This Is One of the Most Legendary Lenses Ever Made

The Canon EF 200mm f/1.8L USM is an extraordinary telephoto lens from decades past that remains a modern classic. Despite its 35-year-old optical formula, its spectacular performance on high-resolution sensors, rich history, and mythical reputation in the Canon ecosystem still make it relevant for knowledgeable enthusiasts today. Check out what it can do. 

Coming to you from Christopher Frost, this fantastic video review takes a look at the legendary Canon EF 200mm f/1.8L USM lens. Released by Canon in 1988 just after the then-advanced EOS system, the 200mm f/1.8 was engineered to meet the demands of professionals photographing poorly-lit indoor sports or pursuing ultra-shallow depth of field portraits. Weighing over 3 kg, its robust metal barrel and weather-sealing place image quality and performance over portability. While discontinued for environmental reasons in 2008 and replaced by the 200mm f/2, copies in good condition still sell for $3,000 to $4,000.

In his hands-on review, Frost methodically puts the lens through its paces for traits like sharpness, bokeh, and flare resistance on an EOS R5's 45-megapixel sensor. He explores its manual focus characteristics and verifies surprisingly reliable autofocus, while special features for sports like preset focus get tested. Most remarkably, despite three and a half decades of optical design improvements, image quality attributes like corner sharpness, vignetting, and longitudinal chromatic aberration remain top-notch.

The legendary status of this highly specialized lens is well deserved. While falling slightly short of its newer sibling, it retains sufficient image quality, creative potential, and nostalgic charm to still tempt Canon's most enthusiastic shooters. See Frost put it through its paces in the video above.

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Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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