I had the pleasure of renting some glass from Canon Professional Services (CPS) for a few weddings a little while ago and wanted to share my thoughts on them. This review will be on the Canon 200mm f/2.0 L IS and compare it to the more affordable 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS.
You can take one home from B&H for a mere $5,300...
Simply put, this lens is a beast. It is one of the best built optics I've ever held in my hands. Right up there with the 300mm f/2.8 L IS. The build of this lens rates an 11 on a scale of 1-10. Made from a sturdy magnesium alloy with a carbon fiber lens hood, this lens is completely weather sealed and could easily be used as a weapon. The lens with hood & collar weighs in around 6 lbs - heavy enough to warrant it's own shoulder strap. It's just light enough to hand hold, but not for too long. It feels perfectly balanced on the 1D MarkIII and very well balanced on the 5D with the battery grip attached.
AF speed is top notch. Very quick and sure to aquire focus with both the 1D Mark III and 5D. Seemed more accurate than other lenses on outer AF points on the 5D which are not as sensitive as the center point. This is likely due to the new USM motor and the lens being a light gathering f/2.0. The USM motor was obviously optimized to work at 200mm and was swift. I never felt like I had to wait for focus. The IS is the latest version from Canon and as such, works very well. I was routinely hand holding 1/80th sec. and getting sharp images, though I tried to keep my shutter speed over 1/125 if possible to make sure I didn't have subject movement to worry about.
This thing is RAZOR sharp wide open. I'm talking counting pores on faces sharp at f/2.0! It allowed me to create some of the sharpest images from the 1D Mark III and 5D that I've eer made. Toneality is flawless with no odd color cast to the images. It's hard to go back to a lesser telephoto after seeing these images.
Compared to the 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS
Besides weight and that it doesn't have the convenience of zoom, the 200/2 puts the 70-200 (no slouch itself) to shame in every regard. It focuses faster in every kind of light. At f/2.0 it outresolves the 70-200 up to f/5.6 at every focal length I tried (70mm, 135mm, 200mm). Being a prime lens, this shouldn't come as a surprize. After hand holding the 200/2 for a while, I'll never complain about the weight of the 70-200 again. When using the 200/2, especially in a wedding setting, you do draw attention to yourself. I found myself during the ceremony itself, the subject of many guests oogling my rig when using the lens when they should have been staring at the bride & groom. So you won't exactly go unnoticed. I am able to use the 70-200 muce more freely in most cases, plus it's more versatile in that it zooms so I don't have to move around as much to get my composition.
Is this lens worth it's pricetag? This is a very hard question to answer, but I'm going to say, no. I feel it's a tad overpriced. Let me explain:
While I'm very impressed with the qualities of this lens and loved every moment of shooting with it, it simply doesn't deliver a big enough difference in image quality where my clients would notice. They simply don't appreciate the finer qualities of the images compared to the 70-200. I do want to purchase this lens because I feel my work is worth it and the quality is that damn good. If the lens was a grand less, it would be a much easier decision, but at the moment I can't justify it's cost.
About this image: 5D & 200/2.0 L IS, 1/100, f/2.0, ISO 1250