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Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM

300f28II
Review Date: Jan 4, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated

 
Pros: The standard for the next 12 years. Lightest EF mount 300/2.8 as of this written review. If you are a sports photographer this is a job requirement.
Cons:
Sells for $7,299 on BH Photo. Always out of stock at Adorama and BHPhoto so despite the price there is strong demand for this.

Last Thursday I was able to pickup the Canon EF300mm f/2.8L IS II USM to shoot at Candaba Wetlands, on the last day of 2011.

Having only used the Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM (2008), Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM (1999),Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM (2011), Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM (1999) and Canon EF 200mm f/2L IS USM (2008) for outdoor sports and bird photography I was very much interested in using the Canon EF300mm f/2.8L IS II USM with the Canon Extender EF 2x III handheld and with a monopod.

I was able to use it with a EOS 1D Mark IV.

Now my impressions on the lens.

a) The weight difference (200g) of the Version 2 (2,350g) and the Version 1 (2,550g) is somewhat noticeable. I like how much more balanced it is with the extender attached and how much more solid it feels. To put it in perspective that's almost the weight of a 2010 Canon Extender EF 1.4x III (225g).

b) In terms of panning from left to right to track the birds felt "right" and was easy to adopt to.

c) I really like the image quality the lens delivered. I can see myself using extenders more often than before.

d) I love the new lens cap of the Version 2 and prefer it over the LensCoat that I am using on all my white primes and the old Canon leather lens caps. I hope someone makes something similar as I expect the official Canon one to cost a lot.

e) This is where attention to detail comes in, the lens hood screw knob is so much easier to tighten and untighten. The material used for the knob feels better than any of the past knobs used. As everyone is so intent on image quality, weight reduction and price these small things sometimes gets overlooked. Makes me want to buy a lens hood for my 800mm 500mm and 300mm even if the paint colors differs somewhat.

f) USM is now noiseless and operates seamlessly. USM feels very smooth and balanced.

g) The lens hood of the Version 2 works with the Version 1 lens and vice versa. The paint job does look odd.

If you want to see lens samples on full frame, APS-H and APS-C bodies go to http://www.flickr.com/photos/alabang/tags/canonef300mmf28lisiiusm/


 
Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM

400f28II
Review Date: Dec 10, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: The standard for the next 12 years. Lightest 400/2.8 as of this written review. If you are a sports photographer this is a job requirement.
Cons:
Sells for $11,499 on BH Photo. Always out of stock at Adorama and BHPhoto so despite the price there is strong demand for this.

Last Friday I was able to pickup the Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM in time for the finals of the United Football League, a Philippine professional football/soccer league.

Having only used the Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM (2008), Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM (1999), Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM (1999) and Canon EF 200mm f/2L IS USM (2008) for for outdoor sports and bird photography I was very much interested in using the best lens Canon has ever made for the application it was primarily designed to do.

To make this review unique to everyone I decided to use the lens with the EOS 5D Mark II and EOS 7D as oppose to any of the 1-Series bodies. I also shot with the EOS 5D Mark II to see how it would frame and look like on a EOS 1D X that will come next year.

Now my impressions on the lens.

a) The weight difference (1,520g) of the Version 2 (3,850g) and the Version 1 (5,370g) is very noticeable. It was like shooting with a more compact Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM. To put it in perspective that's almost the weight of the 2010 Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM (1490g). Having never used a Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM for sports I had the 2PM game for 3rd and 4th place to get used to the lens before the 4PM game for 1st and 2nd place.

b) In terms of panning from left to right to track the ball felt "right" and was easy to adopt to.

c) I really like the image quality the lens delivered. It reminds me of the 200mm as it pretty much obliterates details of subjects out of the depth of field.

d) As for focusing it worked as well as the EOS 5D Mark II would allow while the EOS 7D performed better. Comparing the two I really wish Canon would offer the same or slightly upgraded AF system of the EOS 7D onto the EOS 5D Mark III.

e) I love the new lens cap of the Version 2 and prefer it over the LensCoat that I am using on all my white primes and the old Canon leather lens caps. I hope someone makes something similar as I expect the official Canon one to cost a lot.

f) This is where attention to detail comes in, the lens hood screw knob is so much easier to tighten and untighten. The material used for the knob feels better than any of the past knobs used. As everyone is so intent on image quality, weight reduction and price these small things sometimes gets overlooked. Makes me want to buy a lens hood for my f800mmf56lisusm/]800mm[/url] 500mm and 300mm even if the paint colors differs somewhat.

https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-snc7/s720x720/388450_10150511195385395_628670394_11232836_1997884398_n.jpg
Photo by Philip Ceasar Canaria Cadabuna

g) The owner of the Version 1 photographed above commented where he can trade in his just bought lens for the Version 2 because the sheer weight difference alone would make him upgrade. It is that good.

h) USM is now noiseless and operates seamlessly.

All shots used IS Mode 3. This feature was emphasized in the marketing literature of Canon. I cannot really comment on it as I haven't gotten used to it.

Sadly at the time of pickup the Extender Version 3s were not available. Will try them out in the future.

I expect this lens to sell for US$9,700-10,200 by August 2012


 
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM

ef70-200_28lisu_1_
Review Date: Nov 22, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated

 
Pros: 20g lighter & $800 cheaper than the Version 2
Cons:
Since has been replaced by the Version 2 on March 2010, which is ok cause the Version 1's cheaper.

I have the Version 1 and Version 2 of this lens. I did a side by side test between the two during a football match using two EOS 7D bodies with the same brand battery and same brand 8GB memory card.

I noticed that the USM is much more responsive and quieter on the Version 2 than on the Version 1 that I immediately noticed which subject is in focus.

I would not have noticed this if I weren't switching between the two setups seconds between each other.

If you are a working photog with a Version 1 I would buy the Version 2 ASAP and keep or sell the Version 1. The Version 2 will shorten your workflow significantly. The shortening of workflow correspond to the improved image quality and keeper rate that benefits the Version 2. This is what you get from a decade's worth of R&D.

If you are a non-working photog with the Version 1 I would keep it and buy another zoom or prime lens.

To quantify the Version 2 I would say this is a 25% improvement over the Version 1

If you want to see lens samples on full frame, APS-H and APS-C bodies go to http://www.flickr.com/photos/alabang/tags/canonef70200mmf28lisusm/


 
Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM

ef300mmf_28_1_
Review Date: Nov 22, 2011 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

 
Pros: Image quality is superb, fast 2.8 opening. Cheaper than the Version 2. A suitable alternative to the 400/2.8 IS if coupled with a APS-C body like the 7D and 7D Mark II.
Cons:
Since has been replaced by the Version 2 on September 2011, which is ok cause the Version 1's cheaper.

I will benchmark the 300/2.8L IS to a lens marketed back in 2008, the 200/2.0 IS & 800mm IS.

All three deliver excellent photo quality. Both weigh a bit but the 200/2.0 IS & 800mm IS has better balance on a non-1 Series body. The 300 only has 2-stop IS not bad but could be nice to have 4-stops like the current Version 2, 200/2.0 IS & 800mm IS.

Hood's tougher to mount than the 200/2.0 IS & 800mm IS. AF motor is slightly louder too. It gets almost as much attention as the 800mm IS in public. The attention could be good or bad depending on who is looking.

But at the end of the day... it delivers what it was designed for focusing spectacular images to the sensor.

This is a tried and true lens since it started selling in 1999!

If you want to see lens samples on full frame, APS-H and APS-C bodies go to http://www.flickr.com/photos/alabang/tags/canonef300mmf28lisusm


 
Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM

ef800_f56lisu_586x225_1_
Review Date: Nov 16, 2011 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

 
Pros: Longest Canon lens in production, 4-stop IS, 1.9lbs lighter than the 600mm IS Version 1, full weather seal, faster AF and age (marketed late 2007, shipped mid-2008). Updated design makes it look like it wasn't designed from the 90's.
Cons:
Some vignetting at f/5.6, price (though justifiable due to its "newness) and a lens case that's two inches too big for airline carry on. Lens cover is cumbersome to use. No AF using any of the extenders since the 1D X's introduction.

This is my first Super Telephoto lens and decided to go big time. It's almost perfect except for the fact that it isn't f/4 but it's understandable seeming it'll weigh much much much more and be longer by maybe a foot.

This lens is perfect for those who aren't willing to go into the water or want to shoot from the comfort of their car seat when doing wildlife photography.

On a full frame body it is perfect for polo games where you are situated in the center field and the horses/riders are at the goal post. On a 1.6x cropped body it'll be too long.

When using either 2x or 1.4x extenders you lose all AF since the introduction of the 1D X

This is my experience shooting the moon. With the combination of 800m IS + 2x Ext + 7D body the full moon fills the top and bottom of the frame perfectly.

It would be perfectly priced if it was $1000 more than the 600mm IS Version 1.

If you want to see lens samples on full frame, APS-H and APS-C bodies go to http://www.flickr.com/photos/alabang/tags/canonef800mmf56lisusm/


 
Canon EF 200mm f/2L IS USM

ef200_f2lisu_586x225_1_
Review Date: Nov 16, 2011 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

 
Pros: Lead-free glass. Better MTF chart than 200/1.8L's. No antiquated focus-by-wire focusing. AI Servo works as great as the 800/5.6L IS. As hand-holdable as the 300/2.8L IS. Preferred tripod ring location. Shorter CFD by 600 cm than 200/1.8L. Has IS @ 4 full stops. Half a kilogram lighter than 200/1.8L. Cheaper than the two 200/1.8L copies my friend and I found on two local forums. Will be serviced by Canon for decades to come.
Cons:
I consider these pseudo-Cons: 1/3--stop smaller/slower aperture than the 200/1.8L but the 4-stop IS more than makes up for that. Not as well known as the "legendary" 200/1.8L.

I will benchmark the 200/2L IS to two other white primes namely the 800/5.6L IS and the 300/2.8L IS.

First off lead-free glass is a load worth of less worry.

The 200L IS delivers superb IQ like the 800L IS and 300/2.8L IS.

Modern focusing mechanism performs as well as the 800/5.6L IS.

My focus lock rate on AI Servo is as good as the 800/5.6L IS and 300/2.8L IS. This basically means fantastic!

Tripod ring is located in the logical place but I wish the feet had two mounting screws like the 800/5.6L IS.

A 1.9m vs 200/1.8L's 2.5m closest focusing distance is very helpful.

4 full stops IS more than makes up for the 1/3rd smaller/slower stop from the lens it replaces.

Warranty and support by Canon for the 200/2L IS is on going and expected to last at least a couple of decades. For those who do not know Canon USA & Canada has refused to service the 200/1.8L because Japan stopped making spare parts.

So if it breaks you either (a) need to look for a donor lens to cannibalize parts from, (b) manufacture the part yourself or (c) at worse have yourself a very expensive & very heavy manual focus lens.

If you want to see lens samples on full frame, APS-H and APS-C bodies go to http://www.flickr.com/photos/alabang/tags/canonef200mmf2lisusm/


 
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM

ef70-200lisiiu_586x225
Review Date: Nov 16, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated

 
Pros: 1 Fluorite and 5 UD elements resulting in vastly improved image quality, 10cm shorter minimum focusing than the Version 1 & an extra stop of IS
Cons:
20g heavier, $800 more expensive than the Version 1

I have the Version 1 and Version 2 of this lens. I did a side by side test between the two during a football match using two EOS 7D bodies with the same brand battery and same brand 8GB memory card.

I noticed that the USM is much more responsive and quieter on the Version 2 than on the Version 1 that I immediately noticed which subject is in focus.

I would not have noticed this if I weren't switching between the two setups seconds between each other.

If you are a working photog with a Version 1 I would buy this Version 2 ASAP and keep or sell the Version 1. The Version 2 will shorten your workflow significantly.

If you are a non-working photog with the Version 1 I would keep it and buy another zoom or prime lens.

To quantify the Version 2 I would say this is a 25% improvement over the Version 1

If you want to see lens samples on full frame, APS-H and APS-C bodies go to http://www.flickr.com/photos/alabang/tags/canonef70200mmf28lisiiusm/


 
Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM

EF8-15mmL
Review Date: Nov 16, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated

 
Pros: Two in one lens for full frame SLRs like the 1Ds, 5D and 1D X
Cons:
Should sell for $1,100 Limited application as compared to non-fisheye lens

Pros

- L lens
- Full-frame fisheye lens for Full-frame (5D), APS-H (1D) and APS-C (7D) bodies
- Circular fisheye lens for Full-frame (5D) bodies
- 2010 lens design
- Will be supported for at least a quarter of a century if we were to assume Canon will produce this lens as long as the 1986 15mm Fisheye.
- Minimum Focusing Distance is 15cm
- Has USM
- Circular aperture
- Dust-proof and drip-proof

Cons

- Not a prime
- Not f/2.8
- Lens cap is easily removed
- Introduction price has not lowered from $1499.

If you want to see lens samples on full frame, APS-H and APS-C bodies go to http://www.flickr.com/photos/alabang/tags/canonef815mmf4lfisheyeusm/


 
Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM

EF8-15mmL
Review Date: Nov 16, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated

 
Pros: Two in one lens for full frame SLRs like the 1Ds, 5D and 1D X
Cons:
Should sell for $1,100 Limited application as compared to non-fisheye lens

Pros

- L lens
- Full-frame fisheye lens for Full-frame (5D), APS-H (1D) and APS-C (7D) bodies
- Circular fisheye lens for Full-frame (5D) bodies
- 2010 lens design
- Will be supported for at least a quarter of a century if we were to assume Canon will produce this lens as long as the 1986 15mm Fisheye.
- Minimum Focusing Distance is 15cm
- Has USM
- Circular aperture
- Dust-proof and drip-proof

Cons

- Not a prime
- Not f/2.8
- Lens cap is easily removed
- Introduction price has not lowered from $1499.