This lens was launched by Canon back in September 2016. It took a while to arrive in the shops and this was reportedly due to issues further down the lens supply chain that affected brands other than Canon. That’s all done now and you can buy this lens at the normal outlets, see below.
I am not able to give a full technical review, you’ll have to look elsewhere for that. What I can do is give you my honest opinion as an amateur photographer who is keen to spend hard earned cash on the right product, and this was money well spent, more on that later.
The lens replaced the long established predecessor Canon EF 70-300mm f4-5.6 IS USM. Be careful how you search for the new lens because the descriptions are similar and the old lens is very much still available.
Being an EF lens it will fit on a full frame or APS-C body so it’s future proofed if you are an APS-C owner considering a full frame upgrade. What is immediately obvious when you unbox the lens is that is heavy. I purchased this as an upgrade from my Canon 55-250 zoom and it is noticeably bigger and heavier. More people have stopped and discussed this new lens with me as it looks like a big lens when fitted with a hood on my 500D. The hood, by the way, is something like £75 when you get the Canon version. Mine is sporting another brand costing £15 from Amazon. Even that seems a hefty cost for a bit of plastic but it is a dull non reflective hood with a fancy release clip. A lot more work than, say, the equivalent item for the Canon 10-18mm lens. The hood, given that it is about 60mm deep helps protect the front element but I have a UV filter on mine too for extra protection.
In use the lens is great fun. It brings distant objects into view as you’ll be expecting from this type of lens. It snaps into focus and, for me, is producing good pictures. I had to learn that depth of field at the open end of the aperture range produces a shallow depth of field. A robin picture had the bird in focus but the body starting to blur. Shut down the stops and boost the ISO to get around this.
Zooming is achieved by rotating the barrel not by pushing it backwards and forwards trombone style. This seems intuitive to me but it depends what you are used to. The lens extends as you zoom to distant objects.
It can be used hand held (two hands on the body and barrel) but opt for a monopod or tripod if you are in a static location or you’ll end up with biceps like Arnie.
The lens has its own little display but, other than a first glance, I have not used it yet. I am sure I will though as I use the lens more often. It also has a zoom lock switch which can only be used when the lens is fully retracted. I use that when the camera is hanging off the shoulder strap to prevent the lens creeping out. You can’t use the zoom lock in any other position than fully retracted.
Because of the weight of the new lens I have been known to go back to my trusty 55-250 when it’s hot and I want to save energy. Otherwise the weight, for me, is not an issue.
You can see a range of photos on my Flickr account.
In summary, the lens is a great upgrade to the 55-250. You’ll have to carry on searching for guidance if you have the old model in full working order and are considering a replacement. The list price is £499 in the UK but you will find it cheaper. Look out for lens deals at Jessops; I got 10% off in March. Amazon and Jessops have it at £449 at the time of publishing.