As mentioned previously, this page is a personal experience review. There will be no mtf charts. There will be no corner comparisons. My reviews focus on the general user experience of the lens, its ergonomics, actual use and deployment of the lens, comparisons with similar lenses I’ve used, and its functioning within a system.

Canon 300mm F4 L IS

Note: This review based on shooting on an APS-C 7D. Full frame users take note.

General Experience

This lens is was my first L lens I ever bought. It is the lightest and cheapest of Canon’s Big White Lenses, except the 70-200 F4 non-IS. Weighing in at a hair over two pounds, I believe, this lens is both light and heavy. Compared to my 70-300 IS, this felt like a beast. Compared to my 50 1.8 (my lightest lens ever!), this felt like a mountain. Compared to my 300 2.8, it is light, airy, and a blessing to mount and use! It feels solid, and it performs amazingly. Autofocus is fast and reliable. IS behaves well, and really makes this lens useable; it is very hard to frame an image well at 300mm with no IS. Shooting handheld (as much of my photography is),  I can reliably get sharp images down to a shutter speed of about 1/50. I can get some sharp images down to about 1/20th, but that’s about as well as it will go.

Ergonomics

Though a bit heavy, this lens is actually rather easy to use. It is of uniform width throughout, made with an excellent retractable hood. The tripod foot is seated at an excellent balance point. It works well for mounting to a tripod, and it also works well for a handhold. I grip the lens here when shooting often; it balances well, and offers an excellent feel, like a pistol grip on a firearm.

Shooting Experience

This lens is an incredible lens which performs admirably at it’s task: budget telephoto.  The longest reach one gets with this lens is 420mm with a  1.4x TC. When using this lens, I usually used it with the TC. I simply needed more reach. That said, here is my thoughts on it:

1. Shooting Still Targets:

This lens is sharp, and makes lovely images. Some of my very favourite images are made with this lens. F4 at 300 will usually get the background well out of focus, if the subject is at all close to the camera.

2. Shooting Moving Targets:

This lens focuses quite quickly and accurately under most conditions; however, because it is only 300mm and F4, it tends to back focus on busy backgrounds. On the plus side, it is rather light, compared to its larger brethren, and tracks well.

 

More to come, after I get more sleep and a lot of things done…

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