After returning from Lakshadweep I received my new Canon EF 300mm f/2.8 L IS USM which i had ordered almost 2 moths prior to my departure to Lakshadweep Islands. Here is my short review on that. I find Canon EF 300mm f/2.8 L IS USM lens is an ideal walkabout lens. Lens really isn’t too heavy (only 2.5Kg 😉 ) and when combined with a good neoprene strap, there is no hardship on a good hike/walk and the performance and potential rewards are well worth the effort. In reality, you really won’t be holding the camera up to the eye for prolonged lengths of time. I also purchased an Indian made Gimbal tripod head via eBay for mounting this lens which I will review later.
The lens arrived in the CS30028 case, looked a bit feminine if truth be told (reminds of a vanity/make-up case). Also supplied is the obligatory slip-on lens cover, the E-145 in this case. This is a non-elasticated cover but quite awkward to remove and put back. I have found a 120mm plastic can lid which fits perfectly as a lens cap. It is easier than slip-on lens cover. The Canon EF300mm f2.8 is also supplied with the ET-120 lens hood. The lens hood is pain to slip on and off but is a life saver for all the glares as well as in preventing damage to front of the lens.
As with other Canon IS lenses, there is a comprehensive control panel to the side of the lens body. Uppermost on the switch control panel of the Canon EF 300mm f/2.8 L IS USM lens is the focus limit control. 3 options here, the 2.5 metres – infinity (full) setting allows the lens to focus from minimum distance to infinity. Then the 2.5 metres – 6.4 metres and finally 6.4 metres to infinity. Basically, if you’re target is expected within a known distance from you, it speeds up autofocus if the lens isn’t hunting through it’s entire range to get a lock-on.
Next we have the AF/MF switch. Says it all really, though you can always operate the camera in manual focus even if it’s set to AF, being FTM (full time manual) design. Personally I would have prefered the option of totally disabling the focus ring, as it’s can shift if you’re working from something like a beanbag.
Next we have the IS switch, Image stabilization on or off. It has confusing 1 & 0 setting which originates from binary, I is on and 0 is off. IS is of older 2-3 stop range but is very useful. The drive is also queit as compared to my Canon EF 300mm f/4 L IS USM lens.
Underneath the IS switch is the Image stabilization mode switch. Mode 1 controls movement vertically and horizontally, mode 2 just counteracts vertical movement so as to allow you to pan along with a subject without the IS system trying to compensate.
Lastly in this panel is the focus preset functions. Basically, you can set a focus distance on the lens, press ‘set’ and you can recall this distance at any time via the twist ring (the ring with the serrated edge) just in front of the focus ring. It’s handy feature if you’re likely to be shooting at 2 vastly different distances. I would prefer it if focus recall was an option on the 4 focus lock buttons and in a really ideal world, a focus recall button would be situated far closer to the camera body, or indeed controlled via the camera itself. I need to find out how to use them effectively.
The tripod collar can be simply removed from the Canon EF 300mm f/2.8 L IS USM, and this is my choice for use as a walk around lens.
To be honest, I haven’t had this lens very long, so this is just a first impression after 2 weeks or so, of some pretty grim weather. My main use for this lens is with tele-converters, so most of my initial use has been with the Canon EFII 1.4x and EFII 2x tele-converters attached, and quite frankly we all know what these flagship Canon EF 300mm f/2.8 L IS USM lenses are capable of used bare.
With the Canon EFII 2x Tele-converter auto focus speed does drop slightly, it’s fast and reliable but not exceptional as it is with a 1.4x tele-converter. As the whole combination is giving f5.6, all focus points on the Canon DSLR are available. Stopping down to f8 does reap the rewards over having the aperture wide open.
Minimum focus distance of Canon EF 300mm f/2.8 L IS USM lens is a relatively long 8.2′ (2.5m) for a maximum magnification of .13x. An extension tube can resolve this issue, but more assembly is required and infinity focus is lost. Maximum magnification is extended to .18x and .25x with 12mm and 25mm extension tubes respectively. Extenders do not affect the MFD (Minimum Focus Distance) of the lens they are mounted behind, thus the MM (Maximum Magnification) of the lens is also multiplied.
Over all results are fantastic, The Canon EF 300mm f/2.8 L IS USM Lens is probably most-noted for being extremely sharp. Results at f/2.8 are very sharp from the center right into the full frame corners and only a very slight improvement is noticed when stopped down. This lens is very usable at f/2.8 (I primarily use this lens at f/2.8) – if the super-thin DOF (Depth of Field) is adequate of course.
I am still getting my biceps ready to use these beast of a lens so wait for more photos soon. As you can see the samples of the pictures below I am using this lens as both macro & tele lens shootings birds and butterflies together (not in the same frame though 😉 ). Below are few early samples of House sparrow(Passer domesticus), Ashy Prinia (Prinia socialis) and Plain Tiger butterfly(Danaus chrysippus).
EXIF info – Aperture : ƒ/4.5 | Camera : Canon EOS 5D Mark II | Taken : 16 May, 2010 | Flash fired : no | Focal length : 420mm | ISO : 400 | Location : 12° 55′ 19.761239991788″ N 74° 51′ 57.39768019884″ E | Shutter speed : 1/800s | Images and content Copyright © Krishna Mohan. Please contact me to purchase prints or for image publication license.