Upgrade to a 70-200mm f2.8 telephoto lens for premium build quality and top-level performance. Here are the leading fab four options for DSLRs. For extending the telephoto reach of DSLRs, 70-300mm is often the preferred budget option. They tend to be reasonably priced, fairly lightweight and easily manageable. But they don’t quite cut it with discerning enthusiast and professional photographers. Image quality tends to be good rather than great and autofocus speed can be a bit pedestrian. Worse still, the widest available aperture at the long end of the zoom range usually shrinks to a disappointing f5.6, so you can be left feeling the need for speed. Step up to 70-200mm f2.8 best telephoto lens and you’ll get a much brighter viewﬁnder image for greater clarity when composing shots.
Telephoto Lens for Faster Shutter Speed
You’ll also be able to use faster shutter speeds for freezing motion, with less need to bump up your ISO setting under dull lighting conditions. This is especially useful in sports and wildlife photography, for which these lenses are ideal. An extra bonus is that the combination of a 200mm focal length and f2.8 aperture gives you a tight depth of ﬁeld, perfect for isolating the main subject in a composition against a blurred background. Indeed, these lenses are often favored for tight head-and-shoulders portraiture at weddings and other events.
Naturally, a 70-200mm telephoto lens won’t give you as much outright telephoto reach as a 70-300 mm. However, all of the lenses on the test are compatible with 2x teleconverters, enabling an even Greater maximum focal length of 400mm. There’s a considerable difference in purchase Prices for our four contenders, so let’s see what each one has to offer.
Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8L IS II USM
Standing out from the crowd, this 70-200mm telephoto lens has Canon’s classic off-white ﬁnish, used on the company’s big lenses to reduce the buildup of heat when shooting under the sun. Launched back in 2010, the Mk II has a fully revised optical path, featuring top-grade ﬂuorite glass and no less than 5 UD (Ultra Low Dispersion) elements. The revamped image Stabilizer is rated at four stops, With Switchable static and panning modes.
As one of Canon’s ﬂagship pro-grade lenses, it’s built to withstand a punishing lifestyle, with a magnesium alloy barrel and a full set of weather seals. It’s the only lens on test in which the zoom ring is positioned at the rear, putting it within very easy reach. You’ll undoubtedly spend more time adjusting the zoom setting than focusing manually. Even so, the manual focus ring is comfortably large and operates with smooth precision. Autofocus is super-speedy and whisper quiet, practically snapping into place even with large changes in focus distance.
The autofocus range limiter switch, which locks out close focusing between 1.2m and 2.5m, is largely superﬂuous. Basic manual override of autofocus is available, but only in ‘One Shot’ mode after autofocus has been acquired. Sharpness is mostly excellent but drops off a little at both ends of the zoom range, especially at short focus distances. Colour fringing is negligible and there is an only minor barrel and pincushion distortion, at the short and long ends of the zoom range respectively. The Canon was also a little more susceptible to ﬂare than the Nikon and Tamron.
Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 EX DG OS
Sigma’s stalwart 70-200mm telephoto lens undercuts all of the other contenders for price, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a bargain Predating Canon’s 70-200mm Mk II lens by a few months, the Sigma was also launched back in 2010. It’s much less expensive to buy but is no match for the Canon and Nikon lenses in terms of build quality. The mostly metal-based barrel section still feels pretty robust, but it’s the only lens in the group to lack weather seals.
The optical path includes two FLD (‘F’ Low Dispersion) elements, claimed to offer the same performance as ﬂuorite glass, and three SLD (Special Low Dispersion) elements.
Controls are the most basic of any lens on a test. There’s an auto/manual focus switch with basic manual override available, as featured in the Canon telephoto lens, but with no autofocus range limiter. The only other switch is for the dual-mode OS (Optical Stabilizer), with static and panning options. The stabilizer itself is rated at four stops, but we could only get three-stop performance at best. On the plus side, the autofocus system is very fast and able to track moving subjects well. Sharpness and contrast are impressive, even when shooting wide open. In this respect, the Sigma pretty much matches the performance of the pricier Canon lens. In our tests, the Sigma was actually slightly sharper at 135mm and dropped off marginally less at either end of the zoom range, when using wide apertures between f2.8 and f4. Overall, the lens is well worth its asking price. Even so, it’s due an update and would beneﬁt from some of the exotic features built into Sigma’s latest 150-600mm Sport and Contemporary class lenses.
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8E FL ED VR
When it comes to ‘richness’, the feature set of this lofty lens is only eclipsed by its price tag Nikon’s latest 70-200mm telephoto lens adds a wealth of fancy features. Upgraded VR (Vibration Reduction) has four-stop effectiveness and a new Sports mode that gives a more stable viewﬁnder image when tracking erratically moving subjects. The aperture is controlled electromagnetically rather than via a mechanical lever, for greater exposure consistency during rapid continuous shooting. However, aperture control is unavailable with older Nikon DSLRs, including the D1, D2, D40, D50, D60, D70, D80, D90, D100, and D3000.
The revamped optical path includes a new ﬂuorite glass element to further reduce chromatic aberrations and physical weight, six ED (Extra-low Dispersion) elements, one HRI (High Refractive Index) element and nano-structure coatings. As with the Canon lens, everything’s wrapped up in a weather-sealed magnesium alloy body.
Autofocus is the same ring-type ultrasonic variety as the other lenses on test, but boasts switchable auto- and manual-priority modes. The latter makes manual override available without needing to wait for autofocus to lock onto a subject, as well as in continuous AF mode. An autofocus range limiter is also on hand, to lock out close focusing. Performance is spectacular in every respect. Autofocus is lightning-fast, VR is highly effective, and image quality is stunning.
It beats all of the other lenses on test for outright sharpness, which is incredibly consistent throughout the aperture and zoom ranges, only dipping slightly when shooting wide open at 200mm.
Tamron SP 70-200mm f2.8 Di VC USD G2
The second generation of Tamron’s fast 70-200mm telephoto lens zoom is a major improvement over the original, with high-tech thrills aplenty The G2 (Generation 2) edition of Tamron’s 70-200mm telephoto lens is better built, with metal barrel parts, weather seals and a muck-resistant ﬂuorine coating on the front element. Inside, the optics are revamped with XLD (Extra Low Dispersion) and LD (Low Dispersion) elements to boost sharpness and reduce chromatic aberrations, along with nanostructure coatings to minimize ﬂare.
Tamron’s proprietary single-mode VC (Vibration Compensation) stabilization system has always been impressive for static minimizes effective for panning. This new lens adds switchable static and panning modes, plus a third mode that only applies stabilization during the actual exposure. As with Nikon’s ‘Sport’ mode, this avoids a jumpy viewﬁnder image when tracking erratically moving subjects. Better still, stabilization lives up to its class-leading, 5-stop claims.
The autofocus system is faster and more accurate than in the original lens, but still lacks the option of manual-priority autofocus. The Tamron has a shorter minimum focus distance than any of the other lenses, at just 0.9 meters, and maintains good close-focus sharpness. Electromagnetic diaphragm control is used in both Canon and Nikon ﬁt versions, making the lens incompatible with the same cameras listed in the Nikon review.
Colour fringing and distortions are slightly better controlled than in the Sigma lens. Sharpness and contrast are very similar, but the Tamron’s better stabilization system makes it easier to capture consistently sharp images in handheld shooting.