on 3 May 2008
This lens is the most usable piece of kit I have ever owned. Yes a bit heavy and yes a bit expensive but it does what it says it does on the box. It is easy to use and will become attached to your camera all the time.
I have owned lenses at 75% of the price and have never been completely happy with the results, this is the one.
I am using it with the EOS 450D the results are sharp and very professional and you don't need a long wheelbase truck to cart it about...... I love it!
on 25 April 2011
I used to have the 70-200 F.4 L IS lens and the 1.4 converter. I sold the converter to buy the new one Canon recently brought out, changed my mind, sold the 70-200 and bought the 70-300 L instead. I was a little worried as I wondered if the quality would be as good as the 70-200, ( because the 70-200 is an exceptional lens, and quite light to carry around). I am pleased to say that a lens specifically built with 300mm in mind is better than using the 70-200 with the extender. The quality all through is quite excellent, and this is a very versatile lens.
It is a compromise of sorts, as all zooms are. I would love to have bought the 300mm F2.8 but at £3000-5000 it's too expensive. The other options of the primes 400mm and the 100-400mm all have their charms. But I was won over by the newness of this lens. The newer IS system, the anti-smear coating, the complete weather sealing. The size ( for a zoom of this length) is very acceptable. It is a tad heavy to carry around but not too bad, but it's unobtrusive compared to some of the prime 300-400 and they are just too large and heavy to carry comfortably.
This lens can be hand held, obviously with the F stops it represents( F4 at 70mm, F5 at 135mm-200mm, F5.6 at 300mm), it is best used with a tripod in low light, but if anyone is upgrading from a standard or kit zoom, or for those who have never used the Canon L lens series, the quality is top notch. In daytime and normal light, it is excellent. the camera I use it on is a Canon 7D, I rarely use ISO above 200, but that camera can easily go to 1600 ISO without any real issues with quality. This lens works a treat.
The lens has a close focus of about 3ft, which is fine for most things, beyond that a macro lens is a must.
It has two black rings, the nearest to the camera is to focus, the furthest away the zoom. Some comment that this is unusual, but you get used to it in a matter of seconds. And isn't something that would cause any problems, unless you are a complete manual only user, which would create a new learning curve with the lens. The lens arrives with a hood and bag, but sadly no lens ring for the tripod. But these can be bought seperately.
I am very happy with this lens, it has enabled me to shoot wildlife and some action shots comfortably. It has no flare issues at all, and is extremely versatile and has great colour and contrast.
I have tried a number of L lenses, and this is one of the best I have. The others which are equally stunning( none of these have major chromatic aberration issues, or flaring issues, and work as advised on the tin) are the 135mm F2 which is stunningly sharp, the 24-70, which is heavy as a brick, but equally good. And the 70-200's and the 100mm Macro L, which is also a great lens.
So if you are like me, and need good reviews to help you make up your mind, this is a great zoom lens. The quality at 300mm ( which most will be buying it for) is excellent, and will make the expense of the purchase worthwhile. Great shots, all in one package.
on 7 June 2007
This and a Tokina 12-24mm ultra wide angle lens are my travelling companions everywhere I go. The Tokina is wonderful for landscape/seascape shots, the Canon 70-300mm for getting in nice and close for sharp detail. I've also used it very successfully for portraiture (allows you distance, so no need to crowd your model) and for fine art photography subjects. It's an absolute boon for travelling, being fairly light, and the image quality is consistently high every time. Thanks to the Image Stabilisation, hand-held shots, even at the full telephoto 300mm range of things, are plenty sharp enough and despite its relatively small aperture, the IS ensures the lens performs well in fairly dingy light too - providing you know how to set your camera up right. Okay, so the build isn't L class, but then you're not paying L Class money either. For a very useful and extensive zoom range, image quality, and convenience, this lens is invaluable and excellent value for money.
on 5 February 2008
I'll only review the IS aspect of this lens and make one other comment since I have only had it 24 hours and have yet to go out and about with it.
Having solved the problem I comment on below, I hooked this brand new lens up to my 400D and started shooting objects at maximum focal length across the room using available light only. No flash. I took two frames of each, one with IS on, and the other with IS off. Shutter speed was 1/10 - 1/20 second in each case. Yes, 1/10 - 1/20 second and I was using 300mm focal length, hand held. Those frames taken with IS off were blurred beyond any semblance of use. Those with IS on were pin sharp. I was blown away. Truly. One of the frames was of a toy car on a shelf, the car occupying the whole photo. Naturally, depth of field was short - which added to impact - but for the chosen focus area every spec of dust was clearly visible. No lens will completely compensate for bad technique, but I proved that with good techique (in this case how to hold equipment and relax with low shutter speeds) the realms of expectation can be dramatically extended.
On first attaching this lens to my 400D the camera would occasionally "hang" mid shot and need the battery removing to reset it; no buttons would operate, the screen went out, and bizarrely the camera's power LED stayed on even when the camera was switched off. I was sure I had a duff lens, but found help on the web saying "FULLY recharge your battery first, and then try again before sending the lens back". They were right. My battery (actually two in a BG-E3 grip) were not showing flat according to the camera but recharging them had the lens working perfectly. The reason for this behaviour is that the IS system demands much more power than a normal lens. Nothing to stop you buying this awesome piece of kit, but something to be aware of.
on 18 April 2011
I'd been a happy and contended user of the original EF 70-300 f/4-5.6 IS for several years with a 400D - this lens alongside the 18-55 IS kit lens (itself a vast improvement over the original non IS 18-55) and the ubiquitous 50 f/1.8 made for a balanced and versatile kit.
I upgraded to a 7D with the EF-S 15-85 at the end of last year and wasn't as impressed with my old 70-300 IS on the 7D as I was with it on the 400D - I'm not sure if as many suggest this was because the pixel dense 18mp sensor shows up previously unnoticed deficiences in cheaper lenses, or if I'd been spoilt by the excellent EF-S 15-85 - I suspect it was a bit of both.
So the search was on for a telezom zoom that matched the sharpness and colour of the EF-S 15-85. I agonised as many people do between this lens and the 70-200 F4L IS - the technical reviews in all the usual places rank them very closely and there's virtually nothing to choose in price between this lens and the 70-200 F4L IS with the Canon 1.4x teleconvertor. In the end my decision was swayed by not wanting to have to mess around mounting and unmounting the TC and to be able to have the full 70-300 range available all the time.
Very pleased indeed with this lens, I worried that the increase in image quality over the lens I was replacing wouldn't justify the price, but it does - the sharpness and colour are noticeably better than the non-L 70-300 and the AF is lightning fast and very accurate. I can shoot with confidence wide open at 300mm and be confident in getting a razor sharp subject nicely isolated from the back/foreground, something I couldn't do with the non-L 70-300. Build quality is superb and it's a joy to handle - it's certainly a weighty lens but surprisingly and pleasantly compact when closed up and with the lens hood reversed.
on 10 November 2007
Serious pofessional photographers probably won't look twice - and yes, if you can afford to stick an f2.8 400mm lens on a massive tripod you will get better results at the end of the (very long and sweaty) day. For the rest of us... This is simply the most useful long lens I have owned in 35 years of photography. Before buying it for an African safari this summer I was sligthtly concerned by some reviews suggesting 'softness'. In practice, it was fantastic - the combination of rapid AF and advanced IS allowing me to take regular shots confidently, and some under conditions in which I would previously have just given up. One dull morning we found a family of cheetahs under a tree. I had to take shots at 300mm hand-held at 1/50th; most were usable, and several are printable at A3 with no sign of shake - magic! You can carry it around all day without feeling the weight, it stows easily inside an ordinary slingshot case, and doesn't draw attention to its capabilities.
It IS pricey - but justifiably so, and my only tiny quibble is that the zoom-lock (to stop it zooming under gravity, if held downwards) only locks at the 70mm position.
on 24 April 2012
This is a perfect zoom lens for anyone in the mid-range bracket. I would not recommend the sub £500 L series lens (up to 200mm) unless you shoot permanently from a tripod. This has image stabilisation and the L series doesn't and that's a huge difference.
If you pretty much shoot in automatic mode all the time (which is fine) and have little experience of a longer zoom lens, don't see this as a magic wand. You'll love the quality but if you're letting the camera make the decisions, you'll get some of the quibbles mentioned in other reviews. If you shoot manually and are of reasonable experience (and understand your camera), you'll know how to work with the lens to avoid them.
1. Weight. It's not that heavy for the length of it, but yes, carrying it around your neck for an extended period may start to cause you some discomfort. So, as with anything else, you should consider how to carry, wear or use it. But the tech spec tells you how heavy it is so weight should not be a complaint.
2. Light. I'm using a 550D and as with anything else you plug into that camera, it handles low light superbly. Tracking and shooting in low light with a mid range 300mm zoom lens means you need to be more patient, so if you're trying to shoot a goose landing on a flowing river on a cloudy midnight, then adjust your expectations.
Once the goose has landed, give it a try and I bet you get a good shot :0)
3. Focus. The response time is terrific. It can react to autofocus extremely quickly and re-stabilise. With any autofocus lens or camera you'll have problems if you're trying to focus on a subject through trees or a wire fence. Fortunately the nice people at Canon provide a manual focus switch for those occasions and options on your camera for how narrowly or widely it focuses.
Oh yeah, I tried a Tamron in the same range. It was good (and the IS kicks like a shotgun) but the zoom was really stiff. Someone told me it's to avoid the lens creeping forward at a downward angle. The Canon 70-300 doesn't creep either, has a lock in case it starts to do so and is a lot slicker.
So, my advice would be to consider your requirements and set your expectations appropriately. Do that, and this will blow you away.
on 7 October 2008
I use this lens with an EOS450D and the results are really exceeding my expectations. I have used the lens in a wide variety of conditions and have yet to find reason to complain about anything of substance. It is simple to use in automatic mode, and there are two image stabilisation modes which enable you to take photographs using this lens without having to resort to a tripod.
Canon have to be congratulated on producing a very fine lens with an excellent range, and Amazon need to be congratulated on their price (circa £350) for this great piece of photographic kit.
on 16 May 2011
Canon's white L-series telezooms have attained legendary status, amongst both pros and keen amateurs, because they're so damn good. This latest one is no exception. OK, it has a few design compromises, namely its slowish and variable aperture, but they're all carefully judged.
I have owned the 70-200 F2.8LIS, which I thought at the time was unbeatable. That is, until the 70-200 F4LIS came along at half the size and weight and stamped all over it for outright sharpness. Well worth the missed stop, thought I, and bought it.
I also have had the 100-400 F4/5.6LIS. Nice lens, but battleship-sized and weight; this was sufficient to discourage its regular appearance in my bag. Now along comes the 70-300 F4LIS. It's a surprisingly small package all in all, short and dumpy and - unlike the 100-400 - quite feasible to carry all day without a course of body-building and steroids.
The new kid on the block is a really nice compromise - good reach, extremely well built and compact. All this would be to no avail, however, if the image quality didn't stack up. But it does. I have just spent an entire afternoon doing test shots on my full-frame (5DII) and APS-C (550D) bodies. Quite simply, it performed impeccably throughout. To be frank, I found it virtually indistinguishable, optically, from the my 70-200 F4.
It has that combination of biting sharpness and buttery smoothness that I associate with top lenses: pixel-peep frames in Photoshop or Bridge to see what I mean...
That's high praise, and more than good enough for any pro use, I suspect. OK, I suspect the latest 70-200 F2.8LIS II is still the king of the hill, optically, but this 70-300 is a fine lens with great reach and ideally suited for travel use, with either full or half-frame bodies.
Strongly recommended, therefore.
If only Canon's wide-angles were as good...
on 14 September 2012
I've had this for about 2 months now, and the lens is simply superb. Even on my 450D photos immediately came out looking much more professional.
The lens is very sharp, particularly from f5.6 onwards throughout the zoom range, which of course means at 300mm it's sharp wide open. This is something you simply don't get with the (much) cheaper 70-300s of any brand. I briefly had the much cheaper Tamron 70-300 VC, but returned it to the shop as I felt it was not sharp enough, particularly above 200mm. Testing the canon 70-300 non-L version in the shop suggested there wasn't much difference to the Tamron either. This lens is in another league for quality (and unfortunately price).
Colour and contrast are also both excellent, and the IS is effective. It's the only L lens I own so I've not much to compare it with for build quality, but it is excellent - built like a tank and all the moving parts have just the right balance of solidity and fluidity. It's also not discrete, at just over 1kg it is heavy, and looks a bit oversized on my camera (being white doesn't help to hide it). In fact it's actually not that much heavier than my 17-55 f2.8, but if you have a lighter standard zoom (or the kit lens) you'll feel the difference more. Either way it can weigh on the neck after a while.
The zooming front element does mean that the lens is relatively compact when stowed compared to other L telephotos. It fits in a LowePro Slingshot 200 series bag, which I suspect the 70-200s wouldn't. I like the zoom lock as it means you can attach the hood in the reversed storage orientation without then zooming the lens out while taking it off again. Some net reviews have complained that the zoom and focus rings are reversed, but they are the same arrangement as my 17-55 f2.8 and 10-22 so I don't find it an issue. Also, although direct comparisons are difficult I feel optical quality of it and the 17-55 are are comparable.
It doesn't work with Canon tele-extenders but does with Kenko (I use 300 Pro DGs). 1.4x generally loses AF but retains MF confirmation, 2x loses both. Unless you have a tripod, alot of light and a fairly still subject the results are likely to be mixed at best, but they can each give improvements over upscaling lower magnification images. For the use you'd likely get you might want to look at eBay second hand for those.
It isn't a macro lens, but in conjunction with Kenko extension tubes the fact that it's a very sharp zoom gives a nice range of compromises for magnification and subject distance, and produces pretty decent macro pictures. It's not a match for the Canon 100mm macro which I had a chance to play with, but it's enough to give an unexpected extra dimension to it.
If you want a 70-300 there is nothing better, but whether it's really worth 3x the price of the next most expensive will always a personal judgement. Personally, I wouldn't swap it for any other tele-zoom.
Finally, I've seen forums where people seem to endlessly agonise over which is the sharpest, 70-200, 70-300 or 100-400. In reality all Canon's white lenses are excellent, and probably best in each of their classes. For me once you've decided to fork out a grand or more and get one of them the focal length / aperture the decider. For me 100-400 would always start too long, 70-200 finish too short, so 70-300 it was and I don't regret it.