Canon EF 100-300mm f/4.5-5.6 USM - Review / Lab Test Report
Lens Reviews - Canon EOS (APS-C)
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Review by Klaus Schroiff, published March 2007

Lens kindly provided by Friedhelm Poschadel!


The Canon EF 100-300mm f/4.5-5.6 USM can probably described as the next quality step up from the el cheapo kit tele zooms but at around 300€/US$ it is also already 50% more expensive than e.g. the EF 90-300mm f/4.5-5.6 USM. On APS-C DSLRs the field of view is equivalent to 160-480mm so it is fairly suitable for sports or wildlife photography, less so for portraits. The 100-300mm USM is a full format lens so it is compatible to all EOS cameras out there. Released back in 1990 it is a fairly old design by now.

The minimal focus distance is 1.5m resulting in a max. object magnification of 1:4 at 300mm. The optical design is made of 13 elements in 10 groups with no special elements. The lens features 8 aperture blades. With a size of 73x122mm and weight of 540g it remains quite compact qualifying it as a good walk-around tele zoom lens.

The tested lens has obviously seen some abuse over the years but it is still pretty obvious that you're getting a little bit more here compared to the bottom end class. It is, for instance, rather unusual for a consumer tele lens to feature an internal focusing (IF) design - the front element does not rotate neither during zooming nor focusing. Unlike its cheaper cousins (as well as the more expensive EF 70-300mm IS) the ring-type USM drive is very fast and provides full-time manual override in one-shot AF mode. On the downside the outer construction does still rely on lots of plastic but there's at least a metal mount. Both the broad, rubberized zoom ring as well as the tiny plastic focus ring feel a little stiff to operate. Despite its obvious age and use the tested sample did not suffer from zoom creeping.

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