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70-300 quality vs. 100-400 - owners

Steve Wagner , Jul 21, 2011; 06:59 p.m.

Can those who have owned and used both the 100-400 and the new 70-300L speak to the relative optical quality, in terms of real world results? Especially curious to hear from longtime 100-400 owners who are intimately familiar with it's output, and how your new 70-300 compares.
Thanks

Responses


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Mark Kissel , Jul 21, 2011; 07:43 p.m.

I don't have the 70-300L, I do have the 100-400L (and I like it a lot, but it is a tad soft around 400mm). I'm glad you asked this question as I would be interested in hearing feedback as well. I'm sure you've probably seen the reviews over at the DP. Looks like a pretty favorable review.

http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/Canon-EF-70-300mm-f-4-5.6-IS-L-USM-Lens-Review.aspx

Guy Geno , Jul 21, 2011; 10:01 p.m.

I've used them both but didn't do a proper "test" to compare the IQ. The newer IS in the 70-300 shouldn't be ignored. The 100-400's just as good as long as you get a good sample.
Alternatively, get primes? :)

Randall Farhy , Jul 21, 2011; 11:52 p.m.

Bret-this might be a difficult question to base decisions on, or even recieve many "qualified" (stipulations set forth in the query) responses from-It seems from my own research experience that the 100-400L had IQ issues early on but latter versions seem to be excellent. That said:
1. Owners of a newer (supposedly improved) version of the 100-400L aren't going to be as likely to purchase the 70-300L. Too much overlap. Money best spent elsewhere.

2. Dissatisfied owners of the earlier versions of the 100-400L are more likely to have purchased the new 70-300 and will likely be biased, and rightfully so.

My suggestion, if you are seriously contemplating the purchase of one over the other- rent them, put them through their paces, comparing your results with those of the various reviews. Then make your decision based on the results of your real world testing and how those results and factors such as weight etc., best suit your style and desired results.

James (Jim) Johnson , Jul 22, 2011; 09:34 a.m.

Brett,
I totally agree with Randall's recommendation, . . . rent each of them and put them through their paces.

I've had my 100-400 for about 6 years, and even though I've read some of the reviews of the 70-300, I didn't see anything that had me "itching" to replace my 100-400, and certainly would not consider duplicating most of the focal length. That said, . . . I would think it may be difficult to find one individual that is using both lenses that will provide an unbiased opinion.

My 100-400 purchase was an upgrade to the better version of the EF 75-300, so maybe I'm a little biased too! But I always found the 75-300 focal length a bit short for the type of shooting I do, plus the 75-300 could not be coupled with a TC. I can only assume the new 70-300 can be used with a TC. Something else to consider possibly. . .

I would be "hard pressed" to consider trading my 100-400 for any other zoom in that focal length, but a 400mm prime! That would be a different story altogether!

Scott Ferris , Jul 22, 2011; 10:28 a.m.

This is a reasonable report. He seems very happy with the 70-300.

Tapani Tarvainen , Jul 23, 2011; 12:43 a.m.

The new 70-300L *cannot* be used with Canon's teleconverters! Various 3rd party TCs would presumably work, though.

Scott Ferris , Jul 23, 2011; 12:52 a.m.

Is that really an issue? I can't imagine trying to use an f8 420mm or an f11 600mm, if you need those focal lengths then get a 400 f 5.6 prime.

Steve Wagner , Jul 24, 2011; 08:48 p.m.

Thanks all, I was for years accustomed to a 70-200 f4 and 400 5.6, paired to a 5d2, then had it all stolen, then got a new 5d2 and 24-105 for a long project in India, and rented a 100-400, and although it wasn't bad it wasn't up to par as far as what I was used to. As I ponder how to fill in the tele end, the 70-300 is very attractive for travel and docu work. Maybe I'll rent one and see what I think.

Mike Hitchen , Jul 25, 2011; 09:08 a.m.

The 70-300L IS is an excellent lens and I was fortunate enought to be able to rent one for a week to coincide with rental of 100-400.

If you liked your 70-200, the 70-300 has the same image quality but carries this all the way to 300mm; and the lens is remarkably well balanced on my 30D so I did not really notice the the additional weight.
I enjoyed renting both the 70-300 and 100-400. The plus-points for the 70-300 are that at 300mm it is as good as (maybe a tad better than) the 100-400 at 300mm; it has 4 stops IS (compared to the 3 stops on the 100-400) and the AF is much faster. It was a very difficult decision but I eventually settled for the 100-400 for two reasons: I had the 70-200 IS already and as I wanted the lens for wildlife I reason that at the end of the day there is no substitute for focal length. If I did not already own the 70-200 I could easily see myself getting the 70-300 lens instead and being very happy - and it would have been extremely difficult to justify the 100-400! I sometimes still wonder if I made the right decision :)
Note that when I rented the two lenses I put them on the 30D and any differences may be more clear on the 5DII.

Looking at your last post my logic would be to get the 70-300: for general shooting it is an excellent lens (and you may not need to replace the 70-200), then its significantly smaller size, additional stop of IS and its AF speed make it more versatile than the 100-400. For occasional wildlife you could shoot at 300mm and crop, or add a 1.4xtc and the good light in India will give you decent shutter speeds - you may even be able to AF if the light is particularly good (I think the Tamron 1.4x tc is a really good option if you go down this route). But I am not totally convinced that the 70-300 + crop (or tc) will be better than the native 100-400 at 400mm.


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