Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III Arrives: Review, Rental Price, and More

Canon’s 70-200mm lenses have been held in high esteem both in the industry and among our renters and staff for much longer than most would expect. Released a decade before BorrowLenses was founded, the original 70-200mm f/2.8L defined luxury not only with its “L” designation but with its constant maximum aperture, ultrasonic motor, and long-but-not-too-long zoom range.

Even its distinctive off-white (some call “putty”) color had a purpose: to reflect light and reduce heat absorption. Over time, the color became its own status symbol, along with what hobbyists lovingly call “the red ring of expense” that decorates the barrel.

BorrowLenses’ Most Popular Lens Series

The 70-200mm f/2.8L and its younger sibling, the 70-200mm f/4L, are among the very earliest BL rentals. We could barely keep them in stock, the demand was so high!

This only intensified with the release of the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II in 2010. For over 10 years, lenses in this line have been indispensable for photographers of weddings, wildlife, sports, and portraits. They even have been popular among filmmakers, especially after Canon released the 5D Mark II and DSLR videography exploded. Today, the Canon 5D Mark IV supports DCI 4K, built-in WiFi, Dual Pixel CMOS AF, and a touchscreen LCD.

This lens is such a work of art that we never fully expected it to be updated. Can you improve on perfection? Certainly, as technology advances, so should even already-great lenses. We’re happy to announce that we’re now renting the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III!


The Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III (left) compared to the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II. Badge placement and other lens lettering has been changed in addition to coatings and paint.

Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III Updates

Canon’s new flagship telephoto zoom is much like the prior one in all the important ways: same range, same constant f/2.8 maximum aperture, and same hand-holdable design. Here’s what’s new/improved:

• Latest Air Sphere Coating: First introduced in the 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II, Canon’s Air Sphere Coating (ASC) technology reduces flare and ghosting and improves anti-reflection performance overall. Too much ghosting and flare can cause distortions strong enough to degrade image quality. ASC allows much more flexibility in shooting against the sun or super reflective surfaces. It has been combined with a Super Spectra Coating.
• New fluorine coatings have been added to the front and rear elements, making them much easier to clean (a boon for us in the receiving department – learn more in Camera and Lens Quality at BorrowLenses).
• A brighter version of the signature paint (looks count, right?).


The Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS II next to its bigger sibling, the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III.

Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS II Updates

The f/4 version of this lens series is similarly adored, particularly because it offers a lot of the same benefits of the f/2.8 but in a much more travel-friendly form factor. You lose 1 stop with the f/4 version but you gain a bit on the minimum focusing distance (3.94′ on the f/2.8 IS III vs 3.28′ on the f/4 IS II) and a lot in size and weight.

The Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III is nearly 8″ long and weighs over 3 lbs. The Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS II, by comparison, is just shy of 7″ and under 2 lbs. It might not seem like a lot at first glance but can be the difference between comfortably fitting into your bag or not. When paired with a body, possibly a battery grip, and other accessories – every pound saved matters.

The recently-released Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS II improves on its predecessor with a closer minimum focusing distance, reduced flare and ghosting, an upgraded Image Stabilization system (now up to 5 stops), and a 9-blade aperture (vs the prior’s 8 blades) for smoother rendering of out-of-focus areas of your imagery. The zoom ring now has an ergonomic, tapered shape and the lens also sports that fancy new white paint, further pitting the f/4 against the f/2.8 as a solid alternative.

Should You Rent the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III?

Is the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III for you? The prior Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens is still a formidable tool in any camera bag. We think of this release much more as a “refresh” of an already-outstanding lens, rather than a replacement and we’ll still be renting the Mark II versions for quite a while, of course. But for the latest optics in one of Canon’s most celebrated lens types, be sure to try out the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III. Then, tell us what you think!

And if you’re interested in other Canon lenses for comparison, make sure to check out our video on the best Canon telephoto lenses below:

The 70-200mm in Other Mount Types

Canon isn’t the only brand making a venerated 70-200mm telephoto zoom lens. Check out all of our 70-200mm lenses for rent here.


Tom Anello is Boston-based and has a background in both product and portrait photography. He came to Boston for music school and landed heavily in the world of photography after spending time with commercial product photographer Eric Kulin. Presently, he is BorrowLenses’ Social Media Specialist and produces photo content for the BorrowLenses Instagram, Facebook and Twitter feeds. Outside of the office, he is an avid film photographer with a focus in portraiture.

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About BL

BorrowLenses is an online camera gear rental service that started in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2007. We offer a wide selection of camera gear ranging from camera bodies, lenses, lighting and accessories. We make it easy to rent gear by shipping your order straight to you.