Canon EF 75-300mm f4-5.6 IS [1995]

I get frustrated by all the negative reviews this lens gets on the web. Yes, the AF is slow and the IS is first generation. Yes, it's not totally sharp and it's slow at the long end. But what other $440 (inc shipping) 300mm lenses with IS is there?

  • The DO costs $1100 and is shorter but heavier and the optics are not much better.
  • The 100-400L costs $1400, is much larger and just as slow.
  • The 70-200/4L is 50% more expensive, only 200mm and lacks IS.
  • The new 70-300 IS that replaces this lens will probably be a better lens than this version but it costs 50% more and currently (Oct 05) is still not available in the US.

The 75-300mm IS is my zoo lens so I don't use it nearly as much as my standard zoom for everyday photography. On my Digital Rebel with its 1.6x crop factor this lens is the equivalent of 120-480mm in 35mm terms, and with the image stabilization feature it makes for some exotic optics. Play to this lens' strengths (middle of the aperture range [don't be afraid of higher ISO settings to achieve this] and not the extreme long end) and your images will be able to be printed at 8x10 without an issue.

You're not going to be able to easily track a speeding cheetah with this lens but that is not what this lens is for. It's also unfair to compare this lens to L series alternatives - if you can afford L series lenses then use them but don't cut those of us down without your disposable income just for enjoying this lens. If you own this lens and you want to improve the quality of your images remember to always use a lens hood. Also, the IS is amazing but there are limits; a monopod will improve image sharpness no end. But both these tips apply equally to most lenses both cheaper and more expensive.

This lens has earned a permanent place in my camera bag. It's cheap enough and light enough to carry just in case you might need a strong telephoto. The IS really works and is really useful on a telephoto with this kind of zoom range. Don't be put off or intimidated by lens snobs and line counters. This lens also holds its value well; buy it, and use it, now while you're saving for your L dream telephoto and you will be able to sell it for not much less than you paid for it when the time comes to upgrade. When that time comes you just might decide that you want to keep the 75-300mm IS around as well. This lens is great value and very useable even if it is not a great lens.