Canon 70-300mm IS II

f/4~5.6 Instant-Autofocus EF Full-Frame USM

Sample Images   Intro   Compatibility   Specs

Accessories   USA Version   Performance

Compared   Usage   Recommendations

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Canon 70-300mm IS II

Canon 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II (67mm filters, 25.0 oz./708g, 4'/1.2m close focus, about $549) bigger. I got mine at Adorama. I'd also get it at Amazon, at B&H or at Crutchfield.

This ad-free website's biggest source of support is when you use those or any of these links to my personally-approved sources when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Canon does not seal its boxes in any way, so never buy at retail or any other source not on my personally approved list since you'll have no way of knowing if you're missing accessories, getting a defective, damaged, returned, store demo or used lens. Buy only from the approved sources I use myself for the best prices, service, return policies and selection. Thanks for helping me help you! Ken.

 

January 2017   Canon Reviews   Canon Lenses   Canon Flash   All Reviews

 

Sample Images

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Katie in a Dress

Katie and Gumdrop, 08 January 2017. Canon 5DS R, Canon 320EX flash, Canon EF 70-300mm IS II at 200mm, f/6.3 at 1/200 at ISO 100. bigger or full-resolution.

Ultra sharp with great bokeh. It doesn't get better than this — now If I could just get Katie to smile!

 

Meerkat

Meerkat, 28 December 2016. Canon 5DS R, Canon EF 70-300mm IS II at 300mm, wide open at f/5.6 at 1/125 at Auto ISO 320. bigger or full-resolution.

Meerkat

Giraffe, 28 December 2016. Canon 5DS R, Canon EF 70-300mm IS II at 244mm, wide open at f/5.6 at 1/200 at Auto ISO 100. bigger or camera-original © file.

 

Introduction

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Performance   Compared

Usage   Recommendations

New   Good   Bad   Missing

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The Canon 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II has the fastest autofocus of any consumer zoom. It's essentially instantaneous, and faster than most, if not all, professional zooms. It's even faster than the Canon 100-400mm L II, which is also just about instantaneous. Autofocus performance is so much faster than every other consumer lens that it's simply astounding; it instantly and silently pops back and forth between subjects.

This new lens renders all previous consumer teles obsolete due to its new AF system.

This 70-300 also has great ergonomics, is lightweight and reasonably priced. It's essentially a lightweight version of the professional state-of-the-art Canon 100-400mm L II; which is better depends on how much you want to carry.

 

New

● New "Nano USM" focus system gives instantaneous autofocus — faster than my own eyes!

Instantaneous autofocus and IS all work with all Canon EOS cameras, even back to 1987!

● LCD display works great to display focus and depth-of-field scales (or alternately focal length or camera shake displays):

Canon 70-300mm IS II

Canon 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II. bigger.

 

Good

● Instant AF.

● Great optical and IS performance.

● Light weight, reasonable size and low price.

 

Bad

● Nothing!

 

Missing

● Nothing (ET-74B hood and LP1222 sack are optional).

 

Compatibility

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This lens works flawlessly on every Canon DSLR.

It work flawlessly on every full-frame and every APS-C DSLR.

It doesn't mount to Canon's EOS-M mirrorless cameras; for these you need an adapter to use EF lenses on the EOS-M cameras.

I tried it on my original Canon 5D (2005) and Digital Rebel XT (2005) and all is AOK, as well as of course with my 5DSR.

It also works flawlessly on 35mm EOS cameras, like my Canon EOS 1V, introduced in 2000.

It works very well with every Canon EOS camera, even the very first 35mm EOS SLRs introduced in 1987. With 1980s Canon cameras, the only slight gotchas are that the lens' LCD doesn't work and manual focus has to be selected with the switch on the lens (there is no magic manual override in AF mode), but Image Stabilization, manual focus and autofocus all are flawless even when tried on my original 1987 Canon EOS 620. Even on my ancient EOS 620, autofocus is instantaneous and IS works great.

This isn't Nikon; with Canon, everything just works, even if the camera is thirty years old.

 

Specifications

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Name

Canon calls this the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM:

    EF: Electronic Focus, as all Canon's lenses have been since 1987.

    IS: Image Stabilization.

    II: Canon's second version of its original 70-300 IS.

    USM: Ultrasonic Autofocus Motor.

 

Optics

Canon 70-300mm IS II construction

Internal construction. UD glass element and stabilizer group.

17 elements in 12 groups.

One UD glass element.

 

Diaphragm

Canon 70-300mm IS II

Canon 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II. (EF diaphragm not shown). bigger.

9 rounded blades.

Stops down to f/32~45.

 

Focal Length

70-300mm.

When used on APS-C cameras, it sees the same angle of view as a 100 ~ 450mm lens sees when used on a 35mm or full-frame camera.

See also Crop Factor.

 

Angles of View (full-frame)

34º ~ 8.25º diagonal.

29º ~ 6.8º horizontal.

19.5º ~ 4.5º vertical.

 

Stabilization

Rated 4 stops improvement.

 

Autofocus

Internal focus, no external movement as focussed, so no air or dust is sucked in.

NANO USM means it has a ring type USM (ultrasonic motor) for high-speed still-image autofocus and a lead-screw type STM (stepping motor) for smooth and quiet video autofocus.

 

Close Focus

4 feet (1.2 meters).

 

Maximum Reproduction Ratio

1:4 (0.25×).

 

Filters

67mm filter thread.

 

Hood

Optional ET-74B hood.

 

Case

Optional LP1222 sack.

 

Size

3.15" maximum diameter × 5.73" extension from flange.

80 mm maximum diameter × 145.5 mm extension from flange.

 

Weight

24.963 oz. (707.7g) actual measured weight.

Rated 25.0 oz. (710g).

 

Announced

Thursday, 15 September 2016 at 12:02 AM NYC time.

 

Promised for

30 November 2016.

 

Canon Model Number

EF70-300IS2U.

 

Canon Product Code

0571C002 in USA, 0571C001AA in Japan.

 

JAN

4549292037708.

 

Included

EW-83M hood and LP1219 case.

 

Price, USA

$549, September 2016 ~ January 2017. (72,000 yen in Japan at introduction).

Canon 70-300mm IS II

Canon 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II. bigger.

 

Optional Accessories

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Performance   Compared

Usage   Recommendations

 

ET-74B hood.

LP1222 sack.

 

Getting a Legal USA Version

(for USA only)

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Specifications   Accessories   USA Version

Performance   Compared

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In the USA, be sure you get one of these cards in your box:

Canon 70-300 USA Warrenty

Canon 70-300 IS II USA Warranty Card. bigger.

The serial number on the card must match the serial number laser-engraved on the bottom of your your lens, or you have no warranty. The serial number on the box should also match.

If not, you got ripped off with a gray market version from another country. This is why I never buy anyplace other than from my personally approved sources. You just can't take the chance of buying elsewhere, especially at any retail store, because non-USA versions have no warranty in the USA.

If a gray market version saves you $200 it may be worth it, but for $100 or less I wouldn't risk having no warranty or support.

Always be sure to check your box while you can still return it, or just don't buy from unapproved sources or at retail so you'll be able to have your lens serviced and get free updated firmware as needed.

Get yours from the same places I do and you won't have a problem, but if you take the risk of getting yours elsewhere, be sure to check everything while you still can return it.

 

Performance

Top   Sample Images   Intro   Compatibility

Specifications   Accessories   USA Version

Performance   Compared

Usage   Recommendations

 

Overall   Autofocus   Breathing   Bokeh   Distortion

Ergonomics   Eyeblow   Falloff   Filters

Flare & Ghosts   Lateral Color Fringes   LCD

Macro   Mechanics   Minimum & Maximum Apertures

Sharpness   Stabilizer   Sunstars

 

Overall

Performance          top

The Canon 70-300 IS II USM sets a new standard in telephoto lenses. Its new AF system gives it instantaneous autofocus, and its optics and ergonomics are also top notch — all for a bargain price.

I find its lens profile already in my 5DSR, which is older than this lens. I don't know if this was preloaded, or if Canon has gotten smart enough to put the profile in the lens in a way the camera can read it.

 

Autofocus

Performance          top

Autofocus is so fast you won't know what happened. Focus pops immediately from one subject to the next, faster than our eyes can, and it really is silent for the first time. There is no humming or sliding; the lens just focuses faster than I can blink.

It's much faster than anything else other than the almost as fast 100-400mm IS L II, and this lens is silent while the 100-400 makes slight sliding sounds as it focuses.

Compare this 70-300 to the new 24-105/4 L IS II and you'll be left scratching your head as to why this consumer lens focuses so much faster than the "Pro" L lens that costs twice as much.

It's because this lens has a completely different AF system than other lenses. This new system uses two different kinds of motors to drive the lens, which apparently go much faster than anything else that's come before.

Autofocus is electronic — only. Turning the manual focus ring does nothing unless the lens is attached to a working camera. The focus ring sends input to the camera's computer which in turn drives the lens' focus.

It's a very involved system internally, The camera and lens' computers continuously optimize it it as you zoom. Focus will not hold if you zoom with the camera off. If the camera is on, focus will hold as you zoom.

See Usage for more.

 

Manual Focus

performance          top

Manual focus works great, even though it's electronic.

Oddly even though it's all controlled by a computer, it's geared just right in the middle of the zoom range, slow at the 70mm end and fast at the 300mm end. I would have designed it to magically correct the speed of the manual focus drive as you zoom, while it instead behaves just like the focus ring in a conventional zoom.

See Usage for more.

 

Focus Breathing

Performance          top

Focus breathing is the image changing size as focused in and out. It's important to cinematographers because it looks funny if the image changes size as focus gets pulled back and forth between actors. If the lens does this, the image "breathes" by growing and contracting slightly as the dialog goes back and forth.

I can't see any breathing in this lens wide-open.

 

Bokeh

Performance          top

Bokeh, the feel or quality of out-of-focus areas as opposed to how far out of focus they are, is excellent. Backgrounds just melt away.

Here are two samples from headshot distance:

Canon 70-300mm IS USM II Bokeh

Davis 6250 weather station, 04 January 2017. bigger or camera-original © file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely display full resolutions images properly).

 

Canon 70-300mm IS USM II Bokeh

Davis 6250 weather station, 04 January 2017. bigger or camera-original © file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely display full resolutions images properly).

 

Distortion

Performance          top

The 70-300 has typical distortion: some barrel at the 70mm end and pincushion at the 300mm end.

Many cameras can be set to correct for this, if not, you can use these correction factors in Photoshop's Lens Correction Filter. These aren't facts or specifications, they are the results of my research that requires hours of photography and calculations on the resulting data.

Correction factor with uncorrected images

On Full-Frame and 35mm at 10' (3m)

On Full-Frame and 35mm at 30' (10m)

70mm
+2.50
+2.50
100mm
-1.00
-1.00
135mm
-2.00
-2.00
200mm
-2.50
-2.50
300mm
-3.00
-3.00

© 2016 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

 

Ergonomics

Performance          top

Ergonomics are great!

Half the lens is the mechanical zoom ring; grab and zoom the usual way. One firm finger will do it, and it's easy with two fingers. The focal lengths are well spaced for fast and easy setting anywhere in the range. It's so much better than any of the foolish power zooms of point-and-shoot or mirrorless cameras.

There's no zoom creep and it's easy enough to adjust even pointed up or down, although there is a little more or less effort needed if the front of the lens is moving up or down.

Canon 70-300mm IS II

Canon 70-300mm IS II

Canon 70-300 IS II at 70mm. bigger.
Canon 70-300 IS II at 300mm. bigger.

Manual focus is swell as covered above.

Size is perfect; it's short enough to fit in any of my standard camera cases along with my other zooms.

Weight is also perfect, any less and I wouldn't trust it.

 

Eyeblow

performance          top

Even though there is a fixed rear element, some air pumps in and out of the back of the lens as zoomed. I never felt it from my eyepiece, though.

 

Falloff

Performance          top

Falloff on Full Frame and 35mm is minor without correction, and DSLRs correct it. It won't be an issue at all on APS-C (see crop factor).

I've greatly exaggerated the falloff by shooting a gray field and placing these on a gray background:

 

Canon 70-300mm IS II Falloff on Full-Frame at Infinity, Peripheral Illumination Correction ON.

 

 
f/5.6
f/8
70mm
Canon 70-300mm IS II Falloff
Canon 70-300mm IS II Falloff
Canon 70-300mm IS II Falloff
135mm
Canon 70-300mm IS II Falloff
Canon 70-300mm IS II Falloff
Canon 70-300mm IS II Falloff
300mm
Maximum is f/5.6 -->
Canon 70-300mm IS II Falloff
Canon 70-300mm IS II Falloff

© 2017 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

 

 

Canon 70-300mm IS II Falloff on Full-Frame and 35mm at infinity, no correction.

 

 
f/5.6
f/8
70mm
Canon 70-300mm IS II Falloff
Canon 70-300mm IS II Falloff
Canon 70-300mm IS II Falloff
135mm
Canon 70-300mm IS II Falloff
Canon 70-300mm IS II Falloff
Canon 70-300mm IS II Falloff
300mm
Maximum is f/5.6 -->
Canon 70-300mm IS II Falloff
Canon 70-300mm IS II Falloff

© 2017 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

 

Filters, use with

performance          top

There's no need for thin filters.

I can stack several standard 67mm filters with no problems; 67mm is a generous size for this lens.

Go ahead and use your standard rotating polarizer and grad filters.

 

Flare & Ghosts

Performance          top

There are few ghosts and no flare.

This is the very worst I could cause; every other frame had none, and this is with a filter on the front of the lens:

Canon 70-300 IS II Ghosts

Looking into the Sun, 27 December 2016. Canon 5DS R, Canon EF 70-300mm IS II at 135mm, f/40 at 1/160 at Auto ISO 200. bigger.

 

Lateral Color Fringes

Performance          top

Construction

Construction, 27 December 2016. Canon 5DS R, Canon EF 70-300mm IS II at 200mm, wide open at f/5.6 at 1/800 at Auto ISO 100. bigger or camera-original © file.

There are no color fringes, at least as shot with the lens profile as I do here, which correct for any that may be there.

 

LCD

Performance          top

A first on a mainline consumer lens, a black-and-white LCD replaces the focus and depth-of-field scales:

Canon 70-300mm IS II

Canon 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II. bigger.

It's more legible than the usual scales, and a first for a consumer zoom is that the depth-of-field markings move as you zoom.

Tap the MODE button to swap this display with a duplicate of the zoom ring setting or a live display of camera vibration in two axes. Hold the MODE button to invert black and white.

It is unlit; you'll need a flashlight to see it in the dark, just like conventional scales.

It's easy to use.

 

Macro

Performance          top

Macro performance is great. It's both sharp and gets close. Even better, bokeh is also superb:

Canon 70-300 IS II macro performance

Kienzle Flieger Automat 800/2843 at close-focus distance, 27 December 2016. Canon 5DS R, Canon EF 70-300mm IS II at 300mm, wide open at f/5.6 at 1/800 at Auto ISO 100. bigger or camera-original © file.

 

Canon 70-300 IS II macro performance

1,200 x 900 pixel crop from above image. bigger or camera-original © file. If this crop is about 6" (15cm) wide on your screen, then the complete image printed at this same extreme magnification would be about 30 x 45" (80 x 120 cm). In this case, you're seeing the dust and texture of the silver paint on the watch face.

If this crop is about 12" (30cm) wide on your screen, then the complete image printed at this same extreme magnification would be about 60 x 90" (1.6 x 2.4 meters)!

This is awesome; it has this high quality wide-open as shown and gets even better as stopped down.

 

Mechanical Quality

Performance          top

Canon 70-300mm IS II

Canon 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II. bigger.

This is a well-made lens. It has a metal lens mount, glass glass, and a mostly plastic barrel.

 

Front Bumper

None.

 

Filter Threads

Plastic.

 

Hood Bayonet Mount

Plastic.

 

Front Barrels

Plastic.

 

Focus Ring

Plastic.

 

Zoom Ring

Rubber-covered plastic.

 

Rear Barrel

Plastic.

 

Identity

Printed around front element and printed on rear barrel.

 

Internals

Plastic Seem like all plastic.

 

Moisture Seal at Mount

No.

 

Mount

Chromed metal.

 

Markings

Paint.

 

Serial Number

Laser engraved in black on bottom of barrel.

 

Date Code

None found.

 

Noises When Shaken

Very mild clunking.

 

Made in

Malaysia.

 

Minimum & Maximum Apertures

Performance          top

 
Maximum Aperture
Minimum Aperture
70mm
f/4
f/32
100mm
f/4.5
f/35
135mm
f/5
f/40
200mm
f/5.6
f/45
300mm
f/5.6
f/45

 

Sharpness

Performance          top

As I've shown in my various sample images throughout this review, it's very sharp, even wide open, at every focal length setting.

The only limitations to picture sharpness will be your skill as a photographer, not this lens.

This is a first-class lens, almost as sharp as the state-of-the-art 100-400mm L IS II. Here are Canon's MTF curves:

Canon 70-300 IS II MTF

Canon 70-300mm IS II MTF.

 

Image Stabilizer (IS)

Performance          top

IS works great; the image locks right down and I can shoot at slow speeds hand-held with no problem.

 

Sunstars

Performance          top

With a rounded diaphragm, there are very few sunstars. This is the very best I could do, and this is at f/40. I'd forget sunstars with this lens.

Canon 70-300 IS II Sunstars

Sunstars, 27 December 2016. Canon 5DS R, Canon EF 70-300mm IS II at 135mm, f/40 at 1/160 at Auto ISO 2,500. bigger.

 

Compared

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Performance   Compared

Usage   Recommendations

There really is no comparison: this lens focuses not just faster than every other lens, it focuses instantly as well as silently, not just quietly.

Not only is its autofocus the fastest, its optics, handling, size, weight and price are also superb.

There is no comparison; no other lens comes close.

The world's reference pro tele zoom is the Canon 100-400mm IS L II, which costs several times as much and weighs twice as much. It focuses just about as fast and focuses even closer in spite of its longer focal lengths, and it's also made of all-metal instead of mostly plastic.

I own both. I grab my 100-400 when I have serious work to do, and I grab the 70-300 when I don't feel like carrying my 100-400 all day. The pictures are pretty much the same, the 100-400 has a little more ability and flexibility, but it's so much more to carry.

 

Usage

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Usage   Recommendations

 

LCD Panel & MODE Button

Canon 70-300mm IS II

Canon 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II. bigger.

Canon 70-300mm IS II

Canon 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II. bigger.

Thank goodness this is such a new feature that it's still simple to use.

Just tap the MODE button to cycle among the display modes: Focus & Depth-of-Field (shown here), Zoom setting, or Camera Shake displayed in two axes.

Hold the MODE button for a few seconds to invert the display to show white digits on black.

There is no backlight.

 

Focussing

Focus is completely electronic; the focus ring has no connection to the lens' optics.

The lens needs to be on a camera and the camera needs to be awake for the lens to focus.

For instant manual-focus override while in AF mode, just move the focus ring any time that you have your finger half-pressed on the shutter (or have the AF-ON button pressed). The AF system needs to be active and needs to be set to ONE SHOT for this to work; otherwise the focus ring is ignored.

For full time manual focus, set the AF/MF switch to MF. In MF mode the lens focuses anytime the ring is moved and the camera is awake. The meter doesn't need to be on and the AF system doesn't need to be active; any time for about a minute after the shutter or another camera button was pressed the lens will continue to focus manually. When the camera goes to sleep or is turned off, the lens will no longer focus.

 

Recommendations

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Usage   Recommendations

Do you expect me to tell you anything other than to go get one for yourself? This is the world's best consumer telephoto lens.

For pro use the Canon 100-400mm IS L II is built tougher and focuses closer, but even though I own one, it's so heavy that I'll just grab this 70-300 if I want to travel light. The pictures are the same.

 

Protective Filter

The very best protective filter is the Hoya multicoated HD3 67mm UV which uses hardened glass and repels dirt and fingerprints, and is also multicoated.

For less money, the B+W 67mm 010 is an excellent filter, as are the multicoated version and the basic multicoated Hoya filters, but the Hoya HD3 is the toughest and the best.

Filters last a lifetime, so you may as well get the best. The Hoya HD3 stays cleaner than the others since it repels oil and dirt.

 

Where to Get Yours

I got mine at Adorama. I'd also get it at Amazon, at B&H or at Crutchfield.

This ad-free website's biggest source of support is when you use those or any of these links to approved sources when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Canon does not seal its boxes in any way, so never buy at retail or any other source not on my personally approved list since you'll have no way of knowing if you're missing accessories, getting a defective, damaged, returned, store demo or used lens. I use the stores I do because they ship from secure remote warehouses where no one gets to touch your new lens before you do. Buy only from the approved sources I use myself for the best prices, service, return policies and selection.

Thanks for helping me help you!

Ken, Mrs. Rockwell, Ryan and Katie.

 

© Ken Rockwell. All rights reserved. Tous droits réservés. Alle Rechte vorbehalten.

 

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06-09 January 2017, December 2016