Canon EF 70-300 F4-5.6 IS USM

This lens has a lot going for it: compact, lightweight, 300mm reach, Image Stabilizer, and most important of all - L Image Quality at F5.6. Auto focus is fast enough for daytime youth soccer and the Image Stabilizer is extremely helpful, shooting in low-light situations.

The minuses are: the lens is a little soft wide open between 70-135mm, the front barrel rotates while focusing, there is no full-time manual focus, and an F4 lens is too slow to stop actions for indoor and nighttime youth sports.

This lens is perfect for travel and daytime sports.

F-stop breakdown: 70-90mm F4, 90-135mm F4.5, 135-250mm F5, 250-300mm F5.6

The lens is very sharp wide open between 200-300mm - details a football field away:

Our doggy son less than 4 meters (12 feet) away:

Dollar bills less than 2 meters (6 feet) away:

Image Stabilizer is indispensable, photographing high-school dramas handheld, using mostly 1/6 to 1/60sec shutter speeds from 70-300mm. Without IS, even stationary subjects will come out uselessly blurry. I tried.

IMO, out of all of the telephoto zooms under $1,000 with Canon mount, this is THE best lens for shooting daytime youth soccer from the sideline. 70mm is just wide enough when players are right in front, and 300mm is barely long enough when actions move to the other end of the field. AF is surprisingly good and has no problem keeping up with the actions. Since most of the photos are taken at or near 300mm, Image Stabilizer is extremely helpful in the late afternoon or on a cloudy day.

300mm (480mm) F5.6 PP resized

300mm (480mm) F5.6 and 220mm (352mm) F5 PP resized

300mm (480mm) F5.6 PP resized

300mm (480mm) F5.6 PP resized

However, for indoor and nighttime youth sports an F4 lens is too slow to stop actions; therefore, an F2.8 or faster lens is needed like the EF 70-200 F2.8L IS used here. By the way, these images were heavily cropped because 200mm (320mm) is a bit short for soccer.

Lightweight and 300mm (480mm) reach are reasons why this lens is great for traveling and hiking.

210mm (336mm) F5.6 PP resized

300mm (480mm) F5.6 PP resized

260mm (416mm) F7.1 PP resized

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