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Products >> All Products In Focus: EF70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM- Part1

Lens Review: EF70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM Lets You Take a Rich Variety of Landscape Photographs

The EF70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM is a telephoto zoom lens that is unexpectedly compact and lightweight, and that is one of its highlights, especially to landscape photographers who often end up going on long hikes to get their ideal shots. In this article, GOTO AKI shares with us some images taken with the lens as he tells us more about what makes this lens so attractive. (Reported by GOTO AKI)

Landscape photography, shot with the EF70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM lens

EOS 6D Mark II/ EF70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM/ FL: 70mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/5.6, 1/125 sec)/ ISO 400/ WB: Daylight


A lightweight body excellent for handheld photography, great for handling rapidly-transforming landscapes

To test out the prowess of the EF70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM, I brought it to Nagano Prefecture, which has an abundance of natural landscapes. There, I trekked around a mountain shooting pictures for an entire day. Weighing around 710g, the lens was so lightweight that even after all that walking around, I did not feel as fatigued as I usually would—a pleasant surprise for a 4.2x telephoto zoom lens. Of course, it probably helped that I paired the lens with the compact and very light EOS 6D Mark II, which ensured paramount portability.

When I shoot landscapes, I tend to capture scenes where a change in wind or light conditions causes a transformation in my subject's appearance. In order to be able to react quickly to such fleeting moments, I need to be able to shoot handheld. The EF70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM has a minimum focal length of 70mm, which provides an angle-of-view that is close to that of the naked eye, and covers focal lengths all the way to 300mm, which is arguably super-telephoto. With such a range, I not only can photograph the plants at my feet as if I were using a standard zoom lens, but also capture beautiful landscapes in the distance. The short minimum shooting distance of 1.2m also means that you can use the lens like a macro lens and fill the frame with your subject. The lens is so versatile, it almost feels like you have 2-3 different lenses packed in this one lens body.

Mornings and evenings are when you are most likely to get dramatic scenes, but there is also less light. This is when the 4-stop image stabilisation comes in very useful. It not only allows the freedom to shoot what I want, but is also an appealing feature to have on hand when shooting handheld.

Below, we take a closer look at the different aspects of this lens.


EF70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM

EF70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM

Lens construction: 17 elements in 12 groups 
Minimum shooting distance: 1.2m
Max. magnification: 0.25X
Filter diameter: φ67mm
Size: approx.φ80×145.5mm
Weight: approx. 710g

The EF70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM is a compact and lightweight telephoto zoom lens for full-frame cameras that also promises high image quality. Pairing it with the EOS 6D Mark II provides additional portability. As the lens is equipped with a powerful build-in image stabilisation system, it can be used for handheld shooting even in low-light conditions. When attached to a DSLR camera with an APS-C-size sensor such as the EOS 77D or EOS 800D, it gives viewing angle equivalent to focal length 112 – 480mm.

Below, I share more about what I feel are the strengths of this lens.


1. A maximum focal length of 300mm, allowing you to fill the frame with part of a subject

EF70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM (close-up at 300mm)

EOS 6D Mark II/ EF70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM / FL: 300mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/5.6, 1/640 sec, EV-0.3)/ ISO 400/ WB: Daylight

This flower is known as ‘libanotis coreana’, and I found clusters of them growing in the marshlands of Nagano. To capture the shape of the flowers in this simple image, I used the 300mm focal length to crop out all unnecessary background elements. The background bokeh effect was achieved at the maximum aperture of f/5.6.


2. Lightweight at 710g, convenient for shoots involving trekking and hiking

EF70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM (handheld at 70mm)

EOS 6D Mark II/ EF70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM / FL: 70mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/5.6, 1/125 sec)/ ISO 800/ WB: Manual (4200K)

Trekking deep into the woods, I was greeted by this awe-inspiring scene where warm, green light flooded the otherwise shaded area. It felt good to be able to release the shutter at almost the same instance those feelings of inspiration hit me. The lens was light enough such that I did not feel tired even after those long hours of walking.


3. The powerful IS allows me to quickly capture fleeting moments of transitions in light, handheld

A fleeting landscape scene, shot handheld at 70mm

EOS 6D Mark II/ EF70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM / FL: 70mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/5.6, 1/125 sec)/ ISO 400/ WB: Daylight

There are some scenes that you cannot achieve using a tripod. The EF70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM has a built-in IS feature you can switch on to shoot handheld, providing the flexibility of changing you position and angles to respond to a rapidly changing scene. This was what helped me capture the above image of a moment where the entire landscape was filled with the beautiful light of daybreak.


4. The 1.2m minimum shooting distance allows you to achieve focus even on subjects right at your feet

Shot at 1.2m minimum shooting distance

EOS 6D Mark II/ EF70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM / FL: 70mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/5.6, 1/80 sec, EV-1.3)/ ISO 800/ WB: Daylight

Light was shining like a spotlight on the juniper haircap moss at my feet. The 1.2m minimum shooting distance on the lens allowed me to capture this scene from a comfortable standing position. The fast, Nano USM-driven AF and the light weight also came into play.


GOTO AKI’s verdict

A: Image quality
B: AF speed
C: IS feature
D: Focal length
E: Pricing


For landscape photographers who often take long hikes in nature, the light weight and compact size of the EF70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM is much-welcome advantage. There is very little fatigue when you walk around holding the lens attached to the camera, and even if you do put your camera and lens into the camera bag, there is a lot leftover space.

In terms of image quality, this lens results in aberration in some scenes especially when compared with L-series lenses. But these can be corrected through RAW image post-processing with the Digital Lens Optimizer (DLO) provided with the Digital Photo Professional (DPP) software (or available in-camera with models such as the EOS 5D Mark IV), resulting in images a notch higher in quality. In other words, this lens could provide a very high cost-performance benefit, as long as you are prepared to carry out aberration correction with DLO.

The focal lengths covered by the lens should be adequate for shooting with standard to telephoto angles of view. All you need is an additional wide-angle zoom lens, and you should be able to take on almost all scenes you could possible come across in landscape photography.

For more information about this lens, check out:
In Focus: EF70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM


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Born in 1972 in Kanagawa Prefecture and graduated from Sophia University and Tokyo College of Photography. Goto published a photo collection work titled "LAND ESCAPES" and is also actively engaged in works such as “water silence” an installation that merges photographs with videos.