I've shot with a 30D for about 7 years and recently switched to a 7D. All my digital SLR experience has been with these APS-C cameras. I purchased the 300mm IS f4L as a way to get a little more magnification than the 70-200mm IS f4L that I already had. With the APS-C format this lens performs similar to a 500mm (480mm), so it works well for bird and nature photography. I was hoping that the 'Prime' lens would out perform, or at least match, the great performance I experienced with my 70-200mm IS f4L. Although its performance can sometimes be great, especially close-up, at longer distances it produces slightly soft images more often than I would prefer. More often than not, I find myself gravitating back to the 70-200mm for its "Rock Solid" performance, rather than risking unsure results from the 300mm. My best results with this lens have been insects and small widlife shot at it's extreme close range end (5 feet+). I've recently purchased a 7D to replace my 30D and I'm interested to see if the 7D's 'Microadustment' feature can save this lens from it's spotty performance.
January 31, 2013
Have used this for years - great lens !
I 'm a female photographer and want to encourage other women to be bold and get into the field of wildlife work. I bought this lens when I first started wildife photography in 2000. I researched for months before buying. I wanted to photograph birds particularly. I'm a stickler about sharpness so I don't settle on my equipment. I love the hood, the scratch resistant coating and the sturdiness. I was once out in the field changing lenses on a picnic table. This lens rolled off and hit the ground. I was afraid it was damaged, but it didn't suffer. I have gotten some terrific shots of bighorn sheep and larger birds. The sharpness is fantastic. You can have great success photographing small birds if you're in a blind. I built myself one and have amazing photos of mourning doves and California Quail to name a few. If I don't have my macro lens with me and I have enough working room to get back from the subject, I can get wonderful macro close-up shots of bees on sunflowers with this lens. For increased distance, add a 1.4X Canon teleconverter. I find image quality doesn't suffer. But with a 2X, slight sharpness is lost. I did my homework on this one before buying and I'm glad I did. I have never regretted this purchase. Of course, I wish the cost had been lower and once in a while the focus gets confused in a multi-subject shot, but overall this is an amazing piece of equipment. I really don't feel the need to always have the tripod with me and that's worth a lot to me. I feel this is probably one of the best fixed telephoto lenses on the market. I find Canon equipment to be awesome overall. Good luck and happy shooting!
August 9, 2012
A bit of a disappointment for me
I recently sold my 2011 300mm f4 IS lens after about six months of ownership. It was the perfect size and weight for a 300mm prime, and the short minimum focus distance was ideal for a variety of subjects. It had an excellent sliding lens hood and a nice soft case was supplied at no additional cost. I really wanted to like the 300mm f4, but at the end of the day image quality is all that really matters, and in this regard the lens was a disappointment for me. I use a 40D, and if I was careful to shoot stopped down to at least f5.6 this lens could produce pretty good images, but not significantly better than the 70-300 consumer (non-L) zoom stopped down to f8 that I used to own. I bought the 300mm f4 planning to use it with a 1.4x teleconverter, but this degraded the image noticeably, even stopped down to f8. In addition, the IS on the 300mm f4 was only good for one or two stops max with no tripod-sensing feature, and the AF was not consistently accurate and was too slow to follow birds in flight when using a 1.4x teleconverter. Downloading images at the end of a day shooting with the 300mm f4 was often frustrating – too many missed shots that were either slightly out of focus or simply too soft for my expectations.
I traded my 300mm f4 for a used 2009 300mm f2.8 IS. The difference between these two 300mm lenses is like night and day. The image quality from the f2.8 lens is amazingly sharp and brilliant. The outrageously fast and accurate AF and tripod-sensing IS combined with the very bright viewfinder image make the lens a joy to use. It can be shot wide open with confidence and accepts a 1.4x teleconverter with virtually no image quality loss. With the converter the 300mm f2.8 still focuses faster and more accurately than the bare 300mm f4 lens. Yes, the 300mm f2.8 is bigger and heavier, but it is still quite portable and I routinely hand-hold it with no problems. Many people are happy with the 300mm f4, but if, like me, you expect a little more from an L-series prime lens, rent the f2.8 version and try it for yourself. Is a used 300mm f2.8 worth three times the price of a new 300mm f4? For me, the answer is absolutely yes.
December 11, 2011
Pretty nice lens.
I have used this lens for a year now and am generally happy with its performance. I moved to this lens from a EF 100 - 400mm IS because I had heard that prime lenses give better image quality. I think the autofocus is a bit slower and there is a very annoying "clunk" that is well documented with the IS of this lens. I shoot whitetailed deer and usually can get a couple of frames shot before they hear the lens and dart off. The image quality is very good and image stabilization really helps shoot while on foot. Overall I think this is a great lens if your subjects aren't too spooked by noise.
June 1, 2011