Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens Review

The Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens has been announced and is expected to ship in August. That said, there is a lot already known about this lens and I'll share these expectations below.

For most photographers, a high quality 70-200mm f/2.8 image stabilized lens is one of the most important and most frequently used lenses in the kit and Canon's current version of this lens is usually at the top or very close to the top of our most popular lens list. The reasons for this popularity include usefulness, performance and affordability.

For many photographers, the 70-200mm focal length range is second only to a general purpose normal zoom lens in terms of need and usefulness. Canon's flagship version of this lens is optically impressive and the excellent autofocus performance ensures that the full optical impressiveness is realized. Image stabilization adds to the already-great versatility and, on top of that, a great build quality – including weather sealing – makes this lens reliable and fun to use. The relative affordability of this lens, especially compared to longer focal length f/2.8 options is the reason that many choose this lens and the size and weight difference is similarly compelling.

Canon's flagship 70-200mm f/2.8L IS Lens has long been one of my most-used lenses and my first choice for a great variety of needs.

When Canon introduces a replacement lens, it has always improved upon its predecessor and that is again the case with this lens. However, at least on the surface, the advantages of this lens are not going to be wildly-convincing version II lens owners to make the upgrade to the version III option. Canon called it a "refresh" and it is just that.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens with Hood

What are the Differences Between the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III Lens and the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II Lens?

  • The III has ASC (Air Sphere Coating) in addition to Super Spectra Coating, designed to reduce flare and ghosting.
  • The III has fluorine coating on the front and rear lens elements, keeping them cleaner and making them much easier to clean.
  • The III has Canon's newer, whiter paint color, matching the other recently-introduced telephoto lenses.
  • The III has minor typographical changes including the words "Image Stabilizer" and "Ultrasonic" printed below the focal length range and next to the focus distance window. The gold "Image Stabilizer" has been removed from the mount area.

I know, at this point you are thinking that I'm missing many items from this list, but ... sorry, that's all that has been promised. The optical design is the same. The IS system is the same. The overall lens design is the same.

A same-ness that we can especially appreciate is the price. Rarely has Canon introduced a new lens version without a solid price increase, but this lens, at least without rebates factored in, holds the same price point.

Fortunately, the "II" is a very impressive performer and the III will be that as well. As I said, the II has been at or near the top of our most-popular lens list for a very long time and the III will surely take the baton in that regard.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens Angle View

Focal Length Range

I have long-owned two 70-200mm lenses and both of these zoom lenses are, individually, among my most-used, despite the fact that I own also have other lenses covering significant portions of this focal length range. That this focal length range is so incredibly useful is the reason that I so often choose a 70-200 lens for whatever my need is.

What is a 70-200mm lens useful for? The list of uses for a short-mid-telephoto focal length range is incredibly long, but I'll share some of my favorite uses.

At the top of my favorite uses for a 70-200mm lens list is portrait photography and if you are taking pictures of people, this lens has your name on it. Containing a superset of the classic 85-135mm portrait focal length range, 70-200mm lenses are ideal for capturing pleasing perspectives of people. This lens invites subject framing ranging from full body portraits at 70mm to tight headshots at 200mm and these mid-telephoto focal lengths naturally push the focus distances far enough away to avoid perspective distortion, including large-appearing noses. But, not so far that communication with the subject becomes difficult.

A set of focal length ranges illustrated for portrait use is below (captured with a different lens).

Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Lens Focal Length Range Example

The "portrait photography" designation is a broad one that covers a wide variety of potential still and video use at a wide variety of potential venues including both indoors (home, church, school, etc.) and outdoors (yard, beach, park, parade, playground, etc.). Portrait subjects can range from infants to seniors, from individuals to large groups (if enough working distance is available). Engagements, weddings, parties, events, theater, stage performances including concerts and recitals, speakers, families, small groups, senior adults, graduating seniors, fashion, documentary, lifestyle ... all are great uses for the 70-200mm focal lengths. There is often adequate space in even a small studio for portraiture with the angle of view provided by this lens. It is not hard to use this lens exclusively for portrait shoots.

That portrait photography is one of the best revenue-producing photography genres helps justify the acquisition cost of this lens (you cannot buy stock photos of most people) and you likely noticed the paid applications in the just-shared list of portrait uses.

People are also frequently photographed participating in sporting and other action scenarios using this focal length range. While the 200mm focal length may be modestly too wide for large field sports photography, it works very well for closer action such as that found at track and field meets and on the basketball court. Basketball is typically played indoors and with the f/2.8 aperture (more on this soon), indoor action sports are within this lens' capabilities.

By virtue of the longer focal lengths and aided strongly by the wide f/2.8 aperture, the background of 70-200mm images can be diffusely-blurred and that attribute is especially great for portraits captured where the background cannot be fully controlled, including at sporting events and performances captured from a seat in the audience.

While portrait photography generally refers to images of people being captured, some of us also refer to certain types of wildlife photos as portraits. These images typically include the animal at least nearly filling the frame and for that task, this focal length range often falls short of the need. Unless the wildlife subject is very large and/or very close, the longest native focal length in this lens (I'll discuss the teleconverter options later in the review) will usually be found far too short for this task. If capturing environmental wildlife portraits or captive (zoo) wildlife, this focal length range may be perfect. This is a great focal length range for photographing pets, including dogs and cats.

When landscape photography is mentioned, many immediately think of wide angle lenses. But, telephoto focal lengths are an extremely important part of a landscape kit. Telephoto focal lengths can create excellent landscape images, especially when there is a distant subject desired to be emphasized, such as a mountain. Here is a 200mm sample image (again captured with a different lens) showing a compressed landscape, emphasizing lines and colors over depth:

Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Lens Landscape Sample Picture

Another great use of telephoto lenses for landscape photography is to focus on closer details, allowing a strong background blur to isolate those within the image. This focal length range is especially great for capturing clouds and sunsets. It is so easy to take great telephoto landscape images that it feels (slightly) like cheating.

Cityscapes are essentially landscape images with cities in them and this focal length range is often a great choice for more-distant city views. Street photography, often done in cities, is another great use for the 70-200mm range.

A 70-200mm lens is my most-used studio lens, working especially well for product images and many other general studio applications. Most of the product images on this site were captured within the 70-200mm range and this range is ideal for larger products including vehicles (this example set was captured with this lens' predecessor).

70-200mm Focal Length Range Example

Here are a couple of additional 70-200 focal length range examples (all captured with other lenses).

Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS Lens Focal Length Range Example

Mount a 70-200mm lens on an APS-C-format camera and the angle of view becomes like that of a 112-320mm lens on a full frame camera. While the narrower angle of view does not greatly change the uses list for this lens, these angles of view make widely-framed portraits less ideal and most will prefer this angle of view range for sports and wildlife pursuits.

The entire set of sample images captured with this lens' predecessor are directly applicable to this review as well.

Max Aperture

This lens has a very wide max aperture and that the fixed f/2.8 max aperture available over the entire focal length range is a huge asset. What are the advantages of a wide aperture? More light reaches the imaging sensor and a shallower, better-subject-isolating depth of field can be created.

While those photographing landscapes with this lens may not find the wide f/2.8 aperture mandatory (and those hiking to remote landscape destinations may not appreciate the weight that accompanies an f/2.8 lens), those capturing portraits or photographing low light events, including sporting events, will definitely appreciate the faster shutter speeds and/or lower ISO settings made possible by the additional light reaching their imaging sensors. F/2.8 is the widest aperture available in a 70-200mm zoom lens and, even with the improvements we've seen in DSLR cameras' high ISO performance, f/2.8 remains the minimum aperture I want to have when photographing indoor activities. In addition to stopping action in low light, the wide aperture invites handholding the camera in much lower light levels.

I often talk about the compositional advantages of a clean border and one way to achieve such is to blur whatever is in this location into oblivion. This lens has that feature. Zoom to 200mm, open the aperture wide to f/2.8, move in close to your subject and watch even a very busy and distracting background melt away.

This is the specific aperture required to enable the higher precision AF capabilities (most often the center AF point) in some cameras, further aiding in ideal image quality. Another f/2.8 advantage is the bright viewfinder image it makes available.

What are the disadvantages of a wide aperture? Increased size and weight accompany this attribute. The other wide aperture disadvantage one can count on is increased price over similar focal length range lenses with narrower apertures. From my perspective, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages for most uses.

Here is a link to a complete 70-200mm focal length and aperture comparison.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens Compared to Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II USM Lens

Image Stabilization

Image stabilization has now been available in camera lenses for a long time, but I still love this feature and I often count on it making clear improvement in my images. The Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens receives the same IS system as in the version II lens.

Canon rates the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens' IS system for 3.5-stops of assistance and that rating of course carries over to the III. With the version II lens, testing showed that I need a shutter speed of 1/80 to get a high percentage of sharp 70mm images when using the Canon EOS 5D Mark III. Turn on IS and my shutter speed requirement dropped to about 1/4 second which is slightly better than 4 stops of help. At 200mm, my shutter speed requirements were 1/160-1/200 without IS and 1/15-1/20 with IS, for between 3 and 4 stops of help.

My test results for this lens did not show a hard floor to the acceptable handheld-with-IS shutter speed but there is a definite diminishing rate of sharp images as the shutter speed lengthens beyond the just-reported speeds. I could achieve good 200mm results at 1/6 second but the sharpness rate was only about 10% in those attempts. Note: few awake people can remain motionless enough for a sharp photo at these shutter speeds, just in case you were thinking about that application.

This IS system makes an audible, slight-drawn-out click upon startup and again at shutdown with a faint whir heard while IS was active (in-camera audio recording will pick up these sounds). The image in the viewfinder does not jump at startup and shows very little drifting. That the scene in the viewfinder becomes motionless is highly desirable for composing an image and the camera's AF system has better precision when seeing a stabilized image. Canon contends that this is true even with a subject that is in motion and at action-stopping shutter speeds.

This IS system is tripod-sensing. IS modes I (normal) and II (panning) are provided.

Image Quality

As mentioned, Canon has informed us that the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens has the same optical design as the II. That makes predicting the III's image quality easy, especially since I've used the prior version of the lens for over 8 years. The image quality discussion below references the II with the expectation that the III will be the same.

When I am carrying the extra weight of an f/2.8 lens, I want that lens to deliver sharp images at f/2.8. What's the point otherwise? Of course, an f/2.8 lens can be expected to produce sharper results at f/4 compared to a similar quality f/4 max aperture lens at the same setting.

Is the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens sharp? Yes, quite so. At f/2.8, this lens is very sharp in the center of the frame and that description works for the entire focal length range. With an ultra-high resolution Canon EOS 5Ds R behind it, this lens shows slightly less-sharp results in the mid and periphery areas of the image circle at f/2.8 in the 70-135mm focal length range. However, the 200mm corners look remarkably sharp at 200mm f/2.8.

Stop down to f/4 and the center of the frame becomes even a touch sharper, becoming razor sharp over the entire focal length range. The areas of the frame not totally sharp at f/2.8 improve modestly at f/4 and razor sharp defines the entire f/5.6 experience with this lens.

Mount a full frame lens on a full frame camera and vignetting can be expected at wide apertures and we see that attribute with this lens. But, the amount of vignetting is what matters most and, in that regard, this lens shows a very low amount. At f/2.8, peripheral shading in full frame corners ranges from 1.2 stops at 70mm up to about 1.7 stops at 200mm. These are sometimes-noticeable amounts, but again, these numbers are quite low.

Stopping down reduces the shading and at f/4 the amount range drops to about .5 to 1 stop at 200mm with the 1-stop number often being considered the line between noticeable and un-noticeable shading. The worst-case shading amount (extreme corners) range at f/5.6 is about .4 to .6 stops. These are nothing-to-be-concerned-about numbers and peripheral shading is essentially gone at f/8.

The effect of different colors of the spectrum being magnified differently is referred to as lateral (or transverse) CA (Chromatic Aberration). Lateral CA shows as color fringing along lines of strong contrast running tangential (meridional, right angles to radii) with the mid and especially the periphery of the image circle showing the greatest amount as this is where the greatest difference in the magnification of wavelengths exists. Zoom lenses used at their max and min focal length extents typically show the most lateral CA and that is the case with this lens. However, the amount of lateral CA produced at 70mm and 200mm is very low.

Flare is caused by bright light reflecting off of the surfaces of lens elements, resulting in reduced contrast and interesting artifacts. The shape, intensity, and position of the flare in an image is variable and depends on the position and nature of the light source (or sources) as well as on the selected aperture, shape of the aperture blades and quality of the lens elements and their coatings.

The ASC (Air Sphere Coating) is one of the III's biggest upgrade features and this coating – working alongside super spectra coating – is designed to suppress reflection of light, creating an ultra-low refractive index. While the "II" version of this lens did not perform abnormally in regards to flare, Canon obviously saw a competitive benefit in this improvement, at least from a marketing perspective. I expect the III's image quality in back-lit situations to be improved with greater contrast, though I'll be surprised if the difference could be described as dramatic. Even with the latest coating technology, I still expect a 23 lens, 19 group telephoto lens design to exhibit some flare.

Flare effects can be embraced, avoided or removed, although the latter is not always successful. If not embraced, flare effects can be destructive to image quality and, as suggested, it is sometimes extremely difficult to remove in post processing.

With no change in the optical design, the geometric distortion profile should remain unchanged. Most zoom lenses have barrel distortion at the wide end that transitions into negligible distortion and on into pincushion distortion at the long end. This lens fits that description. The amount of barrel distortion at 70mm is slight and at around 100mm, linear distortion is neutralized. The pincushion distortion at 135mm is slight and it is only slightly stronger at 200mm for an overall very good performance.

Most modern lenses have lens correction profiles available for the popular image processing software and distortion can be easily removed using these, but distortion correction is destructive at the pixel level and this technique is not as good as using a distortion-free lens and focal length combination in the first place.

With an even aperture blade count, distant point light sources captured with a narrow aperture and showing a star-like effect will have 8 points, matching the aperture blade count. The points on these stars are coming from the blades of the aperture. Each blade is responsible, via diffraction, for creating two points of the star effect. If the blades are arranged opposite of each other (an even blade count), the points on the stars will equal the blade count as two blades share in creating a single pair of points (the blades of an odd blade count aperture are not opposing and the result is that each blade creates its own two points).

The Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens' upgrade features may be minimal, but this lens will still deliver excellent image quality.

Focusing

The 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III gets Canon's excellent USM (Ultrasonic Motor) AF drive system, the same AF system as the II. That is a very positive attribute. This lens internally focuses extremely fast and very accurately under even highly-challenging circumstances, ensuring that the full optical quality of this lens can be realized.

The focusing motor is silent, but the lens elements moving so fast do make a light clunk sound and a short "shhhh" is heard if performing a near-full-extents adjustment. FTM (Full Time Manual) focusing is supported. Even with the camera powered off, the focusing ring is fully functional, a feature that is becoming more of a notable advantage.

A focus limit switch offers the full 3.94' (1.2m) - ∞ range or a limited 8.2' (2.5m) - ∞ range, potentially improving focus acquisition speed with more-distant subject distances. Subjects change size a quite-noticeable amount during big focus distance adjustments. My 70-200 IS II is not parfocal, but only the focus distance setting at 70mm varies strongly from the rest of the focal lengths. From just past 70mm, my lens holds a near-ideal focus distance as it is zoomed through 200mm.

A focus distance scale, in both ft and m, is provided in a window, enabling focus distance settings to be visible at a glance.

The ideally-size and forward-positioned focus ring is smooth with good rotational resistance, though my lens has a slight amount of gear play. As my fingers recognize the ring movement with lighter resistance not affecting the focus distance, I do not find the play impeding my focusing ability, but it is slightly annoying. The 137° of focus ring rotation is ideal for 70mm adjustments even at close distances, but slightly fast for precise 200mm manual focusing.

With a 47.2" (1200mm) minimum focus distance, this lens can produce a 0.21x maximum magnification. Those are good specs for a lens in this class, essentially only bested by the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II USM Lens and the Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS Lens.

I usually provide a single comparison table showing the minimum focus distance (MFD) and maximum magnification (MM) of similar lenses, but there are so many 70-200mm lenses now available that I decided to show two separate charts. The first shows all of Canon's EF 70-200mm lenses.

ModelMFDMM
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens47.2"(1200mm)0.21x
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens47.2"(1200mm)0.21x
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM Lens55.1"(1400mm)0.17x
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM Lens59.1"(1500mm)0.13x
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II USM Lens39.4"(1000mm)0.27x
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM Lens47.2"(1200mm)0.21x
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM Lens47.2"(1200mm)0.21x

The next chart shows the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III in comparison with similar other brand lenses.

ModelMFDMM
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens47.2"(1200mm)0.21x
Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E AF-S FL VR Lens43.3"(1100mm)0.21x
Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Lens55.1"(1400mm)0.13x
Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS Lens37.8"(960mm)0.25x
Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Lens37.4"(950mm)0.16x

Extension tubes shift a lens farther from the camera, allowing a lens to focus at closer a distance, though at the expense of long distance focusing. Magnification from telephoto lenses is not greatly increased by the use of extension tubes, but there is still some benefit to using them. Mounting a Canon EF 12mm Extension Tube II behind this lens provides a magnification range of 0.28-0.06x and that range increases to 0.36-0.14x with a Canon EF 25mm Extension Tube II in use.

Telephoto maximum magnifications typically increase more strongly when a close-up lens is used and that is the case with this lens. A Canon 500D Closeup Lens threaded onto the lens increases the magnification range to 0.14-0.60x.

This lens is compatible with Canon's EF 1.4x III and EF 2x III Extenders (teleconverters). Retaining the lens' native focus distance range, these options also increase magnification along with providing a narrower angle of view that is sometimes even more highly desired.

The addition of a 1.4x extender creates an attractive full frame 98-280mm image stabilized lens with a 1-stop narrower max aperture (f/4). While the focal length versatility provided by the TC is very nice, magnifying the image by 1.4x can negatively impact image quality. Fortunately, the native sharpness of this lens is high enough that the impact is rather minor and the f/5.6 results are very sharp.

The 1.4x adds some barrel distortion, but that increase is just the right amount to offset the native 200mm pincushion distortion, resulting in a very well-corrected distortion profile at the focal lengths most-typically needed when a 1.4x is needed (the long ones). This extender adds a small amount of lateral CA. With the 1.4x mounted behind this lens, autofocus speed remains good.

Use the 2x extender to create a 140-400mm IS Lens with 2-stops of max aperture loss. Fortunately, even with a 2-stop max aperture reduction, this is still a very-reasonable-for-400mm f/5.6 max aperture lens. I am usually left unsatisfied with the performance of 2x extenders and you are going to find the 400mm f/5.6 image quality degradation noticeable. Still, this combination performs reasonably well, especially if stopped down to f/8. The f/8 max aperture is wide enough and still very useful for the wildlife and sports photography that these focal lengths are especially well suited for if the lighting conditions are bright.

With the 2x mounted, barrel distortion is again increased and again that increase is just the right amount to offset the native 200mm pincushion distortion, resulting in a very well-corrected distortion profile. Lateral CA again becomes somewhat more noticeable, and especially due to the softer corners, it is more visible than at 280mm (with the 1.4x in use). While the 2x has a slight impact on AF speed, it is relatively mild and I again encountered no focus hunting in even low light conditions (with the II).

Build Quality & Features

Canon's L Series lenses are the company's best-available, professional-grade models. The red ring and the "L" in the moniker indicates this lens' inclusion in this exclusive group. Expect little or no difference in the III from the II, which I'll describe here.

Characteristic for 70-200mm lenses is a fixed size and this lens has that nice feature. There is no extension with zooming and as previously mentioned, focusing is also internal.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens Side View

This lens has a mostly-straight barrel design that is very comfortable to use. The barrel exterior is high quality engineering plastic and metals are used internally for a solid overall feel.

Both rings are substantial in size, smooth in rotation and very easy to use. Like the focus ring, the zoom ring on my lens has a small amount of play in the gears.

The rear-positioned zoom ring is a hugely-differentiating feature for the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens (and Canon's other 70-200mm zoom lenses). Many competing 70-200 models position the zoom ring toward the front of the lens where it creates an awkward balance during use. On those models, the left hand under the zoom ring is well-forward of the lens' balance points and that means the right hand must become weight bearing as well. If used on a tripod, the issue is reduced in importance, but if shooting handheld, the rear-positioned zoom ring has a significant value to me.

Though still not pure white, the III gets a whiter white color than the II, matching the other recently-released L-series telephoto lenses. While a white lens might be less stealthy, garnering more attention than a black lens, white remains cooler under a bright sun, reducing the temperature change and any negative issues that such contributes to, including part expansion.

A low-profile switch panel holds four switches. While the switches are also low-profile, they are sized and contoured ideally for use. Their firm click into position is assuring from both positional and quality standpoints.

While not waterproof (water damage will void the warranty), this lens is weather sealed and built for outdoor professional use in conditions that are not always favorable.

The front and rear elements are fluorine-coated. This coating causes dust and water drops to shed off of the element (or easily blow off) and makes cleaning more problematic issues, such as fingerprints, much easier. The fluorine coating makes a noticeable difference.

Creating a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens means that the design, including many large-diameter lens elements, is going to be rather large and heavy. Those attributes are of course weighted according to the lenses a photographer is typically using. Sports and wildlife photographers commonly using Canon's supertelephoto lenses will find this lens small and light while those upgrading from a consumer zoom lens will find any 70-200mm f/2.8 lens large and heavy. Overall, this class of lens is on the upper side of medium in size and weight.

Again, I'll break this comparison table into two. First, here is the Canon 70-200mm lens comparison chart.

ModelWeightDimensions w/o HoodFilterYear 
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens52.2 oz(1480g)3.5 x 7.8"(88.8 x 199.0mm)77mm2018
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens52.6 oz(1490g)3.5 x 7.8"(88.8 x 199.0mm)77mm2010
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM Lens51.9 oz(1470g)3.4 x 7.8"(86.0 x 197.0mm)77mm2001
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM Lens46.2 oz(1310g)3.3 x 7.6"(85.0 x 194.0mm)77mm1995
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II USM Lens28.2 oz(800g)3.1 x 6.9"(80.0 x 176.0mm)72mm2018
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM Lens26.8 oz(760g)3.0 x 6.8"(76.0 x 172.0mm)67mm2006
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM Lens24.9 oz(705g)3.0 x 6.8"(76.0 x 172.0mm)67mm1999

I'm not sure where Canon shaved off 50g on this model from the predecessor. Overall, I see little differentiation between Canon's 70-200mm f/2.8 models in terms of size and weight. There is a slight weight penalty for the IS feature, but ... that feature is worth every once of the difference.

Next up is the competing lens comparison chart.

ModelWeightDimensions w/o HoodFilterYear 
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens52.6 oz(1490g)3.5 x 7.8"(88.8 x 199.0mm)77mm2018
Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E AF-S FL VR Lens50.5 oz(1430g)3.5 x 8.0"(88.5 x 202.5mm)77mm2016
Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS Lens52.2 oz(1480g)3.5 x 7.9"(88.0 x 200.0mm)77mm2016
Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Lens50.5 oz(1430g)3.4 x 7.8"(86.4 x 197.6mm)77mm2011
Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Lens52.9 oz(1500g)3.5 x 7.6"(87.9 x 193.0mm)77mm2017

For many more comparisons, review the complete Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens Specifications using the site's Lens Spec tool.

Again, if you are looking for real differentiators, you are not going to find them in this chart.

Once the III lens arrives in the studio, we will add the standard product images to this review. In the meantime, I'll share one from the II lens review, showing the Canon EF 70-200mm L lens family. The III looks very similar to the II except with a slightly whiter color.

Canon Telephoto Zoom Lens Comparison

Shown above and below, from left to right are:

Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4.0L USM Lens
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4.0L IS USM Lens
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM Lens
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM Lens (discontinued)
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens

The same lenses are shown below with their hoods in place.

Canon Telephoto Zoom Lens Comparison With Hoods

To achieve balance when tripod or monopod-mounting a lens of this weight and length, a tripod ring is required. I'm not saying that you can't hang a lens such as this one from a camera body mounted directly to a tripod, but I am saying that doing so will not work well from a balance perspective (and your tripod may tip over). The tripod mount ring included in the box is the right balance solution for this lens. This ring is solidly built with little flex when locked down. It is moderately smooth with a bump felt as rotation passes the release point that enables the ring to be removed over the lens mount.

Those using the Arca-Swiss standard clamp system and adding a lens plate to this foot should select a model with non-twist nubs. I opted for the Wimberley P30 Lens Plate. This plate is longer than necessary, but the length gives me greater balance options for shooting at strong vertical angles.

Lens design 101 says that 70-200 f/2.8 lenses must have 77mm filter threads. Or, so it seems. Filters of this size are somewhat large, but with so many lenses using 77mm filters, effects filter options such as circular polarizer filters can often be shared (if using protection filters, sharing is not as great of an ideal). Larger filters cost more, but sharing is cost-reducing and fewer filters means less space is required in the backpack.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM ET-87 Lens Hood

Canon always includes the lens hood in the box of L-series lenses and this one gets the ET-87 lens hood. This is a relatively large petal-shaped hood that adds significant protection to the front lens element. Protection is from bright flare-causing lights, from scratch-causing impacts and from dust and rain. This hood is constructed of rather-rigid plastic with a black flocked interior for maximum reflection avoidance.

Also included in the box is the Canon LZ1326 Lens Case.

Canon LZ1326 Lens Case

This is a nicely-padded, double-zippered nylon case that permits easy access to the lens. A thin shoulder strap is included and an about-2" (51mm) belt loop is provided.

Price and Value

I said that one of the downsides of a wide aperture is an increased price and 70-200 f/2.8 lenses are priced at a premium over their f/4 counterparts. This lens is not inexpensive and it is hard to apply the "bargain" label to a lens costing as much as this one. However, the extreme versatility and usefulness of this lens, including its revenue-generating capabilities, make it a very good value and an extremely highly desired member of any kit.

As an "EF" lens, the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens is compatible with all Canon "EOS" cameras (the EOS "M" line requires an adapter). This lens comes with a 1-year limited warranty.

The reviewed Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens will be online-retail acquired.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens Compared to Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II USM Lens Angle View

Alternatives to the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens

When considering alternatives for the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens, the first question to ask is: "Do I need the f/2.8 aperture?" Those photographing indoor events and low light action will definitely want f/2.8. Those photographing landscapes will not likely require it. Many other scenarios may or may not need f/2.8.

Those not needing the f/2.8 aperture will find the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II USM Lens the ideal solution. This lens is smaller, lighter and considerably less expensive. It is also a well-built, great performing lens.

Is it worth upgrading from the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens to the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens? That is a question I'm asking myself right now. While the III is the certainly the better lens, the upgraded features do not seem overly compelling. My current opinion is that I'll probably upgrade at some point, but I'm not feeling especially compelled to do so at the moment.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens

Summary

As I write this review, the version II predecessor to the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens is the most popular Canon lens on this site and the second-best-selling lens at B&H (out of 999 lenses). It takes special qualities to obtain those positions and this lens obviously has those.

The very high number of applications for this lens are a primary reason for its popularity. The build and optical qualities of this lens certainly drive demand. The high-performing AF system coupled with image stabilization certainly help.

Affordability is another sales-driving factor. While this lens is not inexpensive, f/2.8 lenses with longer focal lengths cost far more and that positions this lens as the budget zoom lens option for low light action photography and for creating a strong background blur. This always-needed lens is a big money-maker for a significant number of professional photographers, yet because of its usefulness-to-cost ratio, I very frequently see parents photographing with 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses, from local sporting events to indoor stage performances.

If you do not have the 70-200mm f/2.8 lens hole filled in your Canon kit, or if the 70-200mm f/2.8 lens in your kit is not a high-performer, the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens has your name on it. Preorder now to be one of the first to get this new lens!

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My Recommended Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens Retailers

Where you buy your gear matters. You expect to get what you ordered and you want to pay a low price for it. The retailers I recommend below are the ones I trust for my own purchases. Get your Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens now from:

B&H Photo
Adorama
Amazon.com
Beach Camera or BuyDig.com
the Canon Store (new)
eBay (Choose trustworthy sellers only)
(Using the links on this site to make any purchase provides support for this site)
Rent the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens
Do you need/want the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens for only a short period of time? Or, would you feel more comfortable buying after having a hands-on trial period? Consider renting. Renting is fast and easy. The rental companies I recommend below are excellent to work with. Schedule your rental now:
LensRentals.com
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