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Canon 70-210 f3.5 - 4.5 USM

Standard Test            Full Frame Test

If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative to either Canon or Sigma’s  70-200 2.8’s this could be it. The Canon 70-210mm f3.5-4.5 offers excellent performance and superfast silent focusing with USM.  It’s also very well made, although the zoom ring could do with a little more resistance. If you tilt thCanon 70-21002e camera down it zooms out unless you hold the control, which is a little annoying if you carry the Canon EF 70-210mm f3.5-4.5 USM around a lot, but otherwise this is a very good lens.

Optical performance at full aperture is excellent with very good sharpness right in to the corners,  Zooming out to 135mm and 210mm, quality is still very good.  Not quite as crisp as at 70mm, but there’s not a lot in it. Detail is still very sharp at 210mm, although at the longer end of the zoom range, there’s a noticeable softness on backlit edges, and a tiny amount of CA starting to appear.

Stopping down to f5.6 and beyond sharpness is even better, right in to the corners of the image. This lens was built to be a cut above your basic 70-210 f4-5.6 zoom - selling at roughly double the price, and it certainly is a very good performer with digital. Even at full aperture performance is of a very high standard, with no noticeable vignetting with the Canon EOS 20D.   Performance doesn’t quite reach the standards of a Canon or Sigma 70-200 f2.8 but the difference isn’t huge, and it’s much better than most 70-300’s, making this a good budget choice if you can find one on ebay.

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© David Gold
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