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go long with 3 rf super telephoto lenses

Canon has released a host of full-frame EOS R camera s, lenses and accessories in July 2020. In this post we compare the three extraordinary super telephoto lenses including the pro level zoom and two enthusiast level primes, together with new RF Extenders. We focus on comparing features, target users, include sample images as well as a video review of the RF 100-500mm lens. Our blog post here compares the two new R5 and R6 mirrorless camera s which were used for all images.

Here are the three super telephoto RF lenses compared with links to our main shopping site if you simply cannot wait and want to reserve one straight away!

Go Long with new Canon RF super telephoto lenses

Which Lens is the Leader of the Pack?

Perhaps the most obvious thing worth stating is that the RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1 L IS USM is clearly the most advanced from this trio of super telephotos. Here’s why:

  1. It is a zoom lens which is arguably easiest to work with and most versatile
  2. It features the brightest aperture (variable f/4.5-7.1)
  3. L-series (luxury) graces the barrel and inner workings, with weather sealing and more
  4. Several advanced optical elements are utilised
  5. It is the shortest length when stowed (all three lenses extend when being used)

Sample image from RF 100-500mm lens

The 100-500mm is then clearly aimed at advanced enthusiasts, semi pro and professional users who need zoom flexibility paired with advanced, bright optics. But let’s not discount the other two just yet as they have some very neat tricks up their sleeves which will appeal to many users.

A quick size comparison when stowed or retracted: the RF 800 is 280mm, the RF 600 is 200mm and the zoom lens is also staggeringly compact at 207mm. This allows photographers to easily transport these, they are perfect for travel, hiking, safaris and just about any situation where we need to move with a long lens.

Our own Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1 L IS USM Lens Video Review:

Who Are These Super telephoto RF Lenses Intended For?

All three of these mirrorless RF lenses have multiple uses for intended photographers. The RF 100-500mm is as mentioned the most flexible in that it can zoom and features bright variable apertures. However it is also the shortest focal range. All three will happily cover the following genres to some degree:

  • Wildlife photography (including bird photography)
  • Sports
  • Action
  • Landscape
  • Press photography (those sneaky long distance events shots perhaps?)
  • Safaris

Due to the f/11 aperture the two prime lenses are slightly more restricted with their usage. Indoor events for sports may be a challenge, as would very dark situations for wildlife. Where they do both shine is during brighter, daylight shooting. During these conditions both will capture stunning images for long lens photographers regardless of subject matter.

Best Uses for the RF 600mm and RF 800mm Lenses

Let’s start by mentioning that these are amongst the lightest full-frame super telephoto lenses available today. The RF 600mm weighs less than 1kg and is shorter than 20cm when stowed. The RF 800mm weighs under 1.4kg and is just under 30cm when stowed. Both designs are very clever in that they extend when being used and contract when not in use. This clever feature keeps the size down considerably over traditional super telephoto lenses.

RF 800mm sample image of zebras

The best uses will be when decent light levels are available and we know roughly how far away our subjects will be. Canon has used their own proprietary Diffraction Optics (DO) to keep lens size and weight down, whilst also delivering extremely high quality results, particularly for the price point. Our sample images here show just how effective these optics are. Beginners and enthusiast will revel in the sheer possibility of shooting with such focal lengths which traditionally would cost £1000’s more than this pair. Similarly their size and weights are substantially lower than say an f/4 prime 600mm.

How About Image Stabilisation?

All three models offer class leading image stabilisation particularly when paired with the new EOS R5 and R6 bodies. Straight out of the box with any camera body they offer the following IS:

  1. RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1 L IS USM - 5 stops
  2. RF 600mm f/11 IS STM Lens - 5 stops
  3. RF 800mm f/11 IS STM Lens - 4 stops

RF 600mm sample image bird

This can be increased by around a stop when mounted on the very latest R5 and R6 mirrorless bodies. This provides photographers with a critical advantage shooting full-frame with anti-shake compensation amongst the best available at these lengths. The result is sharper images, more keepers and better portfolio shots. When we get the advanced deep learning AF system which delivers first rate dual pixel focussing, hit rates are high, frame rates are high and there’s no feeling like capturing the perfect moment on a super telephoto.

Can We Use TeleConverters Or Extenders?

YES. More excellent news in that all three of these lenses will accept both of Canon’s new RF Extender 1.4x and RF 2x Extender. Not only accept, but also maintain full AF functionality from the superb Eye, Face and body AF (including certain animals) but also image stabilisation. This is incredible news which pushes all three lenses into the longest range possible on any system up to 1600mm.

Sample image with RF Extender 2x and 800mm lens

More good news with the RF Extenders is that Canon has implemented the latest technology and both feature weather sealed mounts and optics which in their own words out-class comparable EF models. Thank you Canon!

*UPDATE April 2021* With the release of the two new large aperture professional primes lenses for the mirrorless system, why not read our blog post and see how these lenses compare: Canon Pro RF Super Telephoto Lenses. You may also be interested in the same day release of Canon’s brilliant RF 100mm macro lens review, with incredibly detailed close-ups now possible for the RF system.

Canon mirrorless camera and lens full product launch July 2020. You can read our blog post here for the new Canon EOS R5 and R6 cameras compared.

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By Nick Dautlich on 09/07/2020

Trade in your old equipment

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