Archive for August, 2021

Canon EF 80-200 f/2.8 L
“The Magic Drain Pipe”

I really didn’t need this lens. Most of my tele-work on full frame is handled by my Canon EF 70-300 L IS. The 70-300 is a great compact tele with image stabilizer and modern L series glass and build quality. So why buy the Magic Drain Pipe? Well, Why not? With a name like “The Magic Drain Pipe” you just have to have it, right?

So what is this ‘Magic Drain Pipe’? Well it is the original EF 80-200/2.8 L. Back in 1989 this was one of a handful of super premium, razor sharp, and fast focusing lenses that Canon brought to market to really push the EOS line of SLRs toward the pro and serious amateur market. Why the nickname though? Apparently several pros started calling it that due to its shape, weight, and all metal construction like a “drain pipe” the “magic” was in the images 🙂

Nikon had dominated the pro SLR Market since the 1960s and Canon was hell bent on taking a big chunk out of their marketshare among the pros. Canon was already the world’s largest camera maker, now they had their sights set on the pros that tended to favor Nikon over Canon 3:1. This EF 80-200/2.8 L was the best 80-200 lens in the world and it stayed up top for several years. Nikon had no answer for Canon’s super fast AF system and the optics in this “Magic Drain Pipe” were so good, they are still excellent even by TODAY’s modern standards. This lens along with the legendary EF 85/1.2 L, EF 50/1.0 L, EF 300/2.8 L and a few others not only helped Canon take a ‘chunk’ out of Nikon’s pro market advantage; Canon ended up taking the majority away from them!

This older lens does not offer IS nor does it have the more modern instant manual override USM motor. It is a tad slow focusing by modern standards but it is still fast enough and can keep up with my R5 at 12fps for the most part. I am genuinely impressed with this lens and you can find them for around $400-$500 used. It should be noted that parts for these are no longer made by Canon so if you buy one and it fails it may not be repairable.

On the optics side the lens is reputed to have superior optics to the two lenses that replaced it, the EF 70-200/2.8 L and EF 70-200/2.8 L IS. Later iterations of the 70-200 eventually surpassed the performance of this lens but it remains a solid performer even now more than 30 years after it was introduced.

You can find these lenses online, but also they tend to surface at camera shows like the PhotoFair on a regular basis. I bought mine from Seawood Photo down in California. I wasn’t really sure about ‘needing’ this lens but, I need it… totally need it 😉 I will still use the compact and image stabilized 70-300 L as my go to tele, but having a bright and fast f/2.8 zoom is really nice. Although it is not stabilized the R5 has IBIS which can really help in those situations where you have to drag the shutter a bit.

In all honesty if you are someone that really needs to shoot a medium tele fast zoom and are a serious hobbyist or a working pro, the Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8 L or IS version II or III are much better bets than this old dinosaur. Those however will fetch any where from double to quadruple the price of this lens as will modern counterparts from Nikon or Sony. So if you want a super sharp, well made, legendary lens for a bargain price just to have some fun… oh yeah, this is your girl. Got some pics below.

Mindy Running Around on the Grass EOS R5 with 80-200 f/2.8 L @f/2.8
Sailor the Schnauzer EOS R5 with 80-200 f/2.8 L @ f/2.8
Mindy on the Lawn. EOS R5 with 80-200 f/2.8 L @ f/2.8

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