Canon 70-300 USM IS.

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by 840quadra, Dec 18, 2006.

  1. 840quadra Moderator

    840quadra

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    #1
    I am looking into a 70 - 300 IS USM lens for doing multiple types of photography, but am not sure of the quality of this lens after long term use.

    I am pleased to read this review, and many others with regards to this lens, but I am wondering if anyone here has had experience with this lens. I want to avoid the non IS 70 - 300mm version as it has terrible reviews with regards to soft images, slow and loud (for USM) focus, and bad vignetting .

    Has anyone here had any experience with this lens, and those that have, would you recommend looking at something else ?
     
  2. Mantat macrumors 6502a

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    #2
    for what are you doign to use it for?

    I am a Cannon snob who only uses L lens so I would first say that IQ isnt good...

    But it would be more productive to say that not knowing what other lens you have, its hard for us to comment. If its your first lens and dont want to buy many lens, its a OK lens. Not great but at the same time, you cover a lot of mm with the same lens. I see a lot of people with these since they are so compact and affordable but I think it is better to have a 70-200 (f4 or f2.8 from SIGMA) than the 70-300 (unless you manage to shoot a lot on the longer range) because of the improved aperture and IQ.

    BUT it is important to know that:
    - the lens is slow (focus, zooming, aperture)
    - it is not internal focusing, which is very anoying
    - too short to shoot birds in most situations
    - only good for sport if there is a lot of light
    - IS isnt usefull for sport

    My current lens line up is:
    - 17-40L f4
    - 50 1.8
    - 70-200L 2.8
    - 400L 5.6

    you should try to think about a set and not about a specific lens. If you have a specific need that requires a special lens, get a prime, not a zoom. Primes are much cheaper :)confused: ) and so much better than zoom that they should always be considered first. Also, restricting your lens to small range ro mm, allow you to build a set of good quality glass insted of a few crappy ones that cover all the ranges.

    So all this to say that tell us what is your long term budget and use for these and we will be better able to help you out picking the right lens for your need and wallet.
     
  3. 840quadra thread starter Moderator

    840quadra

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    #3
    Snobs are fine and welcome :) .

    I am looking to use this as a primary lens for an upcoming media event, and future use as track-side photography. I am aware that the IS isn't intended for motorsports, however the two IS lenses I tried last year (with a friends 20D) actually did quite well for Motocross photography.

    I want this to be my goto lens for now, until I have decided exactly what primary lenses I will need for my camera (I don't really know yet). I intend to average the amount of zoom I normally use on this lens, and buy the appropriate primary that is closest to that average (most likely an L).

    If I end up needing to stay Zoom compatible, I will then invest in a L (or similar) series zoom lens that best fists my normal range. I am not going for the best at this point, just for better images than my previous Prosumer camera, which I believe this lens, accompanied by my 30d should deliver.
     
  4. sjl macrumors 6502

    sjl

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    #4
    Not confusing at all. Very easy to understand. A zoom lens requires a lot more work and effort to design; there are many more compromises inherent in both its design and its construction. In comparison, primes are much simpler, both to design, and to construct.

    If you want the flexibility of a zoom, you pay for it. If you're willing to live with a single focal length, you save a bit of money, and get a much better quality result in return. For things like studio work, primes make perfect sense.

    It's all about understanding how these things are designed and made, and what the inherent contradictions (and hence compromises) involve.
     
  5. Mantat macrumors 6502a

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    #5
    Hehe, I know about the complexity of zooms, the confusion emoticon had more to do with the fact thta even tho they are cheaper, they are still expensive. I just found it confusing to say that a 1500$ piece of glass was 'cheap'...

    You can also put in the prime perks:
    - faster focusing
    - shaper
    - 10x more resilient to damage

    Now to be back on the main topic: if you want this lens just to <learn> about your needs, then its a great lens! After a few months, you can do a query in Aperture to see the numbers of shots you took at various range and pick a prime.

    BUT, if you are going to buy your first, please do yourself a favor and get a 50mm 1.8! Its super cheap, is a great learning tool and make awesome pics!

    Also, think about saving some cash for a monopod and a ball head. They are a must when working at over 200mm
     
  6. 840quadra thread starter Moderator

    840quadra

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    #6
    Thanks for the advice!

    I have a monopod, tripod, hot shoe flash (canon brand), extra batteries, and many other useful items from my pro1 era. I am starting the migration from consumer to amateur, and just want to make some sound choices.

    I will also look into the lens you are referencing.
     
  7. xrays macrumors member

    xrays

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    #7
    I take it when you say 'motocross' you're talking about the indoor events, or will you be primarily shooting outdoors? If you're shooting inside, regardless of the event, you'll quickly find that the 70-300 is too slow to get decent shots of fast-moving actions - the lighting is good in stadiums, but not enough for a lens like that. However, outside, it should perform almost as well as a lens costing twice as much (in general).

    I shot an enduro race in the summer, almost exclusively with the Canon 70-200 f/2.8L, and I was very happy. I was able to keep the lens at 2.8 most of the time and shoot at 1/800sec, which is great for freezing dirt and wheels to capture the action. A slower lens would have put that around f/5.6 @ 1/250 on average, which is fine, but close to the minimum needed to keep lens shake away. Sure, I could have raised the ISO, but that defeats the purpose of having the right lens for the job!

    So, if your goal is frameable/saleable pictures of sporting events (motor sports anyway), you should seriously be looking at the 70-200 2.8 range of lenses (and you really won't need IS anyway, so save the money there). Now, that would assume you have access to the race grounds, and not sitting in the stands, where you really won't yield great pictures anyway. In fact, I found there were numerous times where I wanted to zoom out beyond 70mm while shooting because I was that close to the action!

    If you're looking for general fun activities (friend's softball games, go-carts, cottage pictures, etc.), then the 70-300 IS would be perfect, and a great way to learn about long-range zoom lenses before spending thousands on something more specific like the 300 f/4.

    x.
     
  8. davegoody macrumors 6502

    davegoody

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    #8
    Try out the 28-300 f4.5-5.6 IS L lens

    I have used the 28-300L for my Wedding business plus a multitude of sport and wildlife and found it to be superb for most uses (of course weddings are somewhat different to sport, unless the groom get's cold feet, most things move slowly so IS is useful here) - I hardly ever change the lens on my 20d as it covers the range brilliantly - good luck whatever you go for, any good camera shop should let you test the lens, or even consider hiring one for a day to get a real feel - that is what I did before I purchased my lens (it was nearly £1700 - around $3000 US so not a lens to be purchased "on impulse" !
     
  9. 840quadra thread starter Moderator

    840quadra

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    #9
    Thanks for the advice! Thanks for chiming in!

    This is actually AMA motocross, and all outdoor. For the record, Supercross (something I sometimes shoot) is primarily indoor, as well as arenacross. I also have full and 100% access to the tracks I shoot, as I am working for the promoter, and am also safety / first aid if the need arises.

    It sounds like I can afford to get a nicer quality lens, with a lower range if I shop around a bit, and will honestly look into this for my race season photography. I will also rethink the IS portion, however I am interested in that for doing media events such as auto shows, and such. The IS feature would come in real handy for shots like these I took last year.

    Thanks again to everyone for all the good suggestions.
     
  10. coldrain macrumors regular

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    #10
    Above a lot of un-facts about the 70-300 IS have been typed, especially by the "L-snob".

    The 70-300 IS is NOT less than a 70-200 f4L or Sigma 70-200 f2.8 (or Canon 70-200 f2.8) image quality wise. Also, it is NOT true that single focal point lenses are sharper, in fact it will be a very hard task to find a lens as sharp as this 70-300 IS.

    Thing is, this 70-300 IS has the same special compound glass elements as an "L" lens has. It is just built less bullet proof. With its IS (also without) it has NO competition anywhere near its price point, not from any manufacturer (including manufacturers that make lenses for other lens mounts like Nikon, Pentax, Sony/Minolta).

    Only down side I see in this lens is that its front element rotates. This means that with filters that you need to rotate for the desired result (like polarized light filters) this can be a bother. For the rest: this lens is amazing value without equal. It just offers amazing sharpness, very good colour and contrast... which puts it way above its consumer 70-300 class.
     
  11. Zeke macrumors 6502

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    #11
    Its a nice lens. Mode 2 IS allows for only IS in the vertical motion allowing for really nice motion panning shots. Works really well. Exceedingly sharp. Now that the portrait problem has been fixed it doesnt have any weaknesses that Ive noticed.

    P.S. Sorry for not having any apostrophes. For some reason every time I hit the apostrophe key it goes to the search button in Firefox right now. Really annoying.

    Edited to add: Be sure you avoid the 75-300 IS as it is not the same lens at all!
     
  12. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #12
    Would help if you told us the intended use of the lens. The only thing I see is that it is not a "fast" lens. f/4.0 - f/5.6 means that it will not be so good for low light or action photography. But for stuff that don't move fast or is in good light or within the range of your strobe...
     
  13. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #13
    From what you say above you'd be better off with the 200mm f/2.8 zoom. Thi sis the standard lens used for your application but is ti s not cheap. The IS stops camera shake but does not freeze subject motion nor does it give the shallow DOF that people like.
     
  14. Mantat macrumors 6502a

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    #14
    Sure... What about the 50mm1.4? 135mm? 400 5.6? All of these primes are insanely sharp. Expecting a zoom to be as sharp as a prime is wishfulthinking. Zooms have too many moving parts that need to be perfectly placed to give perfect focus while the prime has them all set by defaults to the right spot.

    You either got very bad copies of the 70-200s or you dont know what you are talking about! The F4 or 2.8 lens will always be able to go one of two stop wider than the 70-300 which allow you to divide the shutter speed by 2 or 4. This is a serious improvement in sharpness for anything that moves. I am not even talking about camera shake that can be compensated by the IS or a tripod.

    If you say that the 70-300 is as sharp WITH the IS, it means that you are shooting on 'long' exposure something that doesnt move and that is above 1-2 stop too dark (else the 2.8 or 4 would be able to get it right). I wonder what the subject can be...

    The 70-300IS might be a good value, but it is not a silver bullet.
     
  15. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

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    #15
    That's not entirely true. I'm very interested in the comparison between the 70-300 IS and the 70-200 f/4, because at $550 or so they are conceivable while $1000+ lenses aren't something I can really imagine on my income. At 70mm, both lenses are f/4. By 100mm, the 70-300 is f/4.5, and from 135-200 it's f/5.0. Only by 300mm is it f/5.6.

    So at 70mm it's the same.
    At 100mm it's 1/3 of stop slower.
    135-200 it's 2/3 of a stop slower.
    and at 300mm it's the same as the 70-200 is with a 1.4x extender (and 20mm longer).

    Of course, even 2/3 of a stop can make a big difference in sports photography. But IS can make a big difference in other applications. It's a definite trade off.
     
  16. Mantat macrumors 6502a

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    #16
    I did not have the chart on me for the progression of the aperture with the mm, but if you are right, it is actually quite good. But it is still far from the 2.8 which would still give more than a full stop of benefit. 1/3 of a stop is still 33% more, which can be a lot when you need to stop the action.

    Finaly, I am a big fan of simplicity, knowing that I can put my camera in AV mode, aperture at 2.8 and then play with the zoom to compose knowing that all the parameters will stay the same is a big plus. Even more so when dealing with subjects moving toward you.

    As far as I know, the 70-200f4 is very cheap in the US, like under 500-600$. You were probably looking at the F4IS.

    I think we can also add that sharpness isnt the only criterion when talking about lens image quality. There are others like the vignetting, color rendering, chromatic aberation, etc... And I am pretty sure the F4 is better in these fields since its a "pro" lens.

    Also, there is the "white lens factor" that you should take into account. Walking in the streets with a big white lens is a great way to attract attention. This is a double edged blade (attrack potential thief) but so far it allowed me to:
    - get a lot of free seats/access to photographer boots in shows
    - all the chicks come at you hoping to be on the cover of a magazine
    - the parents move their kids out of your way when you are in a zoo
    - free drink/food
    - anyone will freely pose for you since you look so "professional"
    would one chose to exploit the full benefit from this is his choice but so far, it has been pretty good to me! My next goal is to manage to have access to fashion shows or hockey games(nearly impossible!).
     
  17. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

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    #17
    Good points, which is part of why I can't figure which I'd prefer of these $550 or so lenses (and I haven't entirely looked through the 3rd party options yet). The dilemma continues of course. For $1100 or so, would you rather have the f/4 IS or the f/2.8? And for $1800 I'd much rather have a good start to a college fund than the f/2.8 IS... or I'd have to start making money with my camera.

    I'm a while away from my decision though.
     
  18. Mantat macrumors 6502a

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    #18
    Currently, I am debating the same thing: keep my 2.8 or trade it for a 4IS. I am about to go to Vietnam for a month of vacantion and the 2.8 is waaayyy too heavy. While the F4IS would be perfect. My only concern is that I would miss the 2.8 stop too much, its a must when shooting anything involving water since you can get super sharp dropplets of water in the air. And 2.8 is very good when you want to isolate the subject from the background.

    For a full body shot taken at 200mm (on a 1.6 crop), I personnaly find that f4 is the minimum aperture to get good isolation if the bg is at infinity. With 2.8 the bokeh is awesome, but you have to be carefull that the whole subject is in focus.

    IS is good, but only when it is needed. As I said, it is not a silver bullet. It will only help when shooting slow moving objects in low light, which isnt something I do a lot. If you cant freeze the action at around 1/125, the IS is useless at 300mm (the lens increase by 2 stops, right?).
     
  19. 840quadra thread starter Moderator

    840quadra

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    #19
    FYI I don't want IS for Motocross necessarily, I would like it more for Media event shots like the ones below.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The more I read on here, the more I think I will end up with the zoom lens that I started this thread with, however I have not ruled out the 70-200 non IS L series lens as a strong possibility. In addition to that, I eventually plan to add 2 primes, and a classic zoom to my collection.

    ::EDIT::

    Yes I see the L lens in the background with one of the photographers too :p .
     
  20. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

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    #20
    How about Tokina's 80-200 f/2.8? Also in the $500-600 range.
     
  21. Zeke macrumors 6502

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    #21
    Image quality isn't as good as the 70-300 IS (I've had both). The 70-300 is really a nice lens. Very comparable aperture to the f/4 in the range (1/2 stop difference) up to 200, plus it's got that extra 100mm of range. Then, add the fact that the IS is very nice on it and you've got a great package. The f/4L is a nice lens, but I don't think it's worth going that route over the range and IS of the 70-300 (I've had it too btw). Outside in the sun you're not going to have to worry that much about shutter speed. Inside, the f/4 isn't going to be good enough anyway and you'd need the IS (300mm at 1/50s is entirely possible and can be very sharp). Similar light inside with the 70-200 would be 1/100s (not enough) and even worse if you use a TC to get the 300mm (f/5.6 now). And then add that the 70-300 uses a circular aperture wide open (as opposed to aperture blades) and you get some really nice looking background blur. I think the IS is beneficial for what he wants as you can use mode 2 for motion panning which is what a lot of people like in this type of photography.

    Sorry, it's 2/3 stop, not half.
     
  22. coldrain macrumors regular

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    #22
    The 70-300 IS is actually sharper than most primes. If you find that hard to believe, that is your "problem". Tests do show this, measured on a Canon EOS 5D by the german photo magazine ColorFoto and the website photozone.de (tested on a 350D). Also, this 70-300 has NO vignetting issues (that is measured on a full frame...) and very good contrast results. So yes.... it really is that good. And the colour it produces is very "L" like too.

    Of course... it will not give you f2.8. That of course is true. But it does give you 200-300mm range, at f5.6. And it does give you IS. And that a 70-200 f2.8 will not do (i'm not talking about the Canon 70-200 f2.8 IS). And then you don't even consider the weight of a 70-200 f2.8. Not really a lens to lug around with you all day. So... all in all, the 70-300 IS is amazing value, its only drawback being its rotating front element.

    And yes... it IS really that sharp. Sharper than a 50mm f1.4.. sharper than a Canon 300mm f4! if you don't believe that, pick up a copy and try it out sometime.
    I have a 70-200 f4 L by the way. I do like to lug my camera around all the time so the f2.8 L was not really an option weight wise. Nice lens, and I do use a polarized light filter a lot... but I would like that 70-300 IS too. I may get one in future.
     
  23. Mantat macrumors 6502a

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    #23
    Btw, are you talking about the
    70-300mm f4.5-5.6 DO IS USM EF Lens
    or the
    70-300mm f4-5.6 IS USM EF Lens
    ?

    I can believe that the first one (that cost double the price of the second) can give good results with its DO elements, but for the other I still have serious doupts.
     
  24. Zeke macrumors 6502

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    #24
    The DO is actually not that great as it's designed to be inconspicuous. The non-DO is the one we're talking about.

     
  25. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

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    #25
    Looking more closely at these reviews:

    http://www.photozone.de/8Reviews/index.html

    I'm leaning more heavily towards the 70-300 IS. Not that numbers are everything. I'd like to feel the lenses and play around with them, read other reviews, look at pictures, etc. And also really think about how I take pictures. Right now I'm using a Tamron 80-210 f/4.5-6.3, so either would be a very nice improvement. I definitely think that my lens is too slow, so 2/3 of a stop does sound like a big deal to me at 200mm.

    But, according to photozone, it seems like the performance level is pretty similar in terms of resolution, distortion, and CAs from 70-200, with the advantage going to the 70-200 f/4 in almost every case but by a very small margin, and the 70-300 is better at 300 than the 70-200 is with a 1.4x extender (not to mention not having to pay $200 or so for the extender).
     

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