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Canon EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 IS II vs Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 VC Lens Comparison

With the new Canon 70-300mm lens we need to revisit the comparison with the Tamron 70-300mm. Prior to the new lens I would typically recommend the Tamron over the Canon due to the much faster autofocus speed of the Tamron. However Canon has raised the bar and this Canon EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 IS II vs Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 VC review will compare these two lenses.

First of all the new Canon features a much faster “Nano USM” focusing system. This new focus motor is very fast and extremely quiet. It is optimized for video focus to minimize the noise while recording. This is a HUGE improvement over the old Micro USM focusing motor of the original Canon 70-300mm IS lens. The Tamron is pretty close to the same speed and noise level but the Canon is slightly faster and quieter.

The Canon 70-300mm lens also features a new LCD distance scale that shows the focusing distance. If the lens is attached to an APS-C body such as the Rebel series of cameras it will then convert the focal length to account for the “crop factor”. In other words if you set the lens to 300mm on a full frame camera the lens will display “300mm”. However, if the lens is mounted on an APS-C body the lens will report “480mm” instead when zoomed all the way in. I don’t find this all that usefull since most people will zoom the lens while looking through the viewfinder. Additionally there is an option to display the effectiveness of the image stabilization on the LCD screen. Again this is not very useful since when using the lens you can’t see this display (and even if you could what would you do about it?) finally the lens also allows you to view your depth of field scale and set hyperfocal distance. This is the feature I find most intriguing, however on a 70-300mm lens it is not very useful since depth of field is pretty shallow anyway. but I would love to see this technology applied to an ultrawide zoom lens.

As far as image stabilization goes I feel like both lenses are pretty equal. The Canon seems smoother, while the Tamron seems to have an initial jump before it settles in. But overall effectiveness is very similar.

The Tamron still holds a couple of advantages. For one the Tamron includes a lens hood. Canon only includes lens hoods on their professional “L” series lenses and offers them as an option on their consumer lenses. Second, the Tamron includes a 6-year warranty vs the Canon 1 year warranty. And finally, the Tamron is less expensive by $50 plus the lens hood for the Canon if you decide to purchase one.

One thing many people might point out is the minimum focus distance of the Tamron is significantly closer than the Canon, however the Max magnification remains the same at 0.25x (or 1:4) so this is not really helpful.

Canon EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 IS II USM Pricing*

  • Canon EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 IS II USM Lens Only - $549.99

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Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 VC USD Pricing*

  • Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 VC USD - $449

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*Pricing from Manufacturer's website - Current selling price may be different. Be sure to visit the links below for current pricing.

Canon EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 IS II USM Advantages

Made by Canon – no issues with camera compatibility
LCD distance scale with multiple functions
Fast and silent Autofocus
67mm filter matches many APS-C lenses (10-18mm, 18-135mm) for a great 3-lens kit
Slightly smaller and lighter

Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 VC USD Advantages

Includes Lens Hood
6-year Warranty
Lower price
Slightly faster at 70mm (f/4 vs f/4.5) – however not a big difference.

Conclusion

I personally prefer to purchase genuine camera manufacturer lenses when I can. That way I don’t have to worry about compatibility issues and finger pointing if something does not work. However, third party lenses can usually be had for quite a bit less than the genuine manufacturers products. The Canon is $100 more (plus the lens hood if you opt for it) so if your budget allows for the Canon I would say get the Canon. However, if the extra $100 or so is not in your budget then you will be quite happy with the Tamron. For some photographers $100 is a lot of money and might not be worth it just for the name. Tamron makes excellent lenses and fills a niche for the budget minded photographer.

Canon EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 IS II USM Overall User Rating

4.66 out of 5

based on 358 user reviews online.

: 79% (283.97)
: 14% (51.3)
: 2% (6.22)
: 2% (6.45)
: 3% (10.06)

Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 VC USD Overall User Rating

4.48 out of 5

based on 946 user reviews online.

: 61% (580)
: 31% (294)
: 4% (36)
: 2% (17)
: 2% (20)

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Specs

Spec Canon EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 IS II USM Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 VC USD
Focal Length 70 70
Max Aperture f/4.5-5.6 f/4-5.6
Minimum Aperture f/32-45 f/
Minimum Focus distance 47.24 inches 37.4 inches
Maximum Magnification 0.25x 0.25x
Number of Elements 17 17
Number of Groups 12 12
Aperture Blade Design Rounded Rounded
Number of Aperture Blades 9 9
Filter Size 67 mm 62 mm
Diameter 3.15 in. 3.21 in.
Length 5.75 in. 5.9 in.
Weight 1.57 lbs. 1.68 lbs.
Lens Mount Construction Metal Metal
Tripod Collar None None
Weather Sealed No No
Distance Scale Yes - With Hyper Focal Markings Yes - No Hyper Focal Markings
Image Stabilization Yes Yes
Lens Shade Optional Included