The Canon 200mm f/2.8

a short love note to the 200mm…



Ahhh the Canon 200mm…


One of the least respected yet most useful of Canon’s older lens designs…


Quick facts

Price: $750 new / $650 for used in almost perfect condition

Max aperture: f/2.8

No image stabilization

Weighs 1.7 pounds, weight near front of lens



The 200mm f/2.8 honestly seems to have been dismissed by people from the get go… it just isn’t sexy, it’s an unusual focus length, and until you try it you just don’t understand.




It’s big and beautiful… well, it’s not that big… but unless you’re used to telephoto lenses or have been lugging around a 70-200mm f/2.8 the 200mm will feel a bit big. Despite only being 1.7 pounds, the weight is near the front of the lens, which makes it feel heavier when mounted on your camera.


The lens is built like a tank.

The 200mm lens has a very solid feeling metal barrel and after extensive use in the wilderness I get the impression that the lens can stand up to a good smack or an accidental bit of water.

Unfortunately, there is no gasket around the lens mount and the big front element causes everything to gather at the edges… and I have no clue how well the edge around the front element is sealed (if at all).

For $750 though… you’re getting a lens that absolutely feels better built than some of these new $1500 lenses. You can break one completely and buy a replacement for the same price as a lens with only a thin cosmetic metal barrel… that really is something you should keep in mind.



The 200mm is one of the least popular Canon lenses on B&H and only middling popular at Adorama. The number of reviews compared to how long it has been sold is quite small. Canon’s other older lenses are racking up thousands of reviews.

Read the reviews and you’ll find the same basic themes… Feels kind of big, sharp, and nice bokeh.


Bokeh Example…


And yet, despite not being sexy enough for the average Canon user, the lens is an artistic powerhouse.


That bokeh could be yours for $750.



While the 200mm isn’t as sharp as its much beloved brethren the 135mm on an APS-C body… it is sharp enough. Put that sucker on a full frame camera if you want images that are insanely sharp.

It is important to note that the 200mm f/2.8 does not have image stabilization… you’ll need to be a bit more watchful of your camera settings to keep your photos sharp.

The 200mm f/2.8 also performs horribly with a 2x extender on an APS-C body. The chromatic aberration is out of control in almost any image you take. But put it on a full frame and once again you have an incredibly sharp lens with little chromatic aberration.


In other words, put your lens on a full frame body if you can.



To Sum Up…


The 200mm f/2.8 is one of Canon’s bottom of the barrel lenses… priced at only $750 it’s a steal yet one that few people take. It’s a lens that you should absolutely consider purchasing before getting something like the 70-200mm f/2.8L II or the future Canon f/2.8L III (at only $750 you could even purchase a second Canon L lens if you didn’t buy the 70-200mm).

Frankly the 200mm is a lens that makes a photograph… a photograph.

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