|Getting your first professional lens is a bit like getting your first bike, except without the wobbles.
I saved for months, finally managed to snag myself a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L lens for about $1550 back in 2001. Ripping open the box like an over-excited boy at Christmas, I opened it to reveal the lens in all its glory. My first impression of the lens was ‘wow, its huge!’ Compared to your normal, run-of-the-mill kit lens (my 18-55mm) this thing is a monster. Big is good in this case though, because after picking it up it feels like a 10lbs baby for the first time, you soon realize that this is actually a really well made, solidly built piece and before long, I was using and abusing it like any other lens. I guess you get used to the weight of this monster makes you remember why it cost so much. Having said that, I still wouldn’t want to drop it! It’s pretty exciting really.
"WARNING" I did develop tendonitis, "tennis"elbow for over 6 months so I had to learn to use my camera with my other hand to allow my elbow time to heal and re-learn how to the properly carry/pickup a lens that heavy.
Up against my Canon 18-55mm there really is no comparison. Its like comparing apples and pears. The build quality of the 70-200mm really stands out, being metal construction, whereas the 18-55mm is made pretty much entirely of plastic and feels very cheap in comparison, and that’s because it is. Being an entry level lens, the 18-55mm is ten times cheaper, but perfectly suited to someone starting out in photography.
Trying the 70-200mm out for the first time I was amazed at just how sharp an clear the image is. The entire lens, including zoom and focusing rings have a nice metallic feel to them. A tad heavy, sure, but the base of the tripod collar helps hold it while zooming. The advantage of this lens is that its max sharpness is always one or two clicks down from max aperture (around f/4 on this one vs. f/5.6 on it's little brother), plus you also gain the ability to further blur out the background at 200mm and f/2.8.
Scanning over the first pictures, the colors seem pretty vivid and the sharpness is fantastic. If you point this lens up or down you get some pretty cool distortion going on, so if you’re keen to keep walls straight etc, then you’d best keep it nice and level, otherwise the effect is quite novel. When you do keep it level, I did not notice any noticeable barrel distortion.
All in all I’m really happy with this lens. It suits my needs perfectly; its great for wide angle landscape photography and really good for shooting interiors too. Being the cheapest of the Canon ‘L’ series lenses, its not hard to see why this lens is a best seller, so if you’re in the market for a wide angle zoom lens and your budget allows, the Canon 70-200mm L might be worth checking out.
P.S – If you’re just starting out in photography or your budget won’t quite stretch that far, it may be worth checking out Canon-70-300mm 4/5.6 USM, sure its not as sharp as the L but has a longer range, but its a versatile lens, is of medium build quality and won’t break the bank. Even cheaper is the Canon 18-55mm, check it out if you’re looking for a budget lens.
Tack sharp. Fast. Quick-focusing. Good color and contrast.