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Comparing the Canon tele's: 75-300 f4-5.6 USM IS vs 70-200 f4 USM L lenses.

Cynthia Leidlein , Aug 01, 2002; 02:36 p.m.

I will be buying one of these real soon. I shoot portraits and weddings. I use a tripod alot but do candids as well. I have reviewed alot on various tele's but need more specific feedback on these two. Basically, I'm trying to judge between gaining the hand held benefits of IS but losing apeture to 5.6 at times, verses a consistent f4 with more sharpnes and clarity with the L. I want the closest I can get to the latter in my Elan 7e system. I have the 28- 135 USM IS but am not real impressed with the sharpness and clarity. (Have truly enjoyed the ability to hand hold at 1/15 tho.) Local camera store said to go 'L'. I wish I could have it all with the 'L' 2.8 IS but do not have $1800!


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Puppy Face , Aug 01, 2002; 02:58 p.m.

If you're not happy with the EF 28-135 IS USM, you'll be downright angry with the EF 75-300 IS USM. The EF 28-135 IS USM is about as good as it gets with Canon consumer zooms, that is, it's dad burn sharp. If it falls short by your standards, I'd suggest going with primes such as the EF 85 1.8 USM and EF 135 2.8 SF. You may buy both primes for about the same cost as the EF 70-200 4L USM. However, they're sharper, faster, lighter and smaller. With that said, the EF 70-200 4L USM is a wonderful lens--sharp wide open--but is too slow for indoor candids.

Bob Stewart , Aug 01, 2002; 03:00 p.m.

Cynthia, If you are not impressed with the sharpness and clarity of the 28-135IS, I think you'll be sorely disappointed with the sharpness of the 75-300IS. Personally I find the 28-135IS to be a fairly sharp lens. Conversely, the 75-300 isn't very sharp, and putting IS on it didn't improve its sharpness, optically. Looking at MTF scores on photodo.com, the 28-135 gets a 3.5 score(photodo's score based on a collection of mtf results) the 75-300 gets a 2.9, and the 70-200 f/4 L gets a 4.1. I have a 75-300 (non IS) and an 80-200 2.8L. There is simply no comparison between the two. There is notable chromatic abberation with the 75-300, particularly at the 300 end. you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. I think Canon blew it on this particular lens.

Steve Dunn , Aug 01, 2002; 03:01 p.m.

As usual, Puppy Face is right on. The 28-135 easily beats the consumer telephoto zooms. Go L if you need the convenience of a zoom, or faster primes if optical quality and lens speed are more important than zooming.

Steve Dunn , Aug 01, 2002; 03:04 p.m.

I think Canon blew it on this particular lens.

Naw - it's just that getting good optical quality on a telephoto zoom demands some pretty fancy glass. I think if you compare any of Canon's consumer x-300 zooms with any of the consumer x-300 zooms from other manufacturers, you'll find they're generally in the same ballpark - mediocre at the long end.

Bob Stewart , Aug 01, 2002; 04:07 p.m.

Steve, your right the mediocre performance of Canon 75-300IS is comparable to other consumer zooms in that focal range. My quibble is that when you put the IS technology on it, the price jumps ($419 at B&H), and the optical quality is not where it should be for a lens in that price range. While you get the benefit of IS, you still have a fairly marginal lens. I think for most people the money would be better spent elsewhere.

Steve Dunn , Aug 01, 2002; 04:15 p.m.

I see what you're getting at, but the price jump is really due to IS; an IS telezoom with better-than-consumer-grade optics would be much pricier again (guess: about the price of the old 100-300L, to get the better optics, plus $200-300 for IS).

joe cap , Aug 01, 2002; 11:53 p.m.

Cynthia, you said that your objective is to use this lens for portraits and weddings. I am not usually a fan of using 35mm gear for weddings, but if you are, the primes that puppy face mentioned are the best way to go. 15 years ago when I got started (and could not afford medium format gear) I shot weddings with a Nikon f3 and 28mm, 50mm, and 105mm AIS Nikkors. Although these lenses were as sharp or sharper than most L-series I have used since then, the small 35mm negative really could not stand up against 6x4.5 gear when enlarged beyond 8x10. This is just a suggestion,but you may want to look in that direction. -JC

Marcus Christian , Aug 02, 2002; 12:04 p.m.

When she said she couldn't justify $1800 for a lens I doubt she'd be able to switch to the not exactly cheap medium format set up.

We all know medium format gives better results, thats not exactly news. Its just alot of us can't afford to spend as much on a body as an entire 35mm kit and selection of primes.

Jay . , Aug 02, 2002; 11:46 p.m.

Cynthia, you don't mention if you are using flash or not. If yes, the 70-200/4 is the way to go from a sharpness standpoint. Another very viable option is the Sigma 70-200/2.8 HSM which is in the same price ballpark but gives an extra stop and an included tripod collar (which is not available for the 75-300 and a $100+ option on the 70-200/4-L). Another fabulous lens for your use would be the 135/2-L. Used they are in the $700 range.

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