In 1990, Canon released the 70-210 f3.5-4.5 USM. They released the 75-300mm f4.5-5.6 USM around 1994. So it seems there was no longer a reason to keep making the 70-210 and it was discontinued, but they did release an 80-200mm f4.5-5.6 II as a consumer version of 80-200 f2.8 L USM.
These early Ring-type USM lenses were nice, but by the mid 1990s Canon realized that they could get away with making lower quality lenses to sell to amateurs and hobbyists.
I think it compares more closely to the 70-200mm f4 L USM released in 1999. I used to own the first version of the 70-200 f4 L USM. That was a very nice lens and the Mk II version seems to be even nicer. This 70-210 is no slouch though. I like its sharpness and the bokeh.
While it doesn’t have the weather sealing that the L lenses have, it does pack away at a more manageable size. The lens barrel of the 70-210 extends as you zoom to longer focal lengths, which is quite common, even these days. The 70-200mm f4 L has internal zooming and focusing and does not change length when zooming. This is a nice feature when walking around with it mounted to the camera. The 70-210 exhibits some serious lens creep. Meaning, as you walk, gravity forces the lens to extend the barrel out to its longest zoom length.
70-210mm f3.5-4.5 USM
|Weight||552g / 19.472oz|
|Length (70mm)||130mm / 5.25in|
|Length (210mm)||178mm / 6.875in|
|Lens Const.||14 elements 10 groups|
70-200 f4 L USM
|Weight||715g / 25.2oz|
|Length||179.8mm / 7.08in|
|Lens Const.||16 Elements 13 Groups|
Where I stand with this lens
I like it, I think it’s underrated. I’ve been using this lens for a few days. It’s not a bad lens. Since it was only out for a few years, I would guess these are hard to come by on the used market. My local shop had it for $50 and I have seen them on eBay going between $50 and $100. I have used this on my film cameras, my 5d MkII, and even adapted it to my Sony A7II with the Metabones Mk V adapter and it works very well. I couldn’t believe that last one either. I have found those adapters work well with most USM and STM lenses.
Do I recommend this lens?
Maybe. The lens is not perfect, but it’s far better than the cheap plastic lenses that Canon started to release in the mid 1990s. In general though, Canon’s non-L Ring-USM zoom lenses starting in 1990 until about 1994 were punching above their weight class. The EF 28-105 USM, EF 28-135 IS USM, and EF 100-300 USM were examples of Canon introducing well made lenses for the general public.