Canon EF 200 2.8L USM

Wee L Telephoto

Peter Kun Frary

The EF 200 2.8 L is one of my all time favorite lenses. I love the perspective, speed, sharpness and feel of this lens. I use it around Honolulu, shooting candids, portraits and landscapes. The longer reach allows me to isolate subjects from the urban clutter. The large aperture helps keep my images sharp and imparts a beautiful background blur. This is the longest lens I can hand hold with consistent results, at least without IS.

Water Lily | Canon EOS A2E, EF 200 2.8L USM & Sensia 100

Construction Quality

This handsome lens is small and light for a fast telephoto, especially when compared to the EF 70-200 2.8L IS USM. It's also among a handful of black Canon L series telephotos, resulting in a more stealthy appearance compared to Canon's white telephotos. Although not a macro lens, it focuses close enough for head shots (1.5m). Because it employs rear element focus, the front element does not rotate nor does the lens change in length. The 72mm filter size makes filters expensive, but at least I can share filters with my EF-S 15-85 3.5-5.6 IS USM.

EF 200 2.8L USM & EOS 3 | EOS 10D & EF 50 2.5 Compact Macro

The ring-type USM focuses extremely fast. Like all ring-type USM lenses, it has full time manual focus (FTM), i.e., ability to use manual focus while in AF mode, and a distance window. Plus, the manual focusing ring is wide and turns almost as smooth and precise as a manual lens. Build quality is solid but sports more plastics than larger L telephotos (barrel is mostly plastic). Finally, the slide out hood is handy but small. However, it's always there so it gets used. The updated EF 200 2.8 L USM II has the same optical design and exterior appearance, but has a larger detachable hood. And while a larger detachable hood provides better shading, many of hoods are MIA because, well, they're detachable.

Optical Performance

This lens is extremely sharp, contrasty, distortion free and flare resistant. I mainly use it wide open at F 2.8 and it is pin sharp but improves slightly stopped down. The bokeh is smooth and pleasantly rendered, making a pleasing background for portraits.

4th of July 2009 | Canon EOS 50D, EF 200 2.8L USM, Manfrotto Tripod


I often use this lens with the Extender EF 1.4x, resulting in a sharp, close focusing and compact 280 mm F4 lens. With this extender, it's smaller and nearly as good optically as the EF 300 4 L USM, except for a little flare under extreme conditions such as Hawaiian sunsets (it still has less flare than most zooms). You may add an optional tripod ring but it is only necessary if you use both an extender and extension ring. However, a tripod ring is more convenient to rotate from horizontal to vertical framing than adjusting a tripod head. Tripod Mount Ring A (black) is the original recommended mount, but the white version and updated Tripod Mount Ring A II work as well. If you own the EF 70-200 4L USM, EF 70-200 4L IS USM, EF 300 4 L USM or EF 80-200 2.8L (several other models as well), you already have a ring that fits.

Lotus at Ala Moana | Canon EOS A2E, EF 200 2.8L USM, Fujichrome Sensia


The EF 200 2.8L USM is small, light, tough, discreet, fast and delivers optical quality in spades. For discriminating hikers, travelers and amateurs this lens deliverers quality without breaking their shoulder (and bank) and can take the knocks they dish out. Plus, it works well with both film and digital bodies.

If you find yourself mainly using the long end of a 70-200 telezoom, the EF 200 2.8L USM may be ideal for you.

Water Lily | EOS A2E, EF 200 2.8L USM & Fujichrome 100


Focal Length: 200 mm

Aperture: F2.8

Lens Construction: 9 elements in 7 groups with 2 UD elements

Min. Focusing Distance: 1.5 m/4.9 ft

Filter Size: 72 mm

Diameter & Length: 83 x 136 mm

Weight: 790 g/27.7 oz

Included Accessories: Hard Case

Optional Accessories: Tripod Ring A (black)

More EF 200 2.8L USM Images (click to enlarge)


06/21/2001 | Revised 06/18/2017

©Copyright 2001-2017 by Peter Kun Frary | All Rights Reserved


Flag Counter