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Canon 70-200mm trouble

Laura Fitch

New member
Hello. I purchased a used Canon 70-200mm L lens last year to photograph local sports. This lens is famously popular and there are numerous beautiful photos online showing off its abilities so I thought I was incredibly lucky to find this on Craigslist for $900. However, I'm unhappy with my results and so now rarely get to make use of the lens.

I shoot with a Canon 7D that takes good photos with my other lenses (primarily my 28mm and 85mm Canon primes that I love) but each time I try to use the 70-200 I get lackluster results. Everything seems dark and almost as if there is a haze coating the images. Because I'm shooting fast action I have to shoot at higher ISO's but find I end up needing higher ISO's than if I were using my workhorse 85mm. The difference between the two lenses at basketball games has been surprising and frustrating.

I understand a prime lens will generally outperform a zoom lens with sharpness, but still this 70-200 is difficult to get a truly sharp photo with. I can post some examples later in the week (heading out to photograph ice hockey in a few minutes) but my question is is it possible I purchased a bad or somehow damaged lens?

Has anyone experienced anything similar with a known quality lens giving darker than expected and/or less sharp than expected images? Could this point to some sort of damage to a lens element?

I need to, also, take this lens outside in nice light photographing a still subject to help tell if I still experience the same frustrating results or not--maybe I'll take a few photos this week comparing it to my 85, but I was curious if anyone here might have some wisdom to share. Thanks for reading.

Laura
 

Doug Kerr

Well-known member
Hi, Laura,

Hello. I purchased a used Canon 70-200mm L lens last year to photograph local sports. This lens is famously popular and there are numerous beautiful photos online showing off its abilities so I thought I was incredibly lucky to find this on Craigslist for $900. However, I'm unhappy with my results and so now rarely get to make use of the lens.
I have had both the Canon EF 70-200 mm f/2.8L IS and (now) the EF 70-200 f/4 L IS (much easier for an old guy to carry around).

I have had wonderful results with both lenses.

Could this point to some sort of damage to a lens element?
Well, it certainly might be some kind of lens problem. Perhaps there is a fungus among us.

I need to, also, take this lens outside in nice light photographing a still subject to help tell if I still experience the same frustrating results or not--maybe I'll take a few photos this week comparing it to my 85 . . .
That would be well worth doing.

But note that if in fact some defect has reduced the transmission of your lens, the exposure metering should still produce "appropriate" exposure (since the reduced transmission would equally effect the metering and the actual exposure).

Thus you should perhaps take exposures of the same scene with the questionable lens and a known "good" lens in M mode with the same aperture, shutter speed, and ISO sensitivity, and compare the exposure results.

I hope you have not bought a $900 "lemon".

Best regards,

Doug
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Laura,

Sorry you are not getting what you hoped and dreamed for with your 70-200 2.8 Canon L lens. It is one of the most important and reliable lenses Canon portrait photographers use day in and day out. Of course, a used one could have been manhandled, damaged or has fungus.
who knows, some genius may have decided to clean it himself! However likely as not, realignment of the lenses and cleaning will bring it back to perfect condition.

The Canon 70-200 L lenses are all stellar and if you are not blown away by the beauty of the pictures, (and your camera works fine for other lenses), then you merit investing some effort in doing side by side comparisons with good lenses.

Where are you located? If near Los Angeles and we can meet up I can let you compare the f4.p and 70-200 2.8 L IS versions I and II. Is the a brick and mortar camera store near you? There you can test out a new lens in the store taking pictures of anything you choose. Then say, Thanks!" and bring out your own 70-200 and take the same pictures and look at them at home. Or else find someone near you with the lens.

Otherwise send the lens in for service!

Good luck!

Asher
 

Laura Fitch

New member
I'm sorry it has taken me awhile to get back to this thread but thank you for your replies.

Well, I feel foolish but also relieved because I think I discovered that the trouble I was having with the 70-200mm lens was caused by the Canon UV filter attached. Foolish because I can't believe I hadn't tried removing that filter! But, also relieved that my lens isn't a lemon. I guess I have just become so used to attaching a quality UV filter for lens protection that I never bothered to question the filter on my 70-200 (it was attached when I purchased it).

I still have to do some serious lens testing in a controlled environment with still subjects to test focus/sharpness but I shot two ice hockey games--one with the filter attached and one without, and the difference was clearly visible. Gone was the smokey haze! And, the sharpness of the images was much improved.

Silly that I hadn't already figured that out but thank you for letting me air my problems here anyway :)

Laura
 

Doug Kerr

Well-known member
Hi, Laura,
I'm sorry it has taken me awhile to get back to this thread but thank you for your replies.

Well, I feel foolish but also relieved because I think I discovered that the trouble I was having with the 70-200mm lens was caused by the Canon UV filter attached. Foolish because I can't believe I hadn't tried removing that filter! But, also relieved that my lens isn't a lemon. I guess I have just become so used to attaching a quality UV filter for lens protection that I never bothered to question the filter on my 70-200 (it was attached when I purchased it).
Glad that's what it turned out to be.

Be very cautious about using a UV filter (even good one, and the Canons do not have a very good reputation) for physical protection. There can be many undesirable side effects.

The best physical protection is from a lens hood. Did you get the one (often described as child-frightening) that is supplied new with the EF 70-200 f/2.8?

Even a smaller third-party hood (perhaps not much use optically) can help protect the front of the lens from bumps.

Best regards,

Doug
 

Nicolas Claris

Administrator/Moderator
Hi, Laura,


Glad that's what it turned out to be.

Be very cautious about using a UV filter (even good one, and the Canons do not have a very good reputation) for physical protection. There can be many undesirable side effects.

The best physical protection is from a lens hood. Did you get the one (often described as child-frightening) that is supplied new with the EF 70-200 f/2.8?

Even a smaller third-party hood (perhaps not much use optically) can help protect the front of the lens from bumps.

Best regards,

Doug
Exactly !

I've got rid of UV filter (any brands including the most expensive ones) for long!
Doug's advice is spot on.
 

Laura Fitch

New member
I didn't know that about the Canon brand of filters but I can sure attest to it! Now I'm questioning the filters on my other lenses so I'll definitely be doing some testing and most likely, I think, removing those, too (even though I have no complaints about my other lenses).

And, yes, I do have the hood for the 70-200--and my other lenses, too. "Child-frightening" LOL
 

Nicolas Claris

Administrator/Moderator
Besides of preventing your front lens from shocks, they do help to get better contrasts…
Filters may, depending of light introduce flares and other chromatic aberrations.
Lens makers spend a lot of time and money to get the best possible glass, why would you wish to have bad glass in front of it ?
 
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