Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 USM IS II - Review / Test Report - Sample Images & Verdict
Lens Reviews - Canon EOS (Full Format)

Sample Images

Make Canon
Model Canon EOS 5DS R
ISO Speed 640
Focal Length 123.0mm
Aperture: f/5.6
Exposure 1/50s
Make Canon
Model Canon EOS 5DS R
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 96.0mm
Aperture: f/7.1
Exposure 1/640s
Make Canon
Model Canon EOS 5DS R
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 70.0mm
Aperture: f/7.1
Exposure 1/1000s
Make Canon
Model Canon EOS 5DS R
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 160.0mm
Aperture: f/5.0
Exposure 1/500s
Make Canon
Model Canon EOS 5DS R
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 219.0mm
Aperture: f/5.6
Exposure 1/1250s
Make Canon
Model Canon EOS 5DS R
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 93.0mm
Aperture: f/11.0
Exposure 1/320s
Make Canon
Model Canon EOS 5DS R
ISO Speed 640
Focal Length 70.0mm
Aperture: f/5.6
Exposure 1/10s
Make Canon
Model Canon EOS 5DS R
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 213.0mm
Aperture: f/8.0
Exposure 1/500s
Make Canon
Model Canon EOS 5DS R
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 300.0mm
Aperture: f/5.6
Exposure 1/2000s

Competition

In the 70-300mm class, you have a variety of options. If you'd like to stick to Canon, there's the EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DO IS (center) as well as the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 USM L IS (right). The "DO" lens is obviously much shorter thanks to its Diffractive Optics element. However, in mechanical and optical terms it isn't really any better and it's a much more expensive lens. The EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 USM L IS has, of course, a superior build quality. Optically it has an evener performance characteristic across the range and it is a tad better in the image center. That being said, its price tag is at 1350USD/EUR vs 450USD/550EUR for the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 USM IS II (to the left below). A more realistic competitor is the Tamron SP AF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 USD VC Di. However, the Canon lens is superior in most respects and it costs only a little more.

Visual comparison courtesy of camerasize.com.

Verdict

Usually you can bank on Canon for delivering some of the best tele lenses across all classes and that also applies to the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 USM L IS II. Canon managed to improve the lens in many aspects compared to its predecessor. As far as the optical characstistic is concerned, Canon shifted the priority more to the long end of the zoom range - which is generally a good thing. The image quality doesn't reach professional levels but for a consumer lens, it's certainly impressive with a generally very good quality at 200mm and 300mm. At 70mm the image corners aren't that hot (combined with a bit of field curvature) but from a real-life perspective that's usually a lesser issue. Lateral CAs are very low. Image distortions and vignetting are about typical for such a lens.

In terms of build quality, it can't hide that fact that it is a consumer-grade lens thus you have to live with a fair amount of plastics. However, it doesn't feel cheap and it's very well assembled. Upon first shooting, the most surprising aspect is the AF speed.The mk I lens was rather slow in this respect but the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 USM L IS II is exceedingly fast really. Usually we aren't getting overly exciting by this topic but the performance is quite stunning really. Canon's new Nano USM clearly makes all the difference here. Whether you like the "focus-by-wire" system for manual focusing is up to your personal taste - we think it's perfectly fine on this lens at least. A rather unusual feature is the LCD information display on the lens. You may debate whether this is really useful but if you require distance information etc. it's there when you need it.
Of course, a Canon tele lens wouldn't be complete with an image stabilizer. Its efficiency has been improved to 4 f-stops (official figure). As usual, we recommend to expect less than that but it comes close in real life.

Given the sum of its qualities, the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 USM L IS II is a very obvious choice in this lens class. For the money, it's a steal really and that's quite a seldom occurrence these days.

Optical Quality (at 50 megapixels):Not provided at this stage   
Optical Quality (at 21 megapixels):
Mechanical Quality:
Price/Performance:
      
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