My thoughts on my newly purchased 70-300 4/5.6 USM IS L Lens

Started May 12, 2012 | Discussions
rattlhed Junior Member • Posts: 46
My thoughts on my newly purchased 70-300 4/5.6 USM IS L Lens

I purchased a Canon 60D around Christmas time, and I've been using the 17-55 2.8 IS lens for many years (on my 30D before the upgrade). I decided it was time to purchase a tele lens to broaden the focal length of my photography. I spend almost 2 weeks researching the lens options out there. I ended up narrowing it down to the 70-200 F4 IS L vs. the 70-300 F4/5.6 IS L. Once down to these final 2 lenses it was a very tough decision, but I decided to go with the longer zoom and sacrifice a bit of aperture speed. I do mostly outdoors/landscape photography and use a tripod a lot of the time, therefore I thought this lens would be a good choice.

I think I made a great decision. This lens is awesome in every way. The build is amazing. It's like a tank on my camera. Solid build, extremely smooth operation, and takes WONDERFUL pictures. When I first got it, I did a range of ISO tests with a standard ISO chart. The only place I could see this lens suffering with less than sharp shots is at 300mm at 5.6, step it down a bit and it definitely improves. But the real test is real world photography. Here are some of my first shots taken outside with the lens:

Original crop here, no resize. The details are amazing. As you can see from the 70mm shot below, this 300mm is quite the amazing zoom capability. You can actually make out individual people in the space needle. Just amazing.

Resized to 50% of original. This was during an evening sunset in Seattle. The color representation is just amazing with this lens.

Here is the lens at widest length. Again another 50% resize. The difference between 70 and 300 is quite amazing and really allows for a lot of composition options.

A couple of comments. First, in my research some of the negative comments addressed the lack of a tripod ring. I used this lens with a Gitzo tripod and a Really Right Stuff medium size ball head, and it had no issues at all holding up the camera/lens combination with the camera mounted on the tripod. So I don't think this will be an issue for me.

The other issue I read about was the zoom ring and focus ring seemed 'swapped' on this lens, with the zoom ring on the end. I do find this to be a minor issue. I have found myself grabbing the focus ring while trying to zoom out of habit. I may get over this (it's better than when I first got it), but it's by no means a deal breaker and just a minor annoyance.

Everything else about this lens is amazing. I can't wait to get out and use this lens as much as I can!

Brian Wadie
Brian Wadie Forum Pro • Posts: 10,290
welcome to the club! :)

Its magic isn't it.

I've had mine for about 14 months now and still rate it as probably my favourite L lens (of many). Works even better on my 5Dmk2 than it does on my 60D.

Have fun finding its limits

 Brian Wadie's gear list:Brian Wadie's gear list
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Frank Phillips
Frank Phillips Senior Member • Posts: 1,186
Totally Agree about 70-300L

I quite agree.

I also traded in ("up") my 70-200/f4L IS for the 70-300L. Before selling my 70-200 I set up some test shots to compare (I even tested it against my 135/2L...), and after running them all through DxO (I use a 5DMkII) I found that the color and contrast on the 70-300L is equal to or better than the 70-200 at all lengths, and the sharpness of the 70-300L suffers only a minor bit compared to the 70-200.

I also noticed that at 200mm the max aperture on the 70-300L is only 4.5, so the "cost" at 200mm is only a half stop. So for a little bit of softness and a half stop of speed at 200mm, I believe it was a good upgrade to get the extra 100mm on the long end.

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bronxbombers Forum Pro • Posts: 18,226
Re: My thoughts on my newly purchased 70-300 4/5.6 USM IS L Lens

17-55 2.8 +70-300L quite a pairing!

i sold my 70-200 f/4 IS and moved to the 70-300L

HAbba Contributing Member • Posts: 528
Re: My thoughts on my newly purchased 70-300 4/5.6 USM IS L Lens

Me too, my combo at the moment is 550D + 17-55 and 70-300L. This is after a long roadmap of various lens combinations (24-105, 70-200 F4 IS and F2.8 IS, 100-400).

Hassan

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john1900 Regular Member • Posts: 312
Re: My thoughts on my newly purchased 70-300 4/5.6 USM IS L Lens

rattlhed wrote:

I purchased a Canon 60D around Christmas time, and I've been using the 17-55 2.8 IS lens for many years (on my 30D before the upgrade). I decided it was time to purchase a tele lens to broaden the focal length of my photography. I spend almost 2 weeks researching the lens options out there. I ended up narrowing it down to the 70-200 F4 IS L vs. the 70-300 F4/5.6 IS L. Once down to these final 2 lenses it was a very tough decision, but I decided to go with the longer zoom and sacrifice a bit of aperture speed. I do mostly outdoors/landscape photography and use a tripod a lot of the time, therefore I thought this lens would be a good choice.

I think I made a great decision. This lens is awesome in every way. The build is amazing. It's like a tank on my camera. Solid build, extremely smooth operation, and takes WONDERFUL pictures. When I first got it, I did a range of ISO tests with a standard ISO chart. The only place I could see this lens suffering with less than sharp shots is at 300mm at 5.6, step it down a bit and it definitely improves. But the real test is real world photography. Here are some of my first shots taken outside with the lens:

Original crop here, no resize. The details are amazing. As you can see from the 70mm shot below, this 300mm is quite the amazing zoom capability. You can actually make out individual people in the space needle. Just amazing.

Resized to 50% of original. This was during an evening sunset in Seattle. The color representation is just amazing with this lens.

Here is the lens at widest length. Again another 50% resize. The difference between 70 and 300 is quite amazing and really allows for a lot of composition options.

A couple of comments. First, in my research some of the negative comments addressed the lack of a tripod ring. I used this lens with a Gitzo tripod and a Really Right Stuff medium size ball head, and it had no issues at all holding up the camera/lens combination with the camera mounted on the tripod. So I don't think this will be an issue for me.

The other issue I read about was the zoom ring and focus ring seemed 'swapped' on this lens, with the zoom ring on the end. I do find this to be a minor issue. I have found myself grabbing the focus ring while trying to zoom out of habit. I may get over this (it's better than when I first got it), but it's by no means a deal breaker and just a minor annoyance.

Everything else about this lens is amazing. I can't wait to get out and use this lens as much as I can!

I don't think that IQ is much better than the 70-300mm NON L. I guess you pay for the build quality, that's all. Many people have been disappointed about this lens IQ not being L quality. And, is super heavy.
--
Canon Person.

Brian Wadie
Brian Wadie Forum Pro • Posts: 10,290
Re: My thoughts on my newly purchased 70-300 4/5.6 USM IS L Lens

I don't think that IQ is much better than the 70-300mm NON L. I guess you pay for the build quality, that's all. Many people have been disappointed about this lens IQ not being L quality. And, is super heavy.
--
Canon Person.

Care to share any of the threads relating to this? (its not the reaction of those of us who actually own and use the lens)

 Brian Wadie's gear list:Brian Wadie's gear list
Sony RX10 IV Olympus E-M1 II Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 50-200mm 1:2.8-3.5 SWD Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 Pro Olympus 12-100mm F4.0 +1 more
Christopher D Mann Contributing Member • Posts: 534
Re: My thoughts on my newly purchased 70-300 4/5.6 USM IS L Lens

Very good choice. I also own the lens and I like it so much that I sold my 70-200 f/4 L IS and used it towards the purchase of my new 5D III camera and the pair is perfect. I use the lens for everything including portrait work. I set AV to 4.5 and from 70-135 mm it is perfect. This is going to be one of Canons great lenses and don't let anyone tell you differently. Enjoy it.

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Canon EOS 5DS R Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD Canon EF 24-105mm F4L IS II USM Nik Silver Efex Pro
happysnapper62
happysnapper62 Contributing Member • Posts: 950
Re: My thoughts on my newly purchased 70-300 4/5.6 USM IS L Lens

I dont have the Canon lens, but just bought a poor mans version? the Tamron 70-300 VR. Its my first long zoom, although I do have the 55-250IS, I was told it wont take TC's, so I got the Tamron which will, & I love it, so can relate to your obvious exitement at using it. Great pics. I love the rather ghostly silhouette of the mountains in No 3. Have fun & enjoy. lee uk

fwampler Senior Member • Posts: 1,782
Re: My thoughts on my newly purchased 70-300 4/5.6 USM IS L Lens

That's my understanding as well.

john1900 wrote:

rattlhed wrote:

I purchased a Canon 60D around Christmas time, and I've been using the 17-55 2.8 IS lens for many years (on my 30D before the upgrade). I decided it was time to purchase a tele lens to broaden the focal length of my photography. I spend almost 2 weeks researching the lens options out there. I ended up narrowing it down to the 70-200 F4 IS L vs. the 70-300 F4/5.6 IS L. Once down to these final 2 lenses it was a very tough decision, but I decided to go with the longer zoom and sacrifice a bit of aperture speed. I do mostly outdoors/landscape photography and use a tripod a lot of the time, therefore I thought this lens would be a good choice.

I think I made a great decision. This lens is awesome in every way. The build is amazing. It's like a tank on my camera. Solid build, extremely smooth operation, and takes WONDERFUL pictures. When I first got it, I did a range of ISO tests with a standard ISO chart. The only place I could see this lens suffering with less than sharp shots is at 300mm at 5.6, step it down a bit and it definitely improves. But the real test is real world photography. Here are some of my first shots taken outside with the lens:

Original crop here, no resize. The details are amazing. As you can see from the 70mm shot below, this 300mm is quite the amazing zoom capability. You can actually make out individual people in the space needle. Just amazing.

Resized to 50% of original. This was during an evening sunset in Seattle. The color representation is just amazing with this lens.

Here is the lens at widest length. Again another 50% resize. The difference between 70 and 300 is quite amazing and really allows for a lot of composition options.

A couple of comments. First, in my research some of the negative comments addressed the lack of a tripod ring. I used this lens with a Gitzo tripod and a Really Right Stuff medium size ball head, and it had no issues at all holding up the camera/lens combination with the camera mounted on the tripod. So I don't think this will be an issue for me.

The other issue I read about was the zoom ring and focus ring seemed 'swapped' on this lens, with the zoom ring on the end. I do find this to be a minor issue. I have found myself grabbing the focus ring while trying to zoom out of habit. I may get over this (it's better than when I first got it), but it's by no means a deal breaker and just a minor annoyance.

Everything else about this lens is amazing. I can't wait to get out and use this lens as much as I can!

I don't think that IQ is much better than the 70-300mm NON L. I guess you pay for the build quality, that's all. Many people have been disappointed about this lens IQ not being L quality. And, is super heavy.
--
Canon Person.

-- hide signature --

Fred

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crazybadger Senior Member • Posts: 1,394
Re: My thoughts on my newly purchased 70-300 4/5.6 USM IS L Lens

It isn't the reaction of most of the professional reviews either.

While I respect that people can have different opinions about how "much better" one lens is over another (what is a small difference to you may be a big difference to someone else and visa versa), to claim that "many people have been dissappointed" and "IQ not being L quality" is just not supported by the reviews on this forum. If you want to make highy questionable statements like that and be taken seriously I would suugest you back them up with some sort of proof (or at least first hand experience), otherwise your comments just start to fall into the "boky" category of uninformed forum noise.

I still own a "good" copy of the older 70-300 non-L and really liked the lens. Even though it was relegated to the back of the draw after I purchased the 100-400, I still used it occassionally when I wanted to travel light. But I have been nothing but impressed by the new L version. If actual users (not fourm "experts" who have never used the lens) are giving up their canon 70-200 f4 IS lenses (a VERY highly regarded lens in its own right) for the new 70-300L then I think that speaks volumes.

Cheers Mike

PS...I know most people are not claiming the 70-300L is "better" than the 70-200 F4 IS, just that the differences seem to be small enough that for many the extra reach outweighs any minor loss in IQ.

Brian Wadie wrote:

I don't think that IQ is much better than the 70-300mm NON L. I guess you pay for the build quality, that's all. Many people have been disappointed about this lens IQ not being L quality. And, is super heavy.
--
Canon Person.

Care to share any of the threads relating to this? (its not the reaction of those of us who actually own and use the lens)

 crazybadger's gear list:crazybadger's gear list
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Graham Meale
Graham Meale Veteran Member • Posts: 3,105
Re: My thoughts on my newly purchased 70-300 4/5.6 USM IS L Lens

The non-L is excellent value for money, and if I remember correctly is the only non-L lens with a UD element. It's a very decent lens, its main weakness being in the corners where it can be a bit soft and lacking in contrast. There's no doubt in my mind that the L is better, the sharpest lens I've ever used.
--
http://www.grahammeale.info

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bronxbombers Forum Pro • Posts: 18,226
Re: My thoughts on my newly purchased 70-300 4/5.6 USM IS L Lens

john1900 wrote:

I don't think that IQ is much better than the 70-300mm NON L. I guess you pay for the build quality, that's all. Many people have been disappointed about this lens IQ not being L quality. And, is super heavy.
--
Canon Person.

what many?

It's absolutely L quality. It is noticeably sharper at 70mm than my 70-200 f/4 IS, similar at 100mm, only a little less sharp at 165mm, a tiny bit sharper at 200mm, gratned definitely less sharp at 135mm and in the middle range, much sharper than the other with a TC 201-280mm.

Kevin Jorgensen Contributing Member • Posts: 745
Re: My thoughts on my newly purchased 70-300 4/5.6 USM IS L Lens

' It is noticeably sharper at 70mm than my 70-200 f/4 IS, similar at 100mm, only a little less sharp at 165mm, a tiny bit sharper at 200mm, gratned definitely less sharp at 135mm and in the middle range, much sharper than the other with a TC 201-280mm.'

I wish I had your eyes!

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michi098 Contributing Member • Posts: 555
Re: My thoughts on my newly purchased 70-300 4/5.6 USM IS L Lens

I'm jealous. I had the non IS 70-200L f4 lens and upgraded to the 70-300L as soon as it came out. The lens I got was horrible. Worse than the 70-200L f4, strong vignetting, bad sharpness in the corners and awful chromatic aberration. I sent it back two days later. It sounds like I had a bad copy. I then bought the 70-200L IS f4 and enjoy it, but wish the 70-300L would have worked out. At this point I think I will just save up for the 70-200L IS 2.8 II someday.

Brian Wadie
Brian Wadie Forum Pro • Posts: 10,290
Re: My thoughts on my newly purchased 70-300 4/5.6 USM IS L Lens

michi098 wrote:

The lens I got was horrible. Worse than the 70-200L f4, strong vignetting, bad sharpness in the corners and awful chromatic aberration. I sent it back two days later. It sounds like I had a bad copy.

Yep, that was a bad copy. (I'm interested in why you didn't try for a good copy? )

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Sony RX10 IV Olympus E-M1 II Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 50-200mm 1:2.8-3.5 SWD Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 Pro Olympus 12-100mm F4.0 +1 more
DBCossini
DBCossini Regular Member • Posts: 455
Re: My thoughts on my newly purchased 70-300 4/5.6 USM IS L Lens

Brian Wadie wrote:

I don't think that IQ is much better than the 70-300mm NON L. I guess you pay for the build quality, that's all. Many people have been disappointed about this lens IQ not being L quality. And, is super heavy.
--
Canon Person.

Care to share any of the threads relating to this? (its not the reaction of those of us who actually own and use the lens)

Popular Photography for one! Quote: "This lens gives high-end Canon shooters a stabilized telezoom that’s physically less burdensome than the 100–400mm and financially less so than the about-to-be-replaced 70–200mm f/2.8L IS. It’s also significantly superior by most optical standards. If you don’t need its rugged L-series build, though, stick with Canon’s current non-L 70–300mm f/4–5.6 IS, which is slightly sharper (at 300mm) and has slightly better close-up magnification (1:4.1 at 300mm).
March 29, 2011

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DBCossini
DBCossini Regular Member • Posts: 455
Re: My thoughts on my newly purchased 70-300 4/5.6 USM IS L Lens

Brian Wadie wrote:

I don't think that IQ is much better than the 70-300mm NON L. I guess you pay for the build quality, that's all. Many people have been disappointed about this lens IQ not being L quality. And, is super heavy.

-- hide signature --

show signature --

Care to share any of the threads relating to this? (its not the reaction of those of us who actually own and use the lens)

Popular Photography for one! Quote: "This lens gives high-end Canon shooters a stabilized telezoom that’s physically less burdensome than the 100–400mm and financially less so than the about-to-be-replaced 70–200mm f/2.8L IS. It’s also significantly superior by most optical standards. If you don’t need its rugged L-series build, though, stick with Canon’s current non-L 70–300mm f/4–5.6 IS, which is slightly sharper (at 300mm) and has slightly better close-up magnification (1:4.1 at 300mm).
March 29, 2011

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michi098 Contributing Member • Posts: 555
Re: My thoughts on my newly purchased 70-300 4/5.6 USM IS L Lens

Brian Wadie wrote:

michi098 wrote:

The lens I got was horrible. Worse than the 70-200L f4, strong vignetting, bad sharpness in the corners and awful chromatic aberration. I sent it back two days later. It sounds like I had a bad copy.

Yep, that was a bad copy. (I'm interested in why you didn't try for a good copy? )

I was one of the first ones to have it, and there wasn't much in reviews and such, so I figured the lens was a dud, and gave up on it. I learned my lesson, and will always wait at least a few months to purchase after a lens or camera is released.

bronxbombers Forum Pro • Posts: 18,226
Re: My thoughts on my newly purchased 70-300 4/5.6 USM IS L Lens

Kevin Jorgensen wrote:

' It is noticeably sharper at 70mm than my 70-200 f/4 IS, similar at 100mm, only a little less sharp at 165mm, a tiny bit sharper at 200mm, gratned definitely less sharp at 135mm and in the middle range, much sharper than the other with a TC 201-280mm.'

I wish I had your eyes!

I did a very careful test and compared images at 100%.

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