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Podcast 236 : The EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS II USM Lens with Extenders

Last week, I released a review of the new Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS II USM lens, and was asked how the version II of Canon's workhorse lens fairs with Canon's Extenders (teleconverters)? I'm pleased the reader/listener asked quickly, as I sold this lens on Saturday, but before I...

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Martin Bailey
Martin Bailey is a nature and wildlife photographer and educator based in Tokyo. He's a pioneering Podcaster and blogger, and an X-Rite Coloratti member.
  • Koop
    Posted at 00:06h, 31 March Reply

    Martin, Thank you so much for your second excellent review! I just received my Canon 7D and was very disappointed in the 100-400 lens as it approached 400 mm. Looks like I will have to start budgeting for new glass. Koop

  • Martin Bailey
    Posted at 10:23h, 31 March Reply

    Thank you, for reminding me of this before I sold my original 70-200 Koop! 🙂

    Congrats on the 7D too. If you decide to go for the new 70-200mm, I don’t think you’ll regret it. I’m really very pleased with mine. It’s great to have this workhorse lens back in my arsenal after so long not being able to use it.

  • Allan
    Posted at 18:06h, 12 May Reply

    Martin, Thank you for the effort you went to in compiling this review. I have just purchased this lens and are absolutely impressed by its quality, fast glass and image sharpness. With the use of extenders now a viable proposition the relative high price for this lens just become a better value for money package.

    It would seem that the 1.4x is the go on FF cameras as the crop performance of this lens is staggering and f4 @ 200mm + 80mm with a 1.4x cropped to 400mm equivalent will produce tack sharp images with the added advantage of greater lighting performance over that of f5.6 @ 200mm + 200mm with a 2x teleconverter.

    Well done and thanks again for this review.

  • Martin Bailey
    Posted at 23:02h, 12 May Reply

    You’re welcome Allan.

    I’m pleased it was useful. 🙂

  • Peter
    Posted at 12:55h, 14 June Reply

    Thank you for this and the previous podcast as I have just recently bought a 7D, a 70-200 (non IS) and a 1.4 extender. It was an upgrade from a 350D with kit lenses.
    To date with the little use I have been able to put this combination to I have been unimpressed with the results. I have found the focus on almost all images to not be acceptable. From these two podcasts I now see I am going to have to do the tests you suggest and check both the body, I have several other lenses, and the 70-200. I have downloaded and will use the chart you suggest from Cornell along with the other chart that I had previously downloaded.

  • Martin Bailey
    Posted at 00:03h, 15 June Reply

    You’re welcome Peter. I’m pleased these Podcasts and posts helped.

    Note, there is a difference between focusing problems and sharpness issues. You might want to do some focus tests using the charter linked on this post, as well as the sharpness tests that I concentrate on in this review.


  • Steve
    Posted at 01:05h, 23 August Reply

    the new 70-200mm + TC combo seems very attractive and sharp, my 300mm 2.8 rarely gets used…thinking about trading it for the new 70-200 + TSc!
    I look forward to your field test results!

    and thanks for the wonderful reviews so far!

  • Martin Bailey
    Posted at 09:39h, 24 August Reply

    The new 70-200mm + TC is definitely a workable option.

    I personally could never think of getting rid of my 300/2.8 though. It’s almost my live-in lens. 🙂

    Thanks for the comment Steve. I’ve been using the new 70-200mm a bit, but looking forward to the fall color now, to really take it through it’s paces.

    By the way, if you click on my profile photo below, there are links to all of my lenses below the About Me section. If you click on these, you can see images shot with any of the lenses. Not all world-beating stuff, but it gives you an idea of what I’m getting with it.


  • Jeff
    Posted at 11:33h, 26 October Reply

    Thanks so much for the lens and extender review. I just purchased the 70-200 f2.8L is ll and it is unbelievable and sold the old Mk1 immediately! Used with 1.4 ll extender and my real world shooting is great. Please follow up with the new extenders Mk 111 when released around Dec. 2010. I am very interested in knowing if extender up grade is warranted.
    Thanks again and I do buy from B&H and I “will” use your link.

  • Justin
    Posted at 05:10h, 02 February Reply

    Is there a possibility of you doing an updated review with the new telephoto extenders now that they’ve been released and supposedly have a marked improvement with the new lens? I know a few people who would greatly appreciate a quality review from you with that subject in mind. The difference between the new and old extender, on both the new and old lens is still a very clouded debate right now. Thanks!

  • Martin Bailey
    Posted at 08:52h, 10 February Reply

    You’re welcome Jeff. I’m pleased you like the version II lens, but there was never any doubt that you wouldn’t. It’s just such a big difference.

    Jeff and Justin, I have both the 1.4X and 2.0X Mark III Extenders, and have been using them extensively in Hokkaido over the last few weeks. I’ve run some tests too, but have not yet had time to pull my findings together for a Podcast. I’ll certainly do so soon.

    One thing I will say right now is that the 1.4X Extender can be used with the 70-200mm F2.8 Mark II with virtually no loss of image quality, and the 2.0X Extender can also be used with it, with very little loss in image quality. Both also work well with the 300mm F2.8, but that was also the case with the old Extenders. If anything, the 2.0X is a little better. The old Version II used to be a little “hard” with the 300mm, for want of a better description.

    We should note though that the new Extenders are designed to really work well with the new Mark II super telephotos that will be released in the coming months. The 300mm, 400mm, 500mm and 600mm are all going to work so much better with the Mark III Extenders apparently. I’m not sure if I’ll be replacing my 300mm and/or 600mm though just yet.


  • Maurice Lousberg
    Posted at 06:05h, 05 May Reply

    Hi Martin,

    Thank you for the instructive reviews!

    Did you try using the new extenders mk III on the old 70-200 lens?

    Kind regards,

  • Martin Bailey
    Posted at 09:56h, 05 May Reply

    Hi Maurice,

    Unfortunately, I don’t have the old 70-200 lens any more, so I can’t test this combination.

    Sorry about that!


  • Mike G
    Posted at 22:08h, 28 March Reply

    Martin, I love your podcasts, though I haven’t made the time to listen to all of them all the time. Pretty sure I used your link when I bought the 70-200 a few months ago.

    Now that it’s been three years since the review how are you felling about the 70-200 with either extender? I studied your top ten for 2012 and it appears that you probably used the 70-200 with the 1.4 for a few of those images.

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 22:55h, 28 March Reply

      Hi Mike,

      Thanks for using the link!

      I still love the 70-200mm with the 1.4X Extender. The image quality is so good, I often just leave the extender on, even when I don’t need the reach. I haven’t used it with the 2X Extender that much, but I do at a push, and I’m happy enough with the results, although you can start to tell that it’s pushing it a bit. I’m thinking of using it with the 2X in Iceland this year though, as there isn’t a lot of times I’ll need my 300mm f/2.8, so my 70-200 will be my longest lens.

      I hope this helps some!


  • Brandon Turley
    Posted at 23:34h, 07 March Reply

    Hi Martin,

    Thank you for all of your information and time dedicated to helping everyone!

    I’ve read through everything here, but I still have a question (sorry if i missed something!)

    Is there a vast difference when using the TC 2x ii vs TC 2x iii with the Canon 70-200 2.8 ii? I’m using a Canon 6d btw.

    Thank you again!


    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 11:12h, 08 March Reply

      Hi Brandon,

      I didn’t try the lens with a Mark II Extender, but the Mark III Extenders are better. Whether you consider the difference vast will depend on your own standards, but I personally would prefer to use the Mark III Extenders if at all possible. Maybe you could buy the lens first and do some tests before deciding whether or not to upgrade your Extender.


      • Brandon Turley
        Posted at 16:28h, 08 March Reply

        Thanks for your reply, Martin.

        I was under the assumption that the extender you tested was the 70-200 with the TC 2x ii, because when i clicked on the link it took me to that page (where it said it was discontinued, but recommended the iii)

        I have the 70-200 2.8 ii already, just trying to decide if I should get the ii or the iii. No worries, I’ll figure it out.



        • Martin Bailey
          Posted at 17:16h, 08 March Reply

          Aah, OK. I didn’t realize that this post was that old. It must have been the Mark II Extenders that I was using.

          I did see an improvement in image quality with the Mark III upgrade, but can’t say for sure how much difference it made with this lens. I do recall thinking that it was good enough to use this lens with the 2.0X Extender for shooting sea eagles from a boat, as an alternative to my larger old prime lenses.

          If you don’t already own an Extender though, just get the Mark III. There’s no point in buying into old technology, especially with the resolution we have in our cameras now.


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