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  Reviews by: William Popw  

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Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM

70-300mm
Review Date: Jan 20, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,599.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Great focal length range; razor sharp; light weight
Cons:
Expensive; no tripod ring; flimsy Canon lens case

I too am skeptical of the reviewer who judges the 55-250mm EF-S lens to be sharper than this one. Clearly he purchased a bad copy. I tested the 70-300 against my 70-200 f4 IS, and it was as sharp at all focal lengths, plus it has greater reach, so I've sold the 70-200. At 300 this lens is very sharp, almost as sharp as my Canon 300mm f4 IS.

I must admit, I have not tried the 55-250. I understand it is an excellent lens, especially for the price, but you just have to look at The-Digital-Picture.com lens comparison utility (at http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/ISO-12233-Sample-Crops.aspx?Lens=249&Camera=9&FLIComp=0&APIComp=0&LensComp=278&CameraComp=9&FLI=1&API=30) to see that the 70-300 is sharper at all aperatures.


 
Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS USM

ef400_4dois_1_
Review Date: May 24, 2007 Recommend? no | Price paid: $5,200.00 | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: Good to very good optics; Ability to hand hold
Cons:
Lack of sharpness and contrast relative to other options, and way too expensive

I'm not a "pro", but I tested this lens extensively against a rented 300 2.8 IS and my 100-400 5.6 zoom. It is very comfortable to hand hold and should be a great "walkaround" lens for birders.

However, on a tripod I found it to be less sharp and less contrasty at all apertures than the 300 2.8 + 1.4X TC, but especially at larger apertures. In fact, at 5.6 it was barely better than the 100-400 (@ 400). Sharpness and contrast got better as the lens was stopped down, but it was never as good as the 300+TC. In fact, the 400 DO + 1.4X TC was only about as good as the 300 + 2X TC. So for less money you get a razor sharp 300mm lens, a better 420mm lens, and an equivalent 600mm lens.

The 400 DO did a little better, relatively speaking, when hand held. I would say sharpness was about as good as the 300 2.8 + 1.4X TC. I'm not sure whether the IS is better or it's easier to hold (at about 2 lbs less). So if you need a big lens that you hand hold most of the time, the 400DO may make sense for you. (However, I would opt for the 300+TC and do some pushups instead.)

I'll be returning the 400DO.