A perfect test of the new Canon EF 70-300mm ƒ/4.5-5.6 DO IS USM lens came while photographing seabirds on a foggy morning in Morro Bay, California. Bobbing around in a small kayak, I used the lens with its Image Stabilizer technology and composed dozens of sharp images during those early-morning hours. A kayak is no place for a tripod, and with the lens mounted on a handheld Canon EOS 20D, the resulting photos were remarkably crisp. The 70-300mm was easy to handle since it's a mere 3.9 inches long and weighs just 25.4 ounces. Despite its performing at an equivalent 35mm focal length of nearly 500mm (112-480mm), the lens compensated for both body vibration and the unpredictable movement of the boat.
One of the exciting features of the lens is the inclusion of the Canon Diffractive Optics (DO) technology. First introduced four years ago in the Canon EF 400mm ƒ/4 DO IS USM lens, this technology addresses issues of color accuracy with digital SLRs by compensating for the normal diffraction that occurs when light passes through lenses, which leads to chromatic aberrations. Often described as color fringing and commonly perceived toward the edges of the frame, this diffraction reduces color accuracy and sharpness. By including DO technology, Canon has produced a lens that delivers accurate color throughout the frame, as well as good contrast and excellent shadow and highlight details.
The zoom features a close-focusing distance of only 4.6 feet and a non-rotating front element, making the use of a polarizer more convenient. Surprisingly, the filter thread is only 58mm. Its small attachment size makes filter purchases much more affordable; plus, the filter size also matches a wide selection of other Canon lenses.
The compact size of the Canon EF 70-300mm and its excellent performance make the lens a great choice for photographers who want to travel light. Although its small size may be deceiving, the lens delivers sharpness and color that ranks it up there with the big boys. List Price: $2,000; Estimated Street Price: $1,299.