This Great White Pelican (if I have the correct species name….) was photographed at Lake Kerkini, Greece with the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens (hand held at 175mm) and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/2500 sec. at f/5.6. There were 2 of these birds present the week before I arrived but we saw only one (and that from a distance) until late on our sunny morning when this this beautiful bird graced us with its presence. At times in Greece I worked with the prime lens alone. Sometimes I added the 1.4X III, and when we photographed the larger Dalmatian Pelicans at a small rocky island I added the 2X III TC so that I could work very tight when trying to create images of body parts or feather detail.
Canon 70-200 f/2.8L IS II Gear Questions from the Non-believers
Rob posted this question in the Comments here.
My situation.. I currently own 100-400, 70-200 2.8 IS, and a 2X II. I want something better for BIF and lighter than my 500 f4 IS (I am also using a 1D Mark IV). I was going to get a 400 5.6 but after reading here daily for a couple weeks I am almost sold on selling the 100-400 and my 70-200 and picking up a new 70-200 2.8 IS II. However, I don’t feel that the new 2X III is worth the money compared to my 2X II at this time (your pics with the 2X II seem to confirm this to me but please explain if I am wrong). My dilemma is this: conventional wisdom says a prime (400 5.6) is always sharper than a zoom AND an extender will always degrade the image to some extent. So, I do find it tough to imagine a 70-200 WITH a 2X extender will be as sharp as the 400 5.6 prime. I love this site and will use the links from here to order from B&H after I convince myself it is the right choice. Thanks for the expertise.
Rob, Thanks for your kind comments. Do remember to comparison shop with Gary at Hunt’s Photo to make sure that you are getting the best price. If you do decide to purchase from B&H know that we greatly appreciate your using a BAA link.
As you probably know, I used the 400 f/5.6L IS a lot in the film days; I think that I was quite responsible for the great popularity of my beloved “toy lens” among bird photographers. I now champion the new 70-200 f/2.8L IS II with both Series III TCs.
I have used the Canon 400mm f/5.6 L lens only rarely with digital. I have not done any sharpness testing with either lens. Heck, I have never done a sharpness test on any lens…. I am a seat-of-the-pants type of guy. As I have written from the get-go, initial autofocus acquisition with the 70-200 II and either 2X TC will–as expected–be on the slow side, especially when compared with the lightning fast AF acquisition of the 400 f/5.6. But for AI Servo tracking accuracy and sharpness I simply love the results I have been getting with the 70-200 II and any 2X TC. Once I acquire focus with the 70-200 f/2.8 IS L II lens, most every image in the series will be sharp on the bird’s eye (barring operator error). I do believe that the 2X III TC is marginally sharper than the older 2X II TC.
I cannot use a lens without IS any more and the 4-stop IS on the 2.8 II performs superbly. I made lots of sharp images with the lens and the 2X III TC while hand holding at 400mm and using shutter speeds as slow as 1/100 second (see the image below…). It really is amazing. With the 70-200 II and either 1.4X TC initial AF acquisition is lightning fast, about as quick or quicker than with the 400 f/5.6L. And with the prime lens alone initial focus acquisition is–as would be expected at f/2.8–pretty much instantaneous. As you can use this lens with either the 1.4X or the 2X TC, or by itself, it is amazingly versatile. And the sharpness and image quality are–as you have been seeing here and in the BAA Bulletins for the past year, spectacular.
So why is the conventional wisdom no longer on the money? With their vastly superior optics the newest lenses are far sharper than previous those of previous generations; even when TCs are added folks with decent technique are able to make incredibly sharp images on a consistent basis.
To sum up, I would say that the 70-200 f/2.8L IS II with the 2X III TC is as sharp as the old 400mm f/5.6L. I used the 70-200 II for at least 75% of my images on the recently concluded trip to Greece (but only rarely with the 2X III TC as the pelicans were quite close).
Please let me know if you have any additional questions. And thanks for your initial one.
Note: you can see six more fabulous 70-200 II images here (he added modestly :)).
I created this tight close-up of the breast feathers of a Dalmatian Pelican with the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens and the 2X III TC (hand held at 400mm!) with the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 1/3 stops: 1/100 sec. at f/16 set manually. To ensure enough depth-of-field when creating images like this you need to work at small apertures.
Somewhere on a BPN thread someone asked, “I already own both teleconverters, is it worth it to sell my Canon 100-400mm IS L zoom lens and purchase the 70-200mm f.2.8L IS II lens?
I responded something like this:
I can never know if anything is “worth it” to someone else…. I do know that the 70-200 II is far more versatile than the 100-400, far more rugged, and, in the right hands, will consistently create sharper images :). I recently sold my 100-400 and will be selling my last 400 5.6 when the person who borrowed it returns it :). And I will likely be selling my 400 DO soon…..
I created this image of a Dalmatian Pelican skidding in for a landing with the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens and the 1.4X III TC (hand held at 140mm) with the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 1600. Evaluative metering +1 1/3 stops: 1/1600 sec. at f/4 set manually. Note the fine high ISO performance of the MIV. You can reduce noise by pushing your histogram to the right as detailed in Exposure Simplified in ABP II. I added canvas to the right side of the image using techniques detailed in APTATS I & II.
Request for Help
If you purchased a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens using a link from the blog, I would appreciate hearing from you via e-mail. Thanks a stack!
Below is a list of the gear that I used to create the images above. Thanks a stack to all who have used the Shopper’s Guide links to purchase their gear as a thank you for all the free information that we bring you on the Blog and in the Bulletins. Before you purchase anything be sure to check out the advice in our Shopper’s Guide.
Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens. Man, I am loving this lens on my shoulder with the 2XIII teleconverter. I also use it a lot–depending on the situation–with the 1.4X III TC.
Canon EF 1.4X III TC. This new TC is designed to work best with the new Series II super-telephoto lenses.
Canon EF 2X III TC. The new 2X III TC is a bit sharper than the 2X II.
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV professional digital camera body. The very best professional digital camera body that I have ever used.
And from the BAA On-line Store:
Delkin 32gb e-Film Pro Compact Flash Card. Fast and dependable.