Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM

The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM was introduced in October 2005 to replaced the old Canon 75-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM.

Although superficially, this lens looks very similar to the 75-300mm that it replaced, optically and functionally, this is a totally new lens, completely surpasses the old lens that it replaced. The build quality is similar to the old 75-300mm, in line with other Canon consumer lenses. It still uses a micro-USM focus motor rather than ring-USM, so full time manual focusing(FTM) is still not possible. However, the focusing speed is noticeable faster than the old 75-300mm, although still not as fast as other Canon zoom lenses with ring-USM. This lens has also been updated with the latest 3rd generation IS (image stabilizer), which can compensate for up to 3 stops of light. It also has a 2 position switch which allow the IS to compensate for movement in 1 plane or 2 planes, which is useful for shooting panning shots.

The optical construction of this lens is totally new with a UD(ultra-low dispersion) element. Thanks to this new optical design, the optical quality of this lens is light-years ahead of the old 75-300mm. Unlike most other zoom lens with this range, it is sharp with good resolution up to 300mm. Most of the other zooms with this range are soft at telephoto end.

The advantage of this lens is that it is fairly light. Combined with a good zoom range and good optical quality. This makes it a very good travel or hiking lens. I bought this lens in December 2006 and has become my default travel telephoto zoom because of these reasons. Of course when weight is not a problem, I would still prefer to use the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM, which is a faster lens with larger constant maximum aperture and lightning fast ring-USM focusing speed.

The following are some sample shots I have made with this lens.


9 thoughts on “Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM

  1. Pingback: Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM « The World According to Roland

  2. Pingback: Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM « The World According to Roland

  3. great minds think alike. i tried the f2.8 IS but was way too heavy. opted for the f4 IS when it came out but starting to find that too is heavy for travelling. tempted to explore this lighter option – besides, when travelling 300mm is far more useful for me. only issue is weddings demand the f2.8 or f4 for sharpness.

  4. I have the Sigma 70-300mm lens with the macro abilitly.
    I was just wondering what the difference is between this lens and mine?
    What does USM stand for??

  5. Hi Katie,

    Superficially, your Sigma AF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 APO DG macro looks very similar to the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM.
    However, underneath, they are actually quite different.

    For one thing, the Canon lens has optical image stabilizer, which is extremely useful for shooting at the tele end of the lens while hand-holding. Without image stabilizer, you will either have to use the Sigma under very good light or with a tripod or monopod when shooting at the tele end of the lens.

    The optical quality of the Sigma, especially at the tele end (from 200 to 300mm) cannot be compared to the Canon. The Canon lens has very good to excellent resolution throughout the whole zoom range, but the Sigma resolution decreases from 200mm and is quite soft at 300mm.

    The Canon lens also has very low chromatic aberrations throughout the whole zoom range, whereas the Sigma has quite significant chromatic aberrations at the tele end.

    However, the Sigma does have the advantage of being significantly cheaper than the Canon and also has moderate macro ability.

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