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Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM Review

Recently Canon USA sent me a T2i to play with along with the NEW Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM. As you will be able to tell from the video my first gut reaction is “WHAT” the price is $1599.99!!!! That is a lot of money for a F4-5.6 zoom lens. Keep in mind that the Canon 70-200 2.8 IS is $1899.99 USA.

Lets put price aside and talk about the lens and the type of images it creates. The lens is flat out amazing in terms of build quality, focus speed, sharpness, color and pretty much anything it does. It will have one draw back and that would be shooting in low light situations as well as indoors. There is only so much you can raise your ISO to compensate for the lack of the lens being a 2.8.


After using this lens for a few hours while photographing some soccer I came to really enjoy having such a long reach. The 300mm becomes a 480mm on the Canon T2i because of the 1.6x crop factor. To be able to fill the frame from across the filed is just incredible. It is even more incredible that the focus was fast, smooth and tack sharp. The lens did miss a few times but that is going to happen with any lens you use. The zoom ring is smooth and responsive though on occasions my palm would tweak the focus ring by accident.

What makes me end up giving this lens a good review was seeing the results in the computer. When I notice that the EXIF info showed me 266mm zoom and the player filed the frame with such clarity and sharpness I realized this was a killer lens.

There however are a few downsides to owning a mega zoom with a slow aperture. One major issue for me is not being able to blow out the background as well as a 2.8. I like the separate my subject from the background which makes my images go boom. Portrait and wedding photographers who purchase this lens will definitely miss the ability to blow out the background in their images. They will also find that this lens will be pretty useless in low light situations. The final downside is of course the price, at $1600 US I can not see a beginner purchasing this lens. I would not recommend this to someone just starting out as they could purchase 3 other “pro” lenses for the same price of this one. For example a Sigma 18-50 2.8, 70-200 2.8 version II sigma and Canon 50mm F1.4 all for around the same price.

Now that we know who this lens is not for lets look at who it is for. If you travel and are looking for one lens with huge reach to shoot only outdoors than this lens may be for you. This is not really a lens that a pro will end up buying to use professionally, they may use it for fun while away but they will also miss the F2.8. I see this being the perfect lens to take on a Safari as its small enough to hand hold all day but has a huge reach on the APS-C Canon sensors. It will be great for shooting Air Shows as well as out in nature. What it comes down to is if you have the money to spend and don’t mind not having a F2.8 than this lens could be for you.

To see the full RES sample images captured with the Canon T2I and Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM please click the images below. All files were shot RAW not cropped and exported at the highest res jpeg out of Lightroom 3.

If you are interested in purchasing this lens please call Allen’s Camera at 215.547.2841 as they have been getting them into stock. I fully support Allen first and foremost as he is a mom and pop operation that has been around for over 30 years. If they are out of stock please check Amazon and B and H