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FORUMS Canon Cameras, Lenses & Accessories Canon EF and EF-S Lenses 
Thread started 05 Oct 2006 (Thursday) 15:34
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Canon 70-300mm DO IS - Getting best images from a controversial lens.

 
J ­ Rabin
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Oct 05, 2006 15:34 |  #1

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 (external link). 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 (external link). 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.e​du …ides/01_Lebanes​eCedar.htm (external link) 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.e​du …/slides/CropDus​ting04.htm (external link) 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 (external link)
Fotografija translated to English: http://www.e-fotografija.com …publish/article​_306.shtml (external link)
David Hay of Photo dot net Part 1: http://www.photo.net/e​quipment/canon/70-300do/ (external link) and Part II: http://www.photo.net/e​quipment/canon/70-300do_2/ (external link)
Bob Atkins: http://www.bobatkins.c​om …phy/reviews/70-300do.html (external link)
Bryan Carnathan at the-digital-picture: http://www.the-digital-picture.com …O-IS-USM-Lens-Review.aspx (external link)
Photozone Denmark: http://www.photozone.d​e …70300_4556do_is​/index.htm (external link)

Jack




  
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LightRules
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Oct 05, 2006 16:11 |  #2

This is an excellent write-up, Jack. Xavier's site is very helpful too; I've visited it several times in the past. Your 7 "concluding" pointers is on the mark with very good alternate-lens suggestions for different uses. I would add that I did not find using a 1.4xTC on the DO lens to give "acceptable" results, FWIW. Again, excellent thread.




  
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MDJAK
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Oct 09, 2006 18:36 as a reply to  @ post 2096697 |  #3

Yes, indeed, very well done. Great technical writing.

As an owner of this fine lens, I appreciate you taking the time you did.

I find this to be an excellent lens and wouldn't part with it.

mark




  
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ggw2000
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Oct 11, 2006 20:02 as a reply to  @ MDJAK's post |  #4

I have the DO and have used it on an XT for awhile. I got a 30D a week ago and had the DO out for some testing. In the time that I have had the DO (6mo) I have been both very pleased and very fustrated- imagine that! I've gotten nice images and bad images as I'm sure most have. I have been researching ways to do better with this lens and am glad I found this thread.
In my testing this past weekend, I found as mentioned that F8 is the absolute sweet spot of this lens. I know that the DO has what's called "micro contrast" problems. I am trying to figure out how to bring this out in order to get good pics. I did read an article previously and the one link above to tips about the usage of two steps of USM.
I do need some help in this area as I don't have a complete understanding of USM and have not been able to find any "layman" terms of how it works. I do understand the "amount" and the "radius", but can't get a handle on what "threshold" does for you or the picture. Would someone help me out in this area?
Also I believe that in my search for a "sharpener" that I was to the Photokit site but it appeared that they do not have a plugin for PE4? I also downloaded the demo plugin for Focalblade a couple nights ago and tried it but they put so many "watermarks" on the resulting photo that I couldn't tell whether it worked or not! This torqued me off and I uninstalled it:mad: . They should give you X amount of pics to process before the plugin dies instead of filling the screen with garbage. Does anyone know of a good plugin for PE4?
Sorry about all the rambling but I really want this lens to work for me as I like the size and it sure the heck wasn't cheap!!! Thanks, Gerry




  
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J ­ Rabin
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Oct 12, 2006 09:00 |  #5

ggw2000 wrote in post #2108559 (external link)
...trying to figure out how to bring this out in order to get good pics. I did read an article previously and the one link above to tips about the usage of two steps of USM. I do need some help in this area...

Gerry. Thank you. That was reason to start the thread.
Since you do not have PS CS2, just got a 30D, and have confusion over sharpening (local contrast enhancement), use the "STRESS AVOIDANCE" approach. Try this:
Take SOME 70-300 DO IS .CR2 RAW images and open them in Canon's free DPP 2.2 software.
In the Edit Image Window for RAW, select a Picture Style like "Standard" with increased default contrast Tone Curve over Neutral or Faithful.
Modify the contrast Tone Curve easily with a slider control with a subtle nudge to the right. (It's the little slider under the Linear Histogram.)
Modify the Black Point by moving the left vertical bar on the Linear Histogram to the right.
Easily modify and boost sharpening to 4-5-6+ with the Slider control.

These controls in DPP are all performed with SIMPLE SLIDERS, and thus remove the need for complex manipulation, and/or complex understanding by the user. Well, you gotta have some understanding, but this is easier than learning USM and cheaper than buying PhotoShop CS2.
If you find a recipe that works for a batch of shots, save that recipe in DPP. In fact, on the 30D, you can save this as an in-camera Picture Style to select when the DO lens is used.

You've boosted contrast by both black point and tone curve and done USM sharpening with nothing other than moving some sliders. Let us know how you make out. You may get some stunning image changes.
Jack




  
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ggw2000
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Oct 12, 2006 10:19 |  #6

J Rabin wrote in post #2110578 (external link)
Gerry. Thank you. That was reason to start the thread.
Since you do not have PS CS2, just got a 30D, and have confusion over sharpening (local contrast enhancement), use the "STRESS AVOIDANCE" approach. Try this:
Take SOME 70-300 DO IS .CR2 RAW images and open them in Canon's free DPP 2.2 software.
In the Edit Image Window for RAW, select a Picture Style like "Standard" with increased default contrast Tone Curve over Neutral or Faithful.
Modify the contrast Tone Curve easily with a slider control with a subtle nudge to the right. (It's the little slider under the Linear Histogram.)
Modify the Black Point by moving the left vertical bar on the Linear Histogram to the right.
Easily modify and boost sharpening to 4-5-6+ with the Slider control.

These controls in DPP are all performed with SIMPLE SLIDERS, and thus remove the need for complex manipulation, and/or complex understanding by the user. Well, you gotta have some understanding, but this is easier than learning USM and cheaper than buying PhotoShop CS2.
If you find a recipe that works for a batch of shots, save that recipe in DPP. In fact, on the 30D, you can save this as an in-camera Picture Style to select when the DO lens is used.

You've boosted contrast by both black point and tone curve and done USM sharpening with nothing other than moving some sliders. Let us know how you make out. You may get some stunning image changes.
Jack

Jack, thanks for the info! I have printed your suggestions out and will give them a try. Going to be out of town for the next week but will report back when I get time to process some pics.. Gerry




  
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artiec
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Oct 17, 2006 15:18 as a reply to  @ ggw2000's post |  #7

http://www.shopzilla.c​om …id--247955064__rf--xoy000 (external link)

That's a link to a place where you can compare prices across different stores that sell the lens. I think the cheapest price on there is $1,119.




  
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gubak1
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Oct 19, 2006 05:24 as a reply to  @ artiec's post |  #8
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Digital Camera Overview, News, Forums (external link)
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epsilon5
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Oct 21, 2006 17:55 as a reply to  @ gubak1's post |  #9

thanks a lot jack
i`m beginner and got the 70-300 do.made some good and a lot of disappoining ones. 4 the money:confused: .and then i pickt up some bad fibes in other forums:evil: (i`m also beginner whit forums to :oops: and my english :oops: :oops: :oops: )
so i`m glade to see this page.can you say something about the "rainresistens" of the lens? ore houw taff are lenses enyway?i dont mean dropping or "underwater ".:lol:
againe thanks ,you gave me hope.
greetings from switzerland
epsilon5




  
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J ­ Rabin
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Oct 22, 2006 16:01 as a reply to  @ epsilon5's post |  #10

Epsilon5 from Switzerland:
Welcome to POTN Forum. Ignore the bad vibes. The internet becomes a place for whinning and complaining, as well as good exchange of suggestion. No reason to lose hope.
The DO lens has a metal barrel and casing. It is a rugged tough lens. BUT, it is not sealed and gasketed against rain. Since good picture quality with the DO demands using it without a UV protective filter over the front element, this means extra protection in foul weather.
Like any good lens, it will work through cold, light snow, light rain, but anything more, and I would carry a clear plastic bag and rubber bands in your camera bag, or buy one of the Kata or AquaTech protector kits.

This is not much else with this zoom range to 300 mm, small retracted size, solid construction, IS, image quality, etc. Just don't point it at subjects with repeating pattern highlight backgrounds. The suggestions on shooting RAW, adjusting black point, edge sharpening, all work.


Jack




  
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epsilon5
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Oct 22, 2006 16:59 as a reply to  @ J Rabin's post |  #11

thanks agene jack
it`s realy not that easy 4 a beginner.and as a beginner you can make a lott off exp. misspic.(got the lense in a "good"shop to me whit the hoya superpro1 uv(0)!!?? . uv(0) good ore bade?i did see some kleare glas filter from b+w is that the better choice?i got the lense because i was thinking , spend a lot onece and that will do the jobe. i was impresset by the ( dame what`s the word) the 20d is well balanced whit it.and the sice.whitout the hud .is a polfilter a problem?and can i use the lenshud from my 105 makro?
sorry 4 the english i do hoope it dont hurt your eyes to much:lol:
epsilon5




  
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Oct 24, 2006 04:47 as a reply to  @ epsilon5's post |  #12

Use the DO lens with no protective filter

No, based on experience, the recommendation is to use the DO lens without protective filter over the front element of any kind. I know that inceases risk of water spots, smudges, dust, scratches, but the IQ is dramatically improved sans filter. Use the included hood at all times instead.




  
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Oct 28, 2006 19:56 as a reply to  @ J Rabin's post |  #13

Great write-up J Rabin!! Do you mind telling me which settings you use in the PK Sharpening plugin please? Or even better the whole sharpening workflow.



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J ­ Rabin
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Oct 29, 2006 19:01 as a reply to  @ Bollan's post |  #14

Bollan:
Your PK Sharpening DO Workflow request, with caveats:
1. I am no sharpening expert. In fact, I hate being bothered by sharpening. I never learned PhotoShop USM, nor do I want to. It's a waste of MY time (money). Performing sharpening is essential to beautiful digital image output - is the the reason I adopted PK Sharpener. It automates sharpening workflow, so I don't have to.
If you want a guru, buy Bruce Fraser's book, read internet tutorials like Luminous-Landscape.com or the The Lights Right, or search on the internet for many sharpening tutorials available, worldwide. Everyone has an opinion.
2. Sharpening workflow is work that flows - for you. Mine and everyones' will be different. Sharpening takes computing horsepower. I have a dual processor Mac.
3. Read and study the PK Sharpener manual and PK tutorials TWO OR THREE TIMES. Straightforward. Auto pilot. Not much brain power applies. That's all you need.
4. Perceived image sharpness (especially on a computer screen) is affected by image and color contrast, white-balance, and especially the personal tastes of the person making the image. Calibrate your monitor.
5. Sharpening workflow depends completely on individual image content, ISO, and intended use. So, you have to look at an image, or group of images, and decide what to perform.

For DO lens images:
If processing them in PhotoShop CS2 ACR for later editing with PK Sharpener, I adjust black point (Shadow Clipping slider), White Point Exposure slider, Contrast slider. All sharpening turned off. Noise reduction is kept low, etc., etc.
If they are above ISO 1,000, they may get Noise Ninja noise reduction before any sharpening.
Most images get PK Capture Sharpener Medium edges. Record an Action, and automate doing a whole folder. Set the batch command and walk away for dinner!
Any serious (money shot) images I individually redo from RAW, and tweak the light contour mask (frequently lower) or dark edge contour mask (frequently raise). But looking at any image, or parts or any image determines what gets done.
A few kinds of images get PK Capture Sharpener Wide edges, like when I was shooting "leaf texture" close-ups last week: http://aesop.rutgers.e​du …lides/Cabbage_G​reen_1.htm (external link) or frame filling people shots, like: http://aesop.rutgers.e​du …slides/Emily_FJ​CC_02a.htm (external link)
If the images are finely detailed, then I hit them with PK Capture Sharpening Narrow Edges.

Then, I hit DO images with PK Creative Sharpener "Edge Sharpening," globally on whole image. Most times I do not tweak the contours.
Colorful close-ups may get a High Pass sharpening thrown in, with Opacity adjustment.
That's it.

Printing is done with PK Output Sharpeners, after final sizing.
Downsizing for web is done with PhotoShop bi-cubic sharper, I don't use PK for that.

If I use Canon DPP for processing RAW DO lens shots, I skip the PK Capture Sharpening, and just use the DPP sharpen slider, in Batch, followed by PK Creative Edge Sharpen in PhotoShop.
Sometimes, if you have DO images from hazy days, or over water, I may use the DPP "Clear" Picture Style to really hit the image with edge contrast.
More and more I am using DPP instead of PhotoShop to process RAW, especially on images under difficult light. DPP gets the WB better, and picture styles are useful on DO images. In DPP, the contrast is adjustable by a slider, and the black point is adjustable in the RAW space histogram.

If using Raw Developer on the Mac, I do the Capture kind of sharpening in RD Mac, same as DPP, and do PK Creative Sharpener Edge Sharpen in PhotoShop

Jack




  
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Bollan
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Oct 29, 2006 21:17 as a reply to  @ J Rabin's post |  #15

Thanks a lot for taking your time answering me in such a thorough way!! Highly appreciated. :D



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Canon 70-300mm DO IS - Getting best images from a controversial lens.
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