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Gear Talk => Reviews => Topic started by: TWI by Dustin Abbott on April 23, 2013, 03:00:13 PM

Title: Review - The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS
Post by: TWI by Dustin Abbott on April 23, 2013, 03:00:13 PM
Hi again!  For those interested in reading a review of this excellent lens along with a lot of sample images taken with it, I have just posted a review to my website at:  http://www.dustinabbott.net/2013/04/canon-70-300mm-f4-5-6l-is-review-the-ultimate-zoo-lens/ (http://www.dustinabbott.net/2013/04/canon-70-300mm-f4-5-6l-is-review-the-ultimate-zoo-lens/)

Among the things I address are its use with teleconverters (sample images included).  A lot of you are now familiar with my review technique, but in case you aren't, this is a real world review with pictures of things as opposed to charts.  I am a part time professional photographer with a lot of real experience.  If you don't care to look at the review, here is the conclusion:  I like the lens...a lot 8)
Title: Re: Review - The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS
Post by: Marsu42 on April 23, 2013, 03:37:06 PM
here is the conclusion:  I like the lens...a lot 8)

... me, too, and I bought it back when it had a reputation as being an overpriced version of Canon's non-L lens - but it's interesting to see how it gained much more recognition since then. I esp. like the still handholdable weight for ext. periods of time and walking around vs. the 70-200Lii (ymmv).

Just a some random additions to your again very nice review:

* The 70-300L's white paint is just for show, there aren't lens elements that would heat protection like in the 70-200L. One drawback of the extending design is that you cannot camouflage and protect the lens completely with a neoprene hood.

* I really doubt Canon will add f8 af for the 6d and wouldn't advise anyone to gamble on that. On my 60d the Kenko likes to hunt on low contrast objects when using single point af, and for multi-point the 9 af points usually is spread too far apart - so while 6d/5d3 might do fine, on crop it's rather for static objects.

* Close up performance is nice when not wanting to change lenses (I took some surprisingly good butterfly shots with it), but it in no way reaches the performance of the 100L macro lens. Another issue with the 70-300L is that it is missing the focus limiting switch of the 70-200L and 100L (thanks, Canon!), so if the af misses it takes a lot of time.

* The IS on the 70-300L is really good (at least 2ev) and the lock is instant and nearly not noticeable - but there's a catch since it still needs a little time to be most effective. So for quick point & shoot it's nice to have a stable viewfinder and being able to set the af precisely, but in my experience waiting for a second is a good idea.
Title: Re: Review - The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS
Post by: TWI by Dustin Abbott on April 23, 2013, 04:12:05 PM
here is the conclusion:  I like the lens...a lot 8)

... me, too, and I bought it back when it had a reputation as being an overpriced version of Canon's non-L lens - but it's interesting to see how it gained much more recognition since then. I esp. like the still handholdable weight for ext. periods of time and walking around vs. the 70-200Lii (ymmv).

Just a some random additions to your again very nice review:

* The 70-300L's white paint is just for show, there aren't lens elements that would heat protection like in the 70-200L. One drawback of the extending design is that you cannot camouflage and protect the lens completely with a neoprene hood.

* I really doubt Canon will add f8 af for the 6d and wouldn't advise anyone to gamble on that. On my 60d the Kenko likes to hunt on low contrast objects when using single point af, and for multi-point the 9 af points usually is spread too far apart - so while 6d/5d3 might do fine, on crop it's rather for static objects.

It actually focuses pretty remarkably well on the 6d.  I am attaching a photo I took yesterday at 420mm while quickly tracking.  I had very little warning for this shot.  There are scenarios where it will hunt, but that tends to be in darker areas.  I was actually surprised at how well it did.  I shot with that combo exclusively while exploring a marsh yesterday.
Title: Re: Review - The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS
Post by: TWI by Dustin Abbott on April 23, 2013, 04:17:20 PM
here is the conclusion:  I like the lens...a lot 8)

...

* Close up performance is nice when not wanting to change lenses (I took some surprisingly good butterfly shots with it), but it in no way reaches the performance of the 100L macro lens. Another issue with the 70-300L is that it is missing the focus limiting switch of the 70-200L and 100L (thanks, Canon!), so if the af misses it takes a lot of time.

* The IS on the 70-300L is really good (at least 2ev) and the lock is instant and nearly not noticeable - but there's a catch since it still needs a little time to be most effective. So for quick point & shoot it's nice to have a stable viewfinder and being able to set the af precisely, but in my experience waiting for a second is a good idea.

A focus limiter would have been nice.  No, it isn't close to the 100L's performance, but that is not surprising.  I haven't tried it with extension tubes, but I suspect it would do pretty well.

Bryan Carnethan at the Digital Picture rated the IS at actually better than 4ev, but testing IS is pretty subject.  I am very stable, myself.  This sample was taken (also yesterday) with the extender attached (420mm) at 1/15th.  That's pretty impressive.  I suspect that with a static subject I could pull off a 1/5th at 300mm.  I haven't actually experienced the lag that you describe for the IS to kick in, but I am rarely a speed shooter so it may be possible.
Title: Re: Review - The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS
Post by: KeithMeteer on April 23, 2013, 05:52:48 PM
Thank you for the review and the pictures were great.  Keith
Title: Re: Review - The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS
Post by: Marsu42 on April 23, 2013, 06:07:48 PM
Bryan Carnethan at the Digital Picture rated the IS at actually better than 4ev, but testing IS is pretty subject.  I am very stable, myself.

I am rating it as "2ev+" for me personally to be on the absolutely safe side when taking a non-repeatable shot. If I wait a little for the IS to settle and am/get very stable myself it is indeed 4ev - but I wouldn't say this what I have come to expect, again for me personally.

When rating an IS system which is all about *statistics* it's also important to make clear what we're talking about: Is it just to still get an average good/usable shot after downsizing, or is it to to get a shot at full mag exactly like one that was taken with a much higher shutter speed?

In my experience, fast shutter speed and IS off beats the IS on the 70-300L in sharpness most of the time, but I feel safe shooting with 1/250 x-sync at 300mm on crop (i.e. 480mm ff) and can expect get near-optimal iq at 100% mag. Without IS I'd feel safe with 1/1000s, so it's a 2ev advantage - remember the old 1/focal length from the ol' analog days doesn't really apply here because nowadays the sensor resolution is so high.
Title: Re: Review - The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS
Post by: Random Orbits on April 23, 2013, 11:56:52 PM
Nice review!  I, too, love its form factor and compactness.  I also agree that it should put a bigger dent into the 70-200 f/4 IS's sales than it does because it is that good.  The only thing that would force me to consider selling this lens is the mythical 100-400L replacement.
Title: Re: Review - The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS
Post by: marooni on April 24, 2013, 02:41:44 AM
Great review. I like the simple and without emphasis way of writhing. Please make more reviews like this one!
 
I am thinking for a while at this lens and I was curios how good this is.

Thanks to you, now I know!

Title: Re: Review - The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS
Post by: AlanF on April 24, 2013, 05:29:12 AM
here is the conclusion:  I like the lens...a lot 8)

... me, too, and I bought it back when it had a reputation as being an overpriced version of Canon's non-L lens - but it's interesting to see how it gained much more recognition since then. I esp. like the still handholdable weight for ext. periods of time and walking around vs. the 70-200Lii (ymmv).

Just a some random additions to your again very nice review:

* The 70-300L's white paint is just for show, there aren't lens elements that would heat protection like in the 70-200L. One drawback of the extending design is that you cannot camouflage and protect the lens completely with a neoprene hood.

* I really doubt Canon will add f8 af for the 6d and wouldn't advise anyone to gamble on that. On my 60d the Kenko likes to hunt on low contrast objects when using single point af, and for multi-point the 9 af points usually is spread too far apart - so while 6d/5d3 might do fine, on crop it's rather for static objects.

It actually focuses pretty remarkably well on the 6d.  I am attaching a photo I took yesterday at 420mm while quickly tracking.  I had very little warning for this shot.  There are scenarios where it will hunt, but that tends to be in darker areas.  I was actually surprised at how well it did.  I shot with that combo exclusively while exploring a marsh yesterday.

It is not possible to evaluate the quality of this lens for bird and nature photography based on photos like these. Here, the birds are too small and span too few pixels to evaluate what the IQ is for them. Similarly, the Canada goose, squirrel etc you posted are small blobs. Please post some 100% crops so we can see the details of feathers, fur etc to get an idea what the lens is really like native and with extenders.

I had assumed it was soft at 420mm  - see http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/ISO-12233-Sample-Crops.aspx?Lens=738&Camera=453&Sample=0&FLI=5&API=1&LensComp=113&CameraComp=453&SampleComp=0&FLIComp=7&APIComp=0 (http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/ISO-12233-Sample-Crops.aspx?Lens=738&Camera=453&Sample=0&FLI=5&API=1&LensComp=113&CameraComp=453&SampleComp=0&FLIComp=7&APIComp=0)

So, it would be nice to see what it is like in practice.
Title: Re: Review - The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS
Post by: Marsu42 on April 24, 2013, 06:48:17 AM
I had assumed it was soft at 420mm  - see http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/ISO-12233-Sample-Crops.aspx?Lens=738&Camera=453&Sample=0&FLI=5&API=1&LensComp=113&CameraComp=453&SampleComp=0&FLIComp=7&APIComp=0 (http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/ISO-12233-Sample-Crops.aspx?Lens=738&Camera=453&Sample=0&FLI=5&API=1&LensComp=113&CameraComp=453&SampleComp=0&FLIComp=7&APIComp=0)

With the tdp crops, you have to check all copies they tested - in case of the 70-300L the 2nd is visibly better, unfortunately they didn't use it with an extender which will enhance the softness of the 1st copy:

http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/ISO-12233-Sample-Crops.aspx?Lens=738&Camera=453&Sample=1&FLI=4&API=1&LensComp=738&CameraComp=453&SampleComp=0&FLIComp=4&APIComp=0 (http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/ISO-12233-Sample-Crops.aspx?Lens=738&Camera=453&Sample=1&FLI=4&API=1&LensComp=738&CameraComp=453&SampleComp=0&FLIComp=4&APIComp=0)

Though even with that in mind, a tc is always for occasional use except if you use really expensive tele primes - if you want 400mm+, get a 400mm lens and not a 70-300mm zoom. The important aspect with the 70-300L+tc is that the combination is better than cropping (I'm on aps-c), so the 200€ for the Kenko are good investment and it's still a very small package.
Title: Re: Review - The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS
Post by: neuroanatomist on April 24, 2013, 06:59:28 AM
I don't want this lens.  But then, why am I checking the current price on Amazon??   :-X

Actually, what I'd find useful is a comparison between the 100-400L at 400mm and the 70-300L at 300mm cropped to the 400mm FoV, on a FF body.  Since getting a 600, I use my 100-400L less, but I do still use it.  If it could be replaced by something smaller and lighter (70-200 II + TC need not apply!) without sacrificing IQ, I'd be quite interested in the 70-300L.
Title: Re: Review - The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS
Post by: Random Orbits on April 24, 2013, 07:45:31 AM
I don't want this lens.  But then, why am I checking the current price on Amazon??   :-X

Actually, what I'd find useful is a comparison between the 100-400L at 400mm and the 70-300L at 300mm cropped to the 400mm FoV, on a FF body.  Since getting a 600, I use my 100-400L less, but I do still use it.  If it could be replaced by something smaller and lighter (70-200 II + TC need not apply!) without sacrificing IQ, I'd be quite interested in the 70-300L.

I don't have a 100-400, but I do have a 70-200 II + 2x and a 5DIII.  If interested, I could take a few pics of items in the yard, maybe even a shed (although I promised not to underexposed by 3 stops and then lift it in post).
Title: Re: Review - The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS
Post by: Ladislav on April 24, 2013, 08:28:25 AM
Great review!

I bought this lens month ago and I love it. I initially didn't want this lens. I was looking for Tamron 70-200 f2.8 VC and Tamron 70-300 VC to supplement my Tamron 24-70 VC but when I found this lens among used items on web site of my local retailer, I gave it a try. It cost me 70% of the new one and it still had one year of warranty. I also bought a tripod collar - Canon really can make money from nothing. The collar cost more than 50 f1.8! I somehow found the collar quite good for handling the camera with the lens.

My copy has IMHO little bit loose focus ring and IS makes a strange noise when starts and stops operating (it is only audible in silent environments) but otherwise it is flawless. I use it for animals (dogs, birds, zoo), flowers and close details in general. It has a very compact size (and pleasing weight) and fits to quite small backpack together with body, other lens and external flash.

I'm beginner and I still shoot with Rebel (and slowly collecting money for 6D) so I cannot compare IQ or build quality with other L lenses. This is my first one but it really make a great impression and I doubt it will be the last L lens I will ever buy (I already itch for 100L f2.8 ).

Edit: It is also lens which makes me think again about moving to FF. Extra reach on APS-C is a great bonus.
Title: Re: Review - The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS
Post by: TWI by Dustin Abbott on April 24, 2013, 09:16:44 AM
here is the conclusion:  I like the lens...a lot 8)

... me, too, and I bought it back when it had a reputation as being an overpriced version of Canon's non-L lens - but it's interesting to see how it gained much more recognition since then. I esp. like the still handholdable weight for ext. periods of time and walking around vs. the 70-200Lii (ymmv).

Just a some random additions to your again very nice review:

* The 70-300L's white paint is just for show, there aren't lens elements that would heat protection like in the 70-200L. One drawback of the extending design is that you cannot camouflage and protect the lens completely with a neoprene hood.

* I really doubt Canon will add f8 af for the 6d and wouldn't advise anyone to gamble on that. On my 60d the Kenko likes to hunt on low contrast objects when using single point af, and for multi-point the 9 af points usually is spread too far apart - so while 6d/5d3 might do fine, on crop it's rather for static objects.

It actually focuses pretty remarkably well on the 6d.  I am attaching a photo I took yesterday at 420mm while quickly tracking.  I had very little warning for this shot.  There are scenarios where it will hunt, but that tends to be in darker areas.  I was actually surprised at how well it did.  I shot with that combo exclusively while exploring a marsh yesterday.

It is not possible to evaluate the quality of this lens for bird and nature photography based on photos like these. Here, the birds are too small and span too few pixels to evaluate what the IQ is for them. Similarly, the Canada goose, squirrel etc you posted are small blobs. Please post some 100% crops so we can see the details of feathers, fur etc to get an idea what the lens is really like native and with extenders.

I had assumed it was soft at 420mm  - see http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/ISO-12233-Sample-Crops.aspx?Lens=738&Camera=453&Sample=0&FLI=5&API=1&LensComp=113&CameraComp=453&SampleComp=0&FLIComp=7&APIComp=0 (http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/ISO-12233-Sample-Crops.aspx?Lens=738&Camera=453&Sample=0&FLI=5&API=1&LensComp=113&CameraComp=453&SampleComp=0&FLIComp=7&APIComp=0)

So, it would be nice to see what it is like in practice.

Fair enough.  I have added a new gallery to the review called "Pixel Peepers", all with shots taken a few days ago with the extender, at 420mm, f/8 (AKA wide open).  I have both the originals (almost all completely unedited) along with 100% crops (all unedited).  I am attaching one sample here for you - there are a total of 4 pairs in the new gallery at various distances from the subject.
Title: Re: Review - The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS
Post by: TWI by Dustin Abbott on April 24, 2013, 09:21:04 AM
I had assumed it was soft at 420mm  - see http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/ISO-12233-Sample-Crops.aspx?Lens=738&Camera=453&Sample=0&FLI=5&API=1&LensComp=113&CameraComp=453&SampleComp=0&FLIComp=7&APIComp=0 (http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/ISO-12233-Sample-Crops.aspx?Lens=738&Camera=453&Sample=0&FLI=5&API=1&LensComp=113&CameraComp=453&SampleComp=0&FLIComp=7&APIComp=0)

With the tdp crops, you have to check all copies they tested - in case of the 70-300L the 2nd is visibly better, unfortunately they didn't use it with an extender which will enhance the softness of the 1st copy:

http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/ISO-12233-Sample-Crops.aspx?Lens=738&Camera=453&Sample=1&FLI=4&API=1&LensComp=738&CameraComp=453&SampleComp=0&FLIComp=4&APIComp=0 (http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/ISO-12233-Sample-Crops.aspx?Lens=738&Camera=453&Sample=1&FLI=4&API=1&LensComp=738&CameraComp=453&SampleComp=0&FLIComp=4&APIComp=0)

Though even with that in mind, a tc is always for occasional use except if you use really expensive tele primes - if you want 400mm+, get a 400mm lens and not a 70-300mm zoom. The important aspect with the 70-300L+tc is that the combination is better than cropping (I'm on aps-c), so the 200€ for the Kenko are good investment and it's still a very small package.

I would definitely agree with all of this.  If I could add one thing, it would that as a travel package the Kenko tele will have about as much space and weight premium as the 40mm pancake.  I think between the near equal image quality and the much light weight and space + the vastly superior IS of the 70-300L, I would choose that over the 100-400L while traveling every time.  I also fully expect that opinion to change when the new 100-400L II is released.
Title: Re: Review - The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS
Post by: TWI by Dustin Abbott on April 24, 2013, 09:25:18 AM
I don't want this lens.  But then, why am I checking the current price on Amazon??   :-X

Actually, what I'd find useful is a comparison between the 100-400L at 400mm and the 70-300L at 300mm cropped to the 400mm FoV, on a FF body.  Since getting a 600, I use my 100-400L less, but I do still use it.  If it could be replaced by something smaller and lighter (70-200 II + TC need not apply!) without sacrificing IQ, I'd be quite interested in the 70-300L.

I've found myself in a similar place before.  Through 300mm there is no question that the 70-300L is a far more competent lens.  You might want to check out the new gallery with crops to see if the use with teleconverter helps.  I have found that the bare lens holds up to cropping exceptionally well.  Here is an unedited sample from the backyard of my cat:

--------------------------------

Where I can't help is that I have not used the 100-400L.  I am relying on other's information as well as the many pictures and chart testing that I have seen.
Title: Re: Review - The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS
Post by: TWI by Dustin Abbott on April 24, 2013, 09:29:35 AM
Great review!

I bought this lens month ago and I love it. I initially didn't want this lens. I was looking for Tamron 70-200 f2.8 VC and Tamron 70-300 VC to supplement my Tamron 24-70 VC but when I found this lens among used items on web site of my local retailer, I gave it a try. It cost me 70% of the new one and it still had one year of warranty. I also bought a tripod collar - Canon really can make money from nothing. The collar cost more than 50 f1.8! I somehow found the collar quite good for handling the camera with the lens.

My copy has IMHO little bit loose focus ring and IS makes a strange noise when starts and stops operating (it is only audible in silent environments) but otherwise it is flawless. I use it for animals (dogs, birds, zoo), flowers and close details in general. It has a very compact size (and pleasing weight) and fits to quite small backpack together with body, other lens and external flash.

I'm beginner and I still shoot with Rebel (and slowly collecting money for 6D) so I cannot compare IQ or build quality with other L lenses. This is my first one but it really make a great impression and I doubt it will be the last L lens I will ever buy (I already itch for 100L f2.8 ).

Edit: It is also lens which makes me think again about moving to FF. Extra reach on APS-C is a great bonus.

High quality glass is addicting.  I strongly recommend the 100L Macro.  It is also a superb lens.  The loss of reach is certainly a challenge when moving to full frame.  At this stage, at least, I find that the improved image quality more than makes up for it.  My FF images are just much smoother in color transition, noise, and dynamic range.

Might I recommend that if you take the plunge to FF, hold onto that Rebel and use it when you want the extra reach.  One area that can make a big difference above your Rebel is the ability to fine tune the AF  to your camera body through AFMA.  It made a very big difference on the 70-300L.  It was good before; great after.
Title: Re: Review - The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS
Post by: TWI by Dustin Abbott on April 24, 2013, 09:31:00 AM
Great review. I like the simple and without emphasis way of writhing. Please make more reviews like this one!
 
I am thinking for a while at this lens and I was curios how good this is.

Thanks to you, now I know!

You're welcome.  I'm not trying to compete with the more technical reviewers.  I am a real world photographer, not a chart shooter.  It just gives a different perspective for those potentially interested.
Title: Re: Review - The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS
Post by: AlanF on April 24, 2013, 09:48:59 AM
It states under "pixel peepers" that the Canada Goose was at 420 mm. However, the exif data on the download has it as 309 mm. The others are correctly registered at 420 nm.
Title: Re: Review - The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS
Post by: 2n10 on April 24, 2013, 10:54:20 AM
Thanks for the real world review.  I find real world reviews to be far more useful than technical reviews and chart shots.
Title: Re: Review - The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS
Post by: TWI by Dustin Abbott on April 24, 2013, 11:10:20 AM
It states under "pixel peepers" that the Canada Goose was at 420 mm. However, the exif data on the download has it as 309 mm. The others are correctly registered at 420 nm.

Alan - good catch.  I overlooked that one although I thought I had checked them all.  I just double-checked in LR and you are right.  I have replaced that pair with another set.  Here are the replacements:

Title: Re: Review - The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS
Post by: TWI by Dustin Abbott on April 24, 2013, 11:16:12 AM
Thanks for the real world review.  I find real world reviews to be far more useful than technical reviews and chart shots.

My favorite review of this particular lens was actually the one done here at Canon Rumors and served as my introduction to this great forum: http://www.canonrumors.com/reviews/ef-70-300-f4-5-6l-is-review/. (http://www.canonrumors.com/reviews/ef-70-300-f4-5-6l-is-review/.)  The beautiful real world images are what helped sell me on the lens.  I hoped to add my own voice in a similar way.
Title: Re: Review - The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS
Post by: TWI by Dustin Abbott on April 24, 2013, 11:25:23 AM
I thought I would also include the worse case scenario of the day.  A black subject that was in shadow with bright, harsh light in the outer area.  I initially grabbed focus pretty fast, but then recomposed as the bird continued to move.  The further it got into the shadow, the more hunting the AF did.  When I got focus confirmation, I shot, but the picture was NOT focused right, as both the original and the crop show.  I jumped to ISO 1600 to get this one (most are at ISO 500 or less) so that should tell you how reduced the original light was for the middle of day.  This is pretty ugly...
Title: Re: Review - The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS
Post by: AlanF on April 24, 2013, 04:57:16 PM
Thanks for the thoughtful review and additional 100% crops.  It looks a very good safari lens. I bought a 70-200 f/4 IS for a safari trip just before the f/2.8 II and the 70-300 L.  I'm holding on to it because it is so sharp and small. If I was doing it again maybe I would get the 70-300L.
Title: Re: Review - The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS
Post by: TWI by Dustin Abbott on April 24, 2013, 05:37:17 PM
Thanks for the thoughtful review and additional 100% crops.  It looks a very good safari lens. I bought a 70-200 f/4 IS for a safari trip just before the f/2.8 II and the 70-300 L.  I'm holding on to it because it is so sharp and small. If I was doing it again maybe I would get the 70-300L.

My pleasure
Title: Re: Review - The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS
Post by: TWI by Dustin Abbott on May 05, 2013, 08:02:37 AM
Here's a quick shot taken yesterday of the new spring leaves.  The 70-300L continues to surprise me by the quality of the defocused areas.  To me this looks like it was taken with a larger aperture lens.

(http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8132/8709242057_e548878266.jpg) (http://www.flickr.com/photos/thousandwordimages/8709242057/)
Hello, Spring (http://www.flickr.com/photos/thousandwordimages/8709242057/#) by Thousand Word Images by Dustin Abbott (http://www.flickr.com/people/thousandwordimages/), on Flickr
Title: Re: Review - The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS
Post by: SpecialGregg on May 05, 2013, 10:20:43 AM
... me, too, and I bought it back when it had a reputation as being an overpriced version of Canon's non-L lens - but it's interesting to see how it gained much more recognition since then. I esp. like the still handholdable weight for ext. periods of time and walking around vs. the 70-200Lii (ymmv).

Just in case there's anyone still out there wondering if there's a difference between the L and the non-L, here are two similar shots I took of a bee in my backyard with each lens.
Title: Re: Review - The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS
Post by: tombu on May 05, 2013, 10:56:20 AM
^So you are telling me L-lenses handle the noise better?  ;)
Title: Re: Review - The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS
Post by: SpecialGregg on May 05, 2013, 11:10:14 AM
Haha yeah the noise in the non-L picture is ridiculous, and I ran it through noise ninja 2 or 3 times. The images were taken a year apart, and were never intended to be a comparison. I just knew it could be significantly improved upon, and honestly every picture I took with the non-L at 300mm needed a significant amount of noise reduction and masked-sharpening. And they still look subpar. That lens is for soccer moms and dads only, IMO.

The 70-300mm L on the other hand, is spectacular.
Title: Re: Review - The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS
Post by: nda on May 05, 2013, 12:18:11 PM
fantastic lens, fast af, light & compact, wonderful is, and sharp, what more can u ask for! oh the zoom and focus rings are reversed which takes a little getting used too and it could be faster but its near perfection, sold my 70-200f4is for it, couldn't be happier and it's a killer on my 1d4(91-390mm) ;)
Title: Re: Review - The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS
Post by: TWI by Dustin Abbott on May 10, 2013, 09:09:01 AM
Here's another nice thing to note about the lens - Canon's modern approach uses the curved aperture blades that means that bokeh highlights stay round even when stopped down.  In this shot (f/7.1) you can see some large OOF highlights that are still almost perfectly round.  I needed the extra DOF to make sure the whole primary leaf was in focus.

(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7390/8725010599_d290bdb399.jpg) (http://www.flickr.com/photos/thousandwordimages/8725010599/)
Spring Inferno (http://www.flickr.com/photos/thousandwordimages/8725010599/#) by Thousand Word Images by Dustin Abbott (http://www.flickr.com/people/thousandwordimages/), on Flickr

BTW, check out the 100% crop of the detail from the shot:
Title: Re: Review - The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS
Post by: Marsu42 on May 10, 2013, 11:03:06 AM
I needed the extra DOF to make sure the whole primary leaf was in focus.

+1 - in my observation people seem to underestimate how very thin the dof is for 70mm@f4 or 300mm@f5.6 if the subject is near - and I'm even on crop with a larger dof at same object size. What I usually want is a nice bokeh with overlapping light circles and not a smaller dof, and the 70-300L is able to deliver this if the background is a bit away.
Title: Re: Review - The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS
Post by: TWI by Dustin Abbott on May 10, 2013, 11:44:11 AM
I needed the extra DOF to make sure the whole primary leaf was in focus.

+1 - in my observation people seem to underestimate how very thin the dof is for 70mm@f4 or 300mm@f5.6 if the subject is near - and I'm even on crop with a larger dof at same object size. What I usually want is a nice bokeh with overlapping light circles and not a smaller dof, and the 70-300L is able to deliver this if the background is a bit away.

Absolutely.  According to my dof calculator, the DOF at 300mm f/5.6 at or close to minimum focus distance is about .22 inches (5.5 milimeters).  That is actually a smaller DOF than my 135L f/2 wide open at the same distance (.39 inches or 9.79mm)

Even for this shot (f/7.1, 200mm), the DOF was only .62 inches (15.83mm). 
Title: Re: Review - The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS
Post by: RLPhoto on May 10, 2013, 12:22:31 PM
Dustin, When you zoom to 200mm on the 70-300L, is the aperture still F/4? At what focal length does it lose F/4?
Title: Re: Review - The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS
Post by: TWI by Dustin Abbott on May 10, 2013, 03:44:21 PM
Dustin, When you zoom to 200mm on the 70-300L, is the aperture still F/4? At what focal length does it lose F/4?

According to Bryan over at the Digital Picture (http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/Canon-EF-70-300mm-f-4-5.6-IS-L-USM-Lens-Review.aspx (http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/Canon-EF-70-300mm-f-4-5.6-IS-L-USM-Lens-Review.aspx) ) the 70-300L hits f/5 at 155mm through 224mm before it moves to f/5.6.  I wish it was still f/4 at 200mm.  Then there would really be no advantage to the 70-20mm f/4 lenses.
Title: Re: Review - The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS
Post by: Marsu42 on May 10, 2013, 03:50:31 PM
Absolutely.  According to my dof calculator, the DOF at 300mm f/5.6 at or close to minimum focus distance is about .22 inches (5.5 milimeters).  That is actually a smaller DOF than my 135L f/2 wide open at the same distance (.39 inches or 9.79mm)

Thanks for the calculation, that's really interesting. I recently discovered the severity of the "small dof effect" when I was wondering why so many of my images are just slightly out of focus - and atm I think the reason is that focus & recompose simply doesn't work reliably anymore.

At the moment I have to take multiple shots and then select the sharp(est) one, but I'd be grateful for any hints for circumventing this problem w/o purchasing a 5d3...
Title: Re: Review - The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS
Post by: TWI by Dustin Abbott on May 10, 2013, 04:37:36 PM
Absolutely.  According to my dof calculator, the DOF at 300mm f/5.6 at or close to minimum focus distance is about .22 inches (5.5 milimeters).  That is actually a smaller DOF than my 135L f/2 wide open at the same distance (.39 inches or 9.79mm)

Thanks for the calculation, that's really interesting. I recently discovered the severity of the "small dof effect" when I was wondering why so many of my images are just slightly out of focus - and atm I think the reason is that focus & recompose simply doesn't work reliably anymore.

At the moment I have to take multiple shots and then select the sharp(est) one, but I'd be grateful for any hints for circumventing this problem w/o purchasing a 5d3...

Despite reports about the 6D being "center point only", I actually have a pretty close to perfect success rate using the outer points.  I don't know that I would try it in really low light, but most of the time it works fine.  I can't remember missing a lot with the 60D either, though.  One your biggest advantages when you move to a 6D will be the ability to AFMA your lens to the body.  On my two bodies, one is a -1W 2T and the other is 2W 2T.  That little bit of adjustment can make a big difference.

If you are shooting narrow DOF shots off center for composition and have time, using Live View focus is a pretty sound choice.  Slower, but highly accurate.
Title: Re: Review - The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS
Post by: TWI by Dustin Abbott on May 10, 2013, 04:40:39 PM
Absolutely.  According to my dof calculator, the DOF at 300mm f/5.6 at or close to minimum focus distance is about .22 inches (5.5 milimeters).  That is actually a smaller DOF than my 135L f/2 wide open at the same distance (.39 inches or 9.79mm)

Thanks for the calculation, that's really interesting. I recently discovered the severity of the "small dof effect" when I was wondering why so many of my images are just slightly out of focus - and atm I think the reason is that focus & recompose simply doesn't work reliably anymore.

At the moment I have to take multiple shots and then select the sharp(est) one, but I'd be grateful for any hints for circumventing this problem w/o purchasing a 5d3...

Despite reports about the 6D being "center point only", I actually have a pretty close to perfect success rate using the outer points.  I don't know that I would try it in really low light, but most of the time it works fine.  I can't remember missing a lot with the 60D either, though.  One your biggest advantages when you move to a 6D will be the ability to AFMA your lens to the body.  On my two bodies, one is a -1W 2T and the other is 2W 2T.  That little bit of adjustment can make a big difference.

If you are shooting narrow DOF shots off center for composition and have time, using Live View focus is a pretty sound choice.  Slower, but highly accurate.

P.S.  I use a App called DOF Calculator from the Apple App Store.  It allows you to enter the focal length, distance to subject, f/stop, and then calculates based on your camera model.  It obviously provides highly accurate results and that is my source for the above statistics.
Title: Re: Review - The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS
Post by: RLPhoto on May 10, 2013, 05:34:33 PM
Dustin, When you zoom to 200mm on the 70-300L, is the aperture still F/4? At what focal length does it lose F/4?

According to Bryan over at the Digital Picture (http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/Canon-EF-70-300mm-f-4-5.6-IS-L-USM-Lens-Review.aspx (http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/Canon-EF-70-300mm-f-4-5.6-IS-L-USM-Lens-Review.aspx) ) the 70-300L hits f/5 at 155mm through 224mm before it moves to f/5.6.  I wish it was still f/4 at 200mm.  Then there would really be no advantage to the 70-20mm f/4 lenses.

Heh, I knew canon wouldn't want to steal away any business from another lens.  ;D I really did consider this option over the 100-400L.
Title: Re: Review - The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS
Post by: TWI by Dustin Abbott on May 10, 2013, 08:28:21 PM
Dustin, When you zoom to 200mm on the 70-300L, is the aperture still F/4? At what focal length does it lose F/4?

According to Bryan over at the Digital Picture (http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/Canon-EF-70-300mm-f-4-5.6-IS-L-USM-Lens-Review.aspx (http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/Canon-EF-70-300mm-f-4-5.6-IS-L-USM-Lens-Review.aspx) ) the 70-300L hits f/5 at 155mm through 224mm before it moves to f/5.6.  I wish it was still f/4 at 200mm.  Then there would really be no advantage to the 70-20mm f/4 lenses.

Heh, I knew canon wouldn't want to steal away any business from another lens.  ;D I really did consider this option over the 100-400L.

That's the truth, although it's probably true for all lens makers.  Still, I have owned two copies each of the 70-200mm f/4L (IS and non IS) and, while they are great lenses, I certainly prefer the 70-300L.  That might not be true if I didn't have the 135L for event work.  I used to use 70-200 f/4L IS in my event work and it works quite well for that.  I rarely use the 70-300L for indoor work, although the truth of the matter is that with the great high ISO of the current FF bodies (I use 6D's), you could.

Actually, one of the best lenses for event work when I shot crop was the Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8.  Pretty sharp wide open (not mindblowingly so), but very nice build quality and a great focal length for event work.  It was an excellent size, internal zoom and focus.  It was also a very nice portrait lens stopped down a bit.
Title: Re: Review - The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS
Post by: TWI by Dustin Abbott on May 29, 2013, 09:56:31 AM
Here's the dreamy size of the 70-300L

(http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2857/8877795657_609c291201.jpg) (http://www.flickr.com/photos/thousandwordimages/8877795657/)
Butterfly Kisses (http://www.flickr.com/photos/thousandwordimages/8877795657/#) by Thousand Word Images by Dustin Abbott (http://www.flickr.com/people/thousandwordimages/), on Flickr
Title: Re: Review - The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS
Post by: TWI by Dustin Abbott on June 04, 2013, 10:42:11 AM
Here's another "dreamy" shot.  I am so impressed with the smooth transition from focus to defocus on this lens.  The blade of grass in focus is super sharp here, but the lower portion of the image that is out of focus is exquisitely rendered.  Nothing harsh about it.

(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7375/8948952200_b8946b4502.jpg) (http://www.flickr.com/photos/thousandwordimages/8948952200/)
Where the Long Grass Blows (http://www.flickr.com/photos/thousandwordimages/8948952200/#) by Thousand Word Images by Dustin Abbott (http://www.flickr.com/people/thousandwordimages/), on Flickr
Title: Re: Review - The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS
Post by: RGF on June 04, 2013, 06:02:17 PM
I like the lens...a lot 8)

+1
Title: Re: Review - The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS
Post by: TWI by Dustin Abbott on June 10, 2013, 11:46:36 AM
Here's one in terrible light (ISO 12800) with the Kenko, wide open, 420mm (Bull Moose in Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada):

(http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2820/9007416696_95831e88e7.jpg) (http://www.flickr.com/photos/thousandwordimages/9007416696/)
Bull Moose Portrait (http://www.flickr.com/photos/thousandwordimages/9007416696/#) by Thousand Word Images by Dustin Abbott (http://www.flickr.com/people/thousandwordimages/), on Flickr