Adventures of the Canon 200L IS
I recently purchased one of my ultimate dream lens, the Canon 200L IS. Although this is the most expensive lens I’ve ever purchased, it lives up to its legend. I’ve been looking at this lens since about a year ago and finally in the beginning of the year I decided to save up to purchase this lens. Luckily it was on sale during this period from Aden camera in Toronto with free delivery to Vancouver, BC.
There’s many aspects to improve photography eg. Taking courses, analyzing photos, deconstructing photos and others. This lens doesn’t make you a better photographer and I’ve always believed that. The main reason I wanted to purchase this lens from my research was the unique look it gives. I’ve read for every 1000 owners of the 85L there’s about 1 owner of the 200L IS. I personally only know 2 people with this lens and 1 person with the Nikon version. One’s planning on selling it, the other is a collection and the Nikon is a professional photographer. I’ve spoken with my pro friend Tony about this lens, and he highly recommends it for the unique look factor. Ultra sharp and bokehlicious backgrounds. This lens destroys backgrounds. I’ve done some research of the lens sharpness, and between the 85L, 135L 200L IS and other lens, the 200L IS is the sharpest lens wide open even compared to the 85L at the common aperture of f/2.0. (The website I used was: http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/ISO-12233-Sample-Crops.aspx and you can compare different lens, different brands, different focal lengths and different aperatures)
As expected, the 200mm range is hard to work with. I’d say the 85mm range is much easier to work with for my style of photography (outdoor fashion/portraits) Last weekend I tried out this lens. With the 85mm range it’s perfect, you can communicate with the model easily for ¾ and full body photos. For full body the 200mm you will have to be quite far back. The lens is very heavy. I have no problems with the weight but it’s definitely a lot heavier than the 70-200/2.8 II
My style of outdoor photography is usually shot from f/2.0 ~ f/2.8 wide open with a strobe. Usually 45 degrees from the model, using my Kacey beauty dish socked. The model’s back is facing the sun, so she is back lit. The area we picked was White Pine Beach in Coquitlam in a small forest path area. I found it very hard to back up enough to get full body images, as a result most of my images were ¾ body shots. My model for today was Nicole and she’s a pro.
During the photoshoot, I alternated a few times with the 135L and honestly I found the 135mm and 200mm range working wise to be similar. You are so far back there wasn’t much difference.
Below are some images from my photo-shoot,
Feathered lit with beauty dish + sock
Analysis of the photos
I’ve looked at the photos screen size and web size personally and with a few friends. It might be my framing but they were able to pick out the differences between the 200L IS and the 135L. 200L is sharp, it’s the sharpest lens I’ve ever owned. The 135L is very sharp also, almost the same as the 200L IS. But the bokeh is very different. Probably due to the compression of the 200mm length at f/2.0 the 200L IS’ bokeh is much smoother.
I did a quick comparison between the 85L 135L and 200L IS shooting my motorcycle. It’s not a controlled test. It’s not even done on the same day or the same angle. But the 85L at 1.2 is noticeably not as sharp as the 135L or the 200L IS as expected. Here are some sample photos
I sold my 85L but the more I think about it, the more I regret this decision. For indoors, 85mm is a great focal length. Although the 50mm might be better except the 50L is not sharp at all and there’s a focus shift issue by design. I think I will repurchase the 85L again one day but for now, I will play with the 200L IS and try to master the look with this lens.
I don’t think I will ever sell this lens, let alone finding a buyer for this lens at a reasonable price. There are way too many lowballers in the Vancouver area.
It’s a very specialized lens for specialized situations. I’m a big fan of zoom lens, even the 85L gives a unique look. But the 200L IS gives a very unique look. For weddings, I will bring this lens but the 70-200/2.8 II is the bread and butter lens, versatile, light and the IQ is awesome. But I’ll sneak in a few shots here and there with this lens.
I will continue to use this lens for my outdoor shoots with models I’ve worked with before, since the distance for full length photo will be so great, it will be hard to communicate with models, let alone new models I’ve never worked with before.
Fortunately, Nicole is free again next week and I will be testing this lens out some more. I will try to get some more full length photos.
Thank-you for reading my blog