No doubt the Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS II is a superb piece of glass, if not the best of the Canon zooms. However, I'd rather carry any, or several, of these primes over it. The primes are lighter, much easier to carry and conceal; more discreet to shoot with therefore will yield more quality and candid shoots. Try carrying a big, heavy white lens around for half the night in any major city and I think you'd wish you had a prime. As for image quality, I am sure it's good and won't argue about that but I think its image quality is comparable to that of primes but not better.
+1... I cannot agree more.
On the one hand this has emerged as that "must have lens" based on reputation and those who think this gives them street "cred" as having "arrived" (you know who you are...don’t deny it! ..) ...and yes The overall IQ is superb...no arguments from me.
But I have always had issues with the bulk, weight, and obviousness of this lens...these are not small issues.
So let me think this aloud...I guess it comes down to what one uses it for so read the rest as a personal musing...not a broadswipe at this excellent performer.
For tele "reach" this is an intermediary zoom at 200mm...doesn't get you close enough to the birds or the players as a 400mm would without extenders the use of which does knock a few pegs off IQ. This lens probably does best in "near" sports venues... soccer parents, basketball games, and nearer wild-life shots like squirrel and blue jay on your backyard rail or that swan in the park pond. While I have dabbled in this very occasionally, this is not my forte...and whipping out a foot-and-a-half long rather thick lens with hood among decent people is just head-turning.
Yet, it weighs a ton and if you have it around on the bleachers it weighs down on you, gawkers are starring, and when you walk in the dark alley, good luck.
As portraits go, it does a sharp job, but at f/2.8 it is not a full substitute for a much lighter, real portrait primes at f/1.4 or f/2 even. For portraiture I have several much faster primes (85L II, 135L, and 35L for wides) in the range not to mention their size, weight, and portability!!. And if you tripod the zoom for indoor portraits or anywhere, then the IS becomes a nonissue...in fact you have to turn it off!
May be, above all, I am conscious about the zoom's weight and size and certainly unable to carry it for long on the 1 series or the 5 series bodies, and on my little toy crop it is an unbalanced monster of a lens...and I have always been concerned about the "obviousness".
If you don't use it much, which unfortunately I don't, I guess the high IQ really doesn't matter. I think the house cat plays with it more when I unpack camera bags.
Oh dear, I may have suddenly arrived at a Cathartic moment here...