Canon tackles flare with new 70-200mm f/2.8, adds serious stabilization to f/4

Canon has two new workhorse 70-200mm lenses in the L series collection for full frame cameras, and photographers can choose the lens that fits their budget. On Thursday, June 7, Canon unveiled the EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II USM and the EF 70-200mm f/2.8 IS III USM, the first designed for telephoto full-frame zoom on a budget and the second brighter optics for low light and softer backgrounds.

The second generation of the 70-200mm f/4L steps up the image stabilization from three stops to five stops over the predecessor. That stabilization also has three different shooting options tailored to different subjects. One mode covers still subjects, another covers fast-moving subjects. A third mode is designed for panning. Canon says the stabilization system is also quieter than on the first generation of the lens.

The f/4 lens is also capable of focusing a bit closer than the IS I USM lens, with the minimum focusing distance dropped from 3.9 feet to 3.3 feet using an Ultrasonic motor. The lens is designed with 20 elements in 15 groups, including a fluorite lens and two UD lenses to enhance quality and Canon’s Super Spectra Coating to dampen flare and ghosting. That construction gives the zoom lens a weight of 1.7 pounds.

The construction on the third generation of the f/2.8L 70-200mm, on the other hand, is nearly identical except what Canon is calling Air Sphere Coating or ASC. The ASC is designed to further reduce light flares and ghosting when shooting backlight scenes or shooting into the light. The lens still uses Canon’s Super Spectra Coating on the front element, but the ASC coating is actually used on the back of the 19th element.

Except for the enhanced flare reduction, the lens keeps the same optical construction, autofocus system, and stabilization. The lens has 3.5 stops of image stabilization, an ultrasonic focusing motor for quieter performance, and fluorine coatings to help prevent fingerprints. The lens is designed with 23 elements in 19 groups and weighs 3.17 pounds.

Both lenses are full frame options, with Canon suggesting the f/4 for pairing with bodies like the  EOS 6D Mark II or EOS 80D and the f/2.8 for cameras in the 1D and 5D series. The Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II is slated to arrive before the end of the month with an expected list price at about $1,300. The brighter lens, the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III, makes its debut in August for about $2,100.