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Canon EF 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6L IS USM

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66 361369 Feb 23, 2013
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89% of reviewers $2,073.47
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A handy, compact zoom lens for versatile and easy subject selection while travelling, etc. The highest optical performance in its class, plus the convenience of focusing as close as 2.3 feet over the entire zooming range. A powerful ring-type USM drive provides silent, high-speed autofocusing, plus the wide zooming range provides an easy, enjoyable picture-taking experience.


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Registered: Sep 17, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 10
Review Date: Oct 5, 2005 Recommend? no | Price paid: $2,200.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: 11X zoom range, fast focus, IS really works, solid solid construction
weight, push-pull zoom, very weird ring for tightening the zoom friction, image quality (especially at 300mm)

I had high hopes for this lens to be the one lens I will keep on my camera for 99% of the time. I actually had to sell my 70-200 F2.8 to afford this lens. If I had to do it all-over again, I wouldn't. I would keep the 70-200.

Technically this lens is a modern marvel. It focuses very fast and silet, the IS really works. Image quality is o.k.

I had used push-pull before and had no problem. However, on this one I am constantly mistaking the friction ring for the manual focus ring and the push-pull has a very different feel due to the weight of the lens.

300mm is very soft. I failed to see the point of going to 300 if it cannot have a very sharp image. My 70-200 F2.8 with 1.4X definitely beats the 28-300 at 300.

Oct 5, 2005
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Registered: Aug 4, 2005
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 1
Review Date: Aug 4, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $2,200.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Versatile zoom range, solid build, good quality images, fast & silent AF, very good IS

I like ths lens. It's what I needed in the sense of offering good image quality (without multiple L or prime lenses), the IS, USM and build quality. Now I needn't worry about losing a shot or about dust in my camera from changing lenses AND I don't sacrifice image quality either. Really nice bokeh too so this lens could double as a nice portrait lens if you stand far enough away!

The push/pull zoom is acceptable, quicker than a ring zoom but maybe a bit too quick and you overshoot sometimes. Being new too, the push/pulling is a bit sticky and at times gets 'caught' at the tele end and needs a gentle tug to bring it back in. Should go away after a while with some use, as I didn't have that problem with my used 100-400 IS USM L.

The only complaint about this lens is the weight as I do get tired using it for more than an hour. It is building up my arm muscles nicely though! Watch out Arnie! LOL!

Oh, and I guess the price is a bit high too - I sold off four lenses to buy this one! My old 80-200mm f2.8 USM L (brilliant lens - buy it if you find it!), 28mm f2.8 prime, Sigma 24-135mm f2.8-f4.0 and 100-400mm IS USM L. As you can see, low-light ability was important to me before and that's because I had weddings to shoot. But now I don't and so far it's been well worth letting those go for this beauty whose only flaw is that it becomes a weighty beast after using it for more than an hour!

Aug 4, 2005
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Registered: Jun 1, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 1533
Review Date: Jul 6, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $2,200.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Versatility, sharpness, well built, fast focusing, did I mention versatility?
It is heavy, but is still hand holdable.

Some people have complained about the push-pull; I like it - it just takes a little practice to get used to.

What sold me is the versatility. I travel to a lot of wilderness areas and am frequently switching between panoramic landscape shots and shooting animals at a distance. Now I can switch at a moments notice. This lens also means I can do both even in dusty or misty environments without worrying about getting dust, etc. in the camera during a lens switch. The lens may be heavier than some, but it weighs a lot less than all the lenses it would take to cover the same range at the same quality. The quality of the images has been excellent. My photos have been sharp and the bokeh on my portrait mode shots has been very nice. The IS is good enough that a tripod is not necessary for most shots - saving even more weight on a hike. This lens will be on my camera 90+ percent of the time.

Jul 6, 2005
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Lars Johnsson
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Registered: Jun 29, 2003
Location: Thailand
Posts: 33669
Review Date: Jun 24, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 6 

Pros: IS, Big zoom range
f/3,5 - f/5,6,

A very big zoom range, and good if you only like to bring one lens. But image quality will never be top notch with this zoom range. But it's rather good.
And I don't like when the maximum aperture isn't the same over the whole zoome range.

Jun 24, 2005
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Registered: Jun 15, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 0
Review Date: Jun 15, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $2,500.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Excellent IS, very sharp for such a big zoom range, very fast AF
Price, some problems with high contrast (extremely bright daylight) shots, people gawking at it (when pulled out at 300mm)

I have used this lens since Nov 2004, and I usually only carry this lens. It does everything I need it to do, from product shots to portraits to sports/action. I really love this lens, and it's on my 1DmkII about 99% of the time. I almost sold my 24-70mm because of the IS alone, since I take a lot of shots hand-held (hate tripods). IS on this lens is excellent! Can't believe how sharp the shots are.

I think that for sports it is an excellent lens. I have taken many football games with this lens, and the 300mm range is damn good and sharp. Only problem is for fast paced sports like volleyball, where the ring-type focus of the 70-200mm helps. However, for motorsports, football, soccer, etc, this lens can capture the action from up close and from far away. Love it!

Only had a few problems shooting in very very bright sunlight. There were a few contrast problems. Otherwise, very sharp, no CA problems whatsoever.

I highly recommend this lens!!

Jun 15, 2005
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Registered: Apr 3, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 180
Review Date: May 9, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Versatility, image quality and push/pull focus.

I have found this to be a very wise purchase. It is very versatile and enables me to carry only one lens -- and no tripod.

I read negative reviews about the push/pull focusing, but find that is one of my favorite things about the lens. It is easy to hold from beneath and focus with one or two fingers.

The images that I capture have great color saturation and contrast. I have used it for weddings and location shoots, as well as while on vacation. I find that it is the lens which I use most frequently.

May 9, 2005
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Registered: Jul 6, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 219
Review Date: Apr 17, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, wonderful zoom range, all the usual issues you've heard about in a good lens.
The weight is shocking at first but with this body, it's actually balanced nicely. Still heavy for long hand held shooting and of course the price is stunning too.

For me it's a do all lens for travel, picture hunting, focus speed is wonderful and spot on, and it just feels good. The wide end is impressive when you kick in a fast zoom up to 300mm you see how much play you are afforded in setting up compositions when you're just out hunting for good pictures to capture. It just does it all at a very high level of quality. I was worried when reading all the reviews and it seemed to be dismissed by the pro reviewers, "anything with this zoom range just could not be that good" perspective reeked in their reviews but after a few days of working with it. I'm a happy camper.

Apr 17, 2005
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Registered: Jun 8, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 83
Review Date: Jan 15, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $2,500.00 | Rating: 6 

Pros: Versatile (to a point)
CA at wider angles

In search of a versatile travel lens I happily purchased Canon’s EF 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6L IS USM lens soon after its release in 2004. After several weeks of using the lens, I found one of my biggest disappointments was the amount of chromatic Aberration (CA) apparent at its wider angles. Considering the cost of this “L” lens and discussing this problem with several FM’s who posted their initial reviews of the lens, I assumed the CA must be the result of a misaligned element and sent it to Canon for repair along with several photos which prominently displayed the CA problem. After several weeks I received the lens back only to find, to my dismay, CA at the wider angles still present. With no explanation from Canon, my only assumption at this point is that CA at the wider angles is a characteristic of the lens.

Jan 15, 2005
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Registered: May 10, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 68
Review Date: Jan 2, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $2,300.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: multipurpose and IS
low light

I switched from 35-350 to gain little more wide angle and IS for panning (focus is better/sharper then 35-350). I shoot motorsports and this lense is attached to my 20d or 10d 99% of time. Other is attached to a wider angle lense as 17-40 for around pit, grid shots. You can check out portfolio of motorsports images at and

i will add 70-200 IS to my collection for low light shooting.

comments on my taken images is welcome.

Jan 2, 2005
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Registered: Jan 26, 2003
Location: United States
Posts: 1888
Review Date: Dec 2, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $2,100.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: 12X zoom factor, 3-stop IS, Push-Pull zoom (contrary to other reports), Ultra-fast focusing, excellent bokeh, build quality.
Doesn't appeal to "lens snobs"

This is the mother of all lenses for shooting out of a helicopter. I was tired of switching lenses/bodies in flight - a helicopter with the door off isn't the best place for those types of maneuvers.

Rarely have I used anything (camera or not) as nice as the combo of this lens and the 1Dmk2.

Canon's monster L zoom, this 28-300 beast, is my new favorite lens. Previously only my video camera offered IS and 12X zoom. It may not be as sharp as Canon's short-range L zooms, or any of their primes, but it really doesn't have to be. Any number of factors would equally degrade a shot taken with a less flexible lens. With this sucker and a 4GB CF card in my 1Dmk2 I can shoot away, the camera becomes transparent (if not weightless).

Let's talk about the two most controversial issues relating to this lens: Push-Pull zoom, and overall sharpness-

Push-Pull Zooming: Looking at the context this lens will be used in, push-pull makes more sense than a ring. The reason is that manual focus overide (or simply manual focusing) is easy to achieve while zooming for composition. With practice, its possible to frame and focus much faster with this lens...

Overall Sharpness: I have a simple theory on this...the 28-300 was designed/optimized for the 1Dmk2. To my eye it's the sharpest zoom lens I've used, an I owned both the 70-200/4L and the 70-200/2.8L IS - this lens gives me sharp focus and creamy bokeh in a way that reminds me of the 70-200/4L - but the bokeh is even nicer.

The 28-300 shows little (or no) chromatic abberation at any aperture or focal least my copy seems better in this regard than almost any lens I've ever used save for normal & telephoto primes.

One minus is significant barrel distortion at 28mm...but not worse than other high-end zooms. I'm anxiously awaiting a DXO profile for this lens.

It is really worth noting how well this lens works on the 1Dmk2 - the camera produces truly, fully sharp photos with it. I've owned & used a number of other nice lenses, and this one holds its own, even against the 70-200/4L and the 70-200/2.8L IS

In summary, if you shoot from the air, this lens is a must-have. On the ground it may not seem as appealing, and for most non-pros it is likely too expensive and makes too many compromises... but I love it. Bravo Canon.

Dec 2, 2004
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Registered: Nov 13, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 294
Review Date: Nov 13, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $2,250.00 | Rating: 6 

Pros: Superb zoom range, solid construction
Push-pull zoom control awkward, switches for AF and IS are easily moved inadvertently, weight, cost.

I bought this lens to fill a gap in focal length coverage. I already owned the 17-40mm F/4L lens and the 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L IS lens and wanted to fill the gap with an L lens. While this lens does that job admirably, I probably should have bitten the bullet and purchased two lenses instead: The 24-70mm f/2.8L and the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS. The total for the two would have been about $2,600 (I paid $2,250 for the 28-300) and although having two lenses would necessitate lens changes, the lighter weight of the 70-200 f/2.8L IS and the larger maximum aperture of both lenses would probably have cancelled out that negative. There was that $400+ bump in cost however.

The 28-300mm is heavy, very heavy, and makes panning at a race track a dicey proposition. The mode-2 setting for the IS does help with getting panned shots without vertical blurring (in mode 2 the lens senses that you are panning and applies no horizontal stabilization). The problem is that taking the lens out of its case can cause the IS switch as well as the AF switch to slide to the "off" positions.

The "push-pull" zoom control is very awkward. There is a ring just below the manual focusing ring which tightens or loosens the resistance of the slider. Using this is awkward as well and if it is not fairly tight, the lens flops out to the 300mm setting with a "thunk" if the camera is inadvertently pointed downward (which can't be good for the lens internals). Depending on how tight or loose this ring is adjusted, zooming becomes a rather jerky affair. This increases the time required to frame a shot, not a good thing for motorsports photography, and to a degree negates having such a wide focal length range.

The position of the tension ring causes the manual focusing ring to turn with it and since this is a full-time manual focus lens you can inadvertently change the focus. Also, this is not a true zoom lens: It's what is described as a variable focal length lens. If you zoom in tight on a subject to focus, then zoom out to compose the shot, the focus changes and you must refocus. Since the zoom control is separate from the focusing ring, this can be a pain (AF not-withstanding).

While it is certainly true that the wide focal range of this lens allows one to avoid lens changes (which at a dusty race track with a digital camera is something to be minimized) the shear weight of the lens hanging around the neck becomes painful (literally) after a rather short time. I purchased a hand-strap with a Velcro wrist strap (C.Grip PH) to mitigate this problem and it does help. It transfers the numbness from the neck to the wrist.

The lens hood is barely sufficient at 28mm and almost completely irrelevant at 300mm. It is also awkward to mount and dismount and seems very fragile.

The included tripod collar is appreciated since it makes using a monopod easy and allows easy re-orientation of the camera.

One nice touch is a switch which limits the minimum focusing distance. The two settings are 0.7m to infinity, and 2.5m to infinity. The purpose of this switch is to speed auto-focusing.

The lens case which is included is of good quality with the exception of the belt loop, which is not wide enough to get a camera belt-buckle through without removing the buckle and sliding the belt through. The shoulder strap for the case is super narrow and will definitely pinch a nerve if you carry the lens case around your neck or shoulder.

Nov 13, 2004
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Registered: Aug 14, 2004
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 3706
Review Date: Oct 17, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Versatility.
Heavy !!!

First of all, this is a heavy lens. Make no mistake about that.

I bought it because I had several days on the run where I got sick of changing lens every five minutes because as we were walking around (vacation) I needed to change the focal length beyond what was already on the body.

It took some getting used to. For some reason the first few shots were dissapointing and not sharp, but probably due to bad light. The next day I was super impressed by how sharp my copy was.

Did I mention that this was HEAVY ? On my 300D it was ok, on my 1D2, man that combo is heavy. Weight is the only thing that makes me think twice about having this as my every day walk about lens.

Oct 17, 2004
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Registered: Dec 20, 2002
Location: Spain
Posts: 0
Review Date: Oct 1, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: versatility
very heawy

Oct 1, 2004
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Registered: Jun 13, 2003
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 53
Review Date: Aug 31, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Build, Range, Image Quality, Sharpness, IS
Weight and cost..... oh, and weight again!

I bought this after comparing it to my 35-350. Though larger and heavier the IS is a great addition and the image quality was noticeably better than my 35-350 with much better sharpness, contrast and colour. The downside definitely has to be the weight as the image quality and flexibility the lens provides is great. I have no regrets in buying this at all - even if it is very expensive.

Aug 31, 2004
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Registered: Jan 10, 2004
Location: South Africa
Posts: 25
Review Date: Aug 14, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $2,500.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: IS, close focusing distance, good AF - fast, 28~300 gives you lots of flexibility, 77mm filters, removable tripod ring, definitely an "L". Came with lens hood, decent bag etc.
Issues - lens hood, AF maybe, repeat maybe, not as good as 100~400 in bad light for some reason. Mad price compared to 100~400 version.

Another good lens for shooting in AFRICA'S GAME PARKS where you are not allowed out of your vehicle.

I am totally sold on Canon IS - I will not buy any tele-lens without it. By having the 28~300L IS USM on my 10D and the 100~400L IS USM with 1.4 x II tele-converter on my 20D I am set up for all my wildlife needs with only 2 lenses and 2 cameras. This is the way to go - no abrasive African dust and dirt gets picked up changing lenses, no bag full of primes weighing a ton to cart about. With the 10/20D's 1.6 factor you have a wildlife set-up of your dreams. 99% of game shots are zoom, not prime lens material. Wild animals do not wait around to pose for you.

Back to the merits of this lens:
1. Mine is sharp except when wide open at 28mm when its far better used with the highest possible f-stop - its good at f8-f11 up. This does not bug me as I would normally only use it from about 40-50mm up.
2. AF is fast although I have had it hunt once or twice in very bad light
3. The push pull is something I definitely LIKE and both my lenses work the same way. Neither of these lenses have a dust problem.
4. IS is really good on this lens
5. The tripod ring can be removed without taking the lens off the camera (unlike the 100~400) - it will also fit the 100~400 at a pinch if needed
6. Excellent build quality all round - really excellent
7. What we all expect from an "L"
8. Protection against the elements provided
9. Close focusing distance throughout zoom range - under 3ft. This is a very big plus

Possible de-merits:
1. The lens hood seems useless for optimum performance at full zoom but only time will tell in this regard. If you have the 100~400 lens as well you can interchange lens hoods.
2. Below 40mm you need to to use higher f-stops to get best results so your brain needs to be engaged.
3. I was worried about "poor light" performance levels and some testing was needed. Update this point: Not a problem now that I have learned to use it to its best.

All in all, a good addition to any wildlife bag alongside the 100~400L IS USM and 1.4x II tele-converter.

There is a learning curve with this lens - the more you experiment with it and get to know it the better the results will be. Its not just a case of point and shoot.

PEOPLE moan about WEIGHT (surely you checked before you bought), PUSH/PULL zoom (I like it), DUST (who has owned one long enough to come out with this BS), and also they say its not as sharp as PRIMES. It may well be as sharp as many primes.


Just remember to switch your vehicle engine OFF - the IS does not like it RUNNING in my 4x4.

This is a special purpose lens and if it suits your needs - buy it. If you are looking for a walkabout lens then it is not for you - just too heavy. By speacial purpose I mean working from 4x4's, helicopters, aircraft and the like. This is when it really shines.

Aug 14, 2004
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Ben Lanterman
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Registered: Jun 5, 2002
Location: United States
Posts: 2
Review Date: Aug 9, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $2,500.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: 28-300 zoom range in an L lens with attendant quality and build, good quality photographs, IS is an excellent addition
large and heavy although you get used to it, cost

This is the best all in one lens available. I take a lot of airplane photos and it involves moving from wide angle to telephoto settings and all inbetween with little or no hesitation. With the Canon 1D or 1Ds the lens works fine and the push pull is a plus in this use I believe. It feels very natural.

Often I will put the 28-300 on the 1D and a 300 2.8 L with 1.4 telextender on the 1Ds. Between the two I have most everything covered.

Of course primes would be preferable but most things of interest don't hold still for lens changing. Of course in a dirt rich environment that a flight line is not having to change the lens is a plus.

Aug 9, 2004
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Canon EF 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6L IS USM

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
66 361369 Feb 23, 2013
Recommended By Average Price
89% of reviewers $2,073.47
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating

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