Upgrading Canon 75-300mm IS: 70-300mm IS vs. 70-200mm f/4L IS

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by malbuquerque, Nov 10, 2009.

  1. I found a few posts discussing these lenses, but none in the context I'm trying to make this decision. Some advice based on my particular case would be greatly appreciated.
    In the last 5 years I've been trying to assemble a nice set of three zoom lenses that I use mostly for travel photography (and that includes wildlife, street photography, landscape, portraits, etc). After some investment over the years, I now have the following setup:
    • Canon 50D
    • Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM
    • Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM
    • Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM
    The 75-300mm is the oldest of the three and clearly the one in most need for an upgrade.
    My budget allows me to to sell the 75-300mm, get the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM and still have a couple hundred dollars to spend on some wireless flash triggers (I also do some portraits with off-camera flashes). The same is true if I got the EF 70-200mm f/4L without IS, but since I seldom use a tripod when travelling, it seems to me the IS would be important to keep. If I made the jump to the EF 70-200mm f/4L IS, I would have to spend another $350 and forget my wireless triggers.
    I've learned over the years that a lens is a big enough investment that sometimes spending more upfront saves you money later, avoiding multiple upgrades. However I'm not so sure how much benefit I'll get from each of these two lenses (EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM vs. EF 70-200mm f/4L IS).
    When I look at the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM, I question if the improvement in IQ and IS technology is a large step up from the EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM. I'm not at all satisfied with the results I get from my lens, particularly wide open and towards the 300mm end. However, if the difference is not significant, I might just keep the older version of the lens or go for the EF 70-200mm f/4L IS (either now or later).
    When I think of the EF 70-200mm f/4L IS, I question if the range is right for me. It also overlaps a bit with my EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM and it doesn't go very long. Since I'm used to the 300mm focal distance, I will definitely be looking at getting the 1.4x teleconevrter down the road and may have to use it quite often. The teleconverter will bring aperture up to 5.6 and will reduce IQ, so I wonder how that setup will compare with the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM.
    Sorry for all the details and I hope you got to this point. Any advice will be very helpful when making my final decision. I want this to be a long term decision and provide me with good IQ and the range I'm used to having.
  2. I found that the greatest impact on the use of a lens is in direct relation to its speed. The teleconverters add to the cost and reduce the benefit afforded by reducing the speed of the lens. You have a good range of lens, but none are very bright. If I were going to change anything about your lens setup, I would take the most used lens and get a much brighter version of it. The wireless triggers are best bought on ebay from some of our friends in Hong Kong. I boguht my Photo GPS (for Nikon D90) from Ebay and it cost me half of what Nikon wants, and worked every bit as good, and maybe better in some ways.
    The best feeling I got from buying any new lens, came from buying the very bright ones. I have the 50mm F1.8, which is a standard for many people, and might be the most bought lens on the market. I also found great joy in using the Tonina 35mm F2.8 Macro. Not only is it very inexpensive, but also very bright and useful for so much. I also love my Nikkor 10 - 24mm zoom, it is one I have used a lot when hiking in the Grand Canyon. You can see some of my photos on my facebook. Joseph Massimino I tried to mention what lens I used for many of the pictures. I suggest that you get one bright lens. It will cost a bunch more, but it will fill a gap you have now.
  3. The 70-300 IS will be a major upgrade from your current 75-300. Every test and comment from users I've seen suggests not only that but also that it's just as good as the 70-200/4L. If you want the range, the 70-300 is the one to get.
  4. Well the EF 70-200mm f/4L IS, is a very sharp lens, but if you are leaning to portrait work you need faster lenses like say, ef 85 1.8 of ef 200 2.8 if you want to go long, look at the 300f4 IS L, dont use teleconverters on any of the lenses you mentioned, you wont be happy.
  5. I don't own it, but heard the 70-300 IS lens is a huge improvement over the old 75-300 IS. The only complaints I've heard about it is the focus speed between 200 and 300 mm is sometimes pokey and the front element rotates which might make polarizer use a bit frustrating. Other than that image quality is outstanding for the price. Photozone gave it a glowing review.

    Photozone test here: http://www.photozone.de/canon-eos/200-canon-ef-70-300mm-f4-56-usm-is-test-report--review
  6. The 70-300 IS isn't really a huge upgrade, and the 70-200 may leave you wanting more range without a 1.4x teleconverter.
    Maybe save some money and get the 100-400 L?
  7. Thank you for the responses so far.
    In regards to lenses with wider apertures, I am definitely giving them more credit lately. I can always replace my EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM with a EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L USM in the future, but I really feel the need to upgrade the telephoto zoom at this point.
    There seems to be some different opinions on how much of an upgrade the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM is over the EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM. I suspect I'll notice and be happy with the improvement at first, but not sure if it will still make me longing for the EF 70-200mm f/4L IS.
    Another important question is if anyone out there has compared the IQ of the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM with that of the EF 70-200mm f/4L IS + 1.4 teleconverter combination. Any idea if the 70-200mm still gets the edge?
    The very large L-telephoto lenses are not really an option as I typically need to travel fairly light and avoid the tripod whenever possible.
    Keep those responses coming.
    Thanks again,
  8. I can understand your desire to save weight, but it really sounds like Andrew is right. You'd be happier with the 100-400L. There is no doubt you'd be happy with the image quality of the 70-200L, but I after using the 75-300 I think you're going to miss that 100mm of focal lenth. I have the 100-400L and I can tell you that in decent light, it is very easy to handhold. The IS is very stable and usable even at 400mm (again, in good light--though I've gotten some really clear images bracing on a fencepost or a half wall in dim conditions).
    As you mentioned, the only downside is weight. A little more than a full pound from the 70-200L f/4 IS to the 100-400L IS is not a small difference when you're schlepping it on your back for a couple of hours and it is definitely my only complaint about this lens. But the versatility I get from it usually keeps me from complaining too much.
  9. you can't compare the IQ of the 70-200 to that of the 70-300. the 200 is almost as bright and sharp as primes, the 300 is dusty looking by comparison. 300 has lower contrast with dim colors. sharpness of the 300 is okay and IS is the best i've seen, otherwise though it's not as good. whether one lens or the other is the right range for you is your call, but the IQ difference is obvious.
    70-200 f4IS is one of the best zooms made. the 70-300 is more of a consumer lens
  10. this is a good comparison:
  11. I have had all four lenses at some point in time -

    <P> yes the 70 - 300 is a really big step up from the older 75 - 300, and there were many posts about choosing between that and the 70 - 200 but it really can hunt around when focusing, and as Alan mentions, I think the colors and clarity don't come through as well. The last travel trip I took it on I vowed would be my last - I'd be happy to sell you mine.

    <p> the 70 - 200 f/4 non-IS is a lovely lens but I missed some shots from time to time so I upgraded to the IS version and remain a happy camper - from time to time I miss not having the 300 range but not as much as I thought I would

    <p> I also have the 24 - 105 and while there is overlap I consider that a plus - I don't like to switch lenses often when I travel and I try and stretch the time between changes

    <p> My current solution is not cheap but works well for me, I have a FF camera for the 24 - 105 and kept my 20D for the 70 - 200. I will probably upgrade that to a 7D at some point if the dollar every stops losing value...
  12. Marcelo, I concur with Alan that the 70-200/4 IS is one of the finest zooms currently made. So why not get it, as well as a 300mm or 400mm L prime? The reason I'm suggesting this is that these primes (and the 70-200) deliver much better image quality than does the 100-400 L. Just a thought.
  13. The 100-400 L is a good $600 USD more than a 70-200 f/4 IS as of 11/2009, but sounds like it fits what you need.
    I don't like f/5.6. And I don't like shooting any tele without some kind of support. But I've seen images from this lens and a 30D or 40D printed to 36" or beyond that are very nice, or at least usable.
  14. This is great. A lot of information to help me decide.
    I get the sense that in terms of IQ, the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM would be a good upgrade from the EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM and that the EF 70-200mm f/4L IS would be even better. However, the EF 70-200mm f/4L IS comes at the expense of a higher price and the loss of the 200-300mm range.
    I'm trying to convince myself of what Jeff said that I won't miss that range as much as I think, but I would probably invest in the 1.4x teleconverter anyways to cover that need. I would like to hear more about IQ with the teleconverter in that range. I know it will be worse, but by how much and is it comparable to what I'll get from the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM.
    I've been reading about the 100-400mm but it's just beyond my budget right now and too heavy to carry while travelling. I don't think it's an option for me at this point. A 300mm prime would also be nice but too expensive.
    I'd like to hear more opinions and details about the 1.4x teleconverter.
    Thanks again to all that responded so far.
  15. Crops from a 200mm shot using a 50D and a 70-200/4 IS look very fine indeed.
    The 1.4x extender works very nice as well.
    I have both but I hardly ever use the extender. I'd seriously try using the 70-200 without before getting it. (Mine was a present so I'm not too sad about the lost money...)
    Anyway, I don't think you'll be sorry if you get the 70-300 but my money would be on the 70-200/4 IS.
    Have fun, Matthijs.
  16. 70-200 f4 IS with canon 1.4tc II far exceeds IQ of 70-300. (70-300 IQ is at its worst at the long end).

    70-200 with 1.4 tc:


    100% crop:

  17. The 70-300mm is an outstanding lens and great value. The 75-300mm is a terrible lens.
    This is a massive upgrade and well worth it.
    Kindly disregard anyone telling you otherwise because the obviously do not have both lenses.
    The 70-300mm is sharper across all ranges than the 70-200mmL non IS.
    The 70-200mmL 4 IS is a tad better than the 70-300mm- and probably one of the best zoom lenses ever made. It has a different optical formula than the 70-200mmL non IS.
    In addition to sharpness, the 70-200L lens will not extend, have better build and seal, constant aperture and more even performance wide open. Still, the 70-300mm is top value for the money.
  18. The 70-300 is not one on many peoples wish list but its small and light for a 300mm lens and if you think about it as a 5.6 lens you have a constant appeture, with the bonas of getting wider at the small end its a great lens for its weight and size. I have one and find it OK I also have a 70-200 2.8 IS. If your shooting in good light with F8 and F11 the appeture is not an issue. With flash and DOF 5.6 will give a background blur at 200 plus mm. If you want money for wireless triggers then its a very good option but don't expect it to be a wildlife lens in low light. Best is if you know someone who has one or you rent one. For portrait work your 24-105 is fine lens on a 50D. I would only go for the 70-200 if you can afford the IS otherwise you will be wishing you had it. If you not shooting wild life I don't really think you will have a big use for the extra mm after 200 but thats a maybe a personal style thing.
  19. Since you do mention wildlife, Marcelo, you will probably find the 70-200 a bit short.
    I am another happy user of the 10-22/24-105/100-400 combo on a crop camera (good ol' 350D in my case!) I also have a 70-300IS for when I want to travel light, as the 100-400 is a big heavy lens by comparison. I have had the old 75-300 non-IS in the past.
    The 70-300IS is a big improvement on the 75-300, and the 100-400 is a significant improvement in sharpness and contrast on the 70-300, as you can see here:
    If I could only have one it would be the 100-400 for versatility and quality, but the 70-300IS is a very good lens, too, within its limitations (the most significant of which for me is its AF ability!)
  20. I've been learning a lot about these two lenses from all of you. This is valuable information.
    Unfortunately the more I read the harder it is for me to decide. If I had to point out the main factors against each of the two lenses weighting on my decision, it would be as follows:
    EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM: the lower IQ (or at least lower contrast) most people see with the 70-300IS, although sharpness doesn't seem to be a huge problem up to 200mm. I have to admit that in the comparisons I saw on the web, images using the 70-200mm f/4L look much better. I keep thinking that if I get the 70-300mm IS I'll will be most likely having to upgrade again in a few years. But then again, maybe Canon will have a 100-300mm f/4L by then.
    EF 70-200mm f/4L IS: the price and the potential need for the 1.4x teleconverter is part of the issue (if I don't get the tc, the range becomes an issue), but I'm also questioning the "white-factor" many people talk about. I'm going to be travelling with this lens to a variety of different countries and I'm wondering how much of a problem it has been to other people in terms of attracting attention and safety. I never had a problem with the 75-300mm IS (same look as the 70-300mm IS).
    Tough choices ahead...
    Thanks again,
  21. people can spot expensive equipment a block away no matter what color the lens is. you're worried about someone bashing you over the head to take a 'white' lens? ...use a point and shoot -- or -- don't go. you want quality images, use the equipment that delivers same.

    you think you'd be 'safe' with a 70-300 because it's not white? you do have some tough choices to make.
  22. Thanks for expressing your opinion on the subject Alan. I see your point, although I wouldn't put it the same way you did.
    I never had a 70-200mm f/4 IS in my hands so I am curious why so many people mention the fact that it attracts attention. Maybe I should test one at the store or rent one for a day and see it for myself before buying one.
    I never felt unsafe with my current lenses and that is a function of so many other factors aside from their color. However, my traveling is not all about photography and quality images, but also about quality time with those I'm traveling with. I was just hoping those who own the lens might have an opinion on how this particular lens may have caused them any problems before.
    If that subject does not have a place in this forum, I understand and will figure it out by myself. The most important thing is understanding the quality and flexibility of these lenses, so I'm happy with the information I got so far.
  23. I have one white lens and never had à feeling of unsafety because of it. But I do think it attracts à bit more attention.
    Though it's size is also cause of that.

    Your pose, the way you handle yourself and the place you visit all influence your feeling of safety.

    Have fun! Matthijs.

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