Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens Review

Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM Handling and features

The classic white finish applied to Canon's L-series telephoto lenses is unchanged, so Canon users will find the look and feel of this lens quite familiar. Thanks to a completely new optical design and the use of magnesium alloy and titanium in the lens barrel construction, this lens feels quite light and compact for a 300mm f/2.8 optic. In fact its weight of 2.4kg is 8% less than that of its predecessor and it balances well with the Canon EOS 5D MkII body used for testing, even without the addition of a battery grip. A substantial non-removable tripod collar is provided, with the added feature of a Kensington-compatible locking point, so that the lens can be tethered to an immovable object, or yourself, to help prevent theft. Needless to say, the lens is weather resistant and built to take the rough and tumble of daily professional use in its stride.

Autofocus is powered by a ring-type ultrasonic motor, and focus speed are incredibly quick, locking onto static subjects almost instantly and performing well when tracking erratic moving subjects too. Manual focus adjustments can be made at any time, whether the lens is set to AF or MF. A new PF, or power focus mode has also been added, which is optimised for use when recording video. In this mode the ultrasonic motor focuses the lens to enable smoother focus transitions and for making pull-focus effects easier to perform. Focusing can be performed by either moving the focusing ring slowly or by slightly twisting an additional knurled metal focus ring, which is located ahead of the normal focus ring. The focusing motor then focuses the lens more smoothly than would be possible by turning the focus ring manually. The standard focusing ring is well damped and has a smooth action, which helps to make fine adjustments easy to apply. Four focus lock buttons are also located on a rubberised ring around the front of the lens.

Specialised 52mm filters can be used via a drop-in attachment system located near the lens mount. Closest marked focusing is two metres and the lens is fully compatible with Canon's range of teleconverters and extension tubes.

The image stabiliser system on this lens promises to allow sharp hand held photography at shutter speeds up to four stops slower than would be possible without. The system performs very well, keeping the viewfinder image very steady in modes one and two. Mode three only initiates the stabilisation system when the image is being taken. With care, sharp hand-held images are possible around two thirds of the time at 1/20sec, which is roughly four stops slower than the usual rule of thumb would allow.

Canon 300mm L II (3)

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