Canon 200mm f1.8 - still the best!

January 28, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

One of the first advices I received when thinking of becoming a photographer was "Buying good lenses is longer term investment than buying a new camera body"

And now looking back at it, it sure was a good advice and from my lenses one lens is above all else - and that is the Canon 200mm f1.8. From the outside the lens looks VERY well used, and it has had a very long life. The paint is starting to flake off, the lens hood doesn't attach properly without bit of gaffer-tape, the rubber seal is a bit loose.. so looking at it from the outside, most photographers have a little smile on their face when I pull that out during a game.

Canon 200mm f1.8Canon 200mm f1.8Canon 200mm f1.8 - still gets the job done!

Luckily it is the quality of images that matters, and not what the lens looks like! And the image from my Canon 200mm f1.8 are some of the sharpest I get from any lens that I own, and let's just say that I love shooting it at f1.8 during basketball games :-)

But it isn't just using the lens at 200mm f1.8 that I love this for - I can happily attach a 1.4x or 2.0x converter to the lens and still get good images, one summer the lens was my choice for covering cricket (with the 2.0x converter). During lower league football games I love the versatility of using it with the converter and then when it get 'pitch black' - use it to shoot the goal mouth action at 200mm f1.8.

Canon 200mm f1.8 - Jorge Calvo/Leicester RidersCanon 200mm f1.8 - Jorge Calvo/Leicester RidersCanon 200mm f1.8 - Jorge Calvo/Leicester Riders

Personally I am probably not the best person to shoot with prime lenses - as I do like the flexibility that something like a 70-200mm zoom gives me during a basketball game, this gives me the chance to cover the whole 'drive' from the three point line to the basket - with one lens. But at times when an assignment comes and client advice is to get pictures of 'Red number 11' - then I definitely will use the 200mm f1.8 for at least two quarters, on one body. As these shoots often end up as advertising/promotional images - so the better the subjects separation from the background, the happier the client is (in most cases).

With the basketball season in full swing, I took the Canon 200mm f1.8 for an outing at Birmingham Knights game in the BBL last Saturday. In the UK we have to contend with dark gyms, so any extra light you can get to your sensor.. it is much appreciated (although the Canon 1DX does keep my images clean on very high ISO). So it was great shooting at f1.8 , 1/1250 , ISO4000-6400 at the game. Rarely do I manage to keep my shutter speeds that high in games over here.

Canon 200mm f1.8 Canon 200mm f1.8 Canon 200mm f1.8

As with any old lens, there is a draw back - with no repair centres willing to look at the lens (well, they look at it - but won't clean/repair it). So there is always the chance that one day the lens will stop working, and then I will have a very heavy/expensive 'paper weight' in my office :-) But copies of the Canon 200mm f1.8 do still pop up for sale every now and then.. and at those prices, I can still buy another 2 copies of Canon 200mm f1.8 for the price it would cost me to buy a new Canon 200mm f2 (and I'd lose that little bit from f1.8 to f2). So for now - I'll happily keep carrying my 'brick' with me and enjoying the images it produces, hopefully I will get another few years out of it.. just such a shame that older lenses stop being supported/repaired by Canon after new models come out, as sometimes.. just sometimes - the older lenses still produce better images than the new ones...

So even when this lens is working well into it's second decade - it still produces crisp/sharp images, so come on Canon you know you want to bring this lens back!!


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