Despite its age, the 300mm f/2.8L IS has a reputation for being very usable at its widest aperture, which produces exceptionally sharp resolution throughout the entire surface of an image, from the center to the full-frame corners.
The fast speed of this lens is a winner with sports and wildlife photographers because of the excellent bokeh that is produced at f/2.8 and the total compression of a 300mm focal length. Shooting sports with a distracting crowd background or a wild animal in a busy natural environment is easily controlled, creating an excellent effect of depth between the subject and background. Portrait photographers are also able to generate excellent images with the bokeh and compression this lens creates.
The optical qualities of the Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS are nothing short of amazing, rendering colors, true and rich, and contrast, balanced and natural. The lens contains 17 glass elements in 13 groups as well as one fluorite and two UD elements for supreme control of chromatic aberration. The optics in this lens also minimizes light fall-off, creates difficult-to-see distortion and reduces the effect of flare to a point of non-existence.
Landscape photography with a telephoto lens is an interesting variation from the tried-and-true use of a wide-angle lens. The EF 300mm f/2.8L is virtually the perfect lens for shooting landscapes with a compressed view. The fast aperture allows the landscape pro to capture those most magical of images that typically occur when the light is low.
Sports, wildlife and any pros shooting action subjects have proven the Canon’s image stabilization technology in this lens to be an important part of its legend. The “standard” IS allows photographers to take very sharp handheld photos of subjects moving slowly, while the IS Mode 2 specifically supports panning. In either case, the IS provides approximately 2 stops of faster shutter speeds, meaning you can handhold it at 1/125 or slower. Many photographers couldn’t succeed at their craft without the added tripod-sensing capabilities of the IS system. The lens recognizes when it (and the camera) is attached to a tripod and activates the secondary IS mode to compensate for smaller vibrations and movements, such as mirror slap, shutter release, etc.
Although the Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS has a bit of heft and size, it is the second lightest and smallest of Canon’s fixed focal length telephoto lenses. At 5.6 lbs. (2.55kg) and 5.0 x 9.9” (128 x 252mm), it isn’t the kind of lens to be attached to a full-size DSLR and carried around your neck. The pros know, however, that to capture the outstanding images they’ve envisioned it’s worth it to carry a bag or pack that will accommodate this lens.
Part of the EF 300mm f/2.8L’s weight and size can be attributed to its excellent build quality. Even then, Canon has used high quality magnesium alloy both to reduce some of the weight and make this lens as tough as some of the places pros take it. It has also been carefully weather-sealed, which includes the mount point when attached to an equally sealed Canon camera.
Few, if any, lenses have the legendary status of the Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS among professional sports, action, wildlife, landscape and portrait photographers. First released during 1999, it’s safe to say that this Canon telephoto lens has made many photographers legends too. Canon upgraded the 300mm f/2.8L IS to the IS II model during August 2010, but for approximately $6,800 compared to the older model at approximately $4,500, you must be a well-established pro, who needs all the newer model delivers, to justify the investment.
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Because of its age, the best place to purchase the Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS lens is from the Canon Web site. You may also be able to find it refurbished, but make sure it’s from a reputable dealer. If you can justify the price tag, then the upgraded IS II model is available from Amazon for $7,268.98.
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