Took this at the Triad Strobist Meetup earlier in the week. The event was a lot of fun, and I got to work with several models, ranging from experienced to novice. For someone who is still getting used to working with models (as opposed to capturing subjects in their environments), it was an invaluable learning experience.
One big lesson learned - take the time to move your radio triggers off the default frequency. We had serious cross triggering going on that cost me several good shots.
If you are in the Triad or Triangle areas of North Carolina, I highly recommend both the Triad and Triangle groups. If you live elsewhere, go hunting for a local group. There are Strobist groups all over the world.
There was a brief while, earlier this year, where I was completely without a lens longer than 200mm. I had sold my Sigma 100-300 F/4 (a fine lens) to help cover the cost of upgrading to a 50D. I figured I wasn't shooting a lot of sports, and little wildlife, so why have a big lens around? For special trips, renting is cheap, compared to buying.
And then, circumstances changed, and I found myself able to grab a Canon 300 F/4 L IS lens off eBay for a reasonable price.
And, as they say, "absence makes the heart grow fonder." I really did miss having a long lens around. That much became clear almost as soon as the 300 arrived. I began shooting the hell out of it.
Part of it is logistics. In my current favorite bag, the only way to fit both the 300 with its tripod collar and the 50D is with the lens on the camera. So, whenever I pull out my camera, there it is.
It also doesn't hurt that the new lens is 7 oz lighter than its predecessor. That weight difference helps keep it in my camera bag. Trust me, you schlep something around for several hours, and you start counting ounces.
Finally, the image quality is superb. The lens is sharp wide open. Bokeh, or background smearing, is good, and it focuses close enough to be usable for flower and large (honey bee and up) insect photography. Color rendition is excellent. Focus is lightning fast.
As for IS, Image Stabilization, it works. You get 1-2 stops more leeway in handholding with IS on. I tend to turn IS when using it on a tripod, because the image shifts get annoying. That, however, is a problem with very concept of image stabilization, and not this particular lens.
Now, to see if I can work in some soccer shooting this fall...