Modern Classic SLR Series :
Additional Information on Canon EF lenses
Canon EF 200mm f/1.8
L USM Telephoto lens

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Background & Version History for Canon 200mm focal length telephoto lenses

The optical characteristic of a pronouncing compressed perspective and the reach often makes fast speed telephoto lenses a strong creative tool for taking compelling images. You can isolate the subject from disturbing background and makes fore and the background appear to be drawn together. Most of all, the faster maximum lens speed permits use of a critical extra stop or two higher shutter speeds to freeze an action - which makes fast speed telephoto lenses almost synonymous at stage, indoor-sports, news in low ambient light photography. However, as most fixed focal length telephoto meeting such criteria was often begin from the super-tele range at 300mm & above. Below the 300mm focal length, Canon EF lens family has an EF 200mm f/2.8L FD telephoto lens which serves general needs. The Canon EF 200mm f/1.8L was introduced in 1989 along with the debut of the Canon EOS-630 - until it was officially retired from Canon EF lens group at the beginning of 2004, it was till hailed as the world's fastest 200mm telephoto ever. Many did question the wisdom of such a decision but I guess it was more like a commercial decision as the 200mm has many other options which covers any potential needs of photographers.

Indoor sports arena application   Loading ......
Many indoor sports arena such as Gymnastic world meets like Olympic etc. prohibits the use of flash. Fast speed lenses, great deal of experience and knowledge of the sports are essential for great photography...

Credit: Image courtesy of SING-LO whose all round photography can be found via his PORTFOLIO or selective works can also be found at his site at Pbase. Image copyright © 1996-2005. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

However, not many realized the fact Canon did produced an equivalent in a FDn Mount Canon 200mm f/1.8L a year after the EF version in satisfying persistent request from users of New Canon F1 and Canon T90. So, technically, the FD 200mm f/1.8L in 1990 could possibly be the last FD-mount Canon lense that roll out from the factory in Canon. Naturally, you can't autofocus with the lens and neither some of the lovely features designed for the EOS can be used with any of the FD-mount SLRs.

FDn 200mm f1.8L lense, 1990
Brief specification for MANUAL FOCUS Canon FDN 200mm f/1.8L telephoto

Lens Mount
: Canon FD (New FD type) Format: 24 x 36mm Focal Length/Aperture Ratio: 200mm/1:1.8 Type: Telephoto Optical Construction: 12 elements in 10 groups (includes protective
glass & drop-in filter)

Credit: image of this lens and info by Philip Chong, Ex Official photographer and writers for Canon Marketing..

FDn 200mm f1.8L lense, 1990 with FD-EOS adaptor picture by MArco Cavina, Italy
Make no mistake - This is essentially a MANUAL FOCUS version of the Canon FDn 200mm f/1.8L, mounted onto a Canon AUTOFOCUS 5D via the FD-EOS adaptor.

Credit:- A highly recommended article by Marco Cavina, Italy who has prepared some of the optical analysis as well as the FD-EOS Converter. It was written in Italian but you can make use of Google utility to translate: http://google

So, while competitions like Nikon was still struggling in providing a workable autofocus solution for Nikon photographers during the late 80 to match the superiority of the EOS/EF combination (other than the AF Nikkor 300mm f/2.8 ED IF, the distance chip equipped Nikkor 500mm f/4.0 IF-ED P (1988) was essentially a non-AF super tele and the first batch of super-tele autofocus such as the AF-I 500mm f/4D IF-ED and AF-I 600mm f/4D IF-ED were only introduced in 1993 !); on the other hand, Canon EF lens group already was equipped with four super-tele in the Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L (1987), EF 400mm f/5.6L, EF 600mm f/4L (1989) as well as this 1989's Canon EF 200mm f/1.8L ever ready for Canon photographers on the working field. And by the time the AF-I Nikkor came to the market, Canon has expanded the professional EF super-tele group with even more options in the various Canon EF 300mm f/4.0L (1992); EF 400mm f/2.8L (1992/3), EF 500mm f/4.5L (1993/4).. So, the success of Canon EOS system over the others was not coincidental as it took a very well schemed effort in analyzing weaknesses of its opponents on the market place.

AF-S Nikkor 200mm f/2.0G IF-ED VR telephoto.jpg Leica APO Summicron 180mm f/2.0 Link to PDF download Olympus Zuiko180mm f/1.8 IF-ED telephoto.jpg
SUPPLEMENT: Nikon actually has produced a Manual Focus Nikkor 200mm f/2.0 IF-ED Telephoto which was first marketed back in January, 1977. It was not until few decades later in 05.2004 that Nikon finally provided an true Autofocus solution with the AF-S Nikkor 200mm f/2.0G VR IF-ED. Lens info:- One | Two This is not entirely a Canon or Nikon proprietary territory; read others like: Olympus Zuiko 180mm f/1..8 IF-ED / Zuiko 250mm f/2.8 IF-ED and Leica APO Summicro-R 180mm f/2.0 PDF (520k) - also take a look at the optical formula of this lens.

Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L image from Canon UK
Additional information on

EF 200mm f/1.8L USM Telephoto

(Marketed 1989 ~ Discontinued in 2004)

Home Page LINK to Dr. Joshua Ong
Part II An Article prepared by Dr. Joshua Ong <>

Photo data & usage: All content (text & images contained herein) are visual property of Dr. Joshua Ong ® ™ who has his Portfolio at Pbase. Images copyright © 2006. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

As you move away from 50mm, which is considered a standard focal length by many, to telephoto lenses, like 85mm, 135mm, 200mm and even longer, you will notice three phenomena with the increasing focal length or also angle of view. The object is getting increasingly larger, the perspective is getting more compressed and the depth of field is getting shallower. The ability to isolate the object while the background is thrown into a pleasing blur, therefore emphasizing the feeling of presence, is the characteristic of telephoto lenses. The term for the pleasing background blur is bokeh, which is derived from the Japanese language. Lens designers do pay attention to how the bokeh looks like early in the design stage.

Canon has been producing those white long telephoto lenses for quite sometime. Even back then during the FD System days, Canon had some white lenses in the lineup. The use of ultra dispersion and fluorite elements, and more recently exotic optical formula, such diffractive optics, among others have made these white lenses synonym with excellence in the telephoto range. At sporting events from local tennis, football, baseball, basketball games to international sporting events such as the Olympic Games, you will see event photographers capturing pictures with and carrying those big, long lenses around.

Trunk Case 200 for EF 200mm f/1.8L
This write-up represents a compilation of my personal experience using several Canon telephoto lenses ranging form 200mm to 500mm in the last couple years. Needles to say, if I never used it, I would not talk about it.

While I own and use medium telephoto lenses, such as the Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L and EF 135mm f/2.0L and long telephoto lenses, such as the EF 300mm f/2.8L IS and Canon EF 500mm f/4.0L IS, I consider the now discontinued 200mm f/1.8L as the bokeh king in my lens lineup. Why did Canon discontinue the lens is beyond me. Not enough sales to keep the production running or may be it had to do with the by-products generated during the manufacturing since some of the elements contained lead (as in Pb, a heavy metal)? Since it contained lead, the by-products (read: waste) will have to be contained and handled appropriately as it may harm the environment. Regardless, this lens has increased in value after it has been discontinued. That alone indicates that it has gained more popularity among Canon aficionados, including myself.

Credit: Image courtesy of ChemCamera ® <Email-Contact> where I found these well taken images via his Ebay Store. Image copyright © 2003. All rights reserved.

With its closest focusing distance of 8.2 feet/ 2.5 meter, and especially with its large aperture at that focal length (Canon claimed this lens to have the widest aperture available in the EF Lens Work II), the ability to isolate the object of this lens is astounding. Stopping down the aperture generally will only result in increased the depth-of-field and barely increases the resolution. You may want to use this lens at its widest aperture or stop it down a little bit to fully exploit this lens capability. If you use this lens for portraits, you may get one eye in focus and the other out of focus. As long as you are aware of that and that is the effect you are after, you will have a blast playing the shallow depth-of-field game with this lens. This lens can generate great images but its high resolving power can be less flattering to people with facial blemishes if used for portraits from a short distance. Fashion show on catwalk, model shots, or any type of photography that would benefit from the isolating capability of this lens would be the typical application. In addition, the large aperture enables the use of a fast shutter speed to freeze movement for indoor sports.

In the last year of production or so, Canon made some small modifications to this lens. They didn't announce the change publicly as the changes apparently did not warrant the Mark II distinction. Cosmetically, the changed is even smaller; the label at the AF switch reads “MF” instead of “M” for the manual focus setting. The coating on the later version looks a little greener and the aperture on the newer version when stopped down yields a slightly rounder opening. At one time I had both versions of this lens but did not do any direct comparison between the two and I consider them to be optically the same. The reason that the second version is generally more expensive is simply that it was manufactured later. At the same price and condition, I would choose the later version but if not, all bets are off.

Rear Section of Canon EF 200mmf1.8L Front element of Canon EF 200mmf1.8L

Credit: Image courtesy of ChemCamera ® <Email-Contact> where I found these well taken images via his Ebay Store. Image copyright © 2003. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

Portrait with a lens by DR. Joshua Ong (60K Jpeg) Loading ...
Oh, Tiffany..

Photo Credit: Image courtesy of Dr. Joshua Ong ® ™ who has his Portfolio at Pbase. Image copyright © 2006. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

Is this a perfect lens? Optically, probably very close. This is not a lens that you can carry around and take pictures without any support for hours. Ergonomically, the lens is a tad unbalanced on a monopod, my favorite support setup when using this lens. The lens collar is mounted quite a bit towards the front end of the lens; although the front element is huge, depending on the camera you use, it still doesn't provide a well-balanced setup. For easy and quick mounting and dismounting, I am using an Arca Swiss-style clamp/ball head on the monopod and that requires a plate to be mounted on the tripod collar. With the added bulk of that plate, the lens hood cannot be mounted in the reverse position over the lens for storage/transport. Besides those minor things, this lens is a joy to use and very rewarding when you view the images afterwards.

Then there is the little brother, the 200mm f/2.8L. It is lighter and therefore easier to carry around and it also can generate awesome images. At smaller apertures such as f/5.6, the quality of images this little, black lens can produce is virtually the same as that of the big, white lens.

06.03.2006 - Dr. Joshua Ong -

ILovely portraits vy Sing-Lo   Loading ......
From sports to scenic, nature to portraiture ... you can find a creative way for its use. as illustrated by this lovely portrait by Sing-LO with this fast speed telephoto.

Credit: Image courtesy of SING-LO whose all round photography can be found via his PORTFOLIO or selective works can also be found at his site at Pbase. Image copyright © 1996-2005. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

Part III: Another quick summary by SING-LO (E-MAIL & PORTFOLIO):-

" ... I can only sum up this lens by one word: awesome! It is razor sharp even wide open at f1.8. The light gathering power of this lens gives very bright images on the viewfinder. It produces very beautiful out-of focus boken that makes it suitable for portrait or sport isolating the subject from the background. The subject simply "pops" out of the background. The DOF of this lens at 2.5m is about 2cm. This lens uses a large ring type L-2 USM and it is extremely fast and responsive, in par with the AF speed of my 300 f2.8L. The wide open aperture performance of the 200 f1.8L is noticeably better than that of the 300 f/2.8 (non-IS) version based on my experience with both lenses. Weighting 3kg, hand holding is still fine but a monopod can help a great deal. I frequently use this lens for indoor gymnastics, fashion, wildlife, outdoor sport and portrait, sometimes with 1.4x MK II convertor. Full time manual focusing is available at 3 different speeds. Focus preset function allows you to store the AF setting at any time which is very useful in sport applications. The hood is huge and made of metal. With the hood attached, this lens looks like an imposing beast. It comes with a heavy duty aluminum trunk and leather lens case. Too bad Cannon discontinued this great classics last year with no immediate replacement model. OK it was introduced in the 1989. By today standard, it is still unsurpressed by any other lens in terms of specifications and performance at this focal length (well until the recent introduction of Nikon 200mm f2 AF-S VR, vibration reduction lens). People who think this lens is obsolete don't know what they miss ! ....".

03.2006 - SING LO -

Canon EF Preset Illustration


Technical Specification for Canon EF 200mm f/1.8L Telephoto: -

Type: - Autofocus lens type with manual focusing mechanism
Focal Length: Fixed focal length 200mm
Focus Adjustment:- Autofocus with USM with Inner and rear focus with Focus Preset control via Focusing range Selector
Manual Focusing:- possible via AF/M switch and electronic full-time manual focusing possible via focusing ring
Zoom Adjustment:- Nil. Fixed Focal Length Lens
Closest Focusing Distance:- 2.5m (8.2 ft)
Maximum Magnification:- 0.09X
Drive System:- Ring-type USM equipped with full-time manual focusing
Distance Scales: Provided via window on metres/feet.
Angle of View:- 10°
7° 12° (horizontal, vertical and diagonal)
Aperture range:- f/2.8 - f/22
Number of Diaphragm Blades: - 8 blades
Minimum Aperture: - f/22
Filter rotation: No
Filter Attachment Size:- REAR Drop in type 48mm;
Lens construction:- 12 Elements in 10 Groups with three UD glass elements (at 2, 3 and 5 - protective glass as first element)

Optical contruction Illus MTF performance for EF200mm f1.8L
Extenders: Usable. Extender EF 1.4X:- focal length multiplication: 280mm f/2.5, AF retained, Magnification ratio: max. 0.12X; Extender EF 2.0X: focal length multiplication: 400mm f/3.5, AF retained; Magnification ratio: max. 0.18X;
Others: - Extension Tube EF12 (II) 0.15X~0.06X; Extension Tube EF25 (II) 0.23X~0.24X; Tripod collar built-in
Diameter:- 208mm x 130mm ( 8-3/16" x 5-1/8") Weight:- 3,000g / 6.6 lbs


Lens hood ET-123 Lens cap /pourch for EF200mm f1.8L Gelatin Holder for EF200mm f1.8L
Credit: Image courtesy of Canon Dell Specialist ® where I found these well taken images via his Ebay Store. Image copyright © 2003. All rights reserved.

Download FULL BODY Jpeg image (635k)

Accessories:- Lens Cap/pouch E-162-U (supplied ); lens hard case: Exclusive (supplied ) Trunk type 200; lens Hood (supplied:- ET-123); Soft Case:- nil. Third party labels such as Gara F - it is a Padded bag for Canon f/1.8. Gelatin Filter (varies - please seek advice from Canon or authorized dealers for more info on compatibility issues).

EF 200mm f/1.8L Shadow..

Suggestive link:- Application on Space exploration with multiple units of Canon EF 200mm f/1.8L on its extraordinary light gathering power

Other Canon Telephoto lens alternatives: Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L | 300mm | 400mm | 500mm | 600mm | 1200mm |

Relative: - Canon FD Telephoto Lenses
FDn 200mm f/2.8 200mm S.S.C + Main Index Page on Canon FD lens Resources

| NEXT | The alternative with a f/2.0 maximum aperture and IS

Part One | Part One A | Part Two | Part Three

Depth of Field Chart for EF 200mm f/1.8L
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