I just got Canon EF 75-300mm f/4.0-5.6 III Lens recently for Canon 550D and was eager to get a longer range telephoto for it, primarily for astrophotography work using a basic motorized equatorial mount. While one of the L-series lenses would have been ideal, I settled for the EF 75-300 f/4.0-5.6 III lens, partially because of the price and partially because I reasoned I wouldn’t need the image stabilized version (which was more expensive) if I was taking night sky pictures.
Canon EF 75-300mm f/4.0-5.6 III Lens Review
It was smaller than I anticipated, but felt comfortably hefty in the hand. Attached to the 550D it felt weighty but not excessively so, although it was unlikely I would be walking about carrying it for any lens of time.
I suspected this Canon EF 75-300mm f/4.0-5.6 III Lens, if I had to carry it for a day out somewhere, I’d soon get tired of the weight. The majority of the lens body was black plastic, with the mount itself made of metal. Both the zoom and focusing rings were easy to discern to my fingertips.
The lens itself was threaded for a 58mm filter (and a UV filter went on automatically to save the lens from any damage). Just bear in mind that the entire end of the lens rotates while focusing, so that if you were shooting with a graduated filter or a circular polarizer you might have to re-orientate the filter after focusing.
Zooming out to 300mm the lens approximately doubles in length: the zoom action felt a little stiff, but that might be down to it being a new lens. On the good side, the lens didn’t show any indication of ‘lens creep’ regardless of whether the lens was pointing up or down.
Lifting and Pointing:
The camera and lens combo was easy, although it required resting my elbows on something or bracing myself when shooting at the far end of the zoom range.
The pictures so far (mostly of birds about the feeders in the garden) have been reasonable if not brilliant. The lens clearly struggled with focus towards the far end of the zoom, occasionally searching for the focus and sometimes settling on something that was not being aimed for. In areas of better light (instead of birds in hedges) the lens was much better behaved, and was pretty spot-on.
Reading the specs of the IS version, it probably wouldn’t struggle as much as this one does in poorer light (although I’ve not had the opportunity to do a comparison).
As far as astrophotography images go it’s allowed me to take some pretty good images of the sky: having a 300mm lens has brought a host of new objects within reach (and with the 1.6x crop factor of the 550D, this worked out at a 480mm equivalent in 35mm terms).
All I had to do was to remember to switch off the AF and manually focus the lens, and used the live view function whilst the camera was attached to a netbook running the camera control software from Canon.
The size of the camera and lens combo is clearly getting to the point where the basic mount struggles to deal with the weight and star-trailing occurs as a result, so it looks like a larger, more capable mount might be my next purchase.
So, is this Canon EF 75-300mm f/4.0-5.6 III Lens any good? Yes, but with provisos. If you wanted a state of the art lens, then you’d clearly have steered towards the L-series (and probably wouldn’t be reading this review anyway!).
If you wanted something very capable, then the IS version of this lens would probably be a better bet. But if you wanted something that would work at a reasonable price, and you’re willing to forgo the bells and whistles of later models, then I think this lens would be a pretty good investment.
Canon EF 75-300mm f/4.0-5.6 III Lens