Canon 70 – 200 2.8 L IS Version I vs Version II Comparison Review

 

Ever since the Canon 70-200mm 2.8 IS L II came out I have been dying to get my hands on one and compare it to the original Canon 70-200mm 2.8 IS L.  I had been looking for some good reviews and comparisons.  I was able to find a few good head to head reviews, but the comparisons seemed to be in consistent. Yes, version 2 always came out on top, but sometimes by a very narrow margin. Well, after comparing the two lenses myself, I am convinced that although subtle in some categories, the updated Canon 70-200 2.8 IS L is a much better lens and an impressive improvement over the original.

Each lens was mounted on a Canon 5D I … Aperture, ISO, Shutter Speed were all set to the same for each lens and image.  Everything was identical. I should note that each shot was hand-held and not set up on a tripod.  I uploaded the images into Adobe Lightroom but no adjustments were made besides some slight and minimal cropping…ie, I did not touch exposure, contrast, saturation, etc.. They were simply converted to jpeg.

So here are my results!!!!  These are just a few of the initial shots and comparisons. I plan on uploading more images in the future including other focal lengths such as 135mm, 100mm, 70mm, so please do check back.

First I wanted to perform my standard “Clock Test”, which I perform in many of my other reviews.

Upon initial viewing I did not see much of a difference.  However as I cropped in, the differences became vast.  The original 70-200mm 2.8 IS L is much less sharp than the new version of the Canon 70-200mm 2.8 IS L.  The detail on version 2 is nothing short of astounding!  I never considered my original 70-200 soft until I saw it compared to the new, updated version.

 

Sharpness Comparison

Sharpness Comparison

Sharpness Comparison

Sharpness Comparison

 

I have wondered what would happen if I increased saturation, contrast, etc.. in Adobe Photoshop and/or Lightroom?  Would I get similar or the same results?  So I did just that.. I boosted clarity, contrast, blacks in attempt to see how close I could get to the updated 70-200.  I think you will see that I got pretty close, but sharpness never quite gets there.  Also, I included an image of version 2 boosted with the same settings to show how much of an improvement the same settings would give to the Canon 70-200 2.8 IS L II.

 

Original Canon 70-200 2.8 L I and II compared with increased sharpness, contrast, and clarity applied in Lightroom

Original Canon 70-200 2.8 L I and II compared with increased sharpness, contrast, and clarity applied in Lightroom

 

 

Here is another example.

 

Original comparison between Version I and Version II

Original comparison between Version I and Version II

 

Version I clarity, contrast, blacks and sharpness boosted in attempt to match Version II

Version I clarity, contrast, blacks and sharpness boosted in attempt to match Version II

Detail

Detail

 

Here is another look at sharpness detail as well as distortion characteristics.  There is a huge difference in corner sharpness as you will see in the following images.

 

Sharpness Comparison

Sharpness Comparison

Corner Sharpness Comparison

Corner Sharpness Comparison

 

 

The next two image comparisons show the difference in contrast as well as chromatic aberration.  This is one are that I feel version II made a huge improvement over the previous version.

 

Contrast Comparison

Contrast Comparison

Contrast Comparison

Contrast Comparison

 

 

There is almost no chromatic aberration with either lens, but version II definitely has less.  Here is another set of images comparing both versions.  The differences in contrast are significant with version II showing much better contrast and far less chromatic aberration.

 

Chromatic Aberration Comparison

Chromatic Aberration Comparison

Chromatic Aberration Comparison

Chromatic Aberration Comparison

 

 

Next I wanted to test light fall off or vignetting. There is a definite difference between v1 and v2. I don’t think it is massive, but I do think it is significant and certainly makes a difference.

 

Light Fall Off / Vignetting Comparison

tt Light Fall Off / Vignetting Comparison

 

 

Lastly, here is a bokeh comparison between the two. Yes, the original 70-200 lens has “smoother”, more “buttery” bokeh… but it may be in part due to the increased sharpness and contrast with the updated lens.  Either way, the difference is minimal.  However, here you can really see the difference in saturation and color. The updated version is much richer and vibrant.

 

Bokeh Comparison

Bokeh Comparison

 

I hope you enjoyed this review. I am just a normal guy who is trying to help others find some useful information when thinking about purchasing a lens.   Here are some of my other reviews

More Lens Reviews

Thanks