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FORUMS Canon Cameras, Lenses & Accessories Canon EF and EF-S Lenses 
Thread started 27 Jul 2012 (Friday) 07:54
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Sports - 300mm f/4 L vs. 70-300 f/4-5.6 L - Which Would You Choose?

 
Christina.DazzleByDesign
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Jul 27, 2012 07:54 |  #1

Alas, another thread. :p I'm coming VERY close now to making my final decision as I am leaving for NY next week to visit the city for the first time, and also to make a trip to B&H :D

On their website, each lens imported (grey-market) cost the exact same. $1399

I have a few questions, since this prime has been stuck in my mind since the very beginning, despite the other lens options I have rented inbetween.

1. If you shot sports and could only choose between these two lenses, which would you choose and why? Zoom's are convenient, but it seems all of the top sports lenses out there are primes. For IQ, I'm assuming, which is fine, but doesn't the photog miss some shots due to not being able to zoom out, or in, in certain instances?

2. How old is the 300mm f/4 prime? It doesn't matter really but I'm curious, since the 70-300L is only a couple years old and has newer IS technology.

3. Which is sharper at 300mm wide open? Might be a no-brainer question since primes have prime sharpness, but its worth asking anyway. The-Digital-Picture's resolution chart seems to be a tossup between them in the centre. The prime seems to be only a bit sharper in the corners.

I rented the 70-300 and really liked it, but when I had it I used it at 300 97% of the time. I didn't have any other occaisions while I had it to use it as more of a walk-around lens - so I'm not sure if I would or not. Depending where I was, I would probably reach for my 24-105 first as a walk-around, since it is lighter, less white, etc.

That said, I would miss the zoom I think. But I can't be certain. My local store will not rent primes so I can't test it as I've tested every other lens I've considered.

Anywho, thats it. Let me hear your thoughts :) Also no comments about adding a 1.4XIII to my 70-200, or keeping my 70-200 - its not an option right now. I have to choose between these two lenses. I have a friend who is very interested in buying my 70-200 so hopefully before I go to NY :)

P.S - Anything I should be wary of buying "Imported" v.s "USA" from B&H ? I don't know much about it, the information on it suggested the only difference was the distributor where they got the product. They could have gotten them from Canada for all I know, not some far off place in the middle of a jungle. But please enlighten me :)

Background Info for those who havn't been following my threads on this
- Sport I shoot: Equestrian & getting into dog agility, but 99% equestrian
- Camera: 5D3
- Uses: Daylight - no sport I shoot falls into the evening so the aperture doesn't bother me. I don't need the 2.8


5D3 | 7D | 85L II | 70-300L | 24-105L | Nifty Fifty | 600EX-RT_______________
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-dave-m-
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Jul 27, 2012 08:27 |  #2

I have a 70-200 f/4L non IS and recently purchased a mint used 300 f/4L. I was considering a 70-300 as well, but zoom wise I would only be adding 200-300. I went with the prime for the faster f/4 and the ability to add a 1.4x II for 420 @ f/5.6 and maintain AF.

I rented the 70-300 for a weekend, I found that I rarely shot between 200-300, most shooting was at 300, negating any advantage the zoom had over the prime.


5D MkII Gripped | 7D MkII Gripped | 200 f/2.8L | 17-40 f/4L | Σ 24-105 OS f/4 Art | Σ 50 f/1.4 Art | Σ 150-600 OS f/5-6.3 C | 430EX II

  
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theoubobcat
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Jul 27, 2012 08:39 |  #3

Most of my shooting is for sports, and in that case, IMO, a zoom is always preferable if there is no big difference in image quality. My 70-300L is amazing -- fast AF, great IQ -- and with today's ISO capabilities, I think the difference in F stops is not nearly as much of a factor as it used to be.


--Jeff
ID MkIV, 5D Mk III w/BG-E11, 7D w/BG-E7, 300/f.28 (non-IS), 70-200 f/2.8 II, 70-300 L, 24-105 L, 10-22, 85 1.8, 50 1.4, 17-55 2.8, Sigma 150-500 , Sigma 120-300 f/2.8 Sport, TC 1.4 II and III and 2X II, 600 EX-RT, 580 EX II, 580 EX & 430 EXII

  
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rddelliott
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Jul 27, 2012 10:07 |  #4

I shoot action sports and I find the 70-300 L excellent as I am constantly changing focal length. The zoom image quality is excellent.




  
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stsva
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Jul 27, 2012 10:25 |  #5

Here are the reviews from Photozone.de -
70-300 f/4-5.6L - http://www.photozone.d​e …non70300f456isl​ff?start=1 (external link)
300 f/4L - http://www.photozone.d​e …/611-canon300f4ff?start=1 (external link)

From their test results, it appears the 70-300L may have a very slight center sharpness advantage wide open, probably because at 300mm it's wide open at f/5.6 versus f/4 for the prime. Otherwise, they appear to be pretty close. Check out the reviews for other considerations.

With regard to gray market vs. U.S., as I understand it this means that the U.S. version was imported by a U.S. authorized Canon dealer and carries a valid U.S. warranty, whereas the gray market will have an international warranty; other than that, the lenses should be identical. According to a number of posts I've seen, Canon USA makes it a practice of honoring the non-U.S. warranty so long as you have proof of purchase, but technically they probably wouldn't have to.


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Christina.DazzleByDesign
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Jul 27, 2012 17:35 |  #6

stsva wrote in post #14777506 (external link)
Here are the reviews from Photozone.de -
70-300 f/4-5.6L - http://www.photozone.d​e …non70300f456isl​ff?start=1 (external link)
300 f/4L - http://www.photozone.d​e …/611-canon300f4ff?start=1 (external link)

From their test results, it appears the 70-300L may have a very slight center sharpness advantage wide open, probably because at 300mm it's wide open at f/5.6 versus f/4 for the prime. Otherwise, they appear to be pretty close. Check out the reviews for other considerations.

With regard to gray market vs. U.S., as I understand it this means that the U.S. version was imported by a U.S. authorized Canon dealer and carries a valid U.S. warranty, whereas the gray market will have an international warranty; other than that, the lenses should be identical. According to a number of posts I've seen, Canon USA makes it a practice of honoring the non-U.S. warranty so long as you have proof of purchase, but technically they probably wouldn't have to.

Thanks for that! I'll check out those reviews :) And thanks for explaining the grey market thing. I live in Canada, so buying "USA" from B&H probably won't be worth much to me, warrenty wise. As long as it has the Canon warrenty and its new, its nice to save about $200 difference between USA and grey market. It still comes in the usual canon box right?


5D3 | 7D | 85L II | 70-300L | 24-105L | Nifty Fifty | 600EX-RT_______________
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kin2son
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Jul 27, 2012 17:39 |  #7
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Always better to have a zoom for sports. Tele prime only makes sense if you are always limited by focal length, that is birding. Or the extra speed is absolutely needed for low light indoor sports etc.


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lannes
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Jul 27, 2012 19:25 |  #8

I find that if I have the telephoto length, I'm always at the maximum when shooting e.g always at the 300mm end, so the zoom doesn't really factor into the equation most of the time

I have both lenses, but I do find the prime a bit sharper and it will be better if you need to use an extender.

but if you need the framing flexibility then the zoom is the only option.


1Dx, 1DM4, 5DM2, 7D, EOS-M, 8-15L, 17-40L, 24 TSE II, 24-105L, 50L, 85L II, 100L, 135L, 200L f/2.8, 300L f/4, 70-200L II, 70-300L, 400Lf/5.6

  
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alazgr8
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Jul 28, 2012 00:21 |  #9

Grey market is worth considering. B&H will warranty grey lenses, but no Canon warranty.

Regards,

Rick


Rick S.
My Gear = Canon 50d ~ EF 100 f/2.8L IS USM Macro ~ EF 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L IS USM ~ EF-S 17-55 IS USM f/2.8 IS ~ EF 70-300 f/4-5.6 IS USM ~ EF 28-135 IS f/3.5-5.6 IS USM

  
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amfoto1
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Jul 28, 2012 11:43 |  #10

A lot of the time I shoot with 70-200/2.8 on one camera and 300/4 on the other.... I stick with the 300mm prime because it's usable with a teleconverter (420/5.6) and gives me what I need in a hand-holdable lens.

Yeah, I bought my 300/4 IS used, too.... wouldn't know it from new except that it wasn't in a box and someone wrote "300mm" on the lens case that was included (along with a 77mm B+W MRC UV filter). $900 if I recall correctly... but that was a couple years ago.

The 300/4 IS has a few quirks. For one, it's one of the earliest IS lenses and the IS has to be turned off if using the lens locked down on a tripod. I use mine nearly exclusively handheld or on a tripod, haven't turned off IS yet.

Also, it has a tendency to a small magenta flare in highlights, that can be seen here in the bird's eye...

IMAGE: http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2762/4020576990_bccb834338_o.jpg
IMAGE: http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2801/4020587780_e945696bea_o.jpg
Red tail hawk flyby

That's easily fixed in post production, if wished. In this image it doesn't bother me so I left it alone.

The 300/4 IS also doesn't have as nice, creamy bokeh as the 300/2.8 IS. It's usually fine, but if you have a busy background, particularly one with a lot of contrast and out of focus specular highlights, at particular apertures it can be a little "rough". This image needed some background work, smoothing things and killing some of the highlights, before I was happy with it.

IMAGE: http://farm7.staticflickr.com/6020/6011191895_fc747c42c1_o.jpg
Determination

But, aside from a few quirks, the 300/4 IS is a great lens and nice that it can be used with a 1.4X teleconverter (won't be able to do that with the 70-300). It's fast focusing and gives consistently good images. The IS is nice and helpful, particularly in a lens I handhold a lot.

Still, there are some advantages to zooms, especially when using a single camera. If I were using only one camera, I might go with the Sigma 120-300/2.8 and a teleconverter. Or, if money were more of a concern and low light weren't, maybe the 100-400L IS, or for even less money the Sigma 120-400 OS.

Alan Myers (external link) "Walk softly and carry a big lens."
5DII, 7DII(x2), 7D(x2) & other cameras. 10-22mm, Tokina 12-24/4, 20/2.8, TS 24/3.5L, 24-70/2.8L, 28/1.8, 28-135 IS (x2), TS 45/2.8, 50/1.4, Tamron 60/2.0, 70-200/4L IS, 70-200/2.8 IS, 85/1.8, Tamron 90/2.5 Macro, 100/2.8 USM, 100-400L II, 135/2L, 180/3.5L, 300/4L IS (x2), 300/2.8L IS, 500/4L IS, EF 1.4X II, EF 2X II. Flashes, studio strobes & various access. - FLICKR (external link) - ZENFOLIO (external link)

  
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pman67
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Jul 28, 2012 12:17 |  #11

You might want to head over to lensrental.com and read Roger's recent posts on lens AF accuracy. They are pretty interesting. He is seeing that the newest lenses, starting with the 70-300L, coupled with the 5D3 seem to be very accurate. Even as accurate as focusing with live view or manual focus.

The results he's seen so far would imply that the 70-300L may surpass the 300 f4L in auto focus accuracy since it is an older design. He didn't test anything that old so far, but all of the older lenses look to be weaker than the newer designs. Even the 70-200 MII doesn't have quite as accurate AF as the 70-300L.

http://www.lensrentals​.com …lity-part-3a-canon-lenses (external link)


-Phil

  
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ChrisJC
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Jul 28, 2012 14:04 |  #12

For sports, speed is everything. Get the prime!




  
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nightcat
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Jul 28, 2012 15:06 |  #13

I'll take the faster prime. If you're mainly shooting at the 300mm focal length, the prime is ideal.




  
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jimewall
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Jul 28, 2012 16:49 as a reply to  @ nightcat's post |  #14

Based on your original post, I'd go the 70-300L.

Reasons for my suggestion. If your selling your 70-200, then you'll likely want something between 106 and 299 at times. The zoom will allow you to get a better framing of your subjects. It does have the 4 stop Is (as opposed to the old 2 stop). Weight is close between the two, but the zoom stores shorter. You figured out that you don't need the faster aperture (f/2.8 and I'd assume you figured f/4.0 too). Real close to the same sharpness.

A sharpness comparison here (external link).


Thanks for Reading & Good Luck - Jim
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mackami
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Jul 29, 2012 00:42 |  #15

OP, I'm just curious... did the 100-400 ever warrant consideration?

I only shot briefly with the 300 prime but I found my myself getting caught being too close or too far away to frame peak action on the softball diamond. Going with the zoom gave me the ability to tightly frame the action when I was limited by the fences.




  
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Sports - 300mm f/4 L vs. 70-300 f/4-5.6 L - Which Would You Choose?
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