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Thread started 02 Jan 2020 (Thursday) 17:51
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List all reviews of Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM

Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM, reviewed by Tronhard

 
Tronhard
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Post edited 8 days ago by Tronhard. (2 edits in all)
     
Jan 02, 2020 17:51 |  #1

I have quite a lot of gear, including quite a few L series lenses, but I am also interested in the non-professional units as there are a lot of people who cannot or choose not invest in such expensive units. I have had for some time the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens, a unit released in 2005 that has caused some controversy amongst users as they apparently have had mixed results with it.

Personally I have liked the images taken with it, (See the first image of the seagull taken with this lens) but it had some annoying traits, like the noisy autofocus and IS, and the way the lens would stick out of its fully retracted condition at random times. Still in its price point and time it was a valid update from the standard kit zoom of 55-250.

So recently I acquired the EF 70-300 F4.0-5.6 IS II USM and had the following impressions of this newer piece of kit.

1. It has had a major cosmetic upgrade. Gone the busy and lumpy control layout and in with a sleek smooth matt plastic shape that is bigger in diameter than the MkI - the old unit had a 58mm filter ring while the new one is at 67mm. The weight has been kept under control 710g from 630g is not too bad considering the changes "under the hood".

The buttons are now recessed more and it now sports a LCD display that offers DoF indicators for the currently selected focal length, or (press a button) the FoV of the lens - which seems superfluous considering lens focal length is printed on the focusing ring about 1 cm above. For those using an ASP-C body it DOES give the equivalent FoV values automatically. Finally after another press it gives you the degree of shake experienced by the lens. PERSONALLY I have little use for any of these so I would tend to leave the display off, but that's a personal choice.

2. The body is still not weather sealed but the rear element, located flush with the metal plate at the rear of the lens, is fixed in place, so it may offer some resistance to bellows effect. The lens still extends and retracts like the old one, but I have had no experience of it locking up in awkward places as before.

3. The auto-focus is blazingly fast thanks to the Nano-USM motor that combines best of STM and ring-type USM - I can see this appearing in more lenses. I did not find it was hunting as the MkI did on a few occasions. It is an amazing performer in this area.

4. IS offers 4 stops compared to the claimed 3 of the MkI and it seems to hold onto that. Which is just as well as my research and own experience indicates that the variable aperture of this lens loses its wider capacity significantly faster as one increases the focal length than the earlier model- essentially it is a slower lens across much of the zoom range. From what I have read this is seen as a result of the more complex optical construct of the lens.

Being almost silent it is likely a much more suitable candidate for video than the previous one that sounded like a tinker's cart in comparison! Still if you don't do video (as I don't) that is less of an issue unless you are concerned about disturbing your subjects - say at a wedding...

5 In terms of distortion, vignetting etc. I found both the lenses performed reasonably well in both areas - the focal range of tele-zoom is much less challenging than one going from wide to tele, such as the 24-105 or the 18-135. I had no difficulty in letting the PP software do its magic to make the appropriate corrections.

6. Performance on FF vs APS-C. This was interesting to me... I tried both the units on a canon 700D (T5i Rebel), a 60D, 80D, 7DII and 5DIII. I found the latter three units seemed to render similarly good results, especially considering they are two crop and a FF body respectively. I was less enamored with the Rebel and OK with the 60D. I will hazard no inference here simply report my own experience and perception.

Neither of these units could or should be compared to the fabulous Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM. This is one of my favourite lenses: relatively light, small form factor, incredibly sharp and responsive - but about 3 times the price of the new EF 70-300 F4.0-5.6 IS II USM, so I see these as aimed at completely different markets, and one has to consider that when judging them.

Being an EF rather than EF-S lens, the EF 70-300 F4.0-5.6 IS II USM is worth considering as a great upgrade lens for those leaving the standard kits lenses and considering one day moving up to a FF body and who need the extra reach of the 70-300mm rather than one of the 70-200 EF models.


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"All the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris
We aren't remembered for the gear we use, rather the quality of the images we create. Me...
Trevor

  
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Tronhard
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Jan 02, 2020 18:07 |  #2

One of the great tests of a lens is to see how much you can crop one of its images and still get something decent. So I took the 70-300MkII out to the Tiritiri Open Sanctuary and along the way took this shot of a juvenile Tui: the conditions were challenging as the birds flit and they like dark, shaded areas. The shot was hand-held. The first image shows the original as shot, while the second one is cropped and lightly processed in PS. Personally, I think the lens holds up well in a challenging environment.


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"All the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris
We aren't remembered for the gear we use, rather the quality of the images we create. Me...
Trevor

  
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duckster
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Jan 03, 2020 14:52 |  #3

One of the first telephoto lenses that I purchased when I bought a used 7D




  
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bigguytf
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Jan 16, 2020 20:25 as a reply to  @ Tronhard's post |  #4

When you see how this lens responds as well as sharpness it makes you wonder if the 70-300 L is actually worth the extra money.


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Canon 1D Mark 111, Canon 7D, Canon G-15, Canon 10-22, Canon 24-105 4L IS, Canon 70-200 4L IS, Canon 1.4, Canon 17-55 2.8, Canon 70-300, Canon 1.4 Teleconverter, Canon 430, Tamarac System 6.

  
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duckster
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Jan 16, 2020 22:03 |  #5

It can be used for landscapes too.




  
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Tronhard
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Post edited over 1 year ago by Tronhard. (2 edits in all)
     
Jan 16, 2020 22:51 |  #6

bigguytf wrote in post #18993238 (external link)
When you see how this lens responds as well as sharpness it makes you wonder if the 70-300 L is actually worth the extra money.

The EF is certainly a brilliant lens, but the L version is a step up again, and being an L is environmentally sealed (good for the lens and not sucking dust into the body), and it has AMAZING clarity. I'm not sure how this will render as it will have been dramatically downsized, but I was impressed by how well one could see the flies...

This was taken under rather extreme conditions in the wild, in Alberta as this big guy was bearing (excuse pun) down on me. I kept taking images until I realized he was filling the screen at 70mm - WAY too close... I was lucky he got distracted.


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"All the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris
We aren't remembered for the gear we use, rather the quality of the images we create. Me...
Trevor

  
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duckster
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Jan 17, 2020 07:15 as a reply to  @ Tronhard's post |  #7

Great shot and great story!




  
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Tronhard
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Post edited over 1 year ago by Tronhard. (2 edits in all)
     
Jan 17, 2020 18:25 |  #8

A quick, ad hoc and non-scientific comparison of the EF 70-300L to the EF 70-300 MkII

I took these shots this morning, hand-held and at about 135mm on the lens. I have cropped them down to a much smaller size to see the centre 2/3 of the captured images, then reduced to fit to the website requirements.


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"All the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris
We aren't remembered for the gear we use, rather the quality of the images we create. Me...
Trevor

  
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duckster
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Jan 17, 2020 22:09 as a reply to  @ Tronhard's post |  #9

Both look good to my eye. About $500 vs. $1350?




  
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Tronhard
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Jan 17, 2020 22:20 |  #10

duckster wrote in post #18993812 (external link)
Both look good to my eye. About $500 vs. $1350?

There is a difference when they are not scaled down, which takes me back to my theme that the value of a lens (or body) really depends on how you are going to present the images. On screen, downsized as they are here, I would say the non-L version was the way to go. If, on the other hand, I was printing large, detailed prints, I would go for the L.


"All the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris
We aren't remembered for the gear we use, rather the quality of the images we create. Me...
Trevor

  
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duckster
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Jan 17, 2020 22:29 as a reply to  @ Tronhard's post |  #11

True. I have T&F photos taken with the 70-300 that I am very happy with but I probably have had more quality photos with the 100-400L II, but not by a lot.




  
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goalerjones
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Jan 18, 2020 01:01 |  #12

I had the 70-300 Mk 2 until today when I sold it to another board member. I used it for some zoo pics which I really did like, but then I saw the need for the 100-400 mk2. I use my 100-400 more than I used the 70-300 since it was just not enough lens when I really wanted the extra reach and would just settle on my 70-200 2.8 L instead. Both of these images were taken with the 70-300. Since the animals are used to people 300mm was fine for the wood duck, and the lorikeet @170mm was waiting for me to hand feed him, so once again, no fear of humans.

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duckster
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Jan 18, 2020 09:29 as a reply to  @ goalerjones's post |  #13

Nice shots!

I was gifted the 100-400L II for Christmas but also have the 70-300. Not sure if I will keep them both yet. I do have a couple of camera bodies and sometimes can find a second shooter when I am doing a track or cross country meet, so maybe will keep it for that. It does have good reach in a much smaller/lighter package which can be nice sometimes as well.




  
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Tronhard
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Jan 18, 2020 11:38 as a reply to  @ duckster's post |  #14

I love the 100-400 MkII lens, but it is heavy and obtrusive, so the 70-300 on a crop body can be a good alternative if needs dictate. Since I don't do large prints, it serves my needs.


"All the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris
We aren't remembered for the gear we use, rather the quality of the images we create. Me...
Trevor

  
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duckster
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Jan 18, 2020 12:17 as a reply to  @ Tronhard's post |  #15

The 100-400 is just such a great lens for sports.




  
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Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM, reviewed by Tronhard
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