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Valued Contributor
Posts: 456
Registered: ‎10-18-2016

Non-L 70-300 Canon Lenses

[ Edited ]

I have quite a lot of gear, including quite a few L series lenses, but I am also interested in the non-professional units as there are a lot of people who cannot or choose not invest in such expensive units.  I have had for some time the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens, a unit released in 2005 that has caused some controversy amongst users as they apparently have had mixed results with it.   Personally I have liked the images taken with it, but it had some annoying traits, like the noisy autofocus and IS, and the way the lens would stick out of its fully retracted condition at random times.  Still in its price point and time it was a valid update from the standard kit zoom of 55-250.

 

NZ Auckland Mission Bay Seagull 01.jpg

This image was taken on the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM with a Canon 60D: 300mm, f9, 1/400sec ISO 500

 

So recently I acquired the EF 70-300 F4.0-5.6 IS II USM and had the following impressions of this newer piece of kit.

 

1.  It has had a major cosmetic upgrade.  Gone the busy and lumpy control layout and in with a sleek smooth matt plastic shape that is bigger in diameter than the MkI - the old unit had a 58mm filter ring while the new one is at 67mm. The weight has been kept under control 710g from 630g is not too bad considering the changes "under the hood".

 

The buttons are now recessed more and it now sports a LCD display that offers DoF indicators for the currently selected focal length, or (press a button) the FoV of the lens - which seems surpurfluous considering lens focal length is printed on the focusing ring about 1 cm above.  For those using an ASP-C body it DOES give the equivalent FoV values automatically. Finally after another press it gives you the degree of shake expeirienced by the lens.   PERSONALLY I have little use for any of these so I would tend to leave the display off, but that's a personal choice.

 

2. The body is still not weather sealed but the rear element, located flush with the metal plate at the rear of the lens, is fixed in place, so it may offer some resistance to bellows effect.  The lens still extends and retracts like the old one, but I have had no experience of it locking up in akward places as before.

 

3. The autofocus is blazingly fast thanks to the Nano USM motor that combines best of STM and ring-type USM - I can see this appearing in more lenses.  I did not find it was hunting as the MkI did on a few occasions.  This is an amazing performer in this area.

 

4. IS offers 4 stops compared to the claimed 3 of the MkI and it seems to hold onto that.  Which is just as well as my research and own experience indicates that the variable aperture of this lens loses its wider capacity signficantly faster as one increases the focal length than the earlier model- essentially it is a slower lens across much of the zoom range.  From what I have read this is seen as a result of the more complex optical construct of the lens. 

 

Being almost silent it is likely a much more suitable candidate for video than the previous one that sounded like a tinker's cart in comparison!  Still if you don't do video (as I don't) that is less of an issue unless you are concerned about disturbing your subjects - say at a wedding...

 

5 In terms of distortion, vignetting etc.  I found both the lenses performed reasonably well in both areas - the focal range of telezoom is much less challenging than one going from wide to tele, such as the 24-105 or the 18-135.  I had no difficulty in letting the PP software do its magic to make the appropriate corrections.

 

6. Performance on FF vs APS-C.  This was interesting to me...  I tried both the units on a canon 700D (T5i Rebel), a 60D, 80D, 7DII and 5DIII.   I found the latter three units seemed to render similarly good results, especially considering they are two crop and a FF body respectively.  I was less enamoured with the Rebel and OK with the 60D.  I will hazard no inference here simply report my own experience and perception.

 

Neither of these units could or should be compared to the fabulous Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM.  This is one of my favourite lenses: relatively light, small form factor, incredibly sharp and responsive - but about 3 times the price of the new EF 70-300 F4.0-5.6 IS II USM, so I see these as aimed at completley different markets and one has to consider that when judging them.   Being an EF rather than EF-S lens, the  EF 70-300 F4.0-5.6 IS II USM is worth considering as a great upgrade lens for those leaving the standard kits lenses and considering one day moving up to a FF body and who need the extra reach of the 70-300mm rather than one of the 70-200 EF models.

 

Some photos take with the new lens: all were hand-held, using available light.

 

Flower 3-1.jpg

5DMkIII, 200mm, f9, 1/500sec, ISO 200

 

7D2_2274-1.jpg

Canon 7DMkII, 135mm, f9, 1/250sec, ISO 800

 

5D3_5675-1.jpg

Canon 5DMkIII, 300mm, f7.1, 1/400sec, ISO 200

"All the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris
VIP
Posts: 8,168
Registered: ‎08-13-2015

Re: Non-L 70-300 Canon Lenses

Sounds and looks like both the original 70-300mm and the update can hold their ground.

EOS 7D Mark II, EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM: 1/1600, f/5.6, ISO 320, @400mm

 

2320540014832018_12_011002177.jpg

 

I like to practice with gulls, too.

 

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"I don't rent software. I use Photoshop CS6, ACR 9.8 and Lightroom 6.8 ."
VIP
Posts: 11,199
Registered: ‎12-07-2012

Re: Non-L 70-300 Canon Lenses

Very nice report.  Exactly what I like to do although I am winding down now.

One thing I found out is even the same model lens can be different form another same model.  I bought three Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM lenses before I got the third one which is outstanding. The first two were disappointing to say the least.  There have been several other lenses where I have had multiple copies. Some showing the same experience some not.

I, personally, have never owned, nor would I own one, of the non-L 70-300mm but I have been familiarized with many of them in my DSLR 101 classes. A lot of Rebel owners have one.  My daughter-in-law has one. You obviously got a good one or you are very good with PS.

 

"...the rear element, located flush with the metal plate at the rear of the lens, is fixed in place, so it may offer some resistance to bellows effect."

 

I very much doubt it.  If it zooms, it sucks.  Otherwise it couldn't zoom.

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV, even less and less other stuff.
Valued Contributor
Posts: 456
Registered: ‎10-18-2016

Re: Non-L 70-300 Canon Lenses


@ebiggs1 wrote:

Very nice report.  Exactly what I like to do although I am winding down now.

One thing I found out is even the same model lens can be different form another same model.  I bought three Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM lenses before I got the third one which is outstanding. The first two were disappointing to say the least.  There have been several other lenses where I have had multiple copies. Some showing the same experience some not.

I, personally, have never owned, nor would I own one, of the non-L 70-300mm but I have been familiarized with many of them in my DSLR 101 classes. A lot of Rebel owners have one.  My daughter-in-law has one. You obviously got a good one or you are very good with PS.

 

"...the rear element, located flush with the metal plate at the rear of the lens, is fixed in place, so it may offer some resistance to bellows effect."

 

I very much doubt it.  If it zooms, it sucks.  Otherwise it couldn't zoom.


A very Merry Christmas to you and all other Canon Forum users!!! Smiley Very Happy

Thank you for your comments.  I totally agree with you about the variation in quality between individual lenses.  I am not sure if this occurs during production or delivery - we recently had two couriers over here caught tossing parcels, including items clearly marked Fragile between two trucks.   My one seems to be particularly good, and I am certainly not good at PS! Smiley Embarassed  I wish I was...

 

I agree that an extending lens will have through draft, but I am hoping that the fixed back element will help to protect the camera sensor from stuff channeled from the lens itself.  We shall live in hope...  

"All the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris
Highlighted
VIP
Posts: 11,199
Registered: ‎12-07-2012

Re: Non-L 70-300 Canon Lenses

And a very merry Christmas to you and yours also.  Smiley Happy

 

What would be so cool if you give a progress report in 6 months or so. How's it holding up and so forth. Still good IQ.  You will have at least one interested reader!

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV, even less and less other stuff.
Valued Contributor
Posts: 456
Registered: ‎10-18-2016

Re: Non-L 70-300 Canon Lenses

[ Edited ]

One of the great tests of a lens is to see how much you can crop one of its images and still get something decent.  So I took the 70-300MkII out to the Tiritiri Open Sanctuary and along the way took this shot of a juvenile Tui:

 

IMG_4281 LR.jpg

 

So after a bit of cropping I got this:

IMG_4281-a.jpg

 

Gory details:  Canon 80D, 300mm, f8, 1/50 sec, ISO 1600

"All the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris
Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 3,340
Registered: ‎02-17-2016

Re: Non-L 70-300 Canon Lenses

Stop that! You will give me GAS!

8^)

Valued Contributor
Posts: 456
Registered: ‎10-18-2016

Re: Non-L 70-300 Canon Lenses


@kvbarkley wrote:

Stop that! You will give me GAS!

8^)


I think you can get pills for that! Smiley Very Happy

"All the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris
VIP
Posts: 11,199
Registered: ‎12-07-2012

Re: Non-L 70-300 Canon Lenses

"Gory details:  Canon 80D, 300mm, f8, 1/50 sec, ISO 1600'

 

...and you consider this a success or failure?

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV, even less and less other stuff.
Valued Contributor
Posts: 456
Registered: ‎10-18-2016

Re: Non-L 70-300 Canon Lenses

[ Edited ]

@ebiggs1 wrote:

"Gory details:  Canon 80D, 300mm, f8, 1/50 sec, ISO 1600'

 

...and you consider this a success or failure?


Such things are in the eye of the beholder... But given the photo was taken hand-held in dim light (they are forest birds), the slow shutter speed and the small size of the original, I think the lens performed well.

 

What do YOU think? Smiley Wink

"All the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris
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