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

70-300_isusm
Review Date: Apr 2, 2006 Recommend? | Price paid: $565.00

 
Pros: Good optical quality, excellent IS, easy to carry around..
Cons:
No hood, and slightly soft in vertical position (portait). Rotating front lens.

This is a followup to a prior report on this lens where I rated it 6. I would like to change it to a 9 with a YES recommendation. My first copy had the known portait problem and that was the main reason for the prior poor recommendation. I decided to exchange the lens and give it a second chance. My second copy was a little better, but still at 300mm was not as sharp in portait position compared to landscape shots. And this is only at 300mm, 250mm and below there was no difference. Since I have never printed larger than 8x10 I decided that I can crop a landscape photo to portait style. About 95% of my photographs are taken in landscape anyway and no one sees a 100% copy anyway.

I took a bunch of photo's at the local duck pond with the lens. These were taken mostly at iso 400 to 800.
http://flickr.com/photos/winginhunk/sets/72057594094705791/


 
Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM

70-300_isusm
Review Date: Mar 17, 2006 Recommend? no | Price paid: $565.00 | Rating: 6 

 
Pros: Good optical quality, but as it approached 300 things became soft. I loved the IS, worked as advertized.
Cons:
The front lens rotates (& extends) when focussing. Focus sharp in landscape position, but more than half the time became soft in portrait.

First let me start out my saying I am a new dSLR user with limited experience with different lens. I have the Canon XT with the kit lens & Sigma 24-70 F2.8 to compare to.
I was wanting a zoom in the 200 to 300mm range and had narrowed my decision to either this lens or the Sigma 100-300 F4. I liked the IS and cheaper price of the Canon. I had read all the reviews and knew that there was a chance of getting one with the portrait problem. I guess I got one of the lens with the problem.
I was impressed with the size & weight. For me the focus was fast, although sometimes it hunted a little. In the lower zoom range both portrait & landscape was about equal. From 250 to 300 I started getting more misses in landscape and a lot more softer images in portrait. I took hundreds of photo's comparing landscape & portrait in different zoom & F stop's using the IS. Then with the camera on a tripod & IS turned off I repeated all the shots again without too much difference. I focused on contrasted targets from about 10 feet, 50 feet, and about 200 feet away, trying all the combinations in different focal lengths & zoom ranges.

I thought about keeping the lens and just use it in landscape mode, but will not. I will be sending it back to B&H and ordering the Sigma 100-300 instead. I will miss the IS & light weight, but hopefully image quality will be more consistent. I will just have to keep hauling my tripod around with me.