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Canon EF 200mm f/1.8L USM

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51 317068 Aug 18, 2016
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100% of reviewers $3,230.56
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The world’s fastest 200mm telephoto lens. Three UD-glass elements eliminate secondary spectrum for sharp images at all apertures. The optics have been designed to give excellent background blur. Try it with the maximum aperture’s shallow depth of field.

Lens Construction (group): 10
Lens Construction (element): 12
No. of Diaphragm Blades: 8
Minimum Aperture: 22
Closest Focusing Distance (m): 2.5
Maximum Magnifcation (x): 0.09
Filter Diameter (mm): 48
Maximum Diameter x Length (mm): 130 x 208
Weight (g): 3,000


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Registered: Jul 23, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 107
Review Date: Aug 18, 2016 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $3,200.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Super sharp with excellent bokeh.
Heavy and big.

I managed to snag one of these in minty condition from a local photographer. Came with everything in as new condition.

The lens in phenomenal. Super sharp and fast. As others have mentioned, the photos are almost 3D. You can pan and blur really well, stopping action while melting away the back/foreground.

I've shot it often handheld. With the right shutterspeed at F1.8, no problem. Probably will be adding a monopod at some time.

The lens does draw attention. It is quite the envy of knowledgeable photographers at the local photoshoots.

If you can get your hands on one of these, do it. You won't look back and they retain their value so you can always use it and sell back on FM.

Aug 18, 2016
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Registered: Aug 3, 2004
Location: Canada
Posts: 827
Review Date: Aug 31, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $2,400.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp. Sharpest piece of glass I have ever used. Sharp @ f1.8 and F8........Really fast AF. OOF highlights are the best and backgrounds literally melt away. Subject takes on an almost 3D-like look. Contrast and colour are superb.
Heavy for hand-holding but not impossible. Focusing distance can be a turn off for some. Big and white, really gets noticed in a crowd.

I have been eyeing one of these 'obsolete' pieces of glass for years but I rationalized my 'wanting' by telling myself I would only consider one if I could ever find one for sale here in Canada. Well, this was the year and I made a deal with a fellow from Edmonton. Well used and needed parts for the hood to attach. But optics and glass were perfect and I negotiated a good deal. ($2700 CAD). So glad I have this lens. Yes, it is heavy but the shots you get get @ 1.8 are truly astounding. I use it for product photography even though I have to stand pretty far from subject. But the BG does melt away. Truly astounding. Colour and contrast are beautiful. Just finished my daughters soccer season and got wonderful shots even during evening games. AF is fast (on 1DsII and 5D2). Just a gem of a lens. If you can afford it and don't mind spending a fair bit of change on a piece of glass better not need repair, go for it!!

Aug 31, 2014
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Registered: Sep 27, 2011
Location: Switzerland
Posts: 4
Review Date: May 5, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $4,400.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: I used to own it
I sold it

back in 1996, ( I THINK it was in 1996... ) I bought a 200/1.8L and a 400/2.8L from B&H....

if I remember well I paid 4400$ for the 200/1.8L and 6600$ for the 400/2.8 ( the non-IS version) . I also bought a x1.4 and x2 extender.

I was into astronomy ( especially solar eclipses ) and thought that I needed powerful telelenses with wide aperture.

I hardly used them because they were heavy and big.

a few years later I sold them, because, alas, that's life, I needed money for travellling... and so I got rid of those gems.

instead, I got me a 200/2.8L , used, and a new Sigma 400/5.6 APO Macro . Cheaper, and easier to carry while travelling.

but today, I am somewhat nostalgic about those two lenses.

Those lenses came in a beautiful alu box.

and now that I read on FM that they get top ratings, I just think that well, it's nice to realize that at least for a few years I used to own those 'chef-d'oeuvres' , even if I rarely used them... Aaaahhhhh... nostalgia.

May 5, 2012
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Registered: Mar 11, 2008
Location: United States
Posts: 648
Review Date: Oct 25, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Optics. Color replication. Build. Legendary History.
Weight. Serviceability. Parts.

Acquired this legendary piece of glass several months ago, and boy it does not disappoint. Sharp wide open, but much sharper between f/2.8 and f/4. Color replication is outstanding. Optics is perfect. And build is consistent with all "L-class" level glassware. It's a wonderful piece of glass that Canon should've continued developing/produce prior to the 200L IS lens.

There are three 'cons' to this glass: weight, service, and parts. It's short and stubby in length, but it weighs a ton. Hand holding can only be done in spurts. I would recommend usage on a monopod/tripod, if you can. Secondly, service availability. Canon took this great piece of glass off their list for service. You can only fix it at third-party vendors if something goes wrong. Lastly, available parts. Since this glass has been discontinued, so has the parts. Hopefully the vendors who can service this glass have replacement parts for this lens.

Overall, I can now understand why people love this lens. It's legendary status is intact with this owner and will continue so in future!!!

Oct 25, 2011
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Registered: Dec 4, 2002
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 530
Review Date: Jul 31, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Stunning image quality wide open. Gorgeous colour rendition. Very fast to focus. No post processing needed, other than resizing.
Not a thing. It's heavy - use a monopod. It's expensive - but worth every penny when you see the results.

Managed to finally pick one of these up - they're becoming more and more rare. I'd read all of these amazing reviews, but nothing prepared me for the results straight out of the camera. Stunning image quality that still makes me smile when I load the next batch onto the Mac and view at 100%.

I predominantly shoot hockey, and it's the perfect lens. I thought my 300 f/2.8 was sharp, but this is in another league. For low light, indoor sports, it can't be beaten.

If you can find one and can get the cash together, grab it with both hands - you won't regret it. And despite Canon saying that they no longer support this lens (due to a lead byproduct in the manufacturing process apparently), there are still a number of Canon shops who will repair it. Anyway, it's built like a tank - it'll probably out last me!

Jul 31, 2011
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Registered: Nov 21, 2008
Location: Norway
Posts: 178
Review Date: May 13, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: My copy is razor sharp wide open. Colour and contrast are spot on. Bokeh and 3D look are all there. No need for PP, except for turning the sharpness down for portraits. If you dont need image stablilisation and, can find a good copy, I highly recommend this lens for the money. This is coming from a former 200mm f2 VR owner.
Does not focus as fast as fast as the Nikon 200 VR, and probably the new canon version a little heavy.

Does not focus as fast as the Nikon version I used to have, but is fast enough. Built to last. Image quality is awesome my 5dmrk2. If you love shooting fast primes, I am sure you will love this lens. Its heavy, but you can definitely hand hold this lens for long periods. For the price I sold my Nikon version, I bought this lens and Canon 135mm f2, for times when I wish not to stand out in public.

May 13, 2011
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Registered: Dec 17, 2010
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 0
Review Date: Dec 17, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Heavenly optics, f/1.8 is razorsharp and superbright. Made from stone. Some much fun filming with my 5DII.
heavy, cant get repaired or serviced anymore which pisses me off. relatively cheap

This lens is so good. Get a good tripod and start filming. The price on the second hand market is getting really good. Sometimes I see one passing by for 1500 EUR. For this kind of optics it is really superb price/quality.

Although what is really annoying is that canon wont repair it. This is so disappointing. Nikon repairs all there lenses.

Dec 17, 2010
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Registered: Jun 14, 2009
Location: Canada
Posts: 78
Review Date: Oct 5, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $3,000.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Build like a tank, quick, tack sharp and the ultimate lens
None except its weight

I have lusted for this lens for a long time. So my wish was granted today when a Chinese student wanted to sell this beauty and its cousin 85mm 1.2 II. Took some shots with both f these lenses on my new 7D. Cannot believe the results. Simply mindblowing. Yes, it is the ultimate lens.

Oct 5, 2009
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Ronan O Keeffe
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Registered: Sep 15, 2006
Location: Ireland
Posts: 730
Review Date: Jul 1, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $4,000.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Shaprness, bokeh, colour rendition.
No surprises for me. Do your research and know your requirements and you won't be disappointed.

Can't really add much to the mix here. The lens has been around for some time now so pretty much anything that can be said has been said.

The main thing is that I'm happy I bought it and have no regrets paying what I paid.

Jul 1, 2009
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Registered: Feb 23, 2008
Location: Canada
Posts: 0
Review Date: Nov 22, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $2,200.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Extremely sharp even wide open
weight (3kg for lens alone)

Found this beauty in an image show recently. It did not have leather lens cap, but the glasses and function are perfect. No regret to purchase it.
Sharper than my EF300 f/2.8 (non-IS) and EF 200mm f/2.8II L
even wide open. It is heavier than 300 f2.8L. Too heavy for handheld shooting unless you have a big biceps.

Nov 22, 2008
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Registered: Dec 1, 2005
Location: Spain
Posts: 84
Review Date: Oct 14, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: What can I add? Bokeh, sharpness, colors, contrast... everything in this lens is second to none. With no doubt, the best lens I've ever tried (and I own the 85L, the 35L and some other very fine glass...)
Well, it's expensive, and it's discontinued.

I don't own this wonder, but I had the chance to use it for covering several soccer games. I used it with the x1.4 TC, and alone. With the TC, it became a stunning 280mm f2.5 lens. I couldn't see any image quality degradation. Alone, at the widest aperture, the bokeh is so beautiful and the subject pops up so much out of the frame that, every time I come back over the pictures I took with it, I am tempted to to a search for a nice sample... However, it's pricey and, so far, I've always had some other gear before it in my wish list.
But someday I will get one for sure. Just for the pure joy of taking photographs with it...

Oct 14, 2008
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Registered: Mar 20, 2005
Location: Canada
Posts: 4093
Review Date: Sep 23, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharpness. Colours rendered on 5D. Bokeh at 1.8 unsurpassed with any other lens. Handholdable.
The lugs in the hood. They fall off with no warning.

The best lens optically that I have ever owned. When I first got it it remained on my 5D for over a month. It never came off. Works great with 1.4x. Terrific colour, contrast,detail and bokeh. I shoot often at 1.8, lens is handholdable. Has replaced my 70-200 and 200 F2.8. My most used lens. The only complaint I have is the lugs inside hood fell off with no warning, the screws didn't hold it in place, now the hood doesn't hold snuggly.

Sep 23, 2008
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Registered: Sep 6, 2007
Location: Canada
Posts: 30421
Review Date: Jul 13, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Obviously f1.8, subject isolation, superb OoF rendering and bokeh, sharpness 2nd to none amongst telephotos, no aberrations of any sort.
Pod mount design/placement results in awkward handholding, lens strap lug position is very poor, the hood too massive, lens servicing could be a problem.

This is optically a surprisingly good lens. Its resolving power is superior to the 300 f/2.8's, EF 500 f/4 IS and EF 500 f/4.5 I have owned. The general IQ is simply excellent although the image colours seem just a shade flatter than what the current supertelephotos yield.
The AF is very precise and accurate on my lens, and the AF drive speed compares to the EF 500 f/4.5 which is not quite as fast as the EF 300 f/2.8 IS. However, that should be fast enough for most applications, I'd say.

Any time I use it, the results often turn out to be special regardless of how banal the photography contents might be.

It is fortunate for many folks that a well preserved copy of the lens could be had for less than $4k today. However, one should not be swayed by the cosmetic condition alone. Ensure that the lens is also fully functional, sharp and focus-calibrated. Like any other Canon lenses, even the new ones out of factory, not all 200 f/1.8 copies are performing equally.

Jul 13, 2008
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Registered: Jul 7, 2008
Location: United States
Posts: 0
Review Date: Jul 7, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $3,400.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: This is the best lens I have ever used. It is awesome with so many options!
None that I have found.

Not much I can add to the mix. I use the lens in 3 different ways and I am blown away with each. I use it as a true 200mm, 200mm with 1.4x and 200mm with 2x. Even at 400mm f/3.5 it is incredible!

The new version is good but if you find a good used version of the 200mm f/1.8 you might want to snap it up.

Jul 7, 2008
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Registered: Oct 7, 2003
Location: United States
Posts: 1566
Review Date: Apr 30, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: The "HOLY GRAIL" Optically this lens stands alone. Don't question the myth, it's all true.
Niche lens, heavy, cumbersome, with limited application. There are far easier to deploy lenses whose compromises look very good in comparison. If you think you need this optic, first try the 135mm f/2L

The Quest:

I purchased the 200mm f/1.8 "Holy Grail" of Canon lenses under a mistaken assumption.
I shoot wildlife primarily, but also shoot a lot of indoor performance/events in the Theatre I work in.

Low light events, dance, ballet, fashion shows.
My experience with the 70-200mm f/2.8 told me that 200mm was the absolute longest focal length I'd ever need, and that f.2,8 was still too slow often enough.

It was with this in mind that I began the search for the Holy Grail.


The 200mm f/1.8L is obviously legendary.
It took me no time to realize the reputation is warranted.
Upon arrival, I was however shocked at the size. A the time I was shooting my wildlife primarily with a Sigma 500mm f/4.5 EX HSM. This 200mm is nearly the same weight and has the same diameter front element.

i.e.: it's the size of a sawed off 500mm!

Optical Bliss

But oh what images!
No lens I had used is this sharp wide open!
Later I'd be shooting the EF 400mm f/4L IS as my main gun, and found that this amazing detail and clarity is the hallmark of the Canon Big Guns.
But the 200mm is still special, it's light gathering ability is just huge!
Removed from the camera, just looking through the bare lens, one can see details in the tiny image that you will not see in other lenses.

And that razor thin depth of field!
Wide open we are talking small fractions of an inch!

It is this hyper thin DOF that is the lenses hallmark , and contributes to the "3D" look we see in the photos. The area in focus leaps off of the page, leaps from the areas out of focus...

Laying on of Hands:

Ergonomically, I like the lenses controls.
Canon did a redesign of there basic lay out for the big primes with the introduction of the 300mm f.2.8L IS, which they have applied to all of the later IS Super tele primes.
In using the 200mm, I feel they made some errors.
The twist ring for the focus preset return is superior to the 4 little buttons.
The lens collar/tripod foot is mounted towards the front of the lens, creating a much better balance on the collar, allowing easier smoother turning than we get on the current crop of super teles.
SIGMA and Noink also use this forward mount and it is superior.

AF is a little shy of the newer generation like the 500mm f/4L IS and the 300mm f/2.8L IS, but very fast, and accurate.

The images I have taken with this lens are nothing short of amazing. If I do my job, the optic will always show us what it’s made of.

The Fisher King

The downside? Back to my opening story, I thought I’d be using it for venue shooting.
Well, it’s not been the perfect lens I thought it would be. Form a practicality standpoint, it’s bordering on ridicules to use for the purpose I had envisioned. I later got a 135mm f/2L, and frankly this was the lens I needed.
Swinging a huge white 7 pound lens around back stage and during rehearsals is limiting.
Hand held is nearly out of the question at this weight for any duration.
The 135mm was much more suited to the task, used alongside a 70-200mm f/2.8L IS, and either a 28mm f/1.8 prime or the 24-70mmm L zoom I have much more flexibility and more opportunity to get the shot.

The point, people often mention this is a niche lens, and that it’s applications are rather specific. This really is true.
I have ended up using it more often for wildlife. Lacking the reach of the 500mm I use primarily, it is very limited in that application as well. But there are times it’s length and light gathering are perfect.

If you have the need for the specific applications where this lens excels, there is no better option. If your seeking the Holy Grail, than search no further, this lens is it.
Just be advised that as a tool this is a tight fitting wrench, it’s not an adjustable “do all”.


For samples I’ll show you first two I got from it in the theatre,
No crop on this one!

Next, here is a series of a hunting Great Blue Heron I took a few years back.
This shows the overall image quality quite well, detail sharpness and color quality;
100% crop

Here you can see the razor thin depth of field, look at the sand, what parts of the fish are in sharp focus, what is out..

Some more with 100% crops from the series.;

The whole series can be seen here;

Apr 30, 2008
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Nathan Hobbs
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Registered: Jun 30, 2007
Location: United States
Posts: 1224
Review Date: Apr 19, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharpness that blows you away. 1.8 extends your wildlife shooting time (if you can get close enough) , Earns big respect points with clients, Build quality is great,
Heavy, Very demanding Focus because of extremely tight DOF, My copy front focuses some (+10 adjustment with Mark III),

If you have the opprotunity to get this lens. DO IT.
I got this lens for an incredible deal and bought it with the intentions of putting it back up for sale.

Once I had it in my hands and saw the images this lens created though, I was hooked. I do not know if I would ever be able to let it go now. I have had a hard time using any other lens I own for the past month because nothing I have even comes close to this lens.

It is very very sharp, but in addition there is just a feel to the image this lens creates that no other lens can match, I dont know how to describe it but there is some magic going on somewhere inside this lens. Files respond very well to post processing sharpening.

The only negative aspect to this lenses image quality that I can note is my copy exhibits minor vignetting when wide open, shooting in low light low contrast situations (ie a grey sky) It is easily correctable in Post, and on some images adds to the magic but it is there. I have not noticed it at all in well lit only shows up at wide open slow shutter speeds.

This lens is heavy, you pay a lot in the price of weight to get that extra one and a third stop more than a 200 2.8, it is easily tamed with a monopod and really is not that bad to shoot hand held for short periods of time. i personally find the lens balanced enough on my Mark III.

Focusing of this lens is very demanding, I love using live veiw for portraits so I can put the bokeh and DOF exactly where I want it to be, it does an awesome job at focus tracking for sports though I like to stop it down just a bit to give a wider field of focus

I have written enough about this lens, but it lives up to the hype its an incredible piece of glass, treat it with care if you get one as there are not many out there!

Apr 19, 2008
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Canon EF 200mm f/1.8L USM

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
51 317068 Aug 18, 2016
Recommended By Average Price
100% of reviewers $3,230.56
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating

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