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My First Impressions of the New Canon EF 70-300 f/4-5.6L IS

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

During my recent excursion to Palm Springs, I had an opportunity to play with the new Canon EF 70-300 f/4-5.6L IS lens which was first announced back in August of last year.  I had Canon send my an example of this lens though my membership in Canon Professional Services – a nice perk of the program.  After having spent 10 days with the lens, I think I can safely say I saved myself $1600.00

I originally had my eye on this lens because of it’s size – the form factor makes a much more attractive option to bring along on a travel assignment than my EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM.  It’s a very long, very heavy lens, and just doesn’t fit well in my Lowepro Slingshot 102 AW which is my preferred bag for travel.  My problem with the new EF 70-300 f/4-5.6L IS lens is that it’s darn near as heavy as my EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM.  My normal load out for my Slingshot 102 AW is the camera body, my EF 17-40mm f/4L and my EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS.  And I’ve usually got room to bring along a 2nd camera body, and a flash.  So while I could fit the new EF 70-300 f/4-5.6L IS in my camera bag, it would add an uncomfortable amount of weight for my preferences.  The cost in both weight and dollars is simply too high for what little I would use it.

When I travel, I find myself rarely needing more zoom that what my EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS – we’re talking less than 10% of the time.  I usually tend to shoot wide, landscape photos when i travel, “we were there” type portraits.  If I’m in a situation where I REALLY think zoom will be important, I can use my Lowepro Slingshot 300 AW and bring along my EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM.  That makes for a long day carrying that much weight, so I don’t do it often – but the capability is there.  And using my Canon 1.4x Extender, I can get essentially the same range with my current EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM as I can with the new EF 70-300 f/4-5.6L IS lens.

Certainly the new EF 70-300 f/4-5.6L IS lens is an excellent lens with fantastic image quality – let me point you to a nice review of the lens over on Canon Rumors.  For my purposes, I think a much better choice would be one of Canon’s non-L series zooms, of which there are several to choose from.  There’s the ultra-compact EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DO IS USM at $1399.00, or the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM at just $649.99 (a good friend of mine owns this lens and swears by it).  There’s also the dirt cheap Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III at just $199.00, or the EF 100-300mm f/4.5-5.6 USM at just $470.00.  I think I’ll put a call in to Canon CPS and get several of these lenses to evaluate.

About John B. Holbrook, II
John B. Holbrook, II is a freelance writer, photographer, and author of ThruMyLens.org, as well as LuxuryTyme.com and TheSeamasterReferencePage.com. *All text and images contained in this web site are the original work of the author, John B. Holbrook, II and are copyright protected. Use of any of the information or images without the permission of the author is prohibited.

  1. Karl Josker says:

    Your first impressions I find valid and on the mark. There are some that might have looked in expecting an in-depth review, however there has been no misrepresentation here, they are your first impressions. Thank you.

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