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Canon EF 300mm f/4L IS USM

Review Date: Jul 7, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 7 

Pros: Good combination of price, weight and size. Solid build.
Images often come out soft, even at f8. Old IS design

Coming from the 70-200mm f4 I was expecting this Prime 300mm lens to offer a major step-up in term of sharpness and resolving power. It is slightly better sometimes, but sometimes worse, and leaves you feeling underwhelmed.

Comparing these two, the 70-200mm f4 to the 300mm f4 in real world situations, I used:
- a new 70D body
- Handheld, at the same distance to the subject, around 25 meters
- Both lens at f5.6 (which is the sweet spot for the 300m)
- Shutter 1/500th or faster
- Both lenes mirco adjusted, giving no difference on Live View vs Viewfinder focussing
- Both cropped in software to give the same image and sufficiently zoomed in to reveal sharpness.

The 70-200 yields sharp results every time, and I mean when expanded up so the subject fills the same frame as the 300. Many shots on the 300 come out softer, some are about the same, and about a ⅓ of them are slightly better on the 300m. (after correcting the 300mm's CA in Lightroom). The results vary greatly, some good and some bad, so maybe a the IS not locking on reliably? You'd think a noisey IS also means vibration, which can't be good. I swapped the lens for another copy guess I just had a bad one, but the second was the same. It's also sensitive to UV filters, and I had to take the UV filter off the 300mm to get comparible performance to the 70-200.

So surely it must be easier to make a prime lens sharper than a zoom lens? And also easier to make an a smaller aperture sharp, compared to the enormous technical challenge of the huge f2.8 - which Canon managed to make incredibly sharp. So what's up Canon? Can we get an update to this lens please? You shouldn't need to heft around the 2.4kg of f2.8 glass just to get sharp images at f5.6. I get the feeling that today's 20mp crop sensors are very revealing of any softness, which you can now see in this lens design from 1997. On the early full frames cannons from 10 year ago (11mp) it was probably fine, but times have moved on. We now have around 9 pixels were there was only one.

Don't get me wrong this is a very good lens, but needs an update to bring into line with the 70-200 below, and the 300mm f2.8 above.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM

Review Date: Jul 7, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Just beautiful dreamy photos. All the emotion of and old lens with the practicality of modern one. Focus on mine is pin sharp Low light performance with a full frame (6D) body is just phenomenal. Focusses in near darkness!
Expensive. (But so is a Ferrari) Not a clinical laboratory-sharp lens, but who wants that?

I read most of the reviews here before pushing the Buy button, but so glad I did. I now have some stunning shots of family and friends that I will treasure for lifetime. This lens captures people, it captures their emotion and essence. It's the combination of not needing a flash, (so people ignore you taking a shot), and the isolation you get with such a wide aperture. The colour rendition has great character (with the some CA correction help from Lightroom), and the vignetting gives things a warm feel that I love.

This lens now lives on my 6D. I tried going back to my 17-40mm f4.0 but it never gives satisfying results.

Also used it on a 70D which has more advance focussing than the 6D, (lens works well with the 70Ds on-sensor PDAF, so you can be more incognito using the swivelling LCD screen). But the bokeh is better on the 6D (you can be closer to the subject) and the low light performance too, with is what it's all about with this lens.