IQ and AF-speed only: 70-200 f/2.8L IS II + 1.4X III vs. 70-300 f/4-5.6L


Mar 24, 2013

I'm looking for a good "up to 280mm/300mm" zoom for my 60D, and while I'm aware that prices, weight, f-numbers and convenience (such as 70-200 + 1.4x essentially being a 2-in-1 alternative) don't compare, I'm wondering if anyone has any experience with both alternatives, and could tell me how the two compare in regard to image quality and AF-focusing speed.

When it comes to the IQ, I've used's lens comparison tool. It won't, however, let me compare similar focal lengths (280mm is the only option if I want to add a 1.4X - which actually looks better than the 70-300 at 200mm, but worse than the 70-300 at 300mm...).

Thanks a lot! :)

Random Orbits

EOS 5D Mark IV
Mar 14, 2012
When it comes to bare lens IQ, the 70-200 II is better. There is something with the natural vignetting at f/2.8 and colors that help the subject pop. AF speed is good. I spend less time post-processing 70-200 II files than the 70-300L's. The difference in look between f/2.8 and f/4-f/5.6 is noticeable especially for portraiture and sports.

If you want to shoot above 200mm a lot, then the 70-300L comes into its own. The 70-200L works well with the 1.4x, but then it loses a lot of its advantages over the 70-300L. For some reason, I don't like the images taken with the 70-300L on the LCD on the back of the camera but I end up liking them when I open them in LightRoom (mostly due to color reasons, so much so that I force myself to chimp less when using the 70-300L). When comparing the 70-200 II with the extender to the 70-300L, the IQ (sharpness, colors) is similar, but the 70-300L is lighter, more compact, better at 280/300mm and having a wider range (70-300 vs. 98-280) while costing up to a stop in speed. The 70-300L AF is a little bit snappier than the 70-200 II + 1.4x.

What it comes down to are well known trades between weight, size, how often you intend to use the 200-300mm range, and whether you need to use this for low light applications, where every stop counts. The 70-300L is one of Canon's best travel lenses, and I would also leave the 70-200 II home when traveling (after lugging the 70-200 II to Disney for a week while trying to watch two young kids). That we would opt for the 70-300L over the 70-200 II for travel is a testament to how good the 70-300L is because we don't lose much in IQ but we gain a lot in versatility. However, a lot of us will also bring a fast prime to complement the 70-300L for thin DOF or low light use for portraiture or for indoor applications. With the 70-200 II, you might be able to skip the fast prime and make do with the f/2.8.


How you relate to the issue, is the issue.
Jul 13, 2012
candyman said:
same experience and same opinion

+1 also agree. I have both will not part with either.


Mar 24, 2013
Thanks a lot, Random Orbits! :) And thanks to candyman and RGF for your replies as well! My primary use for the lens will be shooting my dog and getting into a little bit of wildlife photography. I think the extra stop will help a lot for this (even if it means sacrificing 20mm and some AF speed).

I might just go with both in the long run, but starting with the 70-200 II + 1.4X.


May 18, 2013
New York
I have both lenses. I would not use the 70-200 with TC for the use as suggested, but crop pp. The 70-200 have much faster AF than 70-300 and there is no reason to through that advantage in he bin by attaching a TC. Anyway, I still seem to use my 70-300 more often than the other because it is much easier to carry around. Both lenses give excellent IQ. By the way and you will be happy with either.


EOS M6 Mark II
Aug 28, 2012
I use my EF 70-300L primarily for shooting pictures of my (very quick) Jack Russell terrier. I can stand off a ways, frame the shot as she moves and then zoom in at the last second. The AF is very responsive. By being farther away, I can be more innocuous and won't affect her behavior. When she is completely oblivious to where I am, she is more herself. I can move from tight portrait to environmental action shot in no time. It's the range, the weight and the balance of the lens that really comes in handy. I sold my 70-200 f/4 IS because the image quality of the two was indistinguishable (contrast and color on the 70-300L actually seems a bit better). I am above 200mm focal length most of the time and shoot primarily at f/8 for sharpness. The 70-300 is great for me (on a 5D2 which supposedly can't shoot action). ;)

The shot below is actually MUCH crisper than this....


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