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Canon EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DO IS USM

Review Date: Sep 18, 2005 Recommend? no | Price paid: $1,160.00 | Rating: 5 

Pros: Relatively small and light, given its focal range. IS system is fantastic - it feels more effective than on my 17-85mm IS.
Very expensive, very soft at 300mm - even at f8.

Bought this lens for the African Safari I will be taking in late October. I was already in love with Canon's image stabilization system from having used the 17-85mm IS lens since it and the 20d first came out. This lens jumped out at me as an obvious choice since its compact size and low'ish weight would make it easy to cart around at other events such as the Tour de France and various other races I attend.

I had read a lot of reviews on the lens and had seen much mention of its supposed softness, the odd bokeh, and the weird white halo effect. But there were some people that thought the lens was just fine. I'm not a pro photographer per se, but I do have a studio at home that I use for product shots with my job as a journalist. I never have owned an L series lens and thought that this lens might be "good enough" for me, as a non-pro.

I was sadly mistaken. The lens is quite soft - even at f8. Test shots of a friendly neighborhood spider (not spiderman), some newspapers in the studio, and a kids soccer game proved that, beyond a doubt, I would not be happy with this lens in any situation where the photos really mattered.

You can see some of the soccer shots at the URL below. All of the photos were shot at f8. Note that these low-res photos have been heavily sharpened to get even this much detail showing:

I do love the IS, though. I was able to take any number of photos at 1/13th and 1/15th of a second at 300mm on my EOS 20d (effective length of 480mm). I have quite a steady hand, but this was still easily 3 stops better than I could do normally.

If you have the cash to blow and need an around town long zoom, this will be great. But if it matters where you invest your money, I'd look for a better value elsewhere.