Review Personal Review - Canon 70-300 IS USM



I have had the Canon 70-300 IS USM for just short of a week. The weather has been appalling so have not been able to take any “sunshine” shots – mainly overcast and indoor.

This is not an analytical review. I can not give opinions on technical qualities and specifications and I can not compare it with the 70-200 F4 USM (which is only a little more money). This is an average photographer’s point of view about the lens, how it feels and shoots and what the shots are like. If I make any comparisons it will be against my Tamron 18-200 Di-II.

I won’t give you a photograph of the lens (you can see that on the web) but can give a couple showing the lens on my 20D at 70mm and at 300mm.

1 At 70mm

2 At 300mm

Out of the box – you get the lens and an instruction book(let) which is of no use to you unless this is your very first lens (dos and don’ts etc). It’s a fair size and does add some weight especially when using the battery grip. However, I would not regard the lens itself unduly heavy. Certainly the whole combination is not overly heavy and it is very manageable.

I find the 70-300 very well made and robust. I find it very comfortable to hold when using the standard support technique. Compared to the Tamron, extra care needs to be taken when carrying your camera over the shoulder – I would imagine its easy to knock. But that’s the case with any long zoom lens. It has the usual guide numbers with small switches for

IS 1 (normal IS)
IS 2 (IS 2 mode is used for panning)
Lens Lock – only at 70mm for safety.

So far I have found the lens to be sharp but this isn’t a prime lens and doesn’t exhibit that sort of sharpness. The IS is excellent and it’s amazing (to me) to see the effects through the viewfinder. Both AF and MF do their jobs well and it will focus quickly but may hunt around in low light or indoors. I have not used it yet with flash.

You can hear both the focus and IS motors but they are still remarkable quiet and to me it is more than acceptable. In fact the shutter on my 20D makes far more noise. Regarding the motors, I have noticed my batteries running out quicker owing to their being two motors. I can not give a precise figure but I would estimate battery life to be around two-thirds of usage with a non-IS lens.

There has been much talk worldwide about portrait shots at 300mm being out of focus or soft. I specifically had this in mind when buying and tried three lenses in the shop. Looking on the LCD all gave the same renditions of the image at portrait as at landscape. However I did further test afterwards in order to view on my monitor and here are three photographs to help you can make up your own mind about this issue. I do not find it a problem but I have seen photographs on the web which clearly demonstrate there is a problem at 300mm portrait with some lenses. – maybe it’s a batch problem.

1 Taken at 70mm

2 Taken at 300mm landscape

3 taken at 300mm portrait

4 A 100% crop, landscape

5 A 100% crop, portrait

With respect to purchasing there are some funny prices. Cheapest I found was £369 at Warehouse Express and the dearest, on the web, was over £500. I decided that I would rather buy over the counter, for the usual reasons, and found it locally for £419. I preferred to pay the extra to be able to try it out before buying and to return it personally and immediately if need be.

All in all I am very pleased with this lens - although it is easy for me to say that since I have bought it. Obviously L lenses and the like will be better in the hands of pros and serious amateurs but for an enthusiastic shooter like me, I regard it as excellent value for money for both the range it covers and for the IS. Hope that helps.

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Thanks for the review - very good:thumb:

Good to see a shot with it attached to a camera - one thing I often like to have an idea of is the bulk and how cumbersome it may or may not be, so good to get a sense of scale - looks quite manageable to me.

I've heard about IS draining batteries more, guess its an exceptable evil if you want that extra hand holding capability.

From the pics you posted it looks pretty sharp to me, I would definately be happy with shots like those at 300mm, cant see any signs of fringing and the colours look good. Congratulations on the new glass:)

Thanks :clap:


...and thanks for the encouragement, Warspite. I've never done one of these before :dizzy:



Staff Bog Cleaner 2015
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nice one :clap:

the images look good to me :)

it'll be interesting to here how it handles the IS while panning.
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In case anyone is interested. I used to own a 75-300 IS USM. This is the forerunner of this lens. Dont buy one. The optical quality was between OK and Urrm. Also the IS was the first version and only provided 1-2 stops. That said I did flog it on ebay for nearly as much as I bought it for. So (for me at least) it was not a bad investment.
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The new 70-300Is is said to have big improvements over the previous 75-300's.

Thanks for the review. I have been looking at one for my dad for a while now. I'll go for it!