Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 USM IS II - Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews - Canon EOS (Full Format)

Review by Klaus Schroiff, published June 2018


It's always fun to test (or read about) the latest, high-end lenses but the truth is that most of the market action is still in the bottom- to mid-level segment and, yes, we neglected this here lately. One of the typical representatives in this segment are slow-speed 70-300mm lenses and there are a bunch of them. Among them - the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 USM IS. The trusted and surprisingly good fellow has been around since 2005 and that's quite something. It only had a few issues (relative to its price tag) which explains its long production life but recently, Canon felt the need to fix those in ... you guessed it ... the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 USM IS II. There have been quite some price hikes during the last few years but, surprisingly, the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 USM IS II remains very moderate in this respect at just under 450USD/550EUR.

The build quality of the lens is pretty good for a consumer grade lens. It follows the same new (outer) design philosophy that we have seen in the EF-S 18-135mm f/4.5-5.6 USM IS. It doesn't look overly exciting in our opinion but your mileage may vary. Anyway, the lens body is made of good quality plastic based on a metal mount. The zoom and focus rings are rubberized and offer a quite smooth action. The lens extends when zooming towards the long end of the range. However, unlike on its predecessor, the inner tube does not rotate during focusing. A transport lock is provided. A curious new little feature is an LCD display on the lens. First seen on Zeiss Batis lenses (albeit in OLED variant here), it provides information about focal length, focus-distance or depth of field. Whether this is useful on this specific lens ... well ... it doesn't hurt anyway.

Another very obvious difference compared to the mk I is the focusing speed. It is BLISTERINGLY fast and easily as fast as the fastest Canon lenses that we have tested to date (yes, believe it or not). The AF motor changed from a slow micro-USM to Canon's brand new Nano-USM. Nano-USM is also dead-silent. Nano-USM has one side-effect though - in manual focusing mode there's no mechanical coupling anymore thus you are driving the AF motor when turning the focus ring. However, we don't consider this to be a drawback.
Another improvement relates to the image stabilizer. The new one has an efficiency up to 4 f-stops. Whether you can reach that depends on your coffee saturation which is costing me one stop at least.

Optical construction17 elements in 12 groups including 1x UD element
Number of aperture blades9 (rounded)
min. focus distance1.2m (max. magnification ratio 1:4)
Dimensions80 x 145.5mm
Filter size67mm
Hoodbarrel-shaped (bayonet mount, optional)
Other featuresimage stabilizer

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