70-200 Canon Lens – Which One Is Best

Which 70-200 Canon Lens is the best?

That question has been bantered about among photographers and online photo forums since the second 70-200 lens was produced.

Let’s get one thing out of the way. Every photographer that uses Canon photo equipment needs a 70-200 Canon lens. This should be the second lens you purchase, after you get your basic walk-around lens. It fits into the category of “medium telephoto,” and it covers a very valuable focal length range.

It can be used for a wide range of photography types, from close-up to street photography to nature photography, and even portraits.

Actually portraits are one of the most popular uses. The optimum focal length for portraits is 100mm, which is right in the “sweet spot” for this zoom lens.

Now, back to the question, which one is best…

Each 70-200 Canon lens has its own set of benefits, but the major benefit of every one is superb image quality. This lens from Canon is their “flagship” lens. They are proud of them, and they should be. They are each fantastic.

Notice that each one has the coveted “L” in its title. L is attached to only the best build quality lenses made by Canon.

There is also HSM. This stands for HyperSonic Motor. It helps the lens for focus at super-fast speeds. Another plus of these fantastic pieces of photographic equipment.

There are four lenses to choose from made by Canon (there are also third party manufacturers):

Model Weight Dimensions w/o Hood Filter
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM 24.9 oz (705g) 3.0 x 6.8″ (76 x 172mm) 67mm
70-200 f/4.0 Canon LensBenefits:

  • Least expensive of the 70-200 Canon Lenses
  • Lightest lens in this line up
Model Weight Dimensions w/o Hood Filter
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L IS USM 26.8 oz (760g) 3.0 x 6.8″ (76 x 172mm) 67mm
Benefits:

  • IS (Image Stabilization at, yet still less expensive
  • The same size as the non-IS version
Model Weight Dimensions w/o Hood Filter
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM 42.2 oz (1310g) 3.3 x 7.6″ (85 x 194mm) 77mm
Benefits:

  • 2.8 aperture thoughout the zoom range allows for much faster shutter speeds and hand-held photos in lower light than the f/4.0 version
  • Lack of IS keeps the price at a lower level
Model Weight Dimensions w/o Hood Filter
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM 51.9 oz (1470g) 3.4 x 7.7″ (86 x 197mm) 77mm
70-200 f/2.8 IS Canon LensBenefits:

  • f/2.8 is very desirable
  • IS adds several stops to hand-held images
  • Combination of f/2.8 and IS allows for much more creative low-light images, such as night concerts and indoor events
Model Weight Dimensions w/o Hood Filter
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L II IS USM 42.2 oz (1310g) 3.3 x 7.6″ (85 x 194mm) 77mm
Canon’s newest addition to the 70-200 Line Up.

Improving upon one of the most celebrated lenses in the Canon EF line is no easy feat, but Canon has done just that. The all-new EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM increases the speed, performance and optical quality of the EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS USM while maintaining all of the characteristics that have made it a legend for professionals and advanced amateurs alike. The EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM features one fluorite and five UD elements for increased optical quality and reduced chromatic aberration. It has a minimum focusing distance of 1.2m/3.9 ft. at all zoom settings, which is useful for photographers in smaller spaces trying to get closer to a subject.