Should I purchase a 300mm f/2.8 is I for wildlife???

Sep 1, 2018
5
0
Hi all,
I have an opportunity to purchase a Canon 300mm f/2.8 is I in the next couple of days. The seller is a local photographer who has fallen on hard times and is looking to sell some gear to get money for a car. He is asking $2500 for it, it seems to be in fairly good condition from the pictures. From all the reviews and such that I have read I understand that this lens is basically legendary for its IQ. Though I understand that there is an second version of this lens but I never really considered this lens do to the cost to purchase new. I would mainly use this lens for wildlife. My current wildlife setup is a 7dmkii with the tamron 150-600mm g1. I have never really been all that happy with the tamrons focusing and sharpness and have almost never used it at the short end. First question, is that a reasonable price for this lens? I know conditions vary and all that but he has all the accessories and it seems good to go from the pics (though I would of course make sure everything was good before purchasing). And my second question is for people that have used this lens with the 1.4x and 2X extenders. I have both and would be using them both frequently to get the reach I’m used to with the Tamron. Would the tamron be better at 600mm or the 300mm with the 2X? From where I sit it looks to me like this would give me a fantastic 300mm, a really good 420mm f4 with the 1.4 and pretty good 600mm with the 2X? From evaluating the way that I shoot, I see a trend of a lot of my wildlife pictures being either in the 300mm range or the 600mm range. I have through the weekend to decide.
Thanks
Matthew Harwood
 

danski0224

EOS 6D MK II
Apr 24, 2011
1,089
4
The easiest pricing tool is the "sold" listings filter on that big auction site.

Which Canon TC's? The latest certainly is the best, especially the 2x.

Lens focus speed will be slower with the 1.4x (may not be too noticeable) but the reduction while using the 2x will be noticeable. You would need to review the manual for your camera to determine which focus points can be used in each configuration- and this may be different when using the Tamron.

You may be better off looking for a 500mm IS VI.

Bear in mind that the Canon VI IS lenses (except the 800) are obsolete and can only be serviced by 3rd party repair shops- if parts are available.
 

takesome1

EOS 5Ds R II
Aug 23, 2013
1,448
80
I had one.


The lens is great and sharp.
When it is the right focal length only the version II would do better, but really not enough for the normall non pixel peeping photog to notice.
The 1;4x is ok. The 2x I didn’t think so.
IMO and for my use it was to short for wildlife. When I had the lens I always had the 500mm though.
For caged wild life; the back yard squirl and game you get close to, it would be great.

I sold mine three years ago for $3800: $2500 isn’t a bad price IMO:
 

neuroanatomist

I post too Much on Here!!
Jul 21, 2010
23,661
731
I would generally not recommend buying a lens planning to use a TC most of the time. The only exception IMO is the 600/4 II, since that plus the 1.4xIII is optically better than the 800/5.6 (plus being lighter and a longer FL).

I've been tempted a few times by a used 300/2.8, but it really doesn't meet my current needs.
 
Sep 1, 2018
5
0
The easiest pricing tool is the "sold" listings filter on that big auction site.

Which Canon TC's? The latest certainly is the best, especially the 2x.

Lens focus speed will be slower with the 1.4x (may not be too noticeable) but the reduction while using the 2x will be noticeable. You would need to review the manual for your camera to determine which focus points can be used in each configuration- and this may be different when using the Tamron.

You may be better off looking for a 500mm IS VI.

Bear in mind that the Canon VI IS lenses (except the 800) are obsolete and can only be serviced by 3rd party repair shops- if parts are available.
Hi,
I have the version 2 extenders. Have used the 1.4x extensively on a 70-200mm f4 and have used the 2x a bit on the 2.8 is ii. Thanks for the advice it seems like you are echoing what I have read in reviews.
Thanks for the help
Matthew Harwood
 
Sep 1, 2018
5
0
I would generally not recommend buying a lens planning to use a TC most of the time. The only exception IMO is the 600/4 II, since that plus the 1.4xIII is optically better than the 800/5.6 (plus being lighter and a longer FL).

I've been tempted a few times by a used 300/2.8, but it really doesn't meet my current needs.
Hi,
Yes it is very tempting especially since i am headed to Grand Teton NP next weekend to photograph the fall color and wildlife with Tom Mangalson (one of my favorite wildlife photographers). That is what I am feeling now that it really just isn’t long enough, like I have said I never really considered getting one of these “great whites” because of the prohibitive cost. Looks like I will just wait and save. Maybe save for a used 600mm or the new Sigma 500mm f4...
Thanks
Matthew Harwood
 

R1-7D

EOS 7D MK II
Jun 25, 2012
667
10
Canada
I have a 300 f/2.8L IS II with 2XIII that I use regularly for wildlife and it's been great. I'm using it with a 1DX2 and find the focus speed is still more than sufficient for tracking most bird, and for larger animals it's great.

The first generation 300mm, from what I have read, isn't as good with teleconverters as the second generation, however. I'd look into that a bit more if you're considering it

The 300mm is small and light enough that it's comfortable to carry handheld for long periods of time, which is something I struggle with using larger lenses. The 300mm also has the versatility of being a fantastic sports or portrait lens if you want to use it bare. I photographed a parade with it last weekend and it was phenomenal.

The sharpness of the 300 is astounding. Every time I use it I am blown away. The first generation is also amazingly sharp.
 
Last edited:
Sep 1, 2018
5
0
I would generally not recommend buying a lens planning to use a TC most of the time. The only exception IMO is the 600/4 II, since that plus the 1.4xIII is optically better than the 800/5.6 (plus being lighter and a longer FL).

I've been tempted a few times by a used 300/2.8, but it really doesn't meet my current needs.
Yep very tempting!!! But like you said using a TC most of the time is a great idea I was just wondering if I would get better performance out of the 300 with the TC or the tamron, seems to me like the tamron.
Thanks
Matthew Harwood
 
Sep 1, 2018
5
0
I have a 300 f/2.8L IS II with 2XIII that I use regularly for wildlife and it's been great. I'm using it with a 1DX2 and find the focus speed is still more than sufficient for tracking most bird, and for larger animals it's great.

The first generation 300mm, from what I have read, isn't as good with teleconverters as the second generation, however. I'd looking into that a bit more if you're considering it

The 300mm is small and light enough that it's comfortable to carry handheld for long periods of time, which is something I struggle with using larger lenses. The 300mm also has the versatility of being a fantastic sports or portrait lens if you want to use it bare. I photographed a parade with it last weekend and it was phenomenal.

The sharpness of the 300 is astounding. Every time I use it I am blown away. The first generation is also amazingly sharp.
Man you guys arn’t making this easy haha!!!
That’s what I have heard!!! Everything about it seems perfect except that it might be a bit to short... should probably just look for something longer, then again I did shoot all my wildlife on a 70-200mm f4 with the 1.4x and got great results... argh decisions decisions...
Thanks
Matthew Harwood
 

R1-7D

EOS 7D MK II
Jun 25, 2012
667
10
Canada
Man you guys arn’t making this easy haha!!!
That’s what I have heard!!! Everything about it seems perfect except that it might be a bit to short... should probably just look for something longer, then again I did shoot all my wildlife on a 70-200mm f4 with the 1.4x and got great results... argh decisions decisions...
Thanks
Matthew Harwood

It depends on what you're shooting -- 300mm or 600mm can be short for certain kinds of wildlife and perfect for others. I would have liked a longer lens too in some situations, but overall the 300mm's versatility suits my needs better overall than just have "one long lens". At 600mm with the 2X, the lens is no slouch. I prefer using the 300mm to my 100-400mm II (with or without the 1.4X) unless I am hiking.

That said, if you're looking for a wonderful lens and don't want to spend big big bucks, the new 100-400 is also terrific. While I prefer using the 300mm with the 1.4x or 2x to the 100-400mm w/1.4x, sometimes it's just not practical to take the 300mm, despite it being the second smallest of the big whites (the 400 DO is a tad smaller).

Good luck with your decision. All these lenses are fantastic.
 

privatebydesign

Would you take advice from a cartoons stuffed toy?
Jan 29, 2011
7,326
316
118
Whilst getting the 'correct' focal length is best practice the image quality is so high with this lens the fact is that using it as a 420mm f4 is a very practical use case. I know an internationally renowned sports photographer who has used the 300 f2.8 IS MkI and a 1.4TC for a large part of her career. She prefers the portability of the 300 and the flexibility you get with having a 300 f2.8 and an f4 420mm.

I got the 300mm f2.8 IS MkI on its release and have never considered upgrading as it is a superlative lens. I use it with a 1.4TC MkIII and occasionally with a 2x TC MkII.

Obviously if cost wasn't an option then an IS MkII or MkIII would be preferred, if for nothing else the ease of service, but the truth is the IS MkI is a very good lens.
 
Reactions: johnf3f and kaihp

johnf3f

Canon 1Dx
Oct 25, 2012
904
14
Wales
I would generally not recommend buying a lens planning to use a TC most of the time. The only exception IMO is the 600/4 II, since that plus the 1.4xIII is optically better than the 800/5.6 (plus being lighter and a longer FL).

I've been tempted a few times by a used 300/2.8, but it really doesn't meet my current needs.
Is it? Having compared the side by side I am not so sure. I have no idea on the reviews and ratings but when I used them I was happier with the 800mm when I needed that (or thereabout) focal length.
I had been hoping to trade to get a 600 Mk2 for it's lighter weight, closer MFD and versatility (the 800 isn't great with extenders) but if I am having to use extenders on the 600 Mk2 then the 800 without an extender gave me better results than the 600 Mk2 with the 1.4 Mk3. IQ was good enough on both but AF favoured the 800. Not gospel but just what I have found on my, and a friend's, gear. Naturally if 600mm gives what you want most of the time then the 600 Mk2 is the superior lens, with the added versatility of performing much better with extenders. If one wants 800mm then the/my Canon 800 F5.6 L IS still gets my vote. All down to personal needs/wants.
 

danski0224

EOS 6D MK II
Apr 24, 2011
1,089
4
Looks like I will just wait and save. Maybe save for a used 600mm or the new Sigma 500mm f4...
Well, prices on the 600 IS VII may soften up a bit with well heeled people buying the lighter IS VIII lens.

That Sigma 500mm new is more $$ than a used Canon 500 IS VI. That Canon lens may now be obsolete as far as Canon is concerned, but it is still a Canon lens and it will give the best performance with Canon TC's. I have only read reviews on the Sigma, but I would have a hard time buying one when nice used Canon 500mm lenses are available. Sigma will eventually declare their lens "obsolete", just like Canon, but there are more Canon lenses out there to start with. Getting that Sigma fixed as an "obsolete" lens will invariably be much more difficult than an "obsolete" Canon lens just based on the number of units sold.
 
About three months ago I bought the exact lens in excellent condition (with case and hood) for $1,899. It was at Tempe Camera (Arizona) and they actually had two for that price, which was extremely unusual. I had never seen one at such a low price so I grabbed it. I bought a new 7D2 (Adorama) to match it, but sold it after a few pics because images were soft. I could see this in the screen on first major use so immediately switched to my 5D4 and everything was great - tack sharp. I have heard and read other reports of focus and sharpness issues with 7D2, so that may be your problem and not your Tamron lens. I also bought with the lens a used (mint condition) 1.4x iii and it works great with the 300. Your price is higher than what I paid but I still think that's a fair price if it's in excellent condition.
 
Having just returned from Yellowstone and Grand Teton and using the lens extensively (with and without 1.4X iii) I can offer a followup. It is indeed a great lens, super sharp and able to hand-hold for brief periods. HOWEVER, I have decided to sell mine for two reasons. The primary reason is I have realized I am not really a wildlife photographer and as such I just don't need it. My primary interests are landscape and architecture and it's just a lens I won't use enough to justify. The second reason is in spite of it being smaller than say a 500 f4 it is still a big lens. When I carry it in addition to my regular camera backpack it is just too much. If I attach my extender to my 70-200 f/2.8 I have almost a 300 f/4 lens which is good enough for me. I also found that even with extender (making 420mm) it was too short much of the time for Yellowstone wildlife.

I think this lens is primarily geared for sports shooters. It is too short for wildlife and too big and unwieldy to easily carry around (like at a zoo where I do a lot of my animal shots). Honestly if I were really into wildlife (as in my primary interest) I would sell all my Canon gear and get the soon-to-be-released Nikon 500 f/5.6 PF.
 

ethanz

1DX II
Apr 12, 2016
934
186
ethanzentz.com
Mharwood1993, please let us know what you decided.

I have a friend who had the Tamron 150-600 g1 and it was rather soft and not fast enough AF for him. After much convincing, he got the Canon 100-400 II instead and loves it.
 

takesome1

EOS 5Ds R II
Aug 23, 2013
1,448
80
Honestly if I were really into wildlife (as in my primary interest) I would sell all my Canon gear and get the soon-to-be-released Nikon 500 f/5.6 PF.
For wildlife F/4 is greater than F/5.6.
Granted it is cheaper and lighter.
But you would soon find that the little bit of extra light does matter.
 
I am going to respectfully disagree with the post above (that for wildlife you need f4 instead of f5.6). Of course only the individual photographer can decide for themselves, but given the amazing high ISO capabilities of modern DSLR's, I think large aperture for telephoto is not as important as it once once. Remember 500 f4 lenses were developed for film bodies when pros were using ISO 100 slide film. Now that any modern full frame camera can shoot ISO 1600 and look almost as clean as 100 you can easily get a fast enough shutter speed at f5.6. The depth of field is already so shallow at 500mm that I don't think that is a critical factor either. Just my two cents, take it or leave it.
 

AlanF

5DSR
Aug 16, 2012
4,667
1,173
I am going to respectfully disagree with the post above (that for wildlife you need f4 instead of f5.6). Of course only the individual photographer can decide for themselves, but given the amazing high ISO capabilities of modern DSLR's, I think large aperture for telephoto is not as important as it once once. Remember 500 f4 lenses were developed for film bodies when pros were using ISO 100 slide film. Now that any modern full frame camera can shoot ISO 1600 and look almost as clean as 100 you can easily get a fast enough shutter speed at f5.6. The depth of field is already so shallow at 500mm that I don't think that is a critical factor either. Just my two cents, take it or leave it.
It depends how much you crop and the level of detail you are looking at. Agreed that for much of the time f/5.6 is fine. But, you really start to see the difference between iso3200 and 6400 when you are pushing the cropping to the limits with a 5DIV or 5DSR and you need every bit of aperture you can get.
 

AlanF

5DSR
Aug 16, 2012
4,667
1,173
For wildlife F/4 is greater than F/5.6.
Granted it is cheaper and lighter.
But you would soon find that the little bit of extra light does matter.
A slightly different slant. A 400mm f/4 is significantly more versatile than a 500mm f/5.6. There are occasions when 400mm is more useful because 500mm is too long and the narrower field of view makes BIF photography more difficult, and the extra stop of brightness can be useful. Then, with the 400mm and a 1.4xTC you get a 560mm f/5.6 which has longer range than the 500/5.6, and with a 2xTC an f/8 800mm. The 500mm f/5.6 gives a 700mm f/8 with a 1.4xTC or with Nikon's 1.7xTC and 850mm f/9.52, which is getting difficult to AF. So, I am not tempted by the Nikon 500mm f/5.6 PF. I would like Canon to do a budget lightweight 300mm DO f/4 to rival the Nikon's.