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Thread: Your thoughts: Canon EF 200mm f2.8L II USM Lens

  1. #1
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    Your thoughts: Canon EF 200mm f2.8L II USM Lens

    Hi everyone,

    Have just purchased a Canon 7D. YAY! Loving it. Have just purchased (today) a 50mm f1.8 as well and am awaiting for its arrival.

    Anyway, I have been asked to photograph sports for a variety of clubs - Basketball (indoors), Rollerblade Derby (indoors) and Soccer (outdoors). I was looking at the Canon zoom lens 70-200 f2.8 IS USM L. It seemed versatile however the price was pretty crazy!

    HOWEVER I just found the Canon 200mm L series prime lens. I have read so much about it being a great lens that is underrrated and kind of a "hidden gem". The Price also appealed to me.

    What I want to know is this: Have you used the Canon Prime 200mm lens? And what do you think about using it for Sports Photography?

    As an aside, I have shot sports before (mainly Touch rugby and Basketball) but have been using a Sony. So am relatively skilled.

    Thanks for your insights!
    Chris
    Last edited by cwastney; 12th February 2013 at 12:09 PM.

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    Re: Your thoughts: Canon EF 200mm f2.8L II USM Lens

    Chris

    First of all, welcome to CiC. I hope you'll be around for a while and if you are, then think about editing your profile and putting your 'real name' and location in so that they appear alongside your posts.

    Don't know anything about the lens to which you refer, but would have a question - Is 200mm going to long enough? I appreciate your comment re having shot sport before. But I would question whether 200mm could do a good-enough job for you, certainly for soccer on a full-sized pitch.

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    Re: Your thoughts: Canon EF 200mm f2.8L II USM Lens

    Hi Donald,

    Thanks. Yes I will update my profile - good idea, had not though of it!

    As for focal length - do you think the fact that the 7D is an APS-C sensor would make much difference? Because it would be 200mm x 1.6?..

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Your thoughts: Canon EF 200mm f2.8L II USM Lens

    Quote Originally Posted by cwastney View Post
    As for focal length - do you think the fact that the 7D is an APS-C sensor would make much difference? Because it would be 200mm x 1.6?..
    Hopefully others will come in and comment. However, I think that for good close in action stuff on a soccer field, you'd need to be thinking about something longer than 200mm, except if you're right on the sideline and the action is happening on your side of the field, close to you.

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    Re: Your thoughts: Canon EF 200mm f2.8L II USM Lens

    Chris...

    A lot depends on what your shooting location(s) will be for the various sports. Obviously, if you are shooting Roller Derby and Indoor Soccer from the sidelines, you can make do with a shorter focal length than if your shooting position was from the viewing stands. OTOH, if you are shooting indoor sports, a fast aperture is crucial.

    However, for outdoor soccer, 200mm is rather short for an only lens even if shooting from the sidelines. A 200mm prime will further restrict your shooting choices.

    The ideal combination for field sports would be the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS AND the 400mm f/2.8 L IS on a pair of 1D (series)cameras. However this combination is very expensive and would be far beyond what the average non-professional photographer might want to or be able to pay...

    I don't shoot indoor sports at all... However, for outdoor field sports such as American Football; Soccer; and Rugby; a combination of one of the 70-200mm L (series) lenses and a 300mm f/4L IS or even a 400mm f/5.6L might be the "poor man's answer" to the professional setup that I mentioned above.

    However, for getting "good" images, you will really need to be on the sidelines to shoot. I don't even bother to shoot from the stands. IMO, the quality of the images that a photographer can capture from the stands, is just not worth the effort of lugging a camera to a sports event...

    There is an exception to the above statement... If you are shooting at a very large sporting event, especially one in which the crowd is wearing the colors of the opposing teams, shooting from the very back of the stands (nose bleed level) with a wide or UWA lens often gives a spectacular image. I once shot (using film many years ago) from the very top row of the Los Angeles Coliseum during an American College Football Game between the University of Southern California "USC" (whose colors are garnet and gold) and the University of California at Los Angeles "UCLA" (whose colors are light blue and gold). I used a 20mm lens on a Canon 35mm film camera and the shots were pretty spectacular... IMO, a fish eye lens would have even been better...

    Of course, the subject of that image was not the players but, the enormous crowd decked out in their team's colors. In fact, I shot the images during half-time when the marching bands were on the field; further adding to the pagentry. I would like to return to the Coliseum to reshoot the image using my digital gear. One thing about the "nose bleed" seats, they are fairly affordable in price...

    BTW: if cost is a big concern (when isn't it?) I might suggest that you get either the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS Mk-i lens or even the non-IS version of that lens. I know that the Mk-ii model is touted as having the best image quality but, in reality, any of the 70-200mm L (series) lenses produce very goord to excellent image quality. I can even "limp" along quite satisfactorily using my 70-200mm f/4L IS and 300mm f/4L IS lenses on my 7D and 40D cameras.

    Most often, usng two cameras is just about mandatory for sports. But, mamarazzi (Joanne Van Praag) does some very nice work shooting field sports using the 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS lens. That lens is not often touted as a sports glass but, Joanne's images prove that it certainly can be used with very good results!

    I would think, that despite the relatively small aperture at maximum focal length, the Canon 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS might be a pretty decent lens for shooting field sports from the sidelines.

    The problem with small apertures is not the lack of light (for daytime events) but, problems isolating players using selective DOF...

    Additionally for most non-professional photographers; their choice of equipment is not predicated on shooting sports alone. Their equipment is also used for shooting all the other types of photography in which they engage and has to be within a budget that is comfortable. Therefore, the equipment selection decisions are always a series of choices and compromises.

    Here are two excellent YouTube videos on shooting sports...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iMgZ13X_pr4

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQ4KsGYDzgU
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 12th February 2013 at 03:54 PM.

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    Re: Your thoughts: Canon EF 200mm f2.8L II USM Lens

    I don't use the 200/2.8L, but I do have the 135/2L, which it's similar to, and the lack of zoom will be frustrating, but if the AF performs like the 135L's, then it will at least be able to keep up in that regard. As everyone above says--what sport you're shooting and from where is going to have a great deal to do with whether or not the 200/2.8L can serve your needs. But do not assume that it's the equivalent of the 70-200/2.8L lenses other than optically @200mm.

    I would also mention that the 70-200L comes in multiple versions that let you choose whether or not you want f/2.8 vs. f/4 and IS. Going from least-expensive to most, they are [prices in US$, B&H):

    EF 70-200 f/4L USM ($700)
    EF 70-200 f/4L IS USM ($1350)
    EF 70-200 f/2.8L USM ($1450)
    EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS USM ($1300-$1500, used market, prices KEH)
    EF 70-200 f/2.8L II IS USM ($2500)

    The two newest and best-performing of these lenses are the f/4 IS and the f/2.8 IS Mk II versions.

    Personally, my recommendation if you're budget-limited would be the the EF 85mm f/1.8 USM or EF 100/2 USM for the roller derby and basketball, and a 70-300 IS USM ($650) for the soccer, but then I'm not really a sports shooter. However, on dpreview, the 85/1.8 USM was earning the nickname of "Mr. Basketball" just because it is a lower-cost alternative to getting a 70-200/2.8L IS USM for indoor sports.

    If you are still intent on getting the 200/2.8L, you may also want to consider looking for a good used copy of the Mk I version, rather than a new copy of the Mark II--they're optically identical, but the Mk I had a built-in hood which can be more convenient than dealing with a plastic bayonet hood.

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    Re: Your thoughts: Canon EF 200mm f2.8L II USM Lens

    Cheers to Kathy... I love bult-in hoods. My 300mm f/4L IS and 400mm f/5.6L lenses both have bulit-in hoods and they are a pleasure with which to work compared with accessory hoods...

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    Re: Your thoughts: Canon EF 200mm f2.8L II USM Lens

    Quote Originally Posted by cwastney View Post
    . . . a Canon 7D. . . a 50mm f1.8 as well and am awaiting for its arrival.
    , I have been asked to photograph sports for a variety of clubs - Basketball (indoors), Rollerblade Derby (indoors) and Soccer (outdoors). I was looking at the Canon zoom lens 70-200 f2.8 IS USM L.

    . . .the Canon 200mm L series prime lens. The Price also appealed to me.

    As for focal length - do you think the fact that the 7D is an APS-C sensor would make much difference? Because it would be 200mm x 1.6?...

    What I want to know is this: Have you used the Canon Prime 200mm lens? And what do you think about using it for Sports Photography?
    Yes. I have used all three of those lenses, which you mentioned.
    I have shot a broad range of Outdoor and Indoor Sports. With My DSLR kit, now, I shoot mainly Field Hockey (Obviously Outdoor - but also Night Games) and Swimming (both Indoor and Outdoor: Outdoor being both day and night).

    The EF200 F/2 L USM (and MkII) is a fantastic Prime Lens. It is Lightweight; well Balanced; Sharp, works well with the Canon EF Tele-extenders and it has the advantage of being Black. However, I would not choose it as my first choice as part of a dedicated “Sports Kit”, because of the lack of flexibility (Prime vs. Zoom).

    If money were a pressing criterion I would look seriously at the EF 70 to 200 F/2.8 L USM. This lens has better overall IQ, than the EF 70 to 200 F/2.8 L IS USM - AND - more importantly that IQ differential is noticed when each of those zoom lenses is used with the Canon MkII Tele Extenders.

    However – I subsequently caution you about buying this zoom lens BECAUSE it does NOT have Image Stabilization – so consider very carefully what uses (other than for sport) you might have for this lens.

    Also note that the EF 70 to 200 F/2.8 L IS MkII USM, (the lens you are considering) has the best IQ of all three 70 to 200 F/2.8 L lenses. I have also used this lens. Although I have not used this IS MkII Zoom Lens with Tele Extenders it appears conclusive from reputable tests that the best IQ with the tele extenders of any of these three 70 to 200/2.8 zoom lenses: is the MkII IS when used with the MkIII version Tele Extenders.

    ***

    For Field Sports such as Soccer, and using a 200 Prime on the 7D, and to make good your shots, for a reasonable RANGE of shots, you will need to have:

    1. Sideline access
    2. The freedom to move



    However, you could take the position, to make a stationary vantage point and just pick the shots as they come to you.

    A 70 to 200 zoom would be better and easier – and even then I would suggest, at least a x1.4 Tele extender on it.

    This will give you an idea of the framing, standing at the SIDELINE and using a 400mm lens on an APS-C Camera and shooting directly across an (approved Olympic) Hockey Field.

    Some Federation Approved soccer fields, will be wider.

    Your thoughts: Canon EF 200mm f2.8L II USM Lens


    ***


    For Indoor Sports, such as BBall and Roller derby:

    Firstly BBall – the EF50 F/1.8 MkII will allow a good FL for good shooting with an APS-C, but again the range of shots can be leveraged with the ability to be at (near) the sideline – but more importantly the ability to roam.



    Regarding Roller Derby: depending upon whether you will shooting at a banked track or flat track – you might have issues using only the 50/1.8. A banked track makes for much faster movement and manoeuvres.

    In any case for Roller derby, (and assuming a stationary trackside / railside Vantage Point), a zoom lens would be more suitable to leverage the number of shots you could make of the ‘manoeuvres’.

    Also, whereas some venues / management prohibit Flash from the courtside for BBall: it’s my experience that from the rails in Roller Derby Flash is OK – so included in your costing I would reckon a 430 or 580.

    A lens such as the EF-S 17 to 55 F/2.8 IS USM would be a good zoom lens for both indoor applications and should manage well the low EV in most BBall Stadia, with support from the high ISO capabilities of the EOS 7D. Also it would make a good pair with a 70 to 200 zoom.

    The fast zoom lenses in the 24 to 70 range would also warrant a glance – but, whilst arguable better than a 17 to 55 for these two indoor sports applications - for other uses the lack of wide angle, might be limiting.

    There are third party “equivalents” of the zoom lenses I mentioned – I have used only one: the new Tamron 24 to 70 F/2.8 VR and I didn’t like it at all. The zoom turret was both sticky and rugged and I tried two one already ‘worn in’. The images were very good even at F/2.8.

    I have a close colleague and friend who uses the Tamron 17 to 50 F/2.8 (not VR): she has two (or three) of them – they are a good lens – I trust her judgement: However I am not sure of the AF speed – she does not shoot sport.

    Contrary to what you might be told, or read, the AF speed on the EF50 F/1.8 MII is pretty fast: fast enough for BBall (and probably Roller Derby too) it is just ‘noisy’ and that (I believe) is what makes some people more aware of the focussing and therefore comment that the AF is ‘slow’.



    ***



    As a general comment and advice - I think you should look at what "KIT" you want for a RANGE of shooting scenarios and for YOUR enjoyment of Photography.

    I glean that there is much enthusiasm shooting for these sports clubs - and that is great – but I do think you need to take a step back and look at what you might be buying for all the other great Photos waiting for you out there and look at how you might work toward building a more general kit which will address both.


    WW
    Last edited by William W; 13th February 2013 at 01:10 AM. Reason: Corrected my text about WHICH VERSION of the 70 to 200/2.8 IS the OP was asking about

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    Re: Your thoughts: Canon EF 200mm f2.8L II USM Lens

    I do have the 200 2.8 l II I have used it for kids baseball games and indoor basketball also, Speed wise couldnt ask for better( I prefer it for basketball) baseball I carry a 400mm on a seperate body seems to work for me.

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    Re: Your thoughts: Canon EF 200mm f2.8L II USM Lens

    Fantastic! Thank you all for replying. Definitely a help. I am still torn because the 200mm prime seems like such a good lens for the price. However what William stated at the end regarding a "general all purpose kit" is good for me to consider. I love doing portrait photography and am keen to eventually get into wedding photography. The sport stuff is a hobby more than business BUT it is great networking as I am able to sell my photos on their websites so my name gets out there in front of a lot of people (thousands potentially).

    I am leaning every so slightly towards the 70-200 2.8II IS USM L etc etc haha. May take me a bit longer to save but sounds like it is worth is, especially for other types of sports.

    Is there anyone else there in my dilemma? hah.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Your thoughts: Canon EF 200mm f2.8L II USM Lens

    Quote Originally Posted by cwastney View Post
    Is there anyone else there in my dilemma? hah.
    I suspect quite a number of people.

    If, Chris, you have a clear aim in mind and can see the benefits of delaying your purchase until you are able to afford, in your case, the f2.8II IS L, then do that. You could buy the 200mm now, keep saving, re-sell it when you're ready and use the money that you've saved plus got from the sale to get the zoom. What I don't know is how well the 200mm will hold its value. It is an 'L' so it ain't going to lose a lot, if anything.

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    Re: Your thoughts: Canon EF 200mm f2.8L II USM Lens

    One word of caution - teleconverters on zooms WILL impact IQ if paired with 1.6 crops. Does not seem to matter much if used on full frame cameras or prime lens.

    Another word of caution - you WILL quickly find 200 limiting in many ways.

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    Re: Your thoughts: Canon EF 200mm f2.8L II USM Lens

    As Donald stated, "L" class lenses hold their value on the used market quite well AND because good lenses are always increasing in price (due to a myriad of factors, including currency exchange rates) you will most often not lose much if any money if you buy an "L" lens and then decide to sell the lens at a later time. This is especially true if you purchase the "L" glass used at a decent price but, may also pertain to buying a new lens and later selling it.

    As an example, I purchased a used 24-70mm f/2.8L lens right after the 24-105mm f/4L IS lens was introduced. (the prices of the 24-70L took a dip because photographers were jumping on the new 24-105L bandwagon). I sold that lens about three years later for just about the price I originally paid. So, in effect, I had the use of this fine lens for three years at no cost.

    As an example, I often will recommend that a person intending to go on safari, purchase the lens they need (often the 100-40mm f/4.5-5.6L) used and then sell it (if they can part with it) after the return from Africa. Often, they will lose no money in the transaction and, if a bit of cash is lost; they can just consider that a very low rental fee.

    What I am getting at is that you can purchase the lens you can afford right now, used, and then continue to save for the more expensive glass. When you have saved the required price, you will often be able to resell the lens and then purchase the more expensive glass. Who knows, the less expensive lens might just be just what you needed.

    Of course, getting a good copy of a used lens may be a worry because if the lens that you purchase is off, getting it fixed will eat up any savings you have made by buying the lens used...

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    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Your thoughts: Canon EF 200mm f2.8L II USM Lens

    Quote Originally Posted by Bobobird View Post
    One word of caution - teleconverters on zooms WILL impact IQ if paired with 1.6 crops. Does not seem to matter much if used on full frame cameras or prime lens.
    Using a Tele Extender with ANY Camera / Lens combination will affect IQ.

    The point is "in the real world" the SPECIFIC zoom /extender combinations I mentioned above: even the most critical eye has difficulty noticing much IQ degredation - eg:

    SAMPLE 01
    This is the 70 to 200F/2.8L USM + 2.0MkII used at 400mm
    Shooting - F/6.3 @ 1/1600s @ ISO250 Head-On Motion - Hand Held:
    Your thoughts: Canon EF 200mm f2.8L II USM Lens


    ***

    SAMPLE 02:
    This is the 70 to 200F/2.8L USM + 2.0MkII used at 400mm
    Shooting: F/6.3 @ 1/640s @ ISO250 Transverse Motion - Hand Held.
    Your thoughts: Canon EF 200mm f2.8L II USM Lens

    You may view them ‘large’ for interrogation.

    Note in both samples, the lens is stopped down only 1/3 stop.

    Hand Holding at 1/640s I am ‘reasonably confident’ - though 1/1000s and faster is much easier: obviously an IS lens has an edge, in this regard.

    IMO the x2.0MkII and the x1.4 MkII are pretty handy devices to have in the kit - the 400F/2.8L is heavy.

    As I mentioned, it appears that the MkIII Tele-Extenders combined with the MkII /IS Lens, produce better results than those above.

    WW
    Last edited by William W; 13th February 2013 at 09:33 PM. Reason: corrected a typo

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    Re: Your thoughts: Canon EF 200mm f2.8L II USM Lens

    Fantastic responses.

    I used a Sony 55-210mm lens today, on a NEX camera. It was pretty good, I could get to at least halfway if I stood at the end of a rugby field and get good pics. I can see why some of you think 200mm may not be quite enough - but as you say it depends on where you can stand. Lucky for me for the Roller Derby and Soccer I can roam and get right up on the sideline - on any side. I have the contract for the Soccer League and the Roller Derby so can do what I want hah

    What does everyone think of the Canon 70-200 f4 USM L? No IS - make much difference for sport?

    I really want the IS 2.8 but just can't afford it. If I can get away with the f4 for indoor and outdoor sports then I will probably get it as it has more flexibility in the type of shots I can get.

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    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Your thoughts: Canon EF 200mm f2.8L II USM Lens

    Quote Originally Posted by cwastney View Post
    I used a Sony 55-210mm lens today, on a NEX camera. It was pretty good, I could get to at least halfway if I stood at the end of a rugby field and get good pics. I can see why some of you think 200mm may not be quite enough
    Well, I not being a Smart Alex: but my meaning was actually stronger than that: I actually would go out on a limb and state that 200mm is NOT long enough.

    ***

    Quote Originally Posted by cwastney View Post
    but as you say it depends on where you can stand. Lucky for me for the Roller Derby and Soccer I can roam and get right up on the sideline - on any side. I have the contract for the Soccer League and the Roller Derby so can do what I want hah
    OK, understood you can run the sideline at the soccer field: - but that is a lot of running around, with only a 200mm lens. Just saying – and I have done it.

    ***

    Quote Originally Posted by cwastney View Post
    What does everyone think of the Canon 70-200 f4 USM L? No IS - make much difference for sport?
    I can’t see how a 70 to 200 on a 7D will be useful for Roller Derby ? ? ?
    How close do you expect to be to the action?

    For soccer the EF 70 to 200 F/4 L USM would be OK. But it is still only 200mm - if this is the bottom line choice because of budget, you'd be arguably better off with the 200/2.8 Prime (for soccer) and just do a lot of running around to get the framing you want.

    I am not sure that you get my general meaning . . . What I am saying is: you are ON THE SIDELINE and you CAN RUN THE SIDELINE - unless the players are right under your nose, you are using the 150mm to 400mm range, mostly all the time (on a 7D).

    Maybe you want broad all encompassing shots of a Soccer Field dotted with players here and there, but that is not what typical sports photos are about.

    You need to: “see the ball and the whites of their eyes and the blood”, ref: my newspaper picture editor circa 1980 – really, not much has changed since then.

    ***

    Anyway, apropos a less expensive lens for Soccer – look at the EF 100 to 400 F/4.5~5.6 L IS USM – I’d reckon 100 to 400 would be ‘ideal’ range on a 7D to cover soccer easily. The only down side is the Max Aperture to arrest Subject Motion – but you have good High ISO range on the 7D.

    ***

    Quote Originally Posted by cwastney View Post
    I really want the IS 2.8 but just can't afford it. If I can get away with the f4 for indoor and outdoor sports then I will probably get it as it has more flexibility in the type of shots I can get.
    I really cannot see any F/4 lens covering BBall, (in a range of NON Televison lighting Gymnasiums) unless you can use flash: or you have a Camera which is useful at around ≥ ISO25600.

    WW

  17. #17
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    Re: Your thoughts: Canon EF 200mm f2.8L II USM Lens

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for sharing. With regard to EF200mm f/2.8L II is considered a good lens but I'm not sure if it's appropriate for sport. To my understanding EF300mm f/2.8L IS is more suitable.

    @Richard: I have both lenses too, EF300mm f/4L IS and EF400mm f/5.6L. Can I use both for convocation day to shoot inside the auditorium hall? I have not tried this before. Can I have some tips from you or any members who you can share your experience with me if you did that before? Thanks.

  18. #18
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    Re: Your thoughts: Canon EF 200mm f2.8L II USM Lens

    This is my first time posting on any site, I usually scan until I find what I looking, but I am almost in the same position as Chris. with the exception that I only shoot Roller Derby. My wife runs a team and I am the team photographer. I live and die by the 85mm f/1.8 Our Rink has poor lighting and I don't care much for flash. Although have used my flash in the past, I do not regularly need to use one with the 85 f/1.8. I am very happy with the quality I get out of this lens, but I am getting the bug to expand my case. I too am considering the 70-200mm f/2.8, but am nervous I will not get the same low light quality that I get from the f/1.8.

    I would highly recommend the 85 1.8 for roller derby as a start.

  19. #19

    Re: Your thoughts: Canon EF 200mm f2.8L II USM Lens

    Hi! This is also my first time to post on this site too. First of all, I'm so thankful to find people discussing photographing roller derby bouts on a photography help site. A few others I've posted on really don't discuss shooting roller derby. Anyways, I've been shooting my friend's roller derby bouts the past few months with a Canon ELPH 520(some pics have come out pretty good for a point and shoot) I'll be getting a better suited for indoor sports camera in July. I plan on getting a Canon T2i(or T3) and I will be getting the 85 1.8 lens too(thank you Marc for recommending that lens!) I'll be able to get up and move to get better viewpoints and I can use the flash if need be(amazingly, the pictures I've taken with the 520 are better and brighter without the flash). My question is, is the Canon T2i(or T3) a good choice for me to buy for shooting indoor sports such as roller derby? Any advice and recommendations are greatly appreciated!

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