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Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM - best mirrorless 70-200?

DPReview did an interesting comparison between the various 70-200mm F2.8's for mirrorless camera systems.  Of course, the best 70-200mm is the one that can mount on your camera, but such a comparison is good if you are considering which system to buy into.

According to DPReview's criteria, the overall winner is the Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8L.  It's just amazing to see the size differences between the 70-200mm's .. while the Panasonic clearly is made for video, I'm not sure it's one I want to be lugging around with me.

You can now purchase the Canon RF 70-200mm immediately from the following preferred vendors;

The Canon RF 70-200mm core features include;

  • Versatile telephoto zoom lens is designed for use with full-frame Canon RF-mount mirrorless cameras.
  • Bright f/2.8 constant maximum aperture maintains consistent illumination throughout the zoom range and suits working in low-light conditions as well as affords increased control over depth of field for working with selective focus techniques.
  • One UD (Ultra-Low Dispersion) element and one Super UD element help to minimize chromatic aberrations and color fringing in order to provide greater clarity and color accuracy.
  • Two aspherical elements are used to correct spherical aberrations and distortion for improved sharpness and accurate rendering.
  • An Air Sphere Coating (ASC) has been applied to lens elements to reduce backlit flaring and ghosting for maintained light transmission and high contrast in strong lighting conditions.
  • An Optical Image Stabilizer helps to minimize the appearance of camera shake by five stops to better enable working in low-light conditions and with slower shutter speeds. Three distinct IS modes are available: standard single-shot mode, a panning-optimized mode, and a mode that only activates the Image Stabilizer during the exposure.
  • Dual Nano USM system utilizes both a ring type USM and an STM mechanism to realize quick and accurate focusing that is also smooth and nearly silent to suit both photography and video applications. This focusing system also affords full-time manual focus control when working in the one-shot AF mode.
  • Configurable Control Ring can be used to adjust a variety of exposure settings, including aperture, ISO, and exposure compensation.
  • Protective fluorine coating has been applied to the front and rear element to resist fingerprints and smudges and to make cleaning these elements significantly easier.
  • As a member of the esteemed L-series, this lens has a weather-resistant design that protects against dust and moisture to enable its use in inclement conditions.
  • Rounded nine-blade diaphragm contributes to a pleasing bokeh quality.
  • Removable rotating tripod collar is included and benefits working with the lens atop a tripod or monopod.

As well, quite a few reviewers have completed their review of the Canon RF 70-200mm as well.

OpticalLimits (formerly photozone.de) is one of the best review sites out there if you want the dry technical details.  OpticalLimits gives it a highly recommended rating with a conclusion commentary;

The results are tack sharp throughout the zoom range and at all relevant aperture settings. Lateral CAs are very low. The same goes for image distortions. Vignetting is a bit of a weak spot though unless you prefer to keep image auto-correction activated. The light falloff in the upper range is too heavy for such a lens. The quality of the bokeh is generally very good - the smooth out-of-focus highlights are especially impressive here. The bokeh fringing is present but quite well controlled. A bit of an ugly aspect are focus shifts (RSAs) when stopping down. This is nothing to worry about when using autofocusing - so most users will never notice it - but the issue can hit you in manual focus mode.

The build quality is great. Canon may have moved away from an outer metal shell but except for the lack of the "cold" haptic feedback, you just won't notice the difference. While the zoom mechanism does extend towards longer focal lengths, everything just feels rock solid. If you don't use a tripod, you can also remove the (metal) tripod mount making the lens even more compact than it already is. Another outstanding feature of the Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8 USM L IS is the AF speed. We have been extremely impressed by Canon's "Nano USM" in the past, but it's even faster on this lens thanks to two AF motors. The image stabilizer is rated at 5 f-stops. Yours truly never reaches the claimed rating but you should be able to come close at least.

Despite the few little issues, it's a no-brainer to decorate the Canon lens with our "highly recommended" badge, of course. Even so, it's worth noting that the pricing is nothing short of excessive. Professional photographers may not mind too much but it's probably over the top for most enthusiasts. If this trend continues, the manufacturers will destroy the (mirrorless camera) market that they are just trying to create. Hopefully, Canon will at least provide a more affordable f/4 lens following the same design approach for "the rest of us".

Dustin Abbot has also completed his video review of the Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8L recently.

Dustin rates the lens quite highly and gives this summarization of pros and cons;

Pros:

  • Significant size and weight savings over competing lenses
  • Extremely fast, quiet, and accurate autofocus
  • Very good tracking and action capabilities when paired with better cameras
  • Highly effective image stabilization system
  • Improved maximum magnification
  • Very easy to use and transport for a 70-200mm F2.8
  • Gorgeous bokeh and color
  • Good global contrast and rendering
  • Good center sharpness and excellent mid-frame performance
  • Good control of aberrations and flare

Cons:

  • Extremely expensive
  • Not compatible with teleconverters
  • Tripod foot not Arca-Swiss compatible
  • Not particularly sharp in corners until smaller apertures

And finally, PhotographyBlog has reviewed the Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8L as well and has given it a solid 5 out of 5 stars with their highest rating of "Essential" for this lens.  They breakdown their rating as follows;

Design 5
Features 5
Ease-of-use 4.5
Image quality 5
Value for money 4

 

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