Canon 300mm f2.8 Lens for Wildlife Photography

Table of Contents

The first lens in this series, the Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L USM, was released in 1999. It gained popularity due to its focused performance and image sharpness, making it an excellent choice for wildlife photographers.

The EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens is now the latest in the family and boasts additional features such as image stabilization, UD-glass elements, and a fluorite element.

As a result of the new features, the lens is able to achieve remarkable levels of sharpness even when shooting at maximum apertures.

In this review, we are going to look at everything you need to know regarding the lens, going from what its focus capabilities is, image quality, specifications, and so on.

Canon EF 300mm f/2.8 IS II USM Specifications

Mount Type: Canon EF
Weight (Approx.): 5.6 lb (2.55 kg)
Dimensions: 5.04 in. (128 mm) x 9.9 in. (252 mm)
Lens (Groups): 13
Lens (Elements): 17
Maximum Aperture: f/2.8
Minimum Aperture: f/32
Focal Length Range: 300mm
Image Stabilization: Yes
Autofocus: Yes
Focus Mode: Manual, Manual / Auto
Internal Focusing: Yes
Minimum Focus Distance: 8.2 ft (2.5 m)
Compatible Format(s): EF, APS-C
USM (Ultra Sonic Motor): Yes
UD Glass Elements: 2
FL Glass Elements: 1
Filter Size: 52mm slip-in
Diaphragm Blades: 8

Build Quality

In terms of build quality, this lens is excellent. However, the lens’s robust metal construction makes it fairly weighty to hold all day. Investing in a tripod to support the weight of the lens will be a wise decision.

Using a tripod or a monopod will help you shoot better images because handholding the lens for an extended amount of time might cause unsteady hands.

The 300 f/2.8 IS II is one of the smaller Canon telephoto lenses. The lens body is made of magnesium alloy, which results in this lens weighing 5.6 pounds.

The Canon 300mm f2.8 lens is also weather-sealed, making it considerably easier to take great photos outside in any weather condition.

Despite heavy rain and snow, the lens works just as well after several uses.

The lens features a large hood to shield the front element and keep your photographs from being flared. You can also turn stabilization on and off, use the focus limiter, change the stabilization mode, and more.

Image Quality

The Canon 300mm f/2.8 IS is a high-quality lens with superb sharpness even when stopped down to f/2.8. To achieve maximal sharpness, set the lens to f/5.6.

This is truly one of the best performing Canon lenses available.

The color and contrast are outstanding, and the Chromatic Aberration can easily be corrected by the fluorite element. There is only a slight decrease in light fall-off as the aperture is reduced from f/2.8.

This Canon EF 300mm f/2.8 lens performance is worth the attention of a professional photographer since the optical formula contains just 16 elements in 12 groups, with two artificial fluorite glasses and innovative chemical treatments to each glass piece.

Additionally, aberration control is unblemished, with color lines only visible if the focus is decreased to its minimum distance.

It is possible to capture very detailed landscapes, regardless of focusing challenges caused by a short depth of field.

When you are using a 300mm lens set to f/2.8, you will see subjects and backgrounds that are smooth and unfocused, and there will be an interesting occurrence where objects that are close to the camera, such as branches and fences, are excluded from the final image.

Focus Capabilities

The EF 300mm f/2.8 IS lens provides great focus capabilities since it can focus very quietly, rapidly, and with high precision.

This lens is built to maintain focus on fast subjects. FTM (Full Time Manual Focus) is activated, with an internal focusing Ring USM (Ultrasonic Motor) being utilised.

When you want to limit the focus distance, you can choose one of three settings: 2.5m to 6.4m, 6.4m to infinity, 2.5m to infinity.

Incorporating a narrower focus range results in improved focus lock times. The autofocus can be momentarily turned off via the autofocus stop buttons.

In addition to offering three focus settings, the 300 f/2.8 IS offers a Focus Preset function. Simply specify the focus distance by turning the white knurled focus ring.

When combined with a good camera body, the lens speed and focus capabilities provide a terrific combo that allows you to snap beautiful photos of birds, foxes, bears, and other types of wildlife.

This is due to the fact that the camera body is critical when it comes to autofocus quality, therefore always pair your lenses with a high-quality camera body.

You might go with a Canon 1Dx camera or a Canon 1D III, for example. When used with the Canon 1Dx, this lens provides the ideal bird and low-light photography settings.

Reduction of Vibration

This Canon lens is equipped with a 2-stop image stabilization system.

While it’s a helpful technology, it doesn’t compete with systems found in Canon’s EF 200-400 f/4, which features 4-stop stabilization.

The positive thing about the lens is that its large aperture is great at compensating for the effects of camera shake, making it great for shooting in low light at shutter rates that would be hard to accomplish with lenses with smaller apertures.

Lens Vignetting

Using the lens at its maximum aperture produces a considerable amount of corner shading.

Typically, this contributes to the softness and dreaminess of this lens’s images when they are shot at f/2.8 and, unless you are shooting against a single color background, you’ll just be OK with the vignetting.

Most of the vignetting is gone by shooting at f/4, and little to no vignetting remains at f/5.6.

Flare

Overall, the flare is under control on this lens.

Essentially, the Canon EF 300mm f/2.8 performs a decent job when dealing with strong lights, since the picture quality remains high, although there will be a reduction in contrast due to the exposure.

Extenders

The 300 f2.8 has been a fundamental component of a system which includes the 1.4x and 2x extenders and teleconverters, and the 300 f2.8.

When you add the 1.4x extender to the 300, you end up with a 420mm f/4.0 lens.

A 600mm f/5.6 telephoto lens can be created by combining the 300 with the 2x extender.

There are also other great extenders that were recently produced by Canon: the EF 1.4x III and the EF 2x III. The extenders have been revamped to better integrate with the new lens line.

When viewed at 100%, there is a minimal quality reduction with the EF 2x III. When used with the 2x extender, the AF speed is slightly slower than using a bare lens.

For shooting static images, this has minimal significance, but for fast-moving ones, it can be extremely problematic.

The EF 1.4x II paired with the new 300 makes a great combination.

There is just a minor reduction in image quality as opposed to using a bare lens. In addition, the AF speed is only marginally reduced.

Using extenders with a Sony A7Riii body and Metabone adapter yields greater results, since accuracy and AF speed seem to be less affected.

Who Is This Lens For?

When it comes to sports and events, a fast f/2.8 aperture is an ideal choice, since it’ll help capture full-body subjects in-focus. However, bear in mind that you will likely find it more difficult to take photos of subjects that are further away.

As long as you buy a decent lens extender, you will be able to take photos of those subjects, though this may result in some loss in aperture speed and picture quality.

The Canon 300mm f2.8 lens is best for wildlife photographers who want to capture larger animals within a 20m range.

Perhaps you might want to stick to non-violent large animals, as getting too close to a bear with your 300mm lens might not be the best idea!

You can still take photos of smaller animals or animals that are further away from you.

However, in that case, you should consider investing in an extender.

Wildlife photographers appreciate this lens’s quick speed, which is a result of the outstanding bokeh that is created at f/2.8 and the compression that can be achieved with a 300mm focal length.

Taking pictures of wild animals in a busy environment is a simple process that results in a fantastic sense of depth between the animal and the background.

Portrait photographers will also benefit from the bokeh and compression that this lens produces.

Conclusion

Right now, the Canon EF 300 f/2.8 IS II is the best investment you can make if you are into taking photos of sports, events, and wildlife.

This lens has seen multiple upgrades, such as reduced weight, and fluorine lens coatings. All of these things contributed to this lens becoming the best fast-aperture lens in its class.

Everything about the EF 300 f2.8 IS II is impressive, and will likely keep you happy and entertained for many years to come!