a13 January 2012

Canon 70-300L lens review

Tiger in Warsaw Zoo

I'm a lucky owner of Canon 70-300L f/4 - f/5.6 IS USM tele-zoom lens for some time now. And here is my short review of this lens.


I will start with a few technical information:
Aperturesf/4 - 5.6
Field of view34.3 - 8.2 degree
Minimum focusing distance1.5m
Filter thread67 mm
Dimensions14.3 cm × 8.90 cm
Weight1050 g
Number of aperture blades8
Image-stabilizationYES (4 stops)


What really amazes me in this lens is image quality produced by it.  For me image quality is the most important factor and it was actually the main reason why I decided to get this lens.

Canon 70-300L produces images with great sharpness (really!), very nice contrast and colours. If you're not convinced after such short statement I would like to mention that some of images taken with this lens didn't require any sharpening in post-processing. No sharpening at all!
Canon 70-300 L lens review
The new Image Stabilization system (same as in excellent 70-200 f/2.8 L II) offers about 4 stops of stabilization. And it really rocks and works as advertised (in some tests it proved to be even better). On my Canon 50D camera I'm able to hand-hold shots at 300mm and 1/15s exposure time without big problems. On 5D MK III I can hand-hold even longer times due to it having full-frame sensor. I was also successful even with longer exposures but the success rate was lower in these cases of course.

Focus is fast, accurate and silent due to ultrasonic engine.

Another interesting thing is that this lens is pretty compact. Most of the white long tele-zooms from Canon and other vendors are huge and heavy. 70-300 L is just slightly longer that 24-105L lens. If you're familiar with that lens this tele-zoom will be really easy to handle. It's also lighter than most of the Canon tele-zooms (still weighs 1 kg) but looks and feels as solid as all other white L lenses.

Moreover focus and focal range rings are well-placed and works smoothly yet with enough friction to allow very accurate adjustments.

So are there any drawbacks or maybe it is an ideal lens? Unfortunately there are two and the first of them may disqualify this lens for many photographers in fact.

It has maximum aperture of f/4 to f/5.6 at 300 mm. For me it isn't that important as I don't often need it and shooting mainly landscapes and architecture I hardly ever use faster apertures than f/8. Even for portrait work I often use f/5.6, so for me - it's not a big deal. But I know that it can be for a lot of photographers.

The other problem is that it's impossible to use Canon tele-converter with it. After some time I found out that Kenco tele-converters work with this lens without problems, however. So currently I own 2x tele converter meaning that I can shoot at focal lengths ranging 140-600. Not bad :)

One thing that I'm missing was tripod mount ring. Unless some other white lenses from Canon, you won't find it included with the Canon 70-300 L - you need to buy it separately. And its price is around $170.00 on Amazon. Not very cheap.


It's a really great lens. Although I'm landscape photographer and thus I'm working with wide angles most of the time, I love shooting with it as it's a great pleasure. Image quality, sharpness, build - all are excellent and it's hard to find anything wrong about it.

- great focal range
- fantastic image quality
- very good image stabilization (a bit more than 4 stops of light)
- looks & feel solid
- compact size

- it's impossible to use tele-converter EDIT: as pointed out in the comments it is possible in fact. One from Canon indeed doesn't work but one from Kenco does.
- maximum aperture of f/4 to f/5.6
- tripod mount ring isn't included

For more samples photos see following pages:

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