Lens review

Canon EF 70-300 mm f/4-5.6 IS USM

23 September 2007
Arkadiusz Olech

4. Image resolution

As far as the picture quality is concerned, we have heard lots of contradictory opinions about the 70-300 IS USM. Some opinions say that it is a "hidden" L-grade lens, others say that the 70-300 IS could be easily beaten by the Sigma 70-300 APO or Canon EF 100-300 mm. This could be because of the big range of quality, although it is hard to say based on a few opinions in the forums. How did we find it?

When looking at the chart below showing the MTF50 function relativity measured in the center of the frame it looks like we happened to test the "hidden" L-grade lens. The only imperfection was its behavior for the wide open aperture, but just a slight lens stopping down (even from 5.0 to 5.6) would improve the situation to the point that the 70-300 IS USM gets better results than the Sigma 70-300 APO and it could be boldly compared to the Canon 70-200 f/4L.

Canon EF 70-300 mm f/4-5.6 IS USM - Image resolution

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Another negative piece of feedback can be given for its operating with a 300 mm focal length, but this is very typical for this class of lenses. A similar behavior, or even worse, was observed when testing the Sigma 70-300 APO, Canon EF 100-300 mm or Nikkor 70-300 mm.

Although the operation on the frame edges is not perfect, there is nothing to complain about. The results of tested lens in all the focal lengths are the same or better than the Sigma 70-300 APO and Canon 100-300. If we compare the lens to the 70-200 f/4L in the range of 70-200 mm and except the wide open aperture, the comparison looks very promising. The MTFs for 300 mm are a bit worse, but however they were, the 70-200 L-grade lens Canon competes - it's range ends at 200 mm.

Canon EF 70-300 mm f/4-5.6 IS USM - Image resolution

To summarize, if we ignore the wide open aperture behavior we can honestly agree with those who think that this is a fabulous picture quality lens.

Canon EF 70-300 mm f/4-5.6 IS USM - Image resolution