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Recently discovering the Canon 70-300mm mid-range zoom lens came as just such a surprise.
In fact, it could be the best kept secret among photographers. You rarely hear anyone proclaiming the greatness of this little lens. There is nothing about this lens that screams "outstanding." It is rather drab. And yet, when you look deep, you see the subtle praises.
The reason may be that the lens is not that impressive or glamorous in appearance, and "real" photographers want an attention-getter on the front of their prized digital SLR.
Perhaps it's even because there is nothing special about the price. It's not too high or too low, it's just right.
No matter the reason, the 70-300mm Canon lens is well worth taking a look at.
When you look for impressive, the first thing that draws attention is the image quality. This should be the number one consideration for any lens. And this one is rated as good, or nearly as good, as the Canon "L" lenses.
What you will generally see on blogs and forums is how simple the lens actually is. Comments like, "I thought it was a toy," express the first impressions of many first-time users.
You have heard that first impressions are lasting ones. But that is not necessarily true with this lens. Once they shoot a few frames, their opinion changes. The reason for the change in attitude is not only the wonderful image quality, but the addition of IS (image stabilization) and USM (ultrasonic motor). These are impressive qualities shared by the most advanced Canon lenses.
If you are one who likes to shoot mostly hand held shots, you will really like these features.
My favorite story about the 70-300mm Canon lens comes from a guy who found his lens at a garage sale. He was not familiar with the lens, but he decided to get it for a relative who was just getting into photography. He figured because of the price and the feel of the lens that it was not a great lens. The person running the garage sale had no information about the lens. Without any useful information at all, the photographer decides to buy the lens. Price was not mentioned, but under those circumstances, it was probably the deal of the century (except for those Ansel Adams photos that were valued at $4 million).
Upon arriving home, he put it on his Canon 5D to see if it even worked. Took a few shots. To shorten a rather long commentary, the end result is that the photographer never turned the lens over to his young relative. He deemed the lens too good for his relative and kept if for himself.
Surprises are great when they come like this. Garage sales can be the source of some real finds.
For more about the Canon 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM, visit www.canoneoslenses.org.