CANON ZOOM LENS EF 100-300MM 1: 5.6 L. Review by reader Radozhiva

Overview of the CANON ZOOM LENS EF 100-300MM 1: 5.6 L lens specially for Radozhiva prepared Roman Kurbatov.

CANON ZOOM LENS EF 100-300MM 1: 5.6 L

CANON ZOOM LENS EF 100-300MM 1: 5.6 L. increase.

Back in 1987, Canon released the Canon EOS 650 DSLR, the first to use the new EF mount. By that time, the Canon FD platform, which had existed for 16 years, had acquired a huge fleet of cameras, optics, accessories and loyal supporters. The transition to a new bayonet, and even incompatible with the old one, was called by some as “betrayal”. The last "serious" camera that ended the era of the FD - the Canon T90 - was literally packed with electronics. Liquid crystal display, two processors, the main of which was engaged in the calculation exposure, support for TTL system, zoomable flashes. 1986, in the USSR manual Zenith with the old Zeiss Biotar recounted once again remains an unattainable dream for many. Autofocus was invented at the end of the 60s, in the 70s it is used by individual manufacturers, it is obvious that in the 80s it is no longer possible to do without it. Nikon is experimenting with an interesting device - the TC-16A autofocus teleconverter, which in addition to the teleconverter functions itself, also offers autofocus for a number of manual lenses. Canon offers four autofocus lenses of which one could work on any FD camera, and three more only in the T80 bundle. Decisions need to be made about the future path of development and Canon decides to sacrifice backward compatibility for a whole host of benefits.

Firstly, it is customary to make the new system completely electronic, and place the focusing motor in the lens. This solves the problems with large long-focus lenses, which are difficult to focus with a “screwdriver” from the camera body. Secondly, it was decided to make the bayonet diameter unusually large - as much as 54 mm (FD - 48 mm, Nikon F - 44 mm, M42 and M39, which follows from the name of the mount - 42 and 39 mm, respectively). This solution will allow to increase the size of the last optical element and develop lenses with an aperture of 1.2 and even 1.0 unattainable for competitors!

Thirdly, once violating compatibility with the FD system (although these lenses could still be installed through a special adapter with glass), Canon ensured forward and backward compatibility of cameras and lenses. This means that any EF lens can be mounted on any EOS camera, from the 650 film EOS 1987 to the 1 2020DX Mark III. Any old camera will “chew” almost all the capabilities of the new lens, including stabilization that did not exist at that time, and any new camera will accept the most ancient lens. The decisions made were so successful that maintaining backward compatibility already on the new platform - Canon RF - turned out to be a simple matter, and with the advent of the long-awaited matrix stabilization, many old lenses, like the hero of this review, can play on fresh cameras with new colors.

Lenses for the EF system appeared one after another, some of them were completely new developments, and some were optically old manual lenses, successful solutions of the FD platform that received autofocus. Canon NewFD 100-300 / 5.6 - the “grandfather” of the lens in question was released in May 1980 and was an inexpensive threefold telezoom, quite dark, but very compact. In November 1985 the Luxury version of this lens with the coveted red ring was released. It was at this time that Canon began experimenting with special types of optical glasses and ELKA received a slightly revised optical formula, which included one element of artificial fluorite and one element of low dispersion. In 1987, both the L and non-L zooms were redesigned for use as autofocus lenses.

Comparative characteristics of all four lenses 100-300 / 5.6

Canon FDn 100-300 / 5.6, May, 1980, 9/14, 835 gr, 0.18x
Canon FDn 100-300 / 5.6L, November 1985, 10/15, 710 g, 0.18x (Macro - 0.3x)
Canon EF 100-300 / 5.6, March, 1987, 9/15, 685 gr, 0.26x
Canon EF 100-300 / 5.6L, June 1987, 10/15, 695 gr, 0.26x

This chart shows the evolution of lenses. The FD version L has become much lighter (perhaps due to special elements and better quality optical glass) and received a "macro mode" with a rather impressive coefficient of 0.3x in comparison with the 0.18x of its predecessor. EF lenses are made even lighter by changing body material to plastic, but this difference is offset in part by the added weight of the aperture motor and autofocus. Filter thread diameter - 58mm. All four lenses have an 8-blade aperture (electronically controlled in the case of EF versions) and a trombone-type zoom mechanism. Interestingly, two lenses EF 50-200 / 3.5-4.5 with L- and non-L-modifications were developed according to a similar “paired scheme”, but they had no FD ancestors.

FD lenses were focused with a large ribbed ring and were made of metal. EF lenses are made of plastic, which is strong enough and has a nice small pattern - about the same black plastic now all L-lenses are made. The front element bezel is still made of smooth plastic and this is what gives the lens a somewhat "plastic" look. The focus ring for EF lenses is narrow and sits near the front element. For FD lenses, the “trombone” was justified - the photographer did not have to take his hand off the lens, using translational movement for zooming and rotary movement for focusing. In the case of autofocus versions, it is more convenient to “pull” the lens by holding your hand approximately in the center of the lens, but to focus you have to move your hand to the edge. By inertia, Canon released several more zoom trombones, including the first version of the EF100-400L, the tenfold EF35-350L, but later moved on to the more familiar and convenient helicoids and two rings.

Only the EF 100-300 / 5.6L lens was in my hands, so the further narration I will talk about it, although most of the above applies to other lenses in the family.

The lens was released in June 1987, almost immediately after the announcement of the new EF platform and is the first L-lens in it. It was produced until 2000. My lens is labeled UF0506, which means it was manufactured at a factory in Utsunomiya, Japan (U), in 1991 (F), in May (05). That is, he is already 29 years old at the time of the review. At the same time, I have every reason to believe that I can shoot on it and on all future cameras of the EOS R line, using autofocus and electronic aperture.

The length of the lens when folded is 18 cm. The lens gets another 2.5 cm at the focal length of 300 mm. The front element rotates and extends forward - the most inconvenient solution that prevents the use of a polaric and a gradient filter, and this extension adds another 2 cm to the length of the lens, increasing the length to 22.5 cm.For a tight bag, you may have to switch the focus mode to manual, focus on infinity to reduce the size to a minimum. Quite often I have to shoot something through the reticule, so to make the reticle not visible, I lean against it with the front element of the lens (this also gives an additional support in low light). Given the rotation and extension of the front element, this style of shooting becomes not only uncomfortable, but potentially traumatic for the lens.

The package includes the lens itself with two caps, a soft leather tube with a built-in zipper (instead of the usual drawstring pouch) and a hood.
Included with my lens was the ET-62 II lens hood. There is also an ET-62 hood, identical in size, which differs from the second modification in the absence of black felt, which is glued to the inner surface, it is completely plastic. There were also references to the ET-62 III blend, but I could not find out about its features.

The hood is petal (non-bayonet), the petals look rather flimsy, but have not yet broken and are pretty confident. The hood can also be worn while in the stowed position, while it does not close the focus ring or even the focus scale. I came across the opinion that the hood is too short for such a telephoto, but still it's better than nothing. Perhaps this is because in the early stages of Canon tried to unify lens hoods as much as possible and offered them for a number of lenses. In particular, ET-62 / ET-62II are compatible with the following lenses:

  • EF 100-300 f / 5.6 L,
  • EF 100-300 f / 5.6,
  • EF 80-200 f / 4.5-5.6,
  • EF 70-210mm f / 4,
  • EF 50-200mm f3.5-4.5,
  • EF 50-200mm f3.5-4.5L,
  • EF 100-200mm f4.5A.

Focus motor type AFD (arc-form-drive). This is an ordinary compact electric motor (brushless or brushless) with a set of gears that change its torque and located in the form of a kind of “arc” or “arch”. This type of engine is considered to be the noisiest and slowest, although, for example, having its own EF 80-200 / 2.8L has a significantly higher focusing speed, comparable to USM autofocus. Despite the slowness, there are no problems with focusing stationary objects, and tracking autofocus is able to track and “not let out” objects moving at a low speed.

Sample Photos

Examples on Canon EOS 5D MARK II и Canon EOS 7D MARK II:

The only control besides the focusing ring is a switch that has three positions - M, 2M-∞ and Macro-∞. MDF - 1.5 meters - not thick for a macro, but pretty decent for an old telephoto. These 50 cm account for about half of the "run" of the lens unit, therefore, without needing on the street, it is better not to turn on the "macro" mode. When you turn on any of the autofocus modes, the focus ring simply scrolls without encountering resistance. In manual mode, the ring has stops on MDF and infinity and does not scroll further, at first this is unusual after working with modern FTM lenses, but it allows you to feel by touch that the limit has been reached on one side or another. It is very narrow (about 2 cm) and rather inconvenient to operate, it does not move very smoothly, with a plastic tinge, as if there are grains of sand between the cogs of the gears (perhaps it is - the lens is over 30 years old). A full turn is about one and a quarter turn (450 degrees), but it is uncomfortable to use it for manual focusing. It seems that Canon decided that after the advent of autofocus, no one wants to use manual focus and left it as an optional option for "oldfag". And only a few years later, on new lenses, the ring itself becomes comparable to the zoom ring, FTM appears and the smooth movement of the metal helicoid through oil.

In addition to the above features inherent in the old lens, it is distinguished by one more, the most important, which prevents its use as a universal telephoto lens - low aperture. On the one hand, most modern televisions have aperture at 5.6 at the long end. But 300 mm require excerpts at least 1/250 (and preferably 1/500), since there is no stabilizer, and similar excerpts require a sufficient level of illumination. In the open sun, when there is enough light, the image is very contrasting and with hard shadows, which is not suitable for all subjects. And in cloudy weather or in the evening, ISOs of 1600-3200 are not uncommon, even on an open aperture. Yes, and similar ISOs are only relevant on full-frame cameras, even my 7D Mark II at 3200 starts to make too much noise. It will be interesting to try this lens on recently announced cameras with matrix stabilization, perhaps they will give it a new breath. Naturally, when the camera can no longer raise ISO, it begins to increase excerpt, so shooting at the long end, even at the "golden hour" gives a large percentage of marriage precisely because of the movement.

The lens gives decent sharpness in the center of the image, which falls slightly towards the edge. I will try to run tests to see if this is due to the curvature of the field or simply to a drop in resolution. Fine details are discernible even at open aperture, at f / 8 the situation becomes even better, a rather strong vignette disappears, but naturally, the image cannot be compared in sharpness with modern L-lenses. Do not forget that with a focal length of 300 mm on MDF, the depth of field even with a fully open lens is only 1 cm, so the usual “pseudo-macro” flowers are difficult to make completely sharp, especially taking into account the drop in sharpness to the edge - this is still not a macro lens with its equally sharp field of view. And to cover up to 8-11 due to the lack of a stabilizer, you need a flash.

In backlight, the lens loses contrast like all old lenses, and when the sun enters the frame, it is quite possible to get red and green highlights. With some effort, these shortcomings can be turned into advantages, given the nature of the blur, even such frames look original.
Chromatic aberrations expressed insignificantly, perhaps, for the entire time of filming, I managed to catch them only in the bare branches of trees against the background of a knocked out sky.

This lens cannot be used with standard Canon teleconverters; it does not have additional contacts for this. To improve macro capabilities, instead of macro rings, it is better to use macro lenses (such as Raynox DCR-250), but it’s worth considering all that was said about the lack of stabilization and uneven field sharpness. The lens is very light, therefore, tripod rings are not provided for it, a full-frame camera will not “nod” even when mounted on a tripod.

It may appear that the lens has some disadvantages. But he has the main advantage, which makes you put up with all the features. This is a picture. The image of this lens is an amazing combination of the technology of its time (it is still an L-lens) and some peculiar beauty of the old technology, which in many reviews is called “analogy”. The picture is quite sharp and contrasting, the bokeh is soft, caramel-smoky, the lens “washes” the background well despite the low aperture. The color rendering is very interesting, it seems that in addition to a good contrast in brightness, the lens also increases the contrast of colors, in most cases the picture requires minimal correction exposure, black and white points, and rarely when she needs an increase in saturation - the colors are quite saturated right away. I would not take it as the main telephoto lens for serious shooting or on a tourist trip, on the crop I prefer the more reliable, fast and stabilized EF-S 55-250, which has about the same dimensions. But as a “just in case” telephoto for portraits or for walking with some old 5D / 5D Mark II full-frame camera or just as a budget autofocus telephoto - it is quite worth the money.

You will find more reviews from readers of Radozhiva here.

Add a comment:



Comments: 15, on the topic: CANON ZOOM LENS EF 100-300MM 1: 5.6 L. Review from the reader Radozhiva

  • Rodion

    An interesting lens, definitely much better than the 100-300 tokens that I had)

  • B. R. P.

    Thanks for the review. Interestingly write.

  • Oleg

    Thanks, informative

  • Valery Nazarkin

    It was also extremely sharp and contrasting on the open aperture, the color is very colorful inherent in the Elk!

  • Roman

    What's interesting ... At the start, this lens could be bought in Japan for 93 yen. In 800, 86 yen cost 1000 rubles 3 kopecks. It turns out that at the then exchange rate this lens could be purchased for 81 rubles.

    • Roman

      More precisely, at that time, this lens could NOT be purchased for 357 rubles. Bgggg.

      • Hawthorn

        In 1986, this lens cost 3 months' salary for an engineer.

        • Artur

          Isn't a good lens now worth 3 salaries? ... and even more ...

          • Novel

            This is not even the point. I don't have exact statistics for Japan, but it seems like the average salary there in 1990 was 300 yen, so you could buy three lenses with it. Another thing is what could be bought from photographic equipment for 000 rubles in the USSR then. If we take it at the official rate, it seems like Granite 357-80, which is manual, cost more than this autofocus elka.

        • koba

          Amazing calculations - in 1986 my father worked as an engineer, and his monthly salary was 319 rubles. I remember this well, because he always made fun of - the ruble did not reach 320 ...

          • Dmitry Kostin

            This is a gorgeous salary at the time.
            My father then had a salary of 200 rubles.

  • koba

    It remains to add that this is the cheapest lens with fluorite glass inside, which you can generally buy and it costs about $ 280 in excellent condition.

  • German10

    Roman, thanks for the review, and especially for the historical insight into the EF mount!
    Despite his age, the old man is in many ways fit!

  • York

    Good lens.
    So old, noisy, weird, but light and very picturesque.

    Once I had a penny in a bundle, then I sold it, then I suddenly found it again - for repair, but for free.
    And now for flowers I sometimes use the same nickle, for a walk in the sun - that's it.

  • Koba

    I bought a Canon 7D especially for him, I thought that autofocus would be really very slow, and all that, but in fact it turned out that everything is very normal. Except for those cases when af ​​begins to refocus, it works fast enough for ordinary types of shooting, there are very few misses, sharpness even at open apertures is excellent, in conjunction with this camera, a very light and small set with a good tele-range is obtained. I thought that at 300mm the shutter speed should be at least 1/500, but in fact it turned out that 1/320 is quite sufficient. The Canon 7D camera itself is not very large and its grip is also not very large, even for medium hands, but it is not very annoying when shooting.

Add a comment

Copyright © Blog author - Photographer in Kiev Arkady Shapoval. 2009-2023

English-version of this article

Versión en español de este artículo