- Extremely compact and lightweight for an 800mm lens
- Excellent image stabilizer
- Accurate autofocus
- Good image sharpness
- Pleasing bokeh
- Nice color and pleasing rendering
- Good control of chromatic aberrations
- f/11 constant aperture
- Autofocus is only moderate in speed
- Autofocus limited to the central 50% of the image frame
- Lower contrast than most modern lenses
- No rotating tripod collar
- Hood not included
The Canon RF 800mm f/11 IS STM continues the trend of unique and relatively high quality consumer-grade lenses from Canon. Like I discussed in my review of the 16mm f/2.8 STM and the 100-400mm f/5.6-8, I’m having a lot of fun with these lightweight lenses from Canon. When the lens was first announced, like many I dismissed it immediately as too slow and limited. If you are in that camp, and you want a lightweight and compact lens with a lot of reach, I would strongly recommend trying out this lens.
I was quite pleased to see that image quality is very good for such an optic. While not reaching the lofty heights of Canon’s big white supertelephotos, the RF 800mm f/11 produces images with good sharpness, nice bokeh and an overall pleasing rendering that punches above its price point and weight. The biggest compromise for that size, cost and reach is the fixed f/11 aperture, which means that this lens is going to require higher ISOs for fast shutter speeds, especially in lower light situations. The slow aperture also limits the autofocus area (on older RF bodies), which can make it a little more difficult to track subjects.
While dedicated bird photographers will likely want to save up for the considerably more expensive 600mm f/4 or 800mm 5.6, those who are more casual wildlife shooters, or simply want to be able to carry a very long lens while not breaking their back will be well pleased with the 800mm f/11. It’s a really compelling lens, even at its current $999 price point. Recommended!
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4 thoughts on “Review: Canon RF 800mm f/11 IS STM”
Hi. I noticed your recent lens reviews are being tested on r5 camera, did you upgrade from r6. Which one will you recommend as I’m having hard time to decide … and which 2 lenses will you buy first with let’s say R5 ?
Yes, I purchased the R5 last January, and it has now been my primary camera for the past year and a half. The two cameras are extremely similar, and really only differ in the sensor in most practical sense. (of course mode dial vs. digital mode dial is another, plus a few very minor settings.) So, if you need 45MP or 8K video, the R5 is your camera. If 20MP is fine for your needs, the R6 is every bit as capable. AF is identical between them, as is IBIS, general handling, etc. The R5 has a nicer EVF, but the difference isn’t enormous, and it has a slightly larger rear screen. However, all the other stuff is very minor and not worth upgrading to the R5 if you don’t need the extra resolution.
As to lenses, that’s a very personal decision, and it’s not something that I could certainly answer for you. It really depends on what you shoot. For me, the two most used are my RF 14-35/4L and 24-105/4L, but if I could only have two lenses, I’d probably swap the 24-105 for the 70-200mm/2.8. Then again, you can do just fine if you’re on a budget with the 24-105 STM and the 50/1.8. If you shoot more wildlife, then the 100-400 (if budget constrained) or 100-500L (if not) are great options. Too many possibilities to really guide, but I could do about 90% of my photography with my 3 zoom setup of 14-35, 24-105 and 70-200. The other lenses I own are certainly useful for certain things, but maybe not essential.
Thank You very much, I’d used this lens con EOS R and I agree totally your conclusions. A very good lens, in its peculiarity and for its price
It is worth mentioning that with cameras like the R3 and R6 Mark II the focusing area sees a big increase.