Comparison between my old 70/200 f2.8L and my new 70/200 f2.8L IS version

Edward Agnew, Canada



On Sept. 11, 2001, I received a my IS version of my favourite lens. I had contacted Canon Canada's CPS manager on Aug. 01 when I first got confirmation of this lens was real. I have to thank that manager, the VP of photographic products of Canon Canada and my local pro-shop owner for having got me what they tell me is the first one of these lens in Canada to come into a user's ownership. This is a week or two early of the scheduled release date, but since I am leaving for three weeks of shooting out of the country, (provided air space in Canada and the USA is open again after the terrorist action in NYC) in a couple of days, so I had a clock running.


My non-IS lens has a date code of K0406 or April, 06, 1996 while my new IS version has a code date of P0700, or July 00, 2001. Interesting that is a month before the announcement date, and.... the date of the month is not valid. But then again, it is the 299th of these made to that point (based on serial number)

The above photo was taken just after I got back from the camera store, with my palm pilot/kodak camera, so don't expect sharp detail, and it might be a bit to close for sharp focus.

The lens are same length. Weight 1484grams for the non-IS vs 1587 grams for the new IS version.

The release knob for the tripod shoe is smaller in dia, but longer on the IS version. The two shoes will interchange

The non-IS has 1.5M to infinity, or 3M to infinity as the focus ranges, the new IS one has 1.4M to infinity and 2.5 M to infinity. The knob for the focus range is more flush with the lens body than the older version, while the AF on/off while bigger still projects from the surface. The IS on/off switch is similar to the AF on/off. The Stabilizer mode switch is again flush and has the same two modes as my larger IS lens.

The lens shades are different, my non-IS lens has a ET-83, while the IS version is a ET-86. Compared to the older hood, the new one is: Slightly larger in diameter, is same overall length, but the shorter of the 4 petals are longer, the interior surface has a black flocking, and the overall side profile is a bit more square at the base. They will not interchange.

The final useful improvements are: The distant scale window is about 50% greater in height, but not as wide, however the numbers in the window are almost twice as large, and much easier to read. Canon claims, and I can see that the iris diaphragm keeps a more circular shape until at least f5.6 1/2, where the older lens starts to look more octagon at about f4 or f4 1/2.


The IS system functions almost identically to what I have become used to with my 300mm F2.8L IS and 600mm F4L IS lens. All three do not cause the image to do anything strange in the viewfinder or create other disturbing actions, which I have heard, but about with Canon's older IS lens. The only way to tell the IS is up, is that about one second after activation, the image just stops moving with body jitter, and in a quite room, you hear the IS running, sounding like a number of ball bearing rolling around in a can.

The owner's manual indicates the lens automatically turns off the IS when the lens is mounted on a tripod, however, When I put it on a tripod, it acts much like my IS super telephotos, that is, the IS does work and does reduce movement.

Also, the same as the super telephoto, when I put the IS system in to mode II (horz. panning mode), if the lens did not pan for few seconds, the lens returns to IS mode I by itself. Again this is not in the manual, but then again, it was not in the original manuals with the super telephotos ether. Just goes to prove that you can't always believe what you read.


I have verified function with my 1v, eos 3 and Elan (Eos-100) bodies, and the lens works major problems, however... of the few hundred times I fired my 1v body with the lens attached, at twice, so far, the camera body lost data sync with the lens, as a result, the display shows an aperture of 00 and a high shutter speed. If the shutter is fired, the exposure is triggered, but with a long return delay and the battery symbol flashes. If however I switch the body to lock and then back on, all seems OK. Not sure where the problem is, and I cannot seem to find a way of forcing the event.

Canon claims the lens will focus faster with the 1v, than the older unit, however I have not been able to prove that to my self as they seem to take about the same time. The only speed improvement occurred with low light levels and the IS turned on, I suspect that the IS provided a more stable image for the focus system and the lock in was faster (about 1/3 or 1/2 sec faster at low room light levels)


The following images were taken this morning using a target panel with the four resolution targets, at various settings, comparing the results relative to identical shots taken with the non-IS lens. Film was an older roll of Kodak iso 25 film,

The tests were done using a tripod mounted lens/body and shooting a target panel of 18" x 24" with 5 resolution targets on it as pictured below. Lens was used without any filter, and with lens hood in place.

The following images are center and upper left corner target for each lens at same setting.. The Centre target is upper photo, corner target is lower image. the non-IS lens is on the left, the IS lens is on the right, IS is turned OFF unless otherwise noted. All images were scanned at 4000 dpi on Nikon ED4000 film scanner.

AT 70 mm and wide open, the IS lens appears to be sharper, at f8 about the same, at 200mm wide open, the new lens wins hands down, at 200 f8, the new lens appears slightly sharper.

As to operation with a 2x converter, I was impressed, take a look.

Finally, Hand held, holding the camera in a standing position, not overly stable stance, at 200mm the lower limit appears to be about 1/30 second (1/15 was blurred). So... 1/200 second vs 1/30 second is about 3 stops below the normal held limit, about what Canon claims.

70mm F2.8 70mm f2.8 IS lens

70mm f8, non-IS lens 70 mm f8 IS lens

200mm f2.8 non-IS lens 200mm f2.8 IS lens

200mm f8 non-IS lens 200mm f8 IS lens


IS lens with canon 2x converter (version 1) at 400 mm f11 setting (effective settings) LEFT IMAGE IS CENTRE TARGET RIGHT IMAGE IS CORNER TARGET

SLOW SPEED HAND HELD, IS turned ON. This images were taken with me standing fully erect, and not bracing the camera body very well, typical of a quick grab shot

Below is 200 mm shot at 1/60 second, centre target
below is same target at 1/15 second, held same way, it wiggles!
Finally, shot of same target at 1/4 second. Good thing it was not important


It looks OK, so lower limit appears to be bout 1/30 second un-braced