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Lens review

Canon EF 300 mm f/4L IS USM

13 November 2009
Szymon Starczewski

11. Summary

Pros:
  • high build quality,
  • quite handy, taking into account the lens’s parameters and the fact that it is equipped with IS and USM,
  • excellent frame centre picture quality and very good at the borders,
  • very low chromatic aberration,
  • negligible distortion,
  • invisible coma,
  • low astigmatism,
  • almost zero vignetting,
  • quick, silent and accurate autofocus,
  • rich accessories included in box.

Cons:

  • average work against bright light,
  • stabilization efficient only at the level of 2 EV.

The Canon EF 300 mm f/4L IS USM is a very well-done lens, and the comparison between the cons and the pros can be the proof of it. Mind you the cons are the effect of the age – after all, the lens was launched 10 years ago. The 2 EV level of stabilization doesn’t impress anybody anymore – in the newest Canon and Nikon constructions we find 3-4 EV IS levels and in Olympus bodies – 3 EV. Using of newer coatings would help with the work against bright light for sure. As it was shown during the Canon’s EF 70-200 f/4L IS USM test, contemporary constructions also perform a lot better with converters attached.

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Overall, it seems that the amateur and half-professional segment of the 300-400 mm lenses class is a bit neglected by manufacturers. Canon offer is only seemingly wide; it’s true that we have the 4/300 IS, tested here, and also an EF 400 mm f/5.6 L USM. The problem is that all these instruments are rather ancient, equipped with the first generation stabilization system or even without stabilization at all. A modernization is needed very much in this class; after all not everybody can afford more expensive models like a 2.8/300, a 2.8/400 or a 4/400 DO and also not everybody will be satisfied with a cheaper 70-300 IS USM.


Sample shots:

Canon EF 300 mm f/4L IS USM - Summary Canon EF 300 mm f/4L IS USM - Summary Canon EF 300 mm f/4L IS USM - Summary
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 300 mm, f/4.0, exp. 1/5000 sec., ISO 200
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 2.7 MB
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 300 mm, f/5.6, exp. 1/3200 sec., ISO 200
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 2.9 MB
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 300 mm, f/7.1, exp. 1/2000 sec., ISO 200
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 2.2 MB
Canon EF 300 mm f/4L IS USM - Summary Canon EF 300 mm f/4L IS USM - Summary Canon EF 300 mm f/4L IS USM - Summary
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 300 mm, f/4.0, exp. 1/800 sec., ISO 400
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 2.6 MB
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 300 mm, f/5.6, exp. 1/640 sec., ISO 200
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 2.8 MB
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 300 mm, f/8.0, exp. 1/400 sec., ISO 200
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 2.4 MB
Canon EF 300 mm f/4L IS USM - Summary Canon EF 300 mm f/4L IS USM - Summary Canon EF 300 mm f/4L IS USM - Summary
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 300 mm, f/7.1, exp. 1/250 sec., ISO 400
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 2.3 MB
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 300 mm, f/8.0, exp. 1/640 sec., ISO 400
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 2.8 MB
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 300 mm, f/5.6, exp. 1/1000 sec., ISO 200
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 3.8 MB
Canon EF 300 mm f/4L IS USM - Summary Canon EF 300 mm f/4L IS USM - Summary Canon EF 300 mm f/4L IS USM - Summary
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 300 mm, f/6.3, exp. 1/500 sec., ISO 400
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 3.0 MB
Camera: Canon 20D + TC 1.4x
Parameters: 420 mm, f/5.6, exp. 1/3200 sec., ISO 200
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 2.5 MB
Camera: Canon 20D + TC 1.4x
Parameters: 420 mm, f/8.0, exp. 1/500 sec., ISO 200
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 2.6 MB
Canon EF 300 mm f/4L IS USM - Summary Canon EF 300 mm f/4L IS USM - Summary Canon EF 300 mm f/4L IS USM - Summary
Camera: Canon 20D + TC 1.4x
Parameters: 420 mm, f/5.6, exp. 1/800 sec., ISO 200
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 2.3 MB
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 300 mm, f/13.0, exp. 1/400 sec., ISO 200
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 2.2 MB
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 300 mm, f/6.3, exp. 1/800 sec., ISO 200
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 2.6 MB



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