A Canon Surprise – The 70-300 Canon Lens

Canon 70-300mm

Looking for a “less expensive” zoom lens? Canon has a couple that you may have considered.

Actually, the most popular Canon mid-range zoom lens at Amazon is the Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS Telephoto Zoom Lens. It sells for about $230, depending on the day you order.

But, there is a kind of “sleeper” lens that many photographers have used with greater success. It is the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens. This one goes for about double the price at $550.

Why pay twice as much? Performance is the key. Don’t always shop price first when looking for a Canon Zoom Lens. You may have to save up for a little longer, but the wait will be worth it.

Think about it. The lens is as important as the camera. You thought long and hard before you put down the cash for your digital SLR camera, right? What was the deciding factor? I’m guessing it was because you wanted better quality.

Then you have to decide on a lens… Why settle for less here? You hear what I’m saying?

Here are a couple of comments about the Canon 70-300mm lens in question (don’t go for the DO model – it has not gotten the same response as this one).

Comment 1: “I dumped the 55-250 IS and bought this (70-300) and now I wondering why I bought the 55-250 IS in first place.”

Comment 2: “Having recently used a Canon 55-250mm this 70-300mm restores my faith in Canon… Many have compared it to 70-200mm L glass – I have never used an L lens but I could easily believe this one matches pretty closely.”

Comment 3 (This is my favorite story of all): “This lens actually surprised me. I bought it used at a garage sale. Quite honestly, I bought it thinking I would give it to our son, who had expressed interest in photography and had bought an older Canon DSLR. But after trying it out, I decided to keep it for myself. It was too good to give away.”

The mid-range focal length zoom is obviously dominated by Canon’s flagship lenses, the 70-200 lenses, of which there are now 5. These range in price from about $600 for the 70-200 f/4 L to over $2500 for the top of the line model, 70-200 f/2.8 IS II.

When you think that you can get a longer length with very good quality, you may want to consider the 70-300mm lens. After all, it has IS (image stabilization) and USM (ultrasonic motor for fast focus).

The only drawbacks are that the lens barrel extends quite far, unlike the 70-200mm models which are fixed length, and it has a variable aperture, topping out at f/5.6.

Now, when compared to the 55-250mm lens, it out performs in every area except price. But, as the saying goes, “you get what you pay for.”

Personally, the biggest mistake was to buy a 70-300mm lens for $160. It was a third party lens, and it was not worth the investment. It ended up in the camera bag with very little use.

Buy what you can afford, but if what you can afford is junk, leave it on the shelf.

Here is a quick look at the Pluses and Minuses for the Canon 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM


  • Great image quality at all focal lengths
  • USM for fast auto focus
  • IS allows you to leave the tripod at home, if desired
  • Zoom range up to 300mm makes it great for a majority of Nature photography
  • Light Weight


  • You can’t use the Manual Focus ring while in Auto Focus mode
  • Zoom does not hold steady at a desired focal length when the camera is tilted up or down – it tends to “slide” due to gravity
  • Lens barrel extends (unlike the 70-200 L series) rather than internal zoom
  • Focus ring turns during autofocus
  • No focus distance scale

Get a great deal on a Canon 70-300mm f/4-5.6 from Amazon or B & H Photo.

Below are a couple of sample images from a totally new user of the 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM lens…. very impressive. (originals can be seen at http://lavisions.blogspot.com/2010/03/canon-ef-70-300-f4-56-is-usm-lens.html

Below is a photo taken from quite a distance away, and below that is a crop of the bird in the first photo. Again, quite impressive considering he was not using Moose Peterson type equipment (you know, Moose would not consider shooting a bird photo with a lens that costs less than $5000).

Full photo taken with Canon 70-300mm lens

100% crop of Canon 70-300mm image