Apparently 70-200mm Lenses Are *Not* Built Like Tanks – Actually Tend To Break More

Every once in a while Roger Cicala of publishes their repair data. Being a fairly big rental house, it is quite interesting to look at his observations.

Rental houses are usually a pretty good source of data as far as how items take abuse since rented gear goes through more abuse than owned gear. That said, Roger has an eloquent non inflammatory way of describing the data making dry and sharp observations.

Apparently 70-200Mm Lenses Are *Not* Built Like Tanks - Actually Tend To Break More

On their last report, LR shares that the 70-200mm lenses that they rent out need servicing more that other lenses. And they take up 4 of the top 16 places in LR’s most serviced lenses chart. Starting with the Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 VR II @7th place with an average of 39 weeks, Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 OS @9th place, Canon’s 70-200 f/2.8 IS II @13th and Sony 70-200 f/2.8 @ 16th.

Here is the observation from Roger, which I find pretty interesting:

70-200 f/2.8 lenses are likely to fail no matter who makes them. We think of them as ‘built like tanks’ because they have that heavy, all-metal case. That case, though, is as packed with mechanics and electronics as anything you’ve ever seen. There’s a LOT of stuff in there that has to work perfectly. Inevitably, some of that stuff breaks

If you are into this kind of statistics and numbers, the full report has more info about other gear like camera, batteries and chargers as well as some in depth analysis on lenses. (Rokinon holds the four top spots on that chart, if you are wondering)

[Lensrentals Repair Data: 2012-2013 | Roger Cicala]

Illustration based on Will Glynn photo.

  • Jean-Paul

    As with all statistics, those numbers cannot tell the whole story.

    The 70-200 is a workhorse lens and gets a lot of abuse. It has all the types of parts that fail more often – zoom, AF, IS, as compared to the simpler primes, which Roger also states.

    It is possible, though not deterministic from the numbers given, that the failer rate per minute of use is on par with other lenses.

    Either way, as a consumer, or even a professional, if we look after our lenses, they’ll last much longer than a rental.

  • Robert Miler

    My nikon 70-200 is the lens I choose 90% of the time I imagine it will fail before the others, I’m only guessing the 70-200 is most popular lens rented out and therefore the one needing the most repairs..

    • Steve

      My thought exactly. You know what? Time for a DIYP poll! What kind of lens do YOU use the most? (cue quiz show music)

      • udi tirosh

        ask and you shall receive…
        (look to the right :)

    • udi tirosh

      That is a good point. Roger addressed this and since it gets hired more, they have more copies of it so the average rent time per lens is about similar.

  • Noel Chenier

    I had a 70-200 IS lens that decided to take a dive in a river once…
    I was standing on a dock photographing a kayaker with my 16-35, and I leaned forward for a different angle. I heard a strange pop, then a thunk. I looked down, and the zipper on my waist camera bag had popped and the 70-200 fell out onto the dock.
    I swore, then leaned down to grab the lens…which tilted the dock…
    resulting in a large PLOP as the lens rolled into the Kennebecasis River. Thankfully I was close to shore and was able to quickly reach in a grab it…as I pulled it out, water was streaming out of the lens..
    A quick look inside showed the interior was full of dirt and silt.
    I called Canon, they told me not to even bother sending it to them.
    But I put it in a bag with rice, left it for a week, took it out, put in on the camera….and everything still worked fine! (even the IS)
    I sent it to Canon to be checked over and cleaned, and it was a $500 cleaning/repair job(one part was screwed up), but all told, that was a pretty good outcome considering the cost of replacing the lens.

    Noel Chenier

  • Sada

    yeah 70-200 is one of the best building quality in canon line …

    As example vs 17-55 2.8 that lens is high priced lens too but building quality is very low , flex cables fault always once or twice a year…