300mm at the zoo

I recently bought myself a late Christmas present: a Canon 300mm f/4L IS lens. Today I played hookey and went to the Omaha zoo to try it out.

Ever since our New Mexico trip, where I felt dissatisfied with the performance of my 75-300mm IS lens, I'd been wanting to buy a telephoto lens with sharpness and contrast that are more like my 100mm macro prime, not the blurred and distorted mess that the zoom offers at the long end. With "image stabilization", "prime", "no less than 300mm", "hand holdable" and "under $2000" in the list of criteria, this lens was the clear choice.

Pixel peeping tests at home indicate that the lens is quite sharp, but it may have a small degree of front-focus on my rebel-class body. Whether manual or automatically focused, I did feel like it was a bit of a crap shoot whether the focus ended up centered where I wanted. Maybe my manual focus skills will improve with time. And maybe my next camera body will have focus microadjustment. Or maybe my expectations are just too high--The DoF at 1.5m and f/4 is only 3mm, according to online calculators.

Shooting with a 300mm prime is fairly limiting in terms of composition. However, compared to the other lenses I own it offers faster autofocus and is brighter than anything but the 100mm macro (but in low-light conditions the autofocus slows and sometimes fails to lock)



Entry first conceived on 12 January 2011, 23:43 UTC, last modified on 15 January 2012, 3:46 UTC
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