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on January 29, 2006
If you're looking at this lens, you're ready to spend some serious dollars. Is it worth it? Short answer, yes, but I'll elaborate.

I've shot with a variety of Nikon and Canon lenses for about 25 years. The 300 f/2.8L IS is without a doubt the sharpest lens I've ever had, and it is unbelievably consistent across every aperture. With the 1.4X Canon extender - other its becoming an f/4 lens - I could not see any appreciable change in its performance. Unbelievable.

I got my introduction to image stabilization on the 70-200 f/2.8L IS, and it is even more useful on the 300. I handheld consistently crisp shots at 1/60 and sometimes at 1/30. With my old Nikon 300 mm, anything below 1/250 was out of the question and 1/500 was a good idea. The whirring of the IS is a bit louder on the 300 than the 70-200.

When shooting action in AI Servo mode, the autofocus was as fast as on my shorter prime lenses.

In some forums, people swear by third party long lenses that they say produce as good an image at less than half the cost. All I can say is that their experience probably reflects the limitations of their skills rather than the comparability of the lenses.

With the 1.4X extender and my 1D Mark IIN's 1.3X FOVCF, this becomes a 546 mm lens. On a 1.6X FOVCF camera it's a whopping 672 mm.

Here are some other Canon alternatives and why you might want to go with them instead of the 300 f/2.8L IS:

- Canon 300 f/4L IS - less than half the price; it is lighter and has a built-in lens hood that doesn't require assembly; you lose a stop, and while a very sharp lens, not in same class at the f/2.8. good choice if you don't have the money for the f/2.8 or want to spread it among other lenses.

- Canon 400 f/2.8L IS - a longer reach without losing a stop but the price and weight increase significantly; not really hand-holdable; lens of choice for outdoor sports action.

- Canon 500 f/4L IS - if you want to shoot birds, you'll need the extra reach. It's cheaper than the 400 2.8 but a couple thousand more than the 300. Sharpness is comparable to the 300.

- Zoom lenses (70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DO IS; 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS) Cheaper, lighter and more flexible but a serious compromise on image quality vs. 300 f/2.8L IS.

Best argument against the 300 f/2.8L is that you won't shoot often enough at that focal length or you want to buy more lenses for the money.

I'm saving my pennies now to add the 500 f/4L IS for bird and other wildlife distance shooting. It will take a few years.
22 comments| 167 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on April 6, 2008
If you're considering this lens then you must already have, or can get the means in which to pay for it. With that being said... GET IT!! I waited and am kicking myself for doing so. Sure the 70-200mm f/2.8 IS L series I bought at the time is still a GREAT lens, I just wished I'd have had this for the last 3 months. Esp if you add a 2x canon tele-converter. or if you have one of the camera's with the cropped sensors. I can tell you that my 5D loves it. The pictures as stated before are tack sharp and when you crop for that KILLER shot whooo baby. If you have any doubt, I would suggest trying to rent one first, but I tell you..... if you do rent one, you will end up buying one. It is simply that good.
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on December 14, 2007
This lens is very fast, it can focus very rapidly and follow accurately flying birds, this is the main reason I bought this lens. It excels in every respect, it can be hand held, very sharp even when the aperture is wide open, image stabilization is excellent and it is very fast lens, fast focusing. It can be used to photograph butterflies, dragonflies as I tested it on my 1.6 crop factor camera and found that it can photograph a 15 by 10cm rectangle, thus I can say that it has a maximum magnification of 1:6.7.
This is an expensive lens, so if you think you will use it only occasionally, then I advice you not to buy it, otherwise it worth the price.
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on November 22, 2008
I bought this lens for sports photography. The Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM Super Telephoto Lens for Canon SLR Cameras  is the classic sports photographer's lens, but it's almost twice the money and twice the weight. This was a compromise, and it's one I don't regret.

Even so, this is a pretty heavy lens. It may be hand-holdable for some, but not for me. I almost always use a tripod or monopod, or brace it against something. With a monopod, it's easy to handle; I routinely use it to photograph 3-hour baseball games, and don't get tired.

Because it's so heavy and bulky, it's not the kind of lens you bring with you casually. But I've found myself using it for a lot more than sports. Photographing flowers, say, to get that beautiful bokeh. I got some nice photos of the moon with it during the last eclipse.

The sheer size of this lens does attract attention. People are always coming up to me and asking if I'm a reporter. The results are worth it, though. You'll get shots that are simply impossible with a lesser lens.

(I have not had any problem taking this lens, with monopod, into spring training games and minor league baseball games. They will hassle you at some major league stadiums. If you want to photograph big league games, the Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM Telephoto Lens for Canon SLR Cameras might be a more practical choice. It's much smaller and lighter. No image stabilization, but is far easier to hand-hold.)

UPDATE: I've since had a chance to use the Canon EF 200mm f/2L IS USM Telephoto Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras, and it may be an even better choice for sports photography. It is smaller, though just as heavy. The extra speed makes up for the shorter length, especially for night games. You can also use an extender and get almost the equivalent of the 300mm.
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on January 19, 2008
As good as it gets. Fast AF, image stabilization (that works), great color & contrast, and works well with the 2X extender making it a 600mm f5.6. It is expensive, but if you need a fast super telephoto with unbelievable image quality this is it.

Can be effectively handheld for short periods, but best used with a tripod or monopod.

If you check around you will find that this lens holds its resale value quite well, although most people that do part with this lens will later regret selling it.

There are only a few on-line vendors I trust when ordering something of this cost. In the 10 years I've ordered from Amazon they have always not only honored their return policy, but on one occasion when the manufacturer was slow to help with a defect Amazon agreed to a refund well after the 30 day return policy had expired.

If you are unsure, try renting first. As another poster mentioned, other lenses will pale in comparison.
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on March 14, 2007
I frequently shoot motorcycles on the street and track. Last racing season, I rented this lens several times and fell in love with it. It has fantastic sharpness and great reach--which can be augmented with the 1.4x teledapter or the occasional 2.0x. (Throw in a camera with a 1.6 crop, and you've got a looong lens.) The two mode IS and the relatively light weight make this a great lens for doing pan shots. For setups where steadiness is required, the central monopod/tripod mount helps maintain the camera's balance although having a heavy camera (1DmkIIN or a 20D with a battery grip) helps.

This lens was worth every penny.
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on April 1, 2010
Love:

- Sharp wide open and that is what counts (sharpens nicely with software).
- Sharpens more when stopped down an f-stop (outstanding resolution).
- Fast auto focus (fastest I have seen).
- Solid build (switches and rings are precise without play).
- Replaceable flat front glass which protects the adjacent UD element.
- Autofocus stop buttons.
- Dust and water resistant.
- Programmable preset focusing.
- Removable tripod collar.

Like:

- Optical image stabilization (wish it had the newer 3-4 stop version).
- Hard case (good for storing lens in your house, vehicle or airplane).
- A good way to meet nice strangers (especially the ladies) who approach and raises questions about the lens.

Dislike:

- E-145 lens cap (will dislodge if lens is carried in the field with the hood reversed).
- Paint will come off on the barrel at the ET-120 lens hood contact point.
- Need to buy Canon touch up paint to repaint lens hood contact point on barrel.
- Not a dislike but the strap's buckle can scratch the prism housing (position the buckle close to the lens away from the camera).
- Weight (not really hand holdable and needs at least a monopod).
- Cost (but it's faster and sharper than the Canon 300/4 versions).

This is the sharpest and fastest autofocus lens in my collection. The 70-200/4 IS is a close second.

Please refer to my uploaded photos
review image review image review image review image
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on June 29, 2009
This is the best canon lens I own to date. I prefer the 300mm f/2.8 over the 400mm f/2.8 lens based on weight & size for my specific need. The 300mm does not require a monopod, the 400mm in my opinion always requires a monopod or tripod. My main usage is capturing high school and college sports, typically softball and band. I use this 300mm and the 70-200mm f/2.8 L lens 90% of the time. The 400mm f/2.8 lens at ~11.8 lbs is over twice the weight of the 300mm f/2.8 at ~5.6 lbs. I much prefer to carry the 300mm and the 1.4 canon extender for those few times I need a closer shot. My camera body, the 300mm f/2.8, the 70-200mm f/2.8, a fish eye lens, the canon 24-70mm L and a book all fit very comfortably in the Temba "large" camera shoulder bag as I walk to any high school / college sport activity.

I take many sport pictures at night, still I find the the 300mm and 70-200mm lens are my favorite, even over the 200mm L f/2.0 Canon lens which is dropping in price. At time of purchase, it cost $1000 more than the 300mm f/2.8 lens. I strongly recommend renting the 200mm f/2.0 canon lens before making a purchase. It's a nice lens which has great reviews but I'm not convinced this was a wise purchase based on price / performance.

If I had to pick one of these 3 canon lens for general outdoor sports: 1) 300mm f/2.8 2) 400mm f/2.8 3) 200mm f/2.0, it would be the 300mm hands down. Of course, this is ratings for my specific need.
0Comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on January 10, 2010
Love:

- Sharp wide open and that is what counts (sharpens nicely with software).
- Sharpens more when stopped down an f-stop (outstanding resolution).
- Fast auto focus (fastest I have seen).
- Solid build (switches and rings are precise without play).
- Replaceable flat front glass which protects the adjacent UD element.
- Autofocus stop buttons.
- Dust and water resistant.
- Programmable preset focusing.
- Removable tripod collar.

Like:

- Optical image stabilization (wish it had the newer 3-4 stop version).
- Hard case (good for storing lens in your house, vehicle or airplane).
- A good way to meet nice strangers (especially the ladies) who approach and raises questions about the lens.

Dislike:

- E-145 lens cap (will dislodge if lens is carried in the field with the hood reversed).
- Paint will come off on the barrel at the ET-120 lens hood contact point.
- Need to buy Canon touch up paint to repaint lens hood contact point on barrel.
- Not a dislike but the strap's buckle can scratch the prism housing (position the buckle close to the lens away from the camera).
- Weight (not really hand holdable and needs at least a monopod).
- Cost (but it's faster and sharper than the Canon 300/4 versions).

This is the sharpest and fastest autofocus lens in my collection. The 70-200/4 IS is a close second.

Please refer to my uploaded photos.
review image review image review image review image
0Comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on February 12, 2011
This is my upgrade lens. I used the 100-400L IS lens for birding before this lens. I use this lens on 7D with or without TC's.

Pros:
- Well built
- Weather sealed
- Sharp wide open
- Bokeh is amazing
- Mind blowing colours
- Very good resolution
- Very fast on 7D
- Almost noiseless focus. The IS kicking in before the shutter is completely pressed is the only noise I hear
- Glass coating looks very good
- Amazing piece of glass
- I purchased this lens after Canon announced the version II lens. By this time, the price is pretty much mature and stable and reasonable for this kind of lens
- Works very well with the 1.4X version II TC
- Works very well with some loss in AF speed but high image quality with the 2X Version III TC

Cons:
I can't really think of any. I mean it's heavy as it's a f2.8. But that's expected for this focal length and f stop.
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