Just about anyone who has ever shot a wedding or a sporting event and tried desperately to get that almost unattainable shot loved their Canon 200mm f/1.8L lens. It offered up a great combination of focal length and aperture speed which made those otherwise unattainable shots possible. So, back in 2003 when Canon went and announced they were actually discontinuing that lens, you could practically hear the tears and shocked gasps of photographers around the globe. Now, finally, five years later, Canon announced the replacement for this legendary lens: the Canon 200mm f/2L IS. Can you almost hear the crowds clapping in glee?
Now, anyone that was upset by the f/1.8L being replaced, Canon more than made up for it with the f/2. It has image stabilization, knocks 60cm off of the minimum focusing distance (which is a very nice touch for when you are trying to get those macro shots!), and even adds seven new glass elements. You’d think this would make for a heavier lens, but actually, they reduced the max aperture by a mere third of a stop, which knocked off 500 grams off the lens weight. (Hey, every little bit helps.)
When you pay this much for a lens, you obviously expect the best that lens manufacturing has to offer, and with Canon’s L-glass series, you get it. The lens ships in Canon’s 200-series hard case, and instead of a front lens cover, the 200mm ƒ/2 uses a leather-like ”sock” which extends over the front of the lens to cover not just the front element but half of the lens, as well.
The lens is very solidly built, with the distinctive white color of Canon’s pro lenses. As with most heavier lenses (even with the shaved off weight, this one still weighs in at 5.6 pounds), you’re better off using it on a tripod rather than hand-holding it. A tripod collar comes standard, which can rotate the lens through its entire axis. Two sling lugs are attached to the tripod mount, should you wish to carry the lens this way. The lens is completely weather-sealed with rubber gaskets in critical areas. Just another bonus in my mind.
The f/2 is the clear high point of Canon’s lens technology. You want it? It’s probably got it. But, keep in mind, all this sweetness doesn’t come cheap. Retail price on this girl is about $5,500.