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Showing 1-10 of 541 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 699 reviews
on April 27, 2013
I needed a longer telezoom for a zoo photography class, and had narrowed options to this lens, the Tamron AF 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6 SP Di VC USD, and the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM. I was strongly tempted by the prospect of owning L quality glass, especially at this price point, but really wanted IS (or VC as Tamron calls it); I didn't want to feel like I'd always need to carry my monopod/tripod with me, or that I *had* to use a large aperture to ensure a faster shutter speed. And, to be honest, 200mm maximum focal length won't cut it in most zoos, so I'd also need to invest in a teleconverter. Not to mention, once you factor in the cost of a good quality teleconverter, well, you may as well just look at the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM--and while I did seriously look at that lens and test it out, the price point is really beyond what I want and need.

That left me with this lens, and the Tamron. After pouring over dozens of review sites, I ended up ordering both. I just couldn't decide. This lens arrived first, and I'll admit--I was disappointed by the first shots. I generally shoot with primes (Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 and Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM), and this lens just seemed to lack that visual punch I'd gotten used to. Then the Tamron arrived, and unfortunately, it was a dud. Many technical reviews suggest that the Tamron can outperform this lens--if you get a good copy. But for whatever reason, quality control seems to be a real issue for the third party lens manufacturers. But time was of the essence, so I decided to put this Canon lens through its paces at my zoo photography class.

And boy, am I glad I did. I was pleasantly surprised--wowed, really--by what this lens could do when I gave it a real chance. So even though I wasn't thrilled with this lens at first impression--it certainly wasn't a case of love at first sight--it's become a keeper. It's probably not for everyone (there are many who argue the best option would have been to go with the 70-200 L + a teleconverter, or to suck it up and just get the 70-300 L), but it works for me.

After a month of use, I'll update this and add--I finally did a bit of pixel creeping comparing this lens to the 70-300 L that I tested out. The L seems to have a slightly better (more effective) IS system, but for my purposes I found it very difficult to distinguish between the image quality of the two lenses--even at the max focal length of 300mm. If I were a pro and intending to sell my photographs with the potential of blowing them up at a very massive scale, then the L would hands down be the better choice. But for me, and probably most people (your average consumer, prosumer, or serious amateur/hobbyist), this older version is an excellent lens. There's a reason many people, for years, called this the secret L--because it can really perform if you let it. I think that warrants adding the fifth star.
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on October 14, 2013
This is my second purchase of this lens (after a thief snagged my Canon T3i with this lens attached in a car break-in). I consider this essential equipment for my camera to replace the kit lens sold without IS. I use it specifically to shoot wildlife - especially for birding - and my hands are no longer steady enough for consistent clean shots at the highest zoom. the IS/USM makes all the difference.
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The Canon EF 70-300 mm F/4-5.6 IS USM lens is a great consumer grade lens for air show shots from along the flight line or for moderate distant shots with a nice bokeh effect while being a lightweight lens as compared to the much heftier Sigma 150-500. This lens is ideal for around a zoo or typical animal park, as well. The attached images are all SOOC with NO editing and NO cropping to demonstrate this lens on a Canon T4i. The images were taken at the 2016 Spirit of St. Louis Air Show held in St. Louis Missouri on Sunday May 15, 2016.
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on August 20, 2011

I'm sure as you read this review there may have been tears shed, hair pulled out, foreheads banged against hard surfaces, screams and curses uttered, more tears, frustration, and exhaustion only to realize that you're still contemplating between this lens and the 70-200L F/4 IS USM. The photography needs for many is like a bottomless pit, but it all comes down to the items that will ultimately compliment YOUR photography needs. Having said that, pay careful attention to the pros and cons of both lens to seek which best suites you. Hopefully this review can give you that last push to finally pull the trigger.

After buying a Canon 5D Mark II with a 24-70L lens, I realized that my needs for a lens with extensive reach was necessary during nature trips, graduation events, etc. Knowing that my next purchase of a telephoto lens usage was seldom as compared to my primary 24-70L lens, I was bit more frugal regarding $ value but image quality was still my utmost priority. I set out on a journey to a local photography store to borrow a 70-200 F/4 IS USM (~ $1250) and 70-300 F/4-5.6 ($500) which only costed me $40 :) Though they had my credit card on file incase of scratches or loss :(. Notice that my reviews are primarily focused on lenses with IS since my hands are not the steadiest.

After going to an airplane show and local mountain, I took many pictures of flying airplanes (little redundant but just to illustrate that they weren't inactive!) to landscape portraits. When I compared the pictures from both lens down to the pixel, I realized image quality was VERY VERY similar. Of course you'll have differences in terms of minor distortion, vignetting, resolution and chromatic aberrations from the 70-300 lens but it was so minor that you'll never notice it without zooming in. This is where the power of the "L" comes in, but only to an extent. Pictures printed up to 8x10 were fine, but any larger the minor flaws of the 70-300 became indisputable.

There are many claims that the AF on the 70-300 is rather poor especially on maximum 300 zoom--AF was able to capture almost all my airplane photos 7 out of 10 attempts whereas the 70-200 was right on the dot 10/10 which wasn't a big problem for me considering the image quality was still up to par. Also I must note that the 70-300 was able to retain a great amount of detail just like the 70-200. This is not a subjective con but rather raw proof that this lens can perform just as great! My only itch with the 70-300 is obviously the narrow aperture will perform poorly in low lit areas which inevitably increases ISO and slowing down shutter speed which may result in blur or "noise". Also please note that the 70-300 does NOT come with a lens hood whereas the 70-200 does. Weight is not a problem since they are both about ~ 1.5 lbs.

As I have mentioned before, it all comes down to YOUR needs, so:

BUY THE 70-300 F4-5.6 IS USM - if you don't mind the wide aperture F5.6 on far zoom which also means the majority of your pictures will be taken under well-lit areas, need the longer focal length range (which comes handy especially if your trying to catch a bird), MUCH less expensive which is by a non trivial margin from the 70-200 F/4 IS (~1200) and offers just as great image quality!

BUY THE 70-200 F4 IS USM - if need a constant aperture size at all focal lengths which can translates to faster shutter speeds/low ISO at long focal lengths, compatibility with 1.4x and 2.0x teleconverters which can potentially extend your focal lengths to 400mm!, enlarging your pictures past 8x10 while retaining phenomenal image quality and detail, shooting sports needing faster reliable AF.

BUY THE 70-200 F2.8 IS USM (aka King of telephoto lens) - if your sick and tired of reading review after review and just want the best of the best, have at least $2400 to spare from your piggie bank (which is the same price as a Canon 5D Mark II body!), wedding photographer, basically same specs as 70-200 F4 except for F2.8.

Given my needs and my seldom usage of this "secondary" lens, I bought the 70-300 IS USM along with a B+W 58 multi-coated uv filter (a must!). I've been scolded at by some colleagues for placing this lens on a pro grade camera Canon 5D Mark II, but after performing many tests, the image quality of the 70-300 IMHO is just as good. Surprisingly, this was initially a recommendation from my photography professor at ucla.

I hope this helps! Good luck!
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on October 18, 2016
A great all-round zoom lens. Super sharp for outdoors/landscape. Autofocus is very quick as well. This lens even does a decent job shooting high speed sports action, providing there is enough bright sunlight to allow it to be used at wide open aperture.
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on April 10, 2013
Conventional wisdom holds that the more powerful a telephoto lens you mount on your camera, the more you may need a tripod for shake-free images. With patience and breath control many photographers have long been able take crisp handheld shots with lenses of focal lengths up to 400mm. That ability can now be extended to almost everyone through technology. The best modern DSLRS can produce crisp handheld images with short exposures at high ISO settings and, coupled with good image stabilization lenses, can effectively expand the focal length (or power, if you will) of lenses that can be used to advantage without a monopod or tripod.

Still, it remains the case that a great percentage of the distant images that most amateur or enthusiast photographers will want to capture can be taken with telephoto lenses that do not exceed 400mm. In that case, any lens that covers all or most of the range between 100mm and 400mm is a reasonable candidate to add to your photography kit. If you feel an unmet need to take frame-filling moonrises behind a ghostly oak tree on a remote ridge, you can get a dedicated 1000mm lens later on.

For a general purpose telephoto lens, this 70-300mm zoom can't be beat. In my experience the optics have produced crisp images at any focal length and at most aperture settings, though images taken with apertures at the middle of its range (f/11, for example) appear just slightly sharper than ones taken with a wide open lens.

Canon has thoughtfully included two different image stabilization modes for the benefit of individuals who use the lens in different ways. Mode 1 is for general purpose image stabilization when the camera is held still to capture a stationary field of view. Mode 2 is used for panning shots in which the photographer is following an item or individual in motion. This mode locks out attempts to correct for blur in the direction of camera motion. And you can of course lock out IS altogether if you are so inclined. Autofocus can also be locked out in case you are shooting nearby objects from a tripod and want to pick the exact focal point of the image field yourself. The word "macro" is printed on the lens, but that strikes me as a little aspirational. I would consider this lens a close-focusing zoom, as you can get fairly close-up images of smaller objects that are a little distance away. Minimum focusing distance is just under five feet, and at that distance the 300mm setting will let you fill the frame with an object about five inches wide. This could be a good lens to capture images of large winged insects and even hummingbirds, as those interesting subjects are notoriously intolerant of close approach by photographers. For true macro photography of flower details or smaller insects, you should mount a different lens.

At the other end of its zoom range, focal length in the 70-135 range is excellent for portrait photography or casual snapshots that isolate individuals or groups of two or three in large gatherings.

Build quality is excellent, options for use are rich, optical performance is excellent and the lens, though not tiny or light, is compact and manageable. Canon makes other, more expensive lenses with similar design features that might better satisfy the most critical photographers, but in light of the relatively low cost of this lens and its great flexibility, this has to be one of the best general purpose lenses that Canon manufactures.

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on July 10, 2012
My review is about the image quality you can expect from this lens - caution - I'm a lens addict and probably a pixel peeper.

Update 7/12: Check out the leaf photos comparing the non-L to the L version

I have used several of these lenses and currently own one non-L and one of the L series 70-300 lenses. Overall, the non-L will practically match the image quality of the L lens with the aperture one stop down. At 300mm f/8 it is just as sharp as the L version if you remove lateral chromatic aberration in software.

The noticeable image quality differences with the L version are:
1. The L has slightly more accurate & precise focusing
2. Image stabilization is perhaps 1/2-stop better on the L version at low shutter speeds < 1/60
3. The L version has no purple/red fringing due to the UD glass

Similarities with L version are:
1. The AF is very fast on both
2. Overall hand holdability is great (the L is heavier though)
3. Colors, sharpness and contrast in the center are practically similar when stopped down 1-stop
4. Distortion is very low at all focal lengths
5. Excellent flare-resistance (contributes to good contrast)

With this lens, I have noticed that the stopping down helps by covering up for inaccurate focus. It tends to front-focus by 1% or 2% of subject distance. What this means is at 300mm f/5.6 if you are shooting a bird that is 50 feet away the camera will focus ~ 6 to 12 inches in front of the bird where the DOF is only 18 inches. The bird will still look acceptably sharp but something else slightly in front of it will be tack sharp !!. This was true on more than one body (pls comment if you have also observed this).

Stopping down extends the DOF and compensates for the focus error. In my experience, the focus is dead-on for about 30% of the shots and within the DOF for ~95% of the shots. Very rarely will it completely miss.

The L version focuses dead-on about 90% of the time & within DOF 99% of the times.

If your camera allows AF microadjust, my 60d does not :(, that might be worth experimenting with.

Overall, getting this instead of the L saves money if you remember to stop down and to take maybe 2-3 rapid shots to get the best focus.

For ~$1000 more, the L will give you near unconditional image quality and let your mind focus (pun intended) on the composition instead of the gear.
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33 comments| 13 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
This lens for me is for shooting wildlife, nature scenes and sporting events like football and basketball games. Inside of the box you will find the Canon lens, the lens CD disk and the Canon warranty card. Make sure that the lens number on the Canon warranty card matches the one on your new lens.

One of the first things that you will notice is that the lens has a lock on it to lock it closed and protect it. Make sure that you lock the lens when carrying it or storing it in your camera bag. The lens has an USM focusing motor and the focus can be set to automatic or manual modes. It also features image stabilizer feature that can be turned on or off. I like that the stabilizer buttons are recessed so they cannot be easily switched by accident.

The stabilizer system can be set in Mode 1 or in Mode 2. Mode 1 is dual axis stabilization and it is good for shooting stationary objects. Mode 2 is single axis stabilization and it is more suited for photographing (panning to shoot) a moving object. The image stabilization on this lens is excellent and it dramatically improves your long range photography. Slight motions in the camera can affect you photograph quality and this feature is what is required to improve your photography. This feature is what makes this lens worth the money.

The lens is quite long when fully extended and you have to be careful that nobody runs into the lens at a sporting event for example. Make sure that you retract and lock the lens when you are not using it. I also purchased a lens cover to reduce light glare on the lens and I recommend that you get one especially if you shoot a lot of outdoor photographs. I included some images of the lens cover in my attached video. If you think the lens is long, then you should see it with a lens cover! I reverse the cover for added protection when the camera is not in use and I am just carrying it.

I am very happy with this lens and the quality of the photographs that it takes. The focus has been clear and fast and the image stabilization is excellent. I recommend this lens as it has been an excellent addition to my Canon 7D camera. I rate it at 5 stars.
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For a Canon USM IS at this price point, I was expecting a tad more "silky smoothness" from this lens. It was missing.

I'm known for my short, to-the-point reviews, so here it is:

- The lens provides tack sharp images through nearly the whole tele range. Great. BUT....
- for a USM, it is quite noisy during AF. I found this annoying from the get go.
- with every USM lens I own, there is a continuous MF ring that allows for adjustments. This ring is locked into the AF. I found this a little strange.
- the front element ROTATES while focusing. For a USM, I have NEVER seen this. So forget about polarizing filters.
- the IS was not as quiet as I'm used to, and had a constant clicking sound, as though something was loose inside. Again, I expected far less noise. This occurred on either level 1 or 2 of the IS.

These are all minor points, but when taken collectively resulted in me returning the lens for a refund. Again, for $550+ I was expecting a little more than what this lens was providing.
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on May 11, 2007
I have used a different brand 70-300mm zoom before which worked well, but it was noisy and slow to focus. The Canon 70-300mm is absolutely silent and extremely fast in focusing, and produces absolutely outstanding photos. So good in fact, that I have posted a few of the images under this lens for you to judge yourself. Photos that I took at the Atlanta Zoo, under all types of lighting conditions. The lens produced incredible photos. All were hand-held shots, most of which were at the full 300mm range. And the IS is incredible. I had one photo which was taken in the shade and I was shooting with aperture priority and wide open. I did not realize how well the IS stabilized my photo till I looked at the exif data on my Flickr site - the shutter speed was 1/10th of a second, hand-held, and at 275mm. What more can you say about a lens, to obtain sharp photos like that. This lens is an absolute winner for me! For a sharp, fast, quiet lens with a tremendous zoom range, this is the next lens you want to buy!
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