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Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM

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A worthy successor to the popular Canon EF 300mm f/2.8 IS, the all-new Canon EF 300mm f/2.8 IS II USM super telephoto lens is lightweight, weighing approximately 13% less than its predecessor, yet offers faster operation, improved image stabilization and superior optics. Incorporating Fluorite elements for improved image quality and reduced chromatic aberration plus a number of advanced coatings to minimize ghosting, flaring, and with a newly developed Fluorine coating that keeps soiling, smears and fingerprints to a minimum, the EF 300mm f/2.8 IS II USM is ready to deliver spectacular images in an instant. With a third Image Stabilization mode (Mode 3) that activates IS only when the shutter button is fully pressed, and giving the equivalent effect of a shutter speed four stops faster, the EF 300mm f/2.8 IS II USM allows for easy panning and is ideally positioned for professional action photography. The EF 300mm f/2.8 IS II USM also features a new security slot for wire-type security locks.

Focal Length & Maximum Aperture 300mm 1:2.8
Lens Construction 16 elements in 12 groups (Including drop-in rear filter, Fluorite: G2 and G4, UD Lens: None)
Diagonal Angle of View 8° 15'
Focus Adjustment Inner focusing system, with focusing cam
Closest Focusing Distance 2.0m / 6.6ft.
Filter Size 52mm Drop-in
Max. Diameter x Length, Weight 5.0 x 9.8 in, 82.9 oz. / 128 x 248mm, 2350g


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Registered: Jun 30, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 801
Review Date: Feb 16, 2015 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Other wordly IQ, light weight, phenomenal IS, lightning fast focus, better control layout
it is very pricey

Setting aside the daunting price, this is nearly a perfect lens. I owned the EF 300mm f/2.8L IS for ten years before deciding to upgrade to the 300 II. It is slightly lighter but the difference is very noticeable when slinging it around all day. I made a similar "weight based" decision and upgraded to the 400 IS II a few years back. The weigh difference there was like night and day. Still, the difference in handing is much appreciated.

The build quality is phenomenal. Having used the 400 II for several years I really do love the layout, especially location of the MF/AF and focus range switches. The hard anodized lens hood mount ring has also proven to be much more durable.

Once I received the lens, I dialed in the AF microadjustment for my 1Dx's and took it out to shoot some DII softball. The lens functioned flawlessly. The focusing speed seemed slightly faster. I know that is splitting hairs because the 300 I was rocket fast.

Once I got home and started pixel peeping the quality of the images were just incredible. I had never benn disappointed with the 300 I but man, some of these images are just stunning. The detail is definitely there and it is razor sharp wide open.

Overall I would recommend this lens if you can afford it. Over the service life of the lens it will be worth it based on reduced fatigue alone. Also, the used market is really full of these lenses now so the upgrade can be made slightly less painful.

Feb 16, 2015
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Thomas Richter
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Registered: Jun 17, 2012
Location: Germany
Posts: 1
Review Date: Jun 18, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Incredible sharpness and beautiful bokeh. Great colors. Amazing AF with my 5D3. At 300mm f2.8 weight is a feature, not a con.
Should have bought this earlier :-)

I have replaced the original foot by a Wimberley LCF-52, perfect fit. I'll use it for portraiture and for sports on a Wimberley WH-200 Mk2 gimbal head. Perfect combination. My first outdoor test was amazing. My 70-200 2.8L IS II is great, but this one is - of course less versatile - but IQ-wise in a higher league! Together with my 7D and the two Mk3-extenders this lens will cover up to 960mm focal length in a comparably compact package and with good IQ. I wish I had bought this earlier...

Jun 18, 2014
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Registered: May 30, 2014
Location: United States
Posts: 26
Review Date: May 30, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: as sharp as can be

I use it all the time for sports and politics. My main work horse

May 30, 2014
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Registered: Sep 8, 2009
Location: United States
Posts: 896
Review Date: Feb 19, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $6,400.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Image Quality, Mode 3 IS, Build Quality, Sharpness With Extenders, Colors/Contrast, AF Performance, Weight Balance

This lens is simply phenomenal. This is my first step into the “big whites” and I am sure will be in my collection for many years to come. Optically, it is practically flawless. The sharpness is out of this world and unlike any other lens I have had the pleasure to use and own (such lenses as the 24-70 II, 70-200 II, 35L, 85L, 135L, 300 f/4L, 400 5.6L…. And many more). The 300mm f/2.8L II is in a league all its own. Some of those lenses come close, but are not quite to the same level. The IQ with the 1.4x III is just as good with no loss in quality that I can see. I still need to buy and try it with the 2x III…

The attention to detail in the build quality is stunning. First, the lens just feels great in the hand. Focus ring moves smoothly with no play. Switches have a nice snap to them and positioned well enough that you won’t be bumping them into the wrong position (something I do often with my 70-200 II and have to use gaffers tape to cover them!). The tripod ring with the 90-degree indents are a really nice touch. The buttons have a high quality feel to them. The lens was also well lubricated (as you can hear the lubricant when you move the focus ring and the power-focus ring slightly). This lens is for sure a step above the high end L’s in the sub-$3,000 range in terms of build quality.

The colors and contrast are fantastic straight out of camera. The isolation given from the 300mm and f/2.8 is really quite awesome, even at great distances. The 3-D “pop” is also present with this lens, thanks to the isolation ability and extremely high resolution and contrast. The minimum focus distance is really nice, I am glad Canon was able to improve it over the Mark I. I did not run into many instances where I had to backup to get the lens to focus.

I am simply fascinated by the mode-3 IS… I was confused on how this worked, as I never really read a clear description of it. To clarify for others, when you start to meter (say half-pressing the shutter or back button focusing) you hear the IS kick on as you would expect. However, the viewfinder does not stabilize. It appears like the IS is completely off. But when you go to take the image it instantaneously kicks on and stabilizes the image perfectly with no visual delay. I could not get over this! A really cool feature. Overall, the IS works extremely well and is actually really quiet (even more so than the 70-200 II). You hear a confident “chirp” when it turns on/off, but nothing during operation (unless you lay your ear on the lens). Big improvement over the Mark I when I rented it. The IS also behaves extremely well on a tripod to help combat faint vibrations when using telephotos on a tripod. No reason to turn off IS on this lens, as it actually benefits with tripod use! I think unless you are doing exposures over 1-second, the manual recommends to leave it on.

The AF performance of this lens appears to be extremely good. Shot-to-shot sharpness is very consistent and I have yet to get an image that was randomly out-of-focus for reasons other than my own. My lens did require microadjustment on my body, around +9 for the lens alone and +12 with the 1.4x III. As a reference, every single lens I own requires positive MA values… My 16-35 II is at +6/+7, 24-70 II at -1/+4, 35L at +6, etc… So it is not that abnormal compared.

The weight is surprising with this lens… I rented the original IS and it was a hefty lens (as is this one), however the Mark II appears to be better balanced and not as front-heavy making it feel lighter than it is. I have no problem what-so-ever handholding this lens for long periods of time. For reference, this lens along with my 5D3+Grip comes in at 8lbs and 15oz. I don’t plan to use the tripod much at all with this lens, there really is no reason to if you are able to support the weight… A good camera strap (I recommend Op/Tech) are extremely comfortable for supporting heavy loads.

The case included with the lens (along with keys) are nice additions. I will use mine often when transporting and storing the lens. The new lens cap is a HUGE improvement over the old version, far less clumsy and easy as can be to use. Canon did great updating this.

The only downfall of this lens would be the price… While it is the cheapest of the Mark II super-telephotos, it is still a very expensive lens. However, as expensive as it is (even as a hobbyist only) I don’t feel cheated. The performance and build quality of the lens help curb the sting a bit.

I highly recommend this lens to those who can afford to splurge on it. You won’t be disappointed.

Feb 19, 2014
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Registered: Jun 25, 2009
Location: Afghanistan
Posts: 10
Review Date: Feb 19, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $5,700.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, Beautiful Bokeh, Efficient and silent IS, Fast focus, Great handling,
Heavy, Pricy

I have had my new EF 300mm f/2.8 IS L ii for six months now. This review will focus on a specific question; should current owners of the EF 300mm f/2.8 IS L "upgrade" to the mark ii version?

The short answer is "no". But there are other reasons than "upgrading" to consider, and a special case for those who shoot film. So read on.

Picture Quality
Stunning. But not anymore than its predecessor. Frankly, you would be hard pressed to see the difference. It's there. And I know some tell-tale signs pixel peepers can look for. But no one can seriously argue that's its worth an upgrade for the picture IQ.

Autofocus speed
Same thing as before. I've seen claims the new lens is faster. Well, mine is not. Definitely not. I shoot a lot of tracking shots, and just as before I take 3 to make sure 1 is spot on. That's still pretty fast. And its quite impressive for all the glass that needs to move around - just not lightning fast.

Here you get a noticeable upgrade. At least one stop. Also it settles faster. There is a new setting type "3" mode IS, which I personally prefer for most sports type shots. But remember that if the shutter speed is high enough its even better to turn off the IS. Finally, its somewhat less noisy than the original, which could be an important reason for film makers to upgrade.

A slight advantage for the newer model. If I shot birds for a living maybe a consideration. But then I would certainly go with a 400mm - so not sure how important this is (YMMV). I do not use 2.0x so no comments on that except to note that several reviews mention the mark ii as a slight upgrade.

Handling & design
This is where I feel I got the most from the upgrade. Its only a little lighter, but its just that much lighter to make a difference when you are hauling it for several hours. Also, the recessed buttons are so much better. I hated it when the old ones got pushed accidentally - and it happened too often to me. The new focus function is highly useful for filming. Pre-focussing is the same, and I'm personally not a big fan of Canon's implementation now or then. I disliked the new foot design when I first used the 200mm f/2.0 IS L ii, but on the EF 300mm f/2.8 IS L ii it feels "right" because I always use it with the foot on. I also use the 90 degree clicks to position the lens, a nice, practical design detail. The hood is slightly different and handles better, but there still that awful knob to contend with.

As an upgrade the better IS implementation and improved handling does not match the significant price differential between the original and the mark ii. At least not for photography. If using extenders is very important to you - than just maybe. Maybe. However, if you're shooting film - go for it if you can.

The market place seems to confirm this answer. Judging from review counts on the net and the flickr pool for this lens not that many EF 300mm f/2.8 IS L ii's are flying off the shelves. I also seldom see any of these in the wild - not even at sports events. Probably a side effect of the brutal cost cuts in the traditional news industry.

But there is more to the story. The original EF 300mm f/2.8 IS L is getting older every day. Some are still relatively new, but a lot are getting ready for their 10.th anniversary. With the very good used prices you can still get for your original lens and factoring in the cost of one major repair such as the IS will bridge a lot of the gap. In addition one day Canon will not repair these anymore - just ask 200L IS L f/1.8 owners about that sad scenario. And you get a short but welcome guarantee period that could be useful.

Remember that not even Canon lenses last forever. And IS lenses simply tend to fail more than non-IS lenses.

There is still some time for current owners to enjoy their original lens. Just remember to check the market place so you are not caught off guard and miss the boat when used prices begin to drop faster. If Sigma pulls off a great 300mm f/2.8 OS with three years warranty as they have just announced - that could hurt the old used lens prices a lot.

It looses overall for missing out on value. Purely optically its still a winner for sure.

Accessories I Recommend:

Don Zecklens Cap
Black Rapid shoulder strap or similar

Feb 19, 2014
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Registered: Jun 15, 2013
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 0
Review Date: Jun 15, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $7,300.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharpness, color, lightweight

I have owned different incarnations of this lens and it just keeps beating its own standards. I can say with hand on heart, every shot is a winner.


Jun 15, 2013
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Registered: Aug 25, 2011
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 0
Review Date: Nov 30, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: AMAZING SHARPNESS!!!! Beautiful build. Blisteringly fast AF

Best lens ever made IMO.
Ive tried most of the L Primes over the years, including this ones predecessor.
This lens is as sharp wide open in the corners as it is stopped down in the centre, even on my 1dx (whilst viewing at 200% on DPP)
I've tried the lenses that everyone speaks about when they say it doesn't need to be stopped down and this is literally the only one that has IMO ever lived up to that billing.

I've been using it now for about 6 months, often with the 2xTC III (which btw adds practically no loss of IQ!!!) and i'm still as wowed by its images now as when i first got it.

Just a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful piece of glass.

It is massively expensive, but don't think there is anything comparable to this for less. Sure the 180L is amazing, the 85LII is fantastic, the 24LII is brilliant. On a technical level though these just aren't in the same league as this lens, and I truly believe nothing is (at least nothing ive ever used!)

If you can afford it you must, its just the absolute paragon of glass.

I love it can you tell??! lol Wink

Nov 30, 2012
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Registered: Jul 23, 2011
Location: Australia
Posts: 6
Review Date: Jun 11, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $72,000.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Very sharp at f 2.8 and f4. Vey fast focus with 5DMk III

300 2.8 IS USM II would be one of the sharpest primes I have used.

Jun 11, 2012
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Registered: Apr 19, 2011
Location: United States
Posts: 2770
Review Date: Feb 2, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $7,299.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: IQ, Weight, New IS, Lightning fast AF on 1D

My new Canon 300 f/2.8L IS II arrived this weekend and I'm in LOVE. Improvements I noticed right away were that its lighter than its predecessor, the new hood design is sweet (no more metal screw to chip paint) IQ is absolutely stunning-no other lens can do what these super teles do. I can say this lens improves on every aspect of the original IS model and may be the best Canon lens engineered to date. So excited to get out and shoot!

Feb 2, 2012
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Registered: Nov 4, 2008
Location: United States
Posts: 4191
Review Date: Jan 4, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated

Pros: The standard for the next 12 years. Lightest EF mount 300/2.8 as of this written review. If you are a sports photographer this is a job requirement.
Sells for $7,299 on BH Photo. Always out of stock at Adorama and BHPhoto so despite the price there is strong demand for this.

Last Thursday I was able to pickup the Canon EF300mm f/2.8L IS II USM to shoot at Candaba Wetlands, on the last day of 2011.

Having only used the Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM (2008), Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM (1999),Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM (2011), Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM (1999) and Canon EF 200mm f/2L IS USM (2008) for outdoor sports and bird photography I was very much interested in using the Canon EF300mm f/2.8L IS II USM with the Canon Extender EF 2x III handheld and with a monopod.

I was able to use it with a EOS 1D Mark IV.

Now my impressions on the lens.

a) The weight difference (200g) of the Version 2 (2,350g) and the Version 1 (2,550g) is somewhat noticeable. I like how much more balanced it is with the extender attached and how much more solid it feels. To put it in perspective that's almost the weight of a 2010 Canon Extender EF 1.4x III (225g).

b) In terms of panning from left to right to track the birds felt "right" and was easy to adopt to.

c) I really like the image quality the lens delivered. I can see myself using extenders more often than before.

d) I love the new lens cap of the Version 2 and prefer it over the LensCoat that I am using on all my white primes and the old Canon leather lens caps. I hope someone makes something similar as I expect the official Canon one to cost a lot.

e) This is where attention to detail comes in, the lens hood screw knob is so much easier to tighten and untighten. The material used for the knob feels better than any of the past knobs used. As everyone is so intent on image quality, weight reduction and price these small things sometimes gets overlooked. Makes me want to buy a lens hood for my 800mm 500mm and 300mm even if the paint colors differs somewhat.

f) USM is now noiseless and operates seamlessly. USM feels very smooth and balanced.

g) The lens hood of the Version 2 works with the Version 1 lens and vice versa. The paint job does look odd.

If you want to see lens samples on full frame, APS-H and APS-C bodies go to http://www.flickr.com/photos/alabang/tags/canonef300mmf28lisiiusm/

Jan 4, 2012
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Registered: Jan 18, 2003
Location: United States
Posts: 10239
Review Date: Nov 7, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $6,569.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: image quality, AF speed and accuracy, IQ with TCs, build quality
lens "cap" (only a minor nit)

The build quality is top notch by any measure. Weight, although not reduced from the previous version as much as it was for the 400/2.8 Mk II, is easily managed and perfectly balanced on a 1D series body. On a 1D4, image quality is even across the frame wide open, right to the corners. Stopping down fractionally (f/3.2, 3.5) yields the slightest improvement in corner resolution, but without direct comparison, shots at f/2.8 look critically sharp at the pixel level. I have used the lens a bit with an extender 1.4x II, and quite a lot with a 2x III. Although AF drive is slowed by Canon's algorithm, it is still fast enough for most needs. Focus acquisition with the 2x in wildlife shooting is better than I'd expected, and follow focus is no problem. Focus acquisition with the "bare" 300 is amazingly fast.

As for IQ with the extenders, it is remarkable. I've come to think of this as a portable and relatively affordable 600/5.6 which is more than just usable wide open. I don't have the steadiest hands, so the IS is invaluable to me. It easily gives the rated 4 stops of improvement for me, whether with the bare lens or using either extender.

The only nit I would pick with the design is the padded cover that Canon provides as a lens cap. It is nice to have and use over the reversed hood when putting the lens in bag or case, but it's a little "fussy" to get it on the end of the hood when mounted in shooting position, and it even scrapes the finish of the rubber cover on the end of the (metal) hood. (That might be a concern for gear collectors, not for working photographers.) I'd rather have a push-on or clip-on cap, if it worked well.

Other great features include the focus preset, a third IS mode that's useful for sports, and buttons that can be used to engage spot-AF.

The price has risen quite a bit since I pre-ordered and later received mine, and it is certainly a big jump over the price of the original version of this lens. Nonetheless, if you can afford it and you can make use of its capabilities, I would recommend this L without reservation.

Nov 7, 2011
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Registered: Oct 20, 2011
Location: United States
Posts: 0
Review Date: Oct 20, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Amazing lens. Extremely sharp, fast and acurate focus. Canon's best lens.

Better than the 1st version in image quality, IS and IQ. Takes TC better than the 400 2.8 ii.

Oct 20, 2011
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Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
12 39179 Feb 16, 2015
Recommended By Average Price
100% of reviewers $17,544.67
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating