Deep Green Photography

GEAR REVIEW - Canon 70-300 mm L IS Zoom Lens

Blog, Gear ReviewsGreg Basco121 Comments

This new lens from Canon has gotten quite a bit of attention since it became available a few months ago. Many photographers have praised its versatility, build, and image quality while others have scorned it as little more than a glorified lens for the weekend soccer dad. I've been intrigued by the lens since it was announced.

I have a hole in my lens lineup in the medium to telephoto range. While most professional photographers have one of the incarnations of the Canon 70-200 f/2.8 zooms, I have an old Tokina 80-200 mm f/2.8 lens. This lens is actually quite sharp but it's very long, very heavy, lacks image stabilization, and the autofocus is subpar compared to more modern lenses.

What I wanted to fill this gap in my bag was a lens that was compact, sharp, and blessed with great image stabilization. The 70-200 f/2.8 zooms, though excellent, didn't interest me because of the size and weight. If I want to do serious work at f/2.8, I'll use my 300 mm f/2.8 lens. The 70-200 mm f/4 lens (both the IS and non-IS versions) is very sharp and very light, but I had a sneaking suspicion that I would be putting a 1.4x teleconverter on it quite frequently to get a bit more reach.

The 70-300 seemed to fit my needs for a lens to explore my expanding interests in multiple-flash hummingbird photography, patterns and abstracts in nature, telephoto landscapes, and environmental wildlife portraits of both smaller and larger subjects. I had the chance to try it when my contact at B and H Photo Video in New York sent me the lens to use and share with participants on the two photo workshops that I led here in Costa Rica in June.

My field review follows. I did not go into lens stats or test shots with charts as there are other sites that are great for this kind of information. I evaluated it in terms of how it handled and produced in the challenging conditions of the rainforests and cloud forests that are my studio. What did I think? Keep reading to find out, but I'll give you a hint -- I'm not sending it back to B and H!

A Brief Business Interlude

As always, if you enjoy this review and the Deep Green site in general, please consider making your next gear purchase through the affiliate links at the bottom of this page or the product links just below. You pay exactly the same, and I make a little commission to keep things running.

Please note that though I do earn a commission if you buy a product at B&H through this review, I do not slant my reviews in favor of a particular piece of gear. If I don't like something, you can be sure I'll note that in the review. I'd like to thank B and H Photo Video for providing the lens so that I could produce this review. Again, the source of the lens has no bearing on the content or tone of this review.

Here is the equipment that I used to take the pictures featured in this review.

Canon 1D Mark IV camera body

Canon EF 70-300 mm f4-5.6 L IS Zoom Lens

Canon 430 EX Speedlite Flash

Canon TTL off-camera flash cord

Canon ST-E2 wireless flash transmitter

Westcott Apollo mini-softbox

Canon cable release

Manfrotto Carbon Fiber Tripod

Canon Powershot G12

Phottix Strato Radio Flash Transmitter/Receiver

The Canon EF 70-300 mm f/4-5.6 L IS Zoom Lens

This lens is a beauty to hold and use. It's solid and compact yet not too heavy. The build quality is outstanding. The zoom ring has just the right amount of tension, and though I've read complaints about the fact that the zoom ring and focus ring are reversed compared to many zooms, I didn't have any trouble getting used to it. The weather sealing looks great, and I'm sure it will deliver as promised. I didn't drop it in a river or anything to test it but we did have plenty of light rain and drizzle, and I experienced no problems with the lens and the Mark IV body even though I didn't use a rain cover.

The lens barrel extends when zooming, but I did not find this to be a problem at all. The lens comes with a lock button to prevent the lens zoom from creeping, but the zooming mechanism is very well damped. I didn't find it necessary to lock it, even when carrying the lens with the camera's shoulder strap while hiking. The front element does not rotate so using a polarizer is no problem at all.

I found the lens very comfortable to use with my 1D Mark IV body (I also tried it with my 5D Mark I body, and it felt fine as well), both handheld and even on the tripod without the tripod collar. Ah yes, the tripod collar. The lack of a tripod collar is my biggest complaint with this lens for two reasons. First, given the hefty price tag on this lens, I really think the tripod collar should be included. Second, even if you want to buy the tripod collar separately, it's currently unavailable. My B and H contact made a valiant effort to get one to go with the lens they sent down for review but was unsuccessful. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the lens worked when tripod-mounted, even without the collar, but the tripod collar would greatly improve handling.



My next biggest complaint with the lens is that the focus changes as you zoom when working at distances closer than 3 meters. So, if you are set up close to a subject and then zoom to change composition, you'll need to refocus. Indeed, the change in focus is so noticeable that failure to refocus would render your image completely worthless (see example images below). When I discovered this characteristic of the lens, I was so annoyed that I discounted any possibility of actually purchasing the lens. In my experience, this is not normal for zoom lenses so I find Canon's engineering laziness here inexcusable, particularly for a lens with such a hefty price tag. In the end, though, I found that this fault did not really affect my shooting. It still annoys me as a matter of principle but I don't find that I'm missing shots because of it or that it's a significant burden to refocus. At distances greater than 3 meters, the focus does not change. If I had to guess the reason for this glaring fault, I would venture that it was an engineering design whose flaw wasn't pointed out by actual photographers until too late in the production process. I suppose that this is understandable given what we hear about the lens design process, but it's still totally lame. (Note: other photographers have pointed out that focus change at closer distances in a common characteristic of zoom lenses. Agreed, but I've never seen a focus change this pronounced.)

Another complaint commonly raised in regard to this lens is the floating f-stop. As you zoom, the aperture gradually closes from f/4 to f/4.5 to f/5 and finally to f/5.6 at the long end of the range. For those shooting in aperture priority, this is not that big an issue. For manual shooting it can be. Imagine that you have your exposure set and are shooting at f/4 at 70 mm. Then you decide to zoom in to 300 mm. You've just lost a stop of light due to the aperture change from f4 to f/5.6 so, unless you adjust your shutter speed accordingly, your image will be underexposed. My friend and tour client Dennis Goulet suggested simply treating the lens as an f/5.6 lens when shooting in manual mode to avoid this problem, and this seems like a very sensible solution to me. For my uses, the floating f-stop is not a big issue at all.

Images - The Lens

Following are a few images of the lens itself. FYI, these were taken using my sons' Canon Powershot G12 camera, which has really great image quality. My son Chris helped me set up a quick little studio with a spray painted sheet of construction paper in my home office. We took turns taking the pictures and used the Phottix radio flash transmitters (the G12 has a regular hotshoe, so you can put on any Canon flash or transmitter, including third party brands, a great feature for an advanced point and shoot) to wirelessly trigger two off-camera Canon 430 EX Speedlite with softboxes. No natural light entered the images; they were total flash exposures. Since you can see standard pics of the lens on B and H or various other websites, we did the lighting a little differently, and then tweaked them a bit in Lightroom for some different effects.

Thanks, Chris! You can check out Chris' website here .


The Canon EF 70 to 300 mm f/4-5.6 L IS zoom lens mounted on the Canon Mark IV -- an attractive combo for sure.

Another view with the lens at the 70 mm focal length setting.

And here with the lens zoomed to 300 mm.

Canon reports that the front element has a coating that makes cleaning oily residues a snap. I wanted to pour some Quaker State on this one but B and H said I couldn't. Lighten up, man!

Compared here to the Canon 17-40 mm f/4 L wide angle zoom and the Canon 100 mm f/2.8 macro. Though compact, you can see that the lens is built like a tank.

And again here with the 70 to 300 zoomed all the way out.

Here is the lens compared to the Canon 300 mm f/2.8 L IS lens. A couple of stops of light sure makes a difference in the size of a lens!


The 70-300 is a dream to pack. It fits perfectly in my bag, even with the lens hood on in reverse position. In this position, the new 70-300 mm is more than 1 inch shorter than the Canon 70-200 mm f/4 L IS lens and over 2 inches shorter than the Canon 70-200 f/2.8 L IS lens. I think the latter lens in particular would be hard to pack in the upright position. Packing a lens like this horizontally could eat up valuable pack space.

Illustrative Images


The zoom range of this lens is extremely useful for nature photography. The image here was shot at the widest setting, 70 mm.

Tech: Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 70-300 mm L IS zoom, tripod, f/5.6, 1/30, ISO 320, 70 mm zoom setting

Post: This is straight from the RAW file, no cropping, no change of any settings at all so that you can see the look of the files this lens produces.

And here is an image taken seconds later from the exact same spot but zoomed to 300 mm. This eyelash viper, taken at a friend's snake house, was only about 12 inches long total, and here he's curled up so you can see that the lens is great for semi-macro type work.

Tech: Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 70-300 mm L IS zoom, tripod, f/5.6, 1/30, ISO 320, 300 mm zoom setting

Post: This is straight from the RAW file, no cropping, no change of any settings at all so that you can see the look of the files this lens produces.

I found the new generation image stabilization of this lens to live up to the hype. Here's an image taken handheld at 1/8 of a second with IS turned off. Not a bad effort given the circumstances but certainly not a sharp picture.

Tech: Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 70-300 mm L IS zoom, handheld, f/5.6, 1/8, ISO 640, 300 mm zoom setting, IS turned off

Post: This is the full-frame image. I applied some standard tone and white balance tweaks in Lightroom and applied a bit of sharpening to the resized jpeg presented here.

And here's the next frame shot at the same shutter speed but with IS switched on. It's still not tack sharp but being able to get a decently sharp handheld image at 300 mm (400 mm equivalent on the Mark IV, which has a 1.3x sensor) at 1/8 of a second is quite amazing! By the way, this was taken at the hotel bar at the end of a workshop day, but I wasn't drinking so the test results stand. :-)

Tech: Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 70-300 mm L IS zoom, handheld, f/5.6, 1/8, ISO 640, 300 mm zoom setting, IS turned on

Post: This is the full-frame image. I applied some standard tone and white balance tweaks in Lightroom and applied a bit of sharpening to the resized jpeg presented here.

Taking the ISO up to 3200 gave me a shutter speed of 1/30. With the new IS, I was able to get a pleasantly sharp image handheld and zoomed all the way out to 300 mm. Click here to see a full-size, unsharpened jpeg produced from the RAW file. I'm also impressed here with the performance of the Mark IV at ISO 3200. It's not the cleanest, crispest image I've ever produced, but with some noise reduction and output sharpening, I would have no problem sending this file to be published in a magazine. Being able to produce a publishable quality image in this light and handheld with such a slow shutter speed at this focal length is really quite incredible!

Note, the full-sized file is pretty large so it may take a few seconds to load.

Tech: Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 70-300 mm L IS zoom, handheld, f/5.6, 1/30, ISO 3200, 300 mm zoom setting, IS turned on

Post: This is the full-frame image. I applied some standard tone and white balance tweaks in Lightroom and applied a bit of sharpening to the resized jpeg presented here.

Sharpness and focusing for distant subjects was also impressive with this lens. I shot this out the balcony of my hotel room overlooking downtown San Jose the late afternoon before my first workshop started. I shot handheld but rested my elbows on the balcony rail. The autofocus point was on the dark red metal building near the center of the frame.

Click here to see a full-size, unsharpened jpeg produced from the RAW file.

Tech: Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 70-300 mm L IS zoom, handheld, f/5.6, 1/320, ISO 200, 300 mm zoom setting, IS turned on

Post: This is the full-frame image. I applied a bit of sharpening to the resized jpeg presented here but, as noted above, not to the full-size jpeg.

Now on to that annoying focus change issue at distances closer than three meters. I grabbed this 300 mm image of my ballhead in the lodge restaurant after dinner. Sharpness is looking fine, and autofocus locked right on. (This is a pretty impressive little jpeg by the way given the ISO of 5000 and the shutter speed of 1/15 of a second! No noise reduction and just a hint of sharpening. This is a small jpeg of course but still...)

Tech: Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 70-300 mm L IS zoom, handheld, f/5.6, 1/15, ISO 5000, 300 mm zoom setting, IS turned on

Post: This is the full-frame image. I applied some standard tone and white balance tweaks in Lightroom and applied a bit of sharpening to the resized jpeg presented here.

And here's where things fall apart. Same specs, same position, but now I've zoomed out from 300 mm to 180 mm without refocusing. Focus is not even close to being accurate. For both this and the image above I was resting my elbows on the table so this soft image is due entirely to the focus issue and not camera shake. In fairness, the autofocus is great on this lens, and refocusing would have taken but a split second. Nonetheless, I stand by my verdict on this issue -- not cool, Canon!

Tech: Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 70-300 mm L IS zoom, handheld, f/5.6, 1/15, ISO 5000, 180 mm zoom setting, IS turned on

Post: This is the full-frame image. I applied some standard tone and white balance tweaks in Lightroom and applied a bit of sharpening to the resized jpeg presented here.


Images from the Field -- Hummingbirds


The new 70-300 mm lens is an absolute dream for hummingbirds. Unlike most hummingbird photographers, I prefer compositions that emphasize the plant and hummingbird equally. The ability to compose precisely with the zoom is fantastic.

Tech: Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 70-300 mm L IS zoom, Phottix radio triggers, 4 Nikon SB-600 flashes (I was working with my friend Fab, who is a Nikon shooter so we used his flashes), Manfrotto tripod, Canon cable release, f11, 1/160, ISO 400, 220 mm zoom setting, IS turned off because it wouldn't be of any benefit for this kind of work

Post: This is the full-frame image. I applied some standard tone tweaks in Lightroom, cloned out one extra chatchlight from the hummingbird's eye, and applied a bit of sharpening to the resized jpeg presented here.

And man is this lens sharp! In this kind of photography, you are stopping down the lens to somewhere between f8 and f16 so most lenses are going to perform well, even cheaper consumer-grade zoom lenses. But I think this lens has yielded some of the sharpest hummingbird images in my files.

Tech: Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 70-300 mm L IS zoom, Phottix radio triggers, 4 Nikon SB-600 flashes (I was working with my friend Fabrizio Tessaro, who is a Nikon shooter so we used his flashes), Manfrotto tripod, Canon cable release, f/13, 1/160, ISO 400, 270 mm zoom setting, IS turned off because it wouldn't be of any benefit for this kind of work

Post: This is the full-frame image. I applied some standard tone tweaks in Lightroom, cloned out one extra chatchlight from the hummingbird's eye, and applied a bit of sharpening to the resized jpeg presented here.

I love using a zoom lens for this type of hummingbird photography but with a 70-200 mm zoom, I find that a 1.4x teleconverter is often necessary, particularly on a full-frame sensor body. This costs you a stop of light and some image sharpness as well since the addition of a teleconverter is always going to degrade the image to some degree. With the 70-300 mm this isn't necessary. I was able to step in just a tad closer and then zoom to 300 mm to capture this full-frame image.

Tech: Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 70-300 mm L IS zoom, Phottix radio triggers, 4 Nikon SB-600 flashes (I was working with my friend Fab, who is a Nikon shooter so we used his flashes), Manfrotto tripod, Canon cable release, f/13, 1/160, ISO 400, 270 mm zoom setting, IS turned off because it wouldn't be of any benefit for this kind of work

Post: This is the full-frame image. I applied some standard tone tweaks in Lightroom, cloned out one extra chatchlight from the hummingbird's eye, and applied a bit of sharpening to the resized jpeg presented here.

I was quite pleased with the overall look of the images produced by the 70-300 mm lens. In addition to the sharpness, I found the contrast and color rendition to be very pleasing. The lighting here was set for a softer, more overcast day effect, and the lens and camera reproduced the subtle tones very well.

Tech: Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 70-300 mm L IS zoom, Canon ST-E2 flash transmitter, 3 Canon 430 EX Speedlite flashes, 1 Canon 550 EX Speedlite flash, Manfrotto tripod, Canon cable release, f/13, 1/160, ISO 400, 180 mm zoom setting, IS turned off because it wouldn't be of any benefit for this kind of work

Post: I applied some standard tone tweaks in Lightroom, cropped just a bit, cloned out one extra chatchlight from the hummingbird's eye, and applied a bit of sharpening to the resized jpeg presented here.


Images from the Field -- Closeup Work


The new Canon 70-300 mm is certainly not a macro lens, but I found it very useful for closeup work, particularly for my interest in including some habitat elements. The f/5.6 aperture provided shallow enough depth of field for the effect I wanted here. Autofocus locked on quickly and accurately to the masked tree frog's eyes, and the IS allowed me to obtain a sharp image working handheld.

Tech: Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 70-300 mm L IS zoom, handheld, f/5.6, 1/200, ISO 640, 300 mm zoom setting, IS turned on

Post: This is the full-frame image. I applied some standard tone tweaks in Lightroom and a bit of sharpening to the resized jpeg presented here.

Using the 300 mm focal length (with its narrow angle of view) allowed me to capture a shallow depth of field effect even with a fairly wide composition for this red-eyed tree frog on a rainforest liana.

Tech: Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 70-300 mm L IS zoom, handheld, f/7.1, 1/100, ISO 800, 300 mm zoom setting, IS turned on

Post: This is the full-frame image. I applied some standard tone tweaks in Lightroom and a bit of sharpening to the resized jpeg presented here.

Taking a couple of steps forward and switching to vertical gave me a different image. Again, autofocus worked great, and the IS allowed me to obtain a sharp image.

Tech: Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 70-300 mm L IS zoom, handheld, f/5.6, 1/160, ISO 800, 300 mm zoom setting, IS turned on

Post: This is the full-frame image. I applied some standard tone tweaks in Lightroom and a bit of sharpening to the resized jpeg presented here.

Yes, you can even use this lens for bugs! If I had wanted a tight closeup, however, I would have had to switch to a true macro lens.

Tech: Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 70-300 mm L IS zoom, handheld, f/5.6, 1/100, ISO 800, 300 mm zoom setting, IS turned on

Post: This is the full-frame image. I applied some standard tone tweaks in Lightroom and a bit of sharpening to the resized jpeg presented here.

This isn't the best image I've ever taken but I was amazed to be able to pull off an acceptably sharp image in a dark cloud forest by handholding at 300 mm. I was at the lens' maximum magnification -- as closely as I could focus and zoomed to 300 mm. Shouldn't I have used a tripod? Sure, but I was testing the limits of the lens here, and it's good to know that handholding, sometimes the only option with a moving or fleeting subject in the tropical forest, is a viable strategy when necessary.

Tech: Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 70-300 mm L IS zoom, handheld, f/5.6, 1/80, ISO 1000, 300 mm zoom setting, IS turned on

Post: This is the full-frame image. I applied some standard tone tweaks in Lightroom and a bit of sharpening to the resized jpeg presented here.

I was quite happy with this image of a Gulf Coast Toad (Bufo valliceps) taken at my friend's reptile zoo. The sharpness is of course right on, and the bokeh (out of focus background quality) is pleasing. I worked here on a tripod, using mirror lockup to ensure maximum sharpness. Despite the IS qualities of this or any other lens, tripod and mirror lockup is always the way to go for ultimate sharpness with stationary subjects. I used my Phottix radio triggers as a wireless camera release (a really cool bonus feature of these units) to hold an off-camera flash with softbox. The flash was triggered by a Canon flash transmitter.

Tech: Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 70-300 mm L IS zoom, Manfrotto tripod, Phottix trigger as remote camera release, mirror lockup, Canon ST-E2 flash transmitter, 1 Canon 430 EX Speedlite flash with softbox and set in manual output mode, f/5.6, 1/25, ISO 320, 300 mm zoom setting, IS turned off

Post: This is the full-frame image. I applied some standard tone tweaks in Lightroom and a bit of sharpening to the resized jpeg presented here.


Images from the Field -- Wildlife and Patterns


I'm moving my wildlife photography further and further away from more typical frame-filling portraits of animals. The new 70-300 is absolutely fantastic for me in this regard. Its light weight allows me to be mobile and set up quickly, and the zoom range out to 300 mm opens up great possibilities when I can't get close. I took this image of a black river turtle during my recent Art of Biodiversity photo tour, using a Singh-Ray blue/gold polarizer to accentuate the color of the reflections in this backwater stream. Manual fill-flash from my flash with a Better Beamer allowed me to give just enough light to open up the shadows in the turtle without killing the reflections in the water.

Tech: Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 70-300 mm L IS zoom, Singh-Ray blue/gold polarizing filter, Manfrotto tripod, Canon cable release, mirror lockup, 1 Canon 550 EX Speedlite flash with Better Beamer and set in manual output mode, f/8.0, 1/30, ISO 500, 300 mm zoom setting, IS turned off

Post: I applied some standard tone tweaks in Lightroom, a slight crop, and a bit of sharpening to the resized jpeg presented here.

I took plenty of wide angle images of this beautiful cloud forest stream in a national park near my house but then settled in for some details with the new 70-300 mm zoom. It was a dream to work with (though it would have been easier with the tripod collar!). I was pleased with this image, which is a full-frame shot. That's me below shooting the image (thanks, Fab, for this shot), which is a small section of the righthand rock in the cascade at the middle/upper right side of the frame.

Tech: Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 70-300 mm L IS zoom, Singh-Ray blue/gold polarizing filter, Manfrotto tripod, Canon cable release, mirror lockup, f/6.3, 1/2 second, ISO 100, 244 mm zoom setting, IS turned off

Post: This is the full-frame image. I applied some standard tone tweaks in Lightroom and a bit of sharpening to the resized jpeg presented here.

This lens is great for nature pattern images, which is a growing interest of mine. I took a few shots of these fern leaves with one part in focus but ended up preferring the images where everything was slightly defocused.

Tech: Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 70-300 mm L IS zoom, handheld, f/5.6, 1/320, ISO 200, 300 mm zoom setting, IS turned on

Post: This is the full-frame image. I applied some standard tone tweaks in Lightroom and a bit of sharpening to the resized jpeg presented here.

This isn't the best image in the world, but I took it just to show that the lens performs well on a full-frame body too. I took this without a polarizer and then converted it to black and white. Sharpness around the edges of the frame looks good, and there is no noticeable distortion.

Tech: Canon 5D Mark I, Canon 70-300 mm L IS zoom, handheld, f/5.6, 1/200, ISO 400, 277 mm zoom setting, IS turned on

Post: This is the full-frame image. I applied a black and white conversion in Lightroom and a bit of sharpening to the resized jpeg presented here.

A second later I added a Singh-Ray blue/gold polarizer to the lens, which gave the image a completely different feel from the one above.

Tech: Canon 5D Mark I, Canon 70-300 mm L IS zoom, Singh-Ray blue/gold polarizing filter, handheld, f/8.0, 1/200, ISO 200, 300 mm zoom setting, IS turned on

Post: This is the full-frame image. I upped the blacks slightly and brought down the clarity a bit in Lightroom and then added some sharpening to the resized jpeg presented here.


Final Thoughts


I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to use this lens. It lived up to my expectations in terms of image quality, build, and image stabilization performance. In addition to nature photography, I think it would make a great lens for travel and sports photography.

As I've made clear in the review above, a couple of the lens' flaws continue to annoy me. But in the end, I found the sharpness of the lens at all focal lengths and apertures, the pleasant bokeh, the fantastic next gen IS, the extended zoom range, and the build quality to outweigh the negatives. In regard to the zoom range, that turned out to be an important deciding factor as I evaluated this lens and considered the 70-200 zoom options (see below). After using the lens for a couple of weeks, I noticed that I frequently shot it at focal lengths longer than 200 mm. With one of the 70-200 mm zooms, I would be reaching for my 1.4x teleconverter quite often, and the resultant loss of image sharpness and the inefficiency of having to do so clinched my decision to go with the 70-300 zoom.

Had Canon included the tripod collar and not been so blatantly lazy in ignoring the focus change issue at close distances (if someone can give me a solid technical reason for this, I'll consider recanting!), I would consider this lens to be quite close to perfect. As it is, I found it to be the best fit for my particular nature photography needs, and I have decided to purchase it and add it proudly to my backpack. I've no doubt that it's going to open up new photo opportunities for me long into the future. I do want to get my hands on the tripod collar, but I may hold out for a bit to see if some generic brand becomes available. It's hard to stomach paying Canon nearly $200 for a tripod collar!

If you are in the market for a lens of this class, you know my choice but your needs and interests may differ. If you are really into birds, the latest Canon 70-200 mm f/2.8 L IS lens is supposed to be very sharp in combination with the new Canon Series III 2x teleconverter. This combination will set you back nearly $3000 after shipping, and the lens itself is not light or compact, but I've no doubt that this lens is a stellar performer. The Canon 70-200 mm f/4 L IS zoom lens is a great alternative for a lower price (about $1450 with the tripod collar). This lens is lightweight and very sharp. It will work quite well with a 1.4x teleconverter though at the cost of convenience. A lower cost alternative would be the Canon 70-300 mm f/4-f5.6 non-L IS lens. The performance is not great wide open, and the IS is old technology, but for around $550, it's a viable option if you want it mostly for images where you don't mind stopping down to f8 or beyond. Those favoring any one of these other lenses obviously could make good counter arguments against the new 70 to 300 mm zoom, and that's fine. In the end, each photographer's gear needs will be unique. If you think the new Canon 70 to 300 mm zoom meets your needs, then I highly recommend it as a pro caliber lens that, despite its price of around $1500, actually is priced reasonably in relation to similar options by Canon and the third party lensmakers.

There's me, happy to be with my new Canon 70-300 mm f/4-5.6 L IS zoom lens. As you can tell, I can no longer afford razor blades.

Please drop me a line as a comment below and tell me what you think of this review.

And if you end up with one of these lenses in your bag, stay in touch and let me know how you put it to use!

Cheers,

Greg

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Gregory Basco

Greg Basco is a resident Costa Rican professional photographer and environmentalist. He is a BBC/Veolia Wildlife Photographer of the Year and Nature's Best Windland Smith Rice prizewinner, and his photos have been published by National Geographic, Outdoor Photographer, and Newsweek.