Baboon Mother and Youngster in Morning Light Caption: A baboon mother cuddles her youngster protectively as they huddle together in the early morning sun, Kruger National Park, South Africa.

Camera: Canon EOS 50D; Lens: Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM Telephoto; Focal length: 200mm; Aperture: f/5.6; Shutter speed: 1/320; ISO: 800

While on a recent trip to the Kruger National Park, I was fortunate enough to borrow a brand new copy of Canon’s L series 70-300mm telephoto zoom. For some years I’ve used the older, much cheaper 70-300mm which, while image-stabilized, is not an L-series lens.

I was very interested to see how this lens would perform when used on a Canon EOS 50D with its APS-C sensor that gives an effective 1.6x magnification. I’ve always had fairly shaky hands, so hand-holding is a problem, even with IS lenses.

But I have to admit I was simply blown-away by many of the images taken with this very compact lens, specially when compared to my older 70-300mm.

In most cases I was in a vehicle, shooting through the back window. When I could, I used a bean-bag on the window as support, but there were also times where this was not possible, so I had to hand-hold.

The IS is incredibly effective and allowed me to get sharp photos at relatively slow shutter speeds, something I could never have done with my older lens and also not with the Canon 100-400 which I owned some years ago.

As one of the many positive reviewers on Amazon points out, the “4-stop image stabilization and focusing speed are far superior to the 100-400 …. overall, image quality is similar to the excellent 70-200f/4L IS, but the 70-300 is more compact with a longer reach. I think that when it comes to wildlife photography, this lens is especially well suited for a crop sensor camera where it provides a very useful 112-480mm range. I see no negatives with this superb lens except it’s a little pricey …”

Pity about the price, which right now is way out of my league. But if I had the bucks, I’d buy this lens without hesitation as find it superb for wildlife and definitely worth the money if you’re looking for a compact, lightweight, optically top-notch lens that’s also easy to hand-hold.

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