01-01-2009 Canon 5D Mark II Update
Well, the reach my be less but man on man the Bokeh of this lens using the 5D Mark II has to be seen to be believed. Much smoother creamier and richer on the 5D Mark II. Something like double the Bokeh since you can get twice as close, just make sure when shooting at F/2.8 you have enough dept of field.
Sharpness and clarity
The sharpness and clarity wide open at F/2.8 that was just Ok on the 40D is much improved for some strange reason on the 5D Mark II. I would not have figured it this way but it's just plain better. Putting this lens on the 5D Mark II has transformed it from a so so lens to a sharp, high clarity monster even wide open. You wouldn't know it was the same lens I has used on the 40D.
The reach of the lens on a full frame sensor camera is half but when indoors shooting weddings this can be a good thing. On the cropped sensor cameras you often find yourself running out of space to back up when you want a wider shot but on the 5D Mark II the 70mm end is actually useful. When shooting outdoors if you can't get pretty close you will want a longer lens. This is when I reach for my excellent Canon 100-400 F/4.5 - F/5.6 IS L Lens.
On my Canon 40D and Rebel XTi Vignetting or peripheral illumination problems are practically non-existent, but on my new Canon 5D Mark II I use the auto-peripheral illumination correction as with it off it is a problem. But with it ON its no problem at all.
You can either have the 5D Mark II auto-correct peripheral illumination on board for JPEGs or adjust Raw images using Canon's Digital Photo Professional (DPP) software that came with your Mark II. I have noticed on the full framed 5D Mark II with the peripheral illumination correction turned OFF the 5D Mark II images will severely vignette or be dark in the corners when shot wide open (F/2.8). It's almost like looking through a dark tunnel. It's especially noticeable shot wide open with the sky as a background.
Auto-correct to the rescue!! With the peripheral illumination correction turned ON it's almost magical the darkening in the corners for your JPEG images is gone! If you want you can even shoot in Raw mode and adjust the amount of Vignetting or darkness in the corners for effects such as when shooting portraits and you want to emphasis the person in the middle of the photo. Just open the Raw photo in DPP and click on the NR/Lens / ALO tab and select Lens Aberration Correction Tune and adjust the peripheral illumination to suite by dragging the slider or entering and amount. Or select all the photos in a directory and you can correct all your photos at once. This way you can either have no Vignetting or as much as you want.
Tack Sharp at 70-135mm at F5.6 at any distance
Sharp at F2.8 at a distance for some reason but soft up close (10 to 50 feet)
Sharp at F2.8 for indoor non-flash gym / church distance photos any zoom setting. Gets a little soft focused close and at infinity at F2.8
Auto focus tracks moving objects like a laser guided smart bomb! I have many in flight bird photos
Beautifully made with perfect quality
Beautiful deep colors, lots of contrast
Auto-focus is super fast, quiet and spot on even in dim light
White so it's cooler out in the hot summer sun
Comes with nice case and nice lens tripod mount
Pretty good Bokeh better then the F4 70-200 of course but not as good as primes
Really bright in the viewfinder the brightest long lens I've used
This lens has Auto Lens Vignetting correction using peripheral Illumination control see Auto Vignetting comments below:
VERY shallow depth of field at F2.8
Costs twice as much as the great F4 70-200
Seems to weigh twice as much as the F4 70-200
Very LARGE and white gets a LOT of attention
Softens a little above 135mm approaching and at 200mm at infinity
I bought this Lens to use on my Canon Digital Rebel XTi to shoot wild birds, animals at the zoo, sporting events and aircraft shows.
After having taken over 4,000 photos with it and trading out and using my friends F4 70-200 I have the following conclusions.
This lens focuses very FAST!! I have tracked birds in FLIGHT!! It focuses in light so low I don't see how it's focusing.
The F2.8 is MUCH larger then the F4 you have to use these two lenses back to back to really appreciate the difference. Also the lens hood sticks way out on the F2.8 which does protect the lens more but makes a long lens even longer. The F4 is more of a hold all day out shooting lens for the average person the F2.8 more of a tripod lens.
I do love this F2.8 lens, but in hindsight I might have bought the cheaper lighter and smaller non IS F4 lens. We tried several tests using a tripod while using mirror lockup and remote release so camera shake and depth of field were not a variable. We found my F2.8 lens is slightly sharper in the middle at 200mm but the F4 is slightly sharper near the edges. Both lenses were tack sharp edge to edge at 70-135mm at F8 with the F4 lens maintaining more sharpness over all from 135 to 200mm. However I found the F2.8 is brighter looking through the view finder then the F4.
The F2.8 does seem to produce slightly richer color but you can easily make up the difference between the F4 in a photo editor program.
This lens also softens some at F2.8 and gets sharper the closer to F8 you get. I tried several test shots on a tripod using mirror lockup and remote release of a photo test card so camera shake and depth of field were not a variable. Speaking of depth of field at F2.8 the depth of field is so shallow at close range F2.8 is almost unusable. You can take a photo of someone and their nose is tack sharp and their eyes are soft. This could be a plus if you are looking for this effect.
So why do I keep this lens?
I shoot a lot using a tripod and love the included lens tripod mount. The camera and lens are MUCH more stable when the lens is mounted to the tripod then trying to shoot with a long lens with the camera mounted to the tripod and the lens hanging out front. Note: You can buy the lens tripod mount for the F4 lens but it's $150 extra.
I need the extra stops F2.8 gives me for low light indoor photograhy I have gotten shots at F2.8 ISO 1600 I could not have gotten with the F4 lens.
I do like the attention I get and questions.
I love the way this lens is SO bright in the viewfinder, noticeably brighter when framing a shot then the F4.
I don't mind the extra workout carrying it around I need the exercise.
I'm thinking about also buying the F4 70-200 and having both.
Why only 4 stars:
If this lens were tack sharp edge to edge at 200mm at any distance I would have given it 5 stars but felt that this was enough to pull back to 4.
Also the min distance switch is too easy to move, it doesn't need this switch anyway the auto focus is great,
If you have the money and want a bright in the viewfinder, great color, large, imposing presence tripod mounted lens the F2.8 lens is for you.
If you want to save some money and shoot hand held with a lighter lens and don't need the F2.8 for low light shooting and Bokeh then get the F4 lens.
If you have lots and lots of money buy them both!
This lens continues to impress me. I have been shooting more around F2.8 at longer reach hand held on cloudy days and inside buildings where flash is not allowed and have found this lens really can work hand held at higher ISO say 400 to 800. I'm thinking about buying the 40D which has higher ISO performance then my Rebel XTi so I can shoot at 1600 ISO and 3200 ISO with less noise.
Filter Update 1-3-2008
After much searching I found the perfect filter. The Hoya Multi Coat HMC Pro1 Protection filter is not supposed to filter the shot just protect the front lens element. I was very worried that it would affect the shot after having tried some other premium filters like the B+W UV which caused the photos to be softer and duller. However, after some tests I found that in some weird way the Hoya Multi Coat HMC Pro1 actually makes the photos seem to have just a little more contrast and be a little sharper then without. I thought I had gotten the test shots backwards and had to retest with a little sign in the photo saying with and without filter in place just to make sure. Really amazing!!! I'm sold!
Update 3-1-2008 Arizona Renaissance Festival
Here's a brief summary of my thoughts when using both the Canon 70-200 F/2.8 USM L and Canon 135mm F/2 USM L at AZ Renaissance Festival.
The first thing I noticed was the zoom can be much more versatile especially at the bird show where it's ability to zoom in and out was nice, but it's minimum focus distance is quite a bit farther. I noticed several times taking face shot close ups that I ran into the stop and it could not focus, so I had to back up. Also knowing that full sharpness was not reached until F/5.6 I kept the lens at this stop to make the shots sharp. But there is no denying its ability to reach out and photograph someone at a distance and then turn around and get a shot close up. Also, the Canon 70-200 really stood out to people. I actually had several people ask what lens it was and could they look at it / hold it. Several workers made jokes about my large canon when I had it mounted.
On the Canon 135mm side there is no denying the quality of the photos and the ability to blur the background and still have a sharp subject at wide open apertures. The creamy smooth Bokeh and quality of the photos make them treasures I will show off and print for years to come. There is some 3d quality that these photos possess that the 70-200 just does not have. The Canon 135mm is much more stealthy with people not really thinking you are taking their photo from far away. No one asked to hold it or even what kind of lens it was. The workers didn't make jokes about having a large canon in fact there were a couple of workers that said they had seen bigger.
I love them both, but if I had to choose only one to take to the Renaissance Festival it would be the Canon 135mm F/2 USM L. It's half the weight, black and stealthy and takes photos I will treasure forever.
I still love this lens and it was my first L lens. It's funny how much more attention this lens will get everywhere I go. You will be asked what news agency you are working for, can I see it, can I hold it, how much does it cost? Things I have never been asked about my Canon 85mm F/1.2 L II lens which cost hundreds more. So if you want a great 70-200 zoom and crave attention and can carry the weight this lens is for you. I still love mine and plan on keeping it forever!
I find myself falling in love with this lens all over again. A friend has borrowed it for a few months to use and I went on a shoot this weekend with it and wow!! When you use Digital Photo Professional (DPP) to make your JPEG from RAW this lens is a razor blade even at F/2.8! There is that much difference in processing using DPP then usin Adobe Camera Raw!!! It makes my Canon 70-200 F/2.8 look almost as sharp as my Canon 135 F2.
The only strange thing when I first got the lens back it focuses more slowly then normal for a few shots about like the focusing on my Canon 85mm F/1.2 which can be a little slow. But within a few hundred shots seems to be back to the milisecond focus speed. I wonder if he left it out in the car in the hot Arizona sun?
Still get's a huge amount of attention. You would think it was a Canon 300mm F/2.8 the way people stare. Guess the white L lenses are still pretty rare out and about. My friends Canon 70-200 F4 L is just as sharp but the F/2.8 lets in twice as much light! But the F/2.8 feels almost twice as fat in the hand and after a day of shooting is heavier!! Still when I was already at ISO 3200 and F/2.8 yeasterday at a very dark church function I was stopping action that you could not do with the Canon 70-200 F/4.
This is still one of my most used and versatile lenses. And I've noticed in some of my photos this really cool almost 3D effect around the main subject usually at wider apertures. My only regret is that it does not have IS. After buying two lenses that have it I can see that in really dark situations IS can really make a huge difference. Also there is the one single spec of dust in the middle of the outer most element. But it does not seem to affect the photos.
It's taken many beautiful photos for me and I will probably keep it as long as I live.
Auto Vignetting peripheral illumination control:
Canon has this super sweet Auto Lens Vignetting correction that works with this lens both in camera with JPEG's and in RAW using peripheral Illumination control in Canon Digital Photo Professional (DPP) when using newer Canon digital EOS cameras (Canon Rebel XSi, 40D, 5D Mark II etc.) . No more vignetting when shooting wide open!!! When shooting Raw open the file(s) in DPP and click on NR/Lens Lens Aberration Correction / Tune and click on Peripheral illumination. The cameras listed above have already picked up the amount of vignetting based on focusing distance, zoom setting and F stop from the lens and the camera has saved the information with the Raw file. You can then adjust the amount under Peripheral Illumination if you don't like the amount automatically suggested. If you shot JPEG then you get the auto amount. SWEET!!!
You can't go wrong if you need 70-200mm and fast speed.
01-03-2009 Canon 5D Mark II Update:
This lens is actually just behind my Canon 100-400 IS L Lens in the zoom sharpness and clarity department but it's no where near as versatile on my 5D Mark II as the 100-400. Still it's a must have lens when shooting weddings when you need the super Bokeh background melting power of an F/2.8 aperture and lower light power of an F/2.8 aperture. The Bokeh that was Ok on the 40D is smoother creamier and richer on the 5D Mark II. Still I almost wish I had bought the Image Stabilized version instead. I'm finding that on the 5D Mark II you can really sharpen up images when shooting in raw and processing in Canon's Digital Photo Professional. As that and the price were my only complaint about the IS version of this lens I now wish I had purchased it instead.
Lenses I currently own:
Canon EF-S 17-55 F/2.8 IS Zoom Lens Ultra sharp, great colors, great low light, poor zoom action
Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 Rebel XTi Kit Zoom lens Muddy, slow, pile of junk
Canon EF 17-40mm f/4 L Zoom Lens Fantastic colors, sharp zoomed 17 to 24mm and stopped down, ultra smooth zoom action, light weight
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L Zoom Lens Fantastic colors and contrast, sharp zoomed 40 to 70mm, zoom a little stiff at first, heavy, repair prone!
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Good budget portrait lens, light weight, disposable, sharp from F/2.5
Canon EF 85mm F/1.2 L II The best portrait lens for female and children clients, buttery smooth Bokeh, heavy and expensive it shares sharpness with 135mm
Canon EF 135mm F/2.0 L The best portrait lens for males and tied with Canon 85mm F 1/.2 for sharpest lens I own, buttery smooth Bokeh
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L Zoom Lens Fantastic colors, sharp for a zoom, very versatile ego boosting and attention getting and heavy! My favorite zoom lens that I own!!!
Canon EF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS Zoom Lens super colors, sharp for a zoom, extremely versatile, variable Bokeh can be great or bad, even more ego boosting and attention getting when extended and 400mm reach!!
My next lens purchase I'm saving for right now: 'Canon EF 300mm F/2.8 IS L the finest lens ever