Canon's 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DO IS is a controversial lens. The 70-300 DO is a high quality lens, with extremely fast focus speed (rear element internal USM), FT-M, a non rotating front element, outstanding Mode 1 and 2 IS, absence of chromatic aberrations, with a short beefy compactness that is stealthy and discreet for a 300mm lens, that takes good pictures, and then suddenly -BAM- frustrates users at critical moments in difficult lighting. I thought POTN members might benefit from a thread where members share their experiences extracting the MAXIMUM image quality from the 70-300 DO IS, not bashing it.
Xavier Henri (Fovea) has a 70-300 DO IS handling tips web page: http://www.fovegraphy.com/70_300DO_TipsE.php. He is a "think differently" advocate for using this lens.
Luminous-Landscape's M.R. uses it effectively for strong travel images: http://www.luminous-landscape.com …nses/Canon-70-300mm.shtml. His best tip is at the end, regarding adopting PK Sharpener.
I have used the 70-300 DO IS enough to put experiences in the captions of 13 images: http://aesop.rutgers.edu …ides/01_LebaneseCedar.htm I have luck to use the 70-300 DO IS for its strength, and L zooms for their intended use. 70-300 DO IS experience leads me to use it with an integrated workflow to extract the maximum potential from images:
1. DO images respond best to RAW capture and post processing. This is not a lens for JPEG shooters. RAW capture is the only way to use this lens if you follow Xavier's tips. Being able to set black point, WB, etc., makes a world of difference. I have rendered decent 70-300 DO images under hazy days with bad veiling flare lighting: http://aesop.rutgers.edu …/slides/CropDusting04.htm by using Canon's "Clear" Picture Style.
2. DO shooters should carry a Whi-Bal or similar WB card and shoot the card in the same light as their photos. Upon opening the RAW, using “Click WB” in any RAW converter makes a HUGE difference in DO image quality. DO images sometimes have a cooler flatter blue WB, low in the blue-yellow color axis, that takes WB correction on RAW conversion well. It's as if the camera misses AWB with the DO lens connected. Images beauty right up to natural color with a RAW one click-WB. I use a Whi-Bal for most digital photography, to get the WB right in adverse FL, incandescent, and vapor discharge lighting in gyms, but is essential with the DO, not an option.
3. DO users must learn “Edge Contrast Enhancement” sharpening in PhotoShop, or, as I did, buy a PS plug-in automating “Edge Sharpening.” The most important $99 I spent on digital workflow in 2004 was PhotoKit Sharpener. Virtually all my digital RAW captures and film scans go through PhotoKit Sharpener. There are equal competitors like FocalBlade or NiK. But, the DO lens and PhotoKit Sharpener BELONG together. PhotoKit has taken sharpening "off the table" as a time consuming technical workflow limitation. DO captures have resolution; and processed from RAW they need, benefit from, and tolerate specific sharpening to raise the accutance without resulting in sharpening artifacts.
November '07 Edit: Adobe Camera Raw v.4.x and Adobe PS Lightroom 1.x now offer capture sharpening, particularly the "Clarity" slider which targets mid-tone contrast and the Detail Tab (Sharpening, Detail, & Masking) sliders, which improve 70-300 DO images. Increasingly Clarity slider strongly for mid-tone contrast punch plus Edge Sharpening using Detail and Maskings, means all capture sharpening improving 70-300 DO IS images can be performed in ACR or Lightroom.
4. Do not point the DO lens at foreground subjects where the OOF blurred background contains lots of fine repeating details, especially fine details with specular highlights. E.g., photographing a set of railroad tracks diminishing to infinity focus on a hot day. Instead of the rails smoothly OOF blurring, you get "chunks" of rail. Or a chain link fence behind an in-focus subject gives onion ring specular highlight bokeh. This lens resolves beautiful sharp images when fine details are the in-focus foreground. Many reviewers define this lens phenomenon as a “flare" problem, reducing the blackpoint contrast. I do not know what it is, but I find I it is limited to when the fine detail highlights are in the out-of-focus background. I use this lens to it's strengths. To modify a Clint Eastwood phrase, "A lens has got to know its limitations."
5. The DO performs best with no UV/protection filter over the front element. Take it off and use the hood at all times. This means some of the discreetness is lost.
6. Because the DO front lens element is heavy, the barrel will creep and the zoom ring is slightly stiff. It does have an anti-creep lock, locking the lens in the 70mm position. Walking about, ready to lift the lens, crop with the zoom, and grab a shot, the lens will extend to its 300mm extension. The zoom extension is mildly irritating, particularly at sport events, or street shooting. It takes getting used to if you are also an 70-200L shooter using internal focus and internal zooms
7. The DO, like all IS lenses, needs a 1/2 second half-press to activate the IS before shutter release.
8. The DO, like all tele zooms benefits from being used stopped down even 2/3 or 1/3 stop from its widest aperture. It is useable at f/5.6, nice at f/6.3 or f/7.1, and peaks out at f/8 +/-.
A Decision Tree.
Users need to think about the 70-300 DO IS differently. Understand the DO IS makes specific compromises as a professional level 70-300 mm travel zoom with a compact mass.
1. If you do not like digital darkroom post processing or shooting RAW capture, do not buy this lens.
2. If you need a lens MOSTLY for sport events, do not buy this lens.
3. If you do not need FAST USM focus like an L lens, but just need IS and compactness, save money and get the consumer Canon 70-300 mm IS. The 70-300 DO IS focus is faster, with FT-M, and superior ruggedness than the consumer 70-300 IS Canon with its micro-USM. The image quality of the consumer lens is good.
4. If you do not need a pocket portable discreet black lens, but value portability and impeccable image quality, consider the new 70-200 f/4L IS. With a 1.4x TC you will have 280 mm focal length at f/5.6.
5. If you do not need a zoom, do not need discretion, mostly using at 300mm, but need IS for hand-holding, and value impeccable images, get the 300mm f/4L IS.
6. If you do not need IS, do not need 300 mm, but need a discreet portable zoom, consider the Sigma 50-150 f/2.8 lens for travel or street photography.
7. If you do not need IS, but need a black, fast maximum aperture lens, consider the Canon 200 mm F/2.8L or the Sigma 70-200 f/2.8.
If you want/need a compromise combined of all the above, the DO lens provides it. For short, compact, portable, discreet, rugged street/travel photography, at 300mm, with IS, there is not too much competition. Here are a collection technical reviews, but they do not provide recommendations for maximizing image quality.
William Castleman of FL: http://www.wlcastleman.com …/reviews/70_300/index.htm
Fotografija translated to English: http://www.e-fotografija.com …publish/article_306.shtml
David Hay of Photo dot net Part 1: http://www.photo.net/equipment/canon/70-300do/ and Part II: http://www.photo.net/equipment/canon/70-300do_2/
Bob Atkins: http://www.bobatkins.com …phy/reviews/70-300do.html
Bryan Carnathan at the-digital-picture: http://www.the-digital-picture.com …O-IS-USM-Lens-Review.aspx
Photozone Denmark: http://www.photozone.de …70300_4556do_is/index.htm