Close up work and the new Canon 70-200mm lens

Overread

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Ok so I had read how good the new Canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS L M2 was for close up work and even how well it performs with a 2*TC for even greater close up work - however I didn't expect it to be quite this good:
5006514264_672963ac30_z.jpg

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4106/5006514264_672963ac30_b.jpg
f8, 1/250sec ISO 200

However it is also one of the hardest things I have ever had to focus! Seriously it is not easy to focus like this - first up the AF can be a little hit or miss with the closer ranges I find, though it might have been the slightly duller weather messing things up. However even in manual focusing it was very tricky to tell when the shot was in perfect crisp focus.
A further problem (at least on my 400D) is that review on the LCD is very tricky to judge if you've got the shot in focus or not and the fall off into blur is very noticeable once you pull things into the computer and have a proper closer look.

So performance wise it has most certainly got the quality needed; if you are prepared for a lot of tricky shots. I would be most interested to give it at try again with the AF kicking in - even more so with the AFimproved new TCs which are to come out.

edit: As an idea of the quality this is the original framing of the shot before I cropped it for the above version
5009495385_0a0e0fb472_o.jpg


And here is a 100% crop from the shot - it has been sharpened and edited in general
5009495191_d46c2acc03_o.jpg
 
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how about the mark 1, can it take photos like that? You did use a TC on that? Good choice on the f8. Thats the sweet spot for f/2.8 lens correct? How much crop?
 
(first post edited to add a few more details)
I've taken a few shots with the original with a 2*TC, but the image quality with that lens never amazed me. It worked and would do in a pinch but I found that I hardly ever used the combo - prefering instead to use a 1.4TC which worked fantastically well.
You can get a rough idea of the M1 of this lens and its performance with a 2*TC in this set here: little birds photos test - a set on Flickr


When it comes to the M2 however things make a big difference and it was mainly for this reason that I upgraded mine to the newer version - whereupon now the 1.4TC has hardly seen any use at all in recent shoots.
From my own shooting I've found that idealy f7.1 is the widest one wants to shoot with a 2*TC whilst going for good image quality - so f8 is a good ballpack value to aim to shoot to preserve quality. You can shoot wide open at f5.6 (remember 2*TC takes away 2 stops of light) but its not ideal I find.
I've a few more shots here - have a look at the little bird and its 100% crop for an idea of how the quality is massively improved over the original
Minsmere - a set on Flickr
 
How is this lens's flatness of field at close ranges, Overread? One of yuor comments makes me suspect that the edges and the center might come to somewhat differerent points of focus due to field curvature when the lens is pressed into service at these very close, bug-shootin' distances. Have you checked how the lens handles perfectly flat targets?
 
Interesting comment Derral, but I've not tested it against a flat subject yet - however when I was mentioning the focusing I was mostly just talking about the middle or the main subject I was aiming at ; I've not quite got to the level of getting picky about edge sharpness in shots (probably because I've yet to do any serious landscape photography ;))
 

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