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Canon EF 200 2.8L USM

Perfection on a Budget

Peter Kun Frary

The EF 200 2.8 L is one of my all time favorite lenses. I love the perspective, speed, sharpness and feel of this lens. I use it around Honolulu, shooting candids, portraits and landscapes. The longer reach allows me to isolate subjects from the urban clutter. The large aperture helps keep my images sharp and imparts a beautiful background blur. This is the longest lens I can handhold with consistent results, at least without without IS.

4th of July 2009Canon EOS 50D, EF 200 2.8L USM, Bogan Tripod

Construction Quality

This handsome black lens is small and light for a fast telephoto, especially when compared to the EF 70-200 2.8L IS USM. Although not a macro lens, it focuses close enough for head shots (1.5m). Because it employs rear element focus, the front element does not rotate nor does the lens change in length. The 72mm filter size makes filters expensive, but at least I can share filters with my EF-S 15-85 3.5-5.6 IS USM.

Chairs at Waikiki • EOS 3, EF 200 2.8L USM, Sensia

The ring-type USM focuses extremely fast. Like all ring-type USM lenses, it has FTM and a distance window. Plus, the manual focusing ring is wide and turns almost as smooth and precise as a manual lens. Build quality is solid but sports more plastics than larger L telephotos (barrel is mostly plastic). The black finish is more stealthy than the attention grabbing white of larger L series telephotos. Finally, the slide out hood is handy but small. However, it's always there so it gets used. The updated EF 200 2.8 L USM II has the same optical design and exterior appearance, but has a larger detachable hood. All we all know what happens to detachable hoods...

EF 200 2.8L USM on EOS 3 • EOS 10D & EF 50 2.5 Compact Macro

Optical Performance

This lens is extremely sharp, contrasty, distortion free and flare resistant. I mainly use it wide open at F 2.8 and it is pin sharp but improves a little stopped down. The bokeh is smooth and pleasantly rendered, making a pleasing background for portraits.

I'll use pixel level views from the church image below to illustrate sharpness. The church is a city block away and thus the lens was focused at infinity. I locked the center AF point on he roof and recomposed. These images were converted from RAW files in EVU and cropped in Photoshop. No sharpening or other adjustments were performed.

Test Image • EOS 10D & EF 200 2.8L USM

EF 200 2.8L USM • Lower Center of frame (100% magnification) • F5.6

EF 200 2.8L USM • Left side of frame (100% magnification) • F5.6


I often use this lens with the Extender EF 1.4x, resulting in a sharp, close focusing and compact 280 mm F4 lens. With this extender, it's smaller and nearly as good optically as the EF 300 4 L USM, except for a little flare under extreme conditions such as Hawaiian sunsets (it still has less flare than most zooms). You may add an optional tripod ring but it is only necessary if you use both an extender and extension ring. However, a tripod mount is more convenient to switch from horizontal to vertical framing than a tripod head. Tripod Mount Ring A (black) is the original recommended mount, but the white version and updated Tripod Mount Ring A II work as well. If you own the EF 300 4 L USM or EF 80-200 2.8L (several other models as well), you already have a ring that fits.

Lotus at Ala Moana • Canon EOS A2, EF 200 2.8L USM, Fujichrome Sensia


The EF 200 2.8L USM is small, light, tough, discreet, fast and delivers optical quality in spades. For discriminating hikers, travelers and amateurs this lens deliverers quality without breaking their shoulder (and bank) and can take the knocks they dish out. Plus, it works well with both film and digital bodies.

If you find yourself mainly using the long end of a 70-200 telezoom, the EF 200 2.8L USM may be ideal for you.


Focal Length: 200 mm

Aperture: F2.8

Lens Construction: 9 elements in 7 groups with 2 UD elements

Min. Focusing Distance: 1.5 m/4.9 ft

Filter Size: 72 mm

Diameter & Length: 83 x 136 mm

Weight: 790 g/27.7 oz

Included Accessories: Hard Case

Optional Accessories: Tripod Ring A (black)

More Images taken with the EF 200 2.8L USM (click to enlarge)


06/21/2001 • Revised 01/09/2014

©Copyright 2001-2014 by Peter Kun Frary • All Rights Reserved


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