Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM Lens
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- EF Mount/Full Frame Format
- NANO USM Autofocus System
- One Ultra Low Dispersion Element
- Aperture Range f/4 to f/45
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- Product Dimensions : 14.48 x 14.48 x 14.48 cm; 709.87 Grams
- Date First Available : 15 September 2016
- Manufacturer : Canon
- ASIN : B01LXTX4WY
- Item model number : 0571C005
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16,054 in Electronics (See Top 100 in Electronics)
- 143 in Camcorder & Camera Lenses
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The EF70-300 IS II USM Lens Information Display shows focusing distance, focal length and shake amount.
EF 70–300mm f/4–5.6 IS II USM
Close in on the action with the EF 70–300mm f/4–5.6 IS II USM telephoto zoom lens. With a wide zoom range and fast, near-silent autofocus, it can be ideal for anyone looking to capture distant subjects. Equipped with NANO USM technology it quickly focuses so you're able to get the exact moment you want, as it happens. This technology also helps provide ultra-quiet operation while video recording to help ensure the only audio you hear is what you intended to keep.
While you're setting up that ideal shot, the new Lens Information Display provides a convenient way to check focal length, focus distance or depth of field with just a quick glance. If you find yourself without a tripod and unable to keep the camera perfectly steady, built-in Image Stabilization will help keep your images as clear as possible despite camera movement.
Inside, the EF 70–300mm f/4–5.6 IS II USM has an optimally-placed UD lens element which helps produce high-contrast and high-detail images while reducing chromatic aberrations. Combining a wide zoom range with fast autofocus and high-quality optics, the EF 70–300mm f/4–5.6 IS II USM is perfect for APS-C camera and full-frame camera photographers, or anyone looking to expand their lens options with a fast and powerful telephoto zoom lens.
- Focal Length & Maximum Aperture: 70–300mm f/4–5.6
- Lens Construction: 17 elements in 12 groups
- Diagonal Angle of View: 34°–8°15'
- Focus Adjustment: AF with full-time manual
- Closest Focusing Distance: 3.94 ft. / 1.2m
- Filter Size: 2.6 in. / 67mm diameter
- Max. Diameter x Length, Weight: Φ3.15 x 5.73 in., approx. 25.04 oz. / Φ80 x 145.5mm, approx. 710g
High-speed autofocus for shooting stills and smooth, near-silent autofocus when shooting video are achieved by incorporating NANO USM technology.
The EF 70–300mm f/4–5.6 IS II USM's NANO USM technology delivers quick, near-silent autofocus whether you're capturing an athlete jumping for a ball or recording wildlife in their natural habitat. For still images, it provides high-speed autofocus to help ensure you get the shot you want. When recording videos, the near-silent operation keeps unwanted noise out of your videos. For additional artistic control, manual focus is also possible even when the lens is set for autofocus. This means that when recording a video, for example, you can slowly pull in or out of focus for a dramatic effect.
Lens Information Display
New Lens Information Display shows focusing distance, focal length and shake amount.
The EF 70–300mm f/4–5.6 IS II USM features a new integral Lens Information Display for fast access to a wide variety of lens information. This lets you see the information you need at a glance, and then get right back to taking photos. The focusing distance display mode provides the distance the lens is focusing and an estimate of the depth of field, while the focal length display mode shows the 35mm-equivalent focal length. In shake amount display mode, the Lens Information Display gives an estimate of how much the lens and the camera are moving. To aid viewing in different lighting conditions, both black text on a light background or light text on a black background are selectable.
One UD Lens
One UD Lens helps reduce chromatic aberration and delivers outstanding high-resolution and high-contrast results.
With an all-new design, the EF 70–300mm f/4–5.6 IS II USM features 12 groups with 17 total elements, including an optimally positioned UD lens. UD, or Ultra Low Dispersion, helps correct chromatic aberrations (colored halos around objects) while reducing color blurring and keeping overall detail high. This helps the EF 70–300mm f/4–5.6 IS II USM produce sharp, high-contrast, richly colorful images throughout its zoom range.
Image Stabilizer effect at up to 4* stops of shake correction helps capture sharp images.
9 blade circulate aperture
Full-time manual focus
- Circular aperture (9 blades) helps deliver beautiful, soft backgrounds.
- Full-time manual focus allows manual focus adjustment while in AF Mode.
For consistently sharp results, the EF 70–300mm f/4–5.6 IS II USM features an improved Image Stabilizer system that provides significantly enhanced shake reduction for up to 4 stops* of shutter speeds. This means more reliable handheld performance and clearer detail in low-light situations or at lower ISOs. Because of its enhanced stabilization, the EF 70–300mm f/4–5.6 IS II USM can also help minimize the need for a tripod.
* Based on CIPA (Camera & Imaging Products Association) standards. Testing performed using the EOS-1D X digital SLR camera at a focal length of 300mm.
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As others have mentioned, this is not an "L" caliber lens from Canon ($1350.00) but a less expensive zoom with a more manageable weight. The new LCD information window is not useful to me as focal length is already printed less than an inch away on the lens body and depth of field may be better determined with the "preview" button or by looking at a test shot. I have not tested the focal responsiveness of the new nano focus feature but I will assume it is on a par with my 18-135 lens with the same engineering. Nano focus is used for continual fast auto focus, especially while shooting video. For stills, the auto focus is fast and responsive. My tests so far have been on my full frame Canon 5D Mk IV and even the corners appear sharp. See the red hibiscus image where the yellow stamin in the corner is sharp.
My 300mm f4 L series prime lens is slightly sharper with more contrast but it weighs more, can't zoom and costs significantly more. This zoom is a fine vacation lens where the weight reduction is greatly appreciated. The IS (rated at 4 stops) means the loss of light from a 5.6 lens can be somewhat compensated with a slower shutter speed (with a stable subject). The lens bokeh (out of focus background blur) is pleasant and useful to isolate the subject (see the image of the dove).
All of the attached sample images were hand held. I will further test the lens on a crop sensor Canon 80D and will report any changes here. On a crop sensor camera, this lens becomes a 112mm to 480mm zoom.
First the pros (So many!).
1. Good IQ – This lens has much better IQ than I was expecting. Most the time inexpensive telephotos don’t offer a lot of clarity, but this one does. At the low end, we have lenses like the EF 75-300mm F4-5.6 USM, or the EF-S 55-250mm F4-5.6 IS ii. Those are both lenses that likely came with your camera. The 70-300mm IS II kills both those lenses in image quality, as well as overall performance. It even features a single UD element, just like L lenses have, to increase sharpness and reduce aberrations. I will let the images do the rest of the talking here.
2. Nano-USM – There are only 2 lenses in the Canon line up that feature this amazing focusing system, this one and the 18-135mm. Canon claims it is fast for stills but silent like STM for video. I was skeptical, until I had both lenses to try. They deliver. I use this lens to shoot sports like baseball, and not one time did it fail to find focus where it wasn’t just user error. Very fast, I would say almost indistinguishable from my 70-200mm F2.8 for speed of AF. I don’t do a lot of video, but I tested this feature too. Could not pick up any noise while focusing, even when shifting from near objects to far. This is a great feature that Canon has created, and they really need to start adding it to other lenses. Keep in mind that the base models like the T6 or T7 do not support silent focus in video, so if that is your intent then it might be a better idea to invest in a better camera body first.
3. Good reach – 70-300mm is a pretty good reach for things like outdoor sports, as well as small wildlife (squirrels and bugs). Most the shots I take are between 100-200mm, so I rarely use the full reach, but it is nice to know it is there. I shoot typically with a 70-200mm F2.8, but when I go to places like the zoo it just can’t reach far enough and is also quite heavy. The 70-300mm not only gives me that reach, but is pretty lightweight. I would also add that if you want to use this as a nature lens for insects or even flowers, than invest in some extension tubes. The min focus distance of this lens is about 4ft (1.2m), which makes it tough to get close to the little things for those high detail shots. A set of tubes will help you cover that gap (I use the Kenko set). Also worth pointing out, if you put this on an APS-C/crop camera then it becomes a 112-480mm lens. That is pretty massive for a lens that doesn’t even cost 500 bucks!
4. Not too heavy – Speaking of the weight, for a long telephoto lens this one is not too heavy. I really like that, since after a few hours of carrying my 70-200mm it can make me want for something lighter. This is very appealing to those that will be carrying it all day long.
5. IS – On a longer lens like this image stabilization becomes more necessary. When shooting at 300mm, to avoid handshake issues you need to be shooting at 1/320 sec on a full frame camera, and 1/500 sec on a crop. This lens has 4 stop IS, so you can shoot as slow as 1/20 sec on a full frame, or 1/30 sec on a crop and still achieve sharp focus. This is a HUGE advantage for nature shooting, something this lens will be good at. However, for sports, this is not as useful. IS does nothing for a moving subject, you need to shoot at faster shutter speeds to do that. Most the time I was shooting at 1/500 sec. At those speeds IS not only is no longer needed, but also can be a hindrance due to the time it takes for the motor to kick in. If shooting sports or moving subjects at 1/500 sec or faster, you are best to turn IS off, lest you might miss a shot while the drive kicks in.
6. Digital focus window – This feature is an odd one, and while it isn’t entirely useful I am including it as a pro. There is a small digital display on the lens that has three separate modes (which are changed by the mode button on the side). One tells you how much the IS is compensating, which if looking into the viewfinder is useless since you can’t see it. In live view it is still mostly useless, maybe video shooters find it useful, but I doubt it. It also can display the focal length, which is nice if you use a crop camera as it actually displays the cropped FL. This is still not very useful though, as I would imagine that you are just going to zoom to what you need regardless of the exact FL. So why is it a pro? Well, because it also can display your focus distance, which is usually not a feature that is seen on lenses like this. It makes it so you can see that you are focused to infinity or at the min focus distance. This is very useful to people that are nature shooters, landscape shooters, and even macro shooters. I leave mine on this setting all the time. So while it might not be the most useful feature, it is nice that it has it.
7. Compatible with all EOS cameras – As an EF lens, this can be mounted on a full frame or an APS-C “crop” camera. To break this down, it can mount on the 1D, 6D, and 5D for full frame cameras. For crop cameras it will work on all the Rebel models, mid-range models like the 77D or 80D (or older), and the 7D. It can also be used on the mirrorless Canon models if you have the EF EOS M adaptor, which I strongly suggest getting if you are picking up an M50 or other mirrorless. (If bought with the camera it is 50 dollars, otherwise it is 200.) The EOS system is fully backwards compatible too, so even film cameras as old as the original ones released in 1987 can mount this lens.
8. Price – At the time I am writing this, the lens is available for 450 USD, though it typically is 550. At this price this lens is hard to pass up, especially if all you have is the lens that came with your camera. For full frame users (6D, 5D, 1D) it is one of the only telephoto options available for less than 1000 USD, and in my opinion is the best at that price point. For crop users, there is also the EF-S 55-250mm F4-5.5 IS STM, which I will be talking about later in the review. Keep in mind there is an older version of the 70-300mm, and the latest version corrects a lot of the issues that lens had. They are both very similar in price, so I really don’t suggest the older lens.
9. Other stuff – Full time manual focus (can manually focus even in auto), pleasing design (looks good), solid feel even though it is plastic (not likely to break), 9 blade aperture for pleasing background elements, Smooth zoom ring, zoom ring lock for storage, good price to quality ratio.
Cons – Most this info is for your information and is also listed in the specs of the lens. If I removed stars I will note why, otherwise it was not worth the removal of a star.
1. Limited Aperture – This is to be expected from a lens in this price range. The max aperture is a variable F4-5.6, which means that it loses more light as it zooms in. It is not ideal for indoor sports as it just doesn’t allow enough light, not to mention it really can’t utilize its full zoom range anyway (especially on a crop camera). But if shooting outdoors in good sunlight, this will not be a problem. This is why I use it for things like baseball. If shooting at non-moving subjects though, the IS more than makes up for the lack of a wide aperture, but the overall reach and long min focus distance still make it tough to use inside. I would stick to outdoor use.
2. Not as sharp as higher models – While the lens does get some impressive clarity, this is also considering the price of the lens. There is a noticeable difference when compared to the L series 70-300mm or the 70-200mm models, or even third party options like the Tamron 70-200mm G2. But all those lenses are significantly more expensive than the IS II, and even though they are optically superior, for its price this lens will be more than adequate for lower level shooters. The expensive stuff should be left for people that get paid to take photos, or are at least very serious about the hobby. For those that just want a good lens that won’t break the bank, this is a good place to start.
3. Rear element sticks out – Weird thing to notice, but the rear lens element really sticks out the back of the lens. It makes me worry that it will get scratched at some point since the rear never has the protective coating the front element has. I often don’t put the caps on my lenses when I am out shooting to speed up lens swaps. For this lens, I always use the rear cap. It is kind of ridiculous how far it sticks out.
4. Focus Ring is touchy – When holding the lens I found that I sometimes would accidentally hit the focus ring, which caused the focus to become spastic. It is very easy to accidentally do this. I have since acquired the lens hood and instead balance the lens by holding that instead.
5. Focus by Wire – For those that do not know what that is, it means that there is no mechanical connection to the focusing mechanism. So when you focus manually there is an electronic signal that tells the lens to move in “steps”. It is not as precise as mechanical focus. For most people this will never matter; if you don’t use manual often or if you never do super close up shots then it is a wash. If you do, then it is still usable, it just takes a little more finagling. I list this as a con since I don’t know even one person that prefers focus by wire over mechanical focus, but it otherwise is not a big deal for most people. Another thing to point out, focus by wire requires power to focus even manually. So if you are adding extension tubes or doing some kind of unusual set up, be sure that power can still be supplied to the lens or you won’t be able to focus at all.
6. Barrel Extends as you zoom – Another thing that should be expected on a lens like this is that the barrel extends out as you zoom. It makes the lens longer, and probably makes it a little more likely dust will get into it. I have not had issue with it, but I have not had it long either. I highly recommend retracting the lens when it is not in use and using the lock to keep it from creeping out on its own.
7. Other stuff – No lens hood is included (a lens at this price it should have it). Canon hood is expensive (I suggest Promaster instead). 4 foot min focus makes it hard to get close to things for nature shooting (I suggest the Kenko set of three tubes for about 130 USD). 67mm filter threads means expensive filters. No weather sealing. Not compatible with the 1.4x or 2x telephoto extenders (The L version is compatible).
Again, this is all for your information, and none of this was worth taking a star off for. All these “cons” are part of the description of this lens, so to take a star off for any of them would unfair. It is up to the user to know what they are getting, and how to use it.
This lens might be the best sports lens from Canon for less than 1000 USD, provided you have good light. There are better lenses to be sure, but they are so much more expensive. There is the L version of the 70-300mm (1350 USD), or the 70-200mm models (1150 to 1950 depending on the model you want). Those work great and have excellent IQ, but not everyone wants to or can spend that kind of money on a lens. This is where Canon excels, offering inexpensive but effective lenses for those that need more than a kit lens but can’t afford the pro-level stuff. This is where lenses like the 70-300mm IS II come in, offering a lot of value for the price. I was very surprised by the level of clarity and color saturation I got from this lens. The nano-USM also was a surprise, being very fast and having no problem finding focus. I can see myself taking this lens to baseball games and soccer games simply because it is so effective for that kind of shooting. The fact that it is so light also is appealing, especially when walking around the zoo or even the park. To be honest, I never intended to keep my copy; I got it bundled with an 80D and wanted to use it just enough to review it and then sell it off. But since it has worked so well for me, I decided to keep it. It will be my zoo/outdoor sports lens.
Other recommendations. It wouldn’t be a WOFG review if I didn’t have suggestions for other gear.
For APS-C/ crop sensor - EF-S 55-250mm F4-5.6 IS STM – This is only for if you own a crop camera as described above. This lens is actually a little sharper than the 70-300mm, and otherwise has just about all the same pros/cons, specifically the IS and limited aperture. However, it is 200 dollars LESS than the 70-300mm. It has 50mm less reach, but I doubt this will make or break most your shots. It is worth pointing out the nano-USM outperforms STM for things like sport shooting, so if that is your intention the extra money might be worth it, though STM would be likely be good enough for casual shooters. It also has a much shorter min focus distance for better nature shooting without the use of extension tubes. The 55-250mm can even be bundled with most new APS-C Canon’s for 200 USD instead of 300, or can even be found elsewhere for about 150. Keep in mind there are a few versions of this lens, and the older 55-250mm IS ii is not as good as the IS STM. If you have a crop camera I would actually suggest this lens in most cases due to its very high price to performance ratio. If you have a full frame you can’t use it; the 70-300mm is your best option at this price range.
For Full frame - Nothing. I don’t have a better lens suggestion for a full frame camera at this price point. The closest option is the Tamron 70-300mm, but it is currently the same price as the Canon. You will never get the performance from a third party lens as you will from a first party lens, so I don’t see any reason to get the Tamron instead. Some people like the Canon 70-200mm F4L USM for 600 USD. I used to say that was the best bang for your buck lens Canon had in the telephoto category, but that was before the 70-300mm IS ii and the 55-250mm IS STM. Both those lenses are less expensive and have IS, while offering very good IQ for their price. The 70-200mm F4 lacks IS, is pretty out of date, and is overpriced for what it can do. It does have better overall sharpness, but I just feel the better reach and IS counter the slightly better IQ. I don’t doubt it takes great photos, but so do the 55-250mm IS STM and the 70-300mm IS II.
That is all I got. All that is left now is to check out the images. Thanks for reading my review!
The build quality and functioning of the new lens were excellent. To make a practical assessment of its optics I tested both lenses on a tripod, using the SL1, same settings, remote release, stabilization off, at 250mm. Same shots at F5.6 and F16. At both of these apertures I found the 55-250 noticeably sharper in the center and on the edge compared with the new 70-300.
To find that Canon’s newer, more expensive, more robust lens was optically inferior to the 55-250 was a surprise and a big disappointment. I immediately returned the lens to Amazon with no problem.
So how fast is the focus? The first shot in this review was a fluke. I was shooting one buddy out in the lineup when out of the corner of my eye I saw another buddy setting up to hit the lip on the inside. I whipped the camera around and popped off a shot without having anytime to really frame it. Pretty sharp considering the early morning light conditions.