with the Sony lens, the smallest.

In the photo below the Canon EF 70-200 mm f/4L IS USM II is positioned between the Canon EF 100 mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro and the Canon EF 35 mm f/2 IS USM.

Canon EF 70-200 mm f/4L IS II USM - Build quality and image stabilization

The tested lens starts with a metal mount surrounding contacts and a rear element which doesn't move and is about 32 mm in diameter. It hides almost 2 cm deep inside a perfectly matted, black inner tube. From this side the lens seems to be completely sealed.

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Canon EF 70-200 mm f/4L IS II USM - Build quality and image stabilization

The proper body of the lens is made of magnesium composites. It starts with a narrow, partially ribbed ring on which you can spot a red dot, making an alignment with a camera easier. Then you find a place for a tripod adapter – unfortunately you don't get that part in the box with the lens, you have to buy it separately.

Canon EF 70-200 mm f/4L IS II USM - Build quality and image stabilization

Furhter on you see a zoom ring as wide as 47 mm, the majority of its surface covered by rubber ribbing that is pleasing to the touch; underneath there are focal length marks at 70, 100, 135, and 200 mm.

Canon EF 70-200 mm f/4L IS II USM - Build quality and image stabilization

Then you find a distance scale, expressed in feet and meters, hidden behind a window, and below that scale infinity markings for infrared and at 70 and 100 mm focal lengths. On the right you see inscriptions „70-200 mm” and „IMAGE STABILIZER ULTRASONIC”. On the left you get a whole array of switches. The first one controls the autofocus range – there are two positions, FULL and from 3 meters to infinity. The second, the AF/MF switch, enables you to choose the focusing mechanism mode. The next two are responsible for optical stabilization, allowing you to switch it on or off (STABILIZER ON/OFF) and choose a stabilizer mode (STABILIZER MODE). There are three available options: 1- normal, 2- panning, 3- sport. Behing the switches you also see the serial number of the lens and information that it was produced in Japan.

Canon EF 70-200 mm f/4L IS II USM - Build quality and image stabilization

The next part of the lens is a manual focus ring, 35 mm wide, completely covered by comfortable, rubber ribs. Its performance is beyond reproach – it moves smoothly and is well damped. The full focus throw amounts to an angle of about 160 degrees.

At the end of the lens you find an immobile part of the casing, adorned with a red stripe, typical for the L series instruments. It turns smoothly into a hood mount.

The front element of the tested lens doesn't move and is 55 mm in diameter. Round it you can find a ring with the name and parameters of the lens, along with a non-rotating filter thread, 72 mm in diameter.

Canon EF 70-200 mm f/4L IS II USM - Build quality and image stabilization

When it comes to optical construction you deal here with a very impressive number of elements – there are 20 of them, positioned in 15 groups. Among them there are two low dispersion UD elements and one made of fluorite. The producers boast of employing fluorite and Super Spectra coatings. Inside there is also a round aperture with nine diaphragm blades which can be closed down to a value of f/32 at the maximum.

Buyers get in the box: both caps, a hood, ans a soft pouch for the lens.

Canon EF 70-200 mm f/4L IS II USM - Build quality and image stabilization


Optical stabilization

Optical stabilization efficiency, amounting to as much as 5 EV, was supposed to be one of the changes, differentiating this lens from its predecessor. Is that value just a hype? Of course we had to check it. In order to do so we took several dozen photos at 200 mm with shutter speeds ranging from 1/200 to 1/3 of a second with the stabilization switched on and off. Then we calculated the percentage of blurred photos at every speed and presented the results as exposure time function graph, expressed in EV (with 0 EV being the equivalent of 1/160 of a second) which can be found below.

Canon EF 70-200 mm f/4L IS II USM - Build quality and image stabilization


The maximum distance between both curves reaches about 4 EV and so we assess the stabilization efficiency. It's a bit lower than the declared value but still it remains a very good result. However, the standards are raised very high in this category: the much cheaper Tamron 70-210 mm f/4 was as efficient as 3.8-3.9 EV and the Nikkor AF-S 70-200 mm f/4 could get even to 4.3 EV.