Reviews |Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 IS USM hands-on Review

Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 IS USM hands-on Review

Canon-RF-200-800mm-F6-3 review

Price when reviewed


€2799.99 / $1899

Our Verdict

Canon R-series photographers who have been looking for a lens longer than the RF 100-500mm f4.5-7.1L IS USM without spending over £14,000/$13,000 now have an attractive option. The smaller and variable aperture of the Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 IS USM is compromised in comparison with the Canon RF 600mm F4L USM and RF 800mm F5.6L IS USM, but it comes with a major cost-saving, not to mention the easier handling brought by the 1Kg or so loss in weight.

A focal length range of 200-800mm, with the added bonus of teleconverter compatibility, is an enticing prospect.


  • Fantastic focal length range
  • Reasonable weight for the focal length range
  • Attractively priced


  • F/9 at the 800mm end
  • Combined focus/control ring
  • AF area of cameras reduces when the lens is mounted via a teleconverter

What is the Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 IS USM?

The Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 IS USM is a full-frame lens designed for use on Canon mirrorless cameras such as the Canon EOS R3, EOS R5 and R6 Mark II. Its wide focal length range, stretching from 200mm to 800mmm, makes an attractive option for wildlife and sports photography. While the aperture range of f/6.3-9 might not appeal immediately to professional photographers in those genres, it helps to keep the size, weight and price within acceptable limits for many photographers

As it has the RF mount, the Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 IS USM can also be used on APS-C format cameras such as the Canon EOS R7 and R10, on which it has an effective focal length of 320-1280mm.

If those focal length ranges aren’t long enough, the lens is also compatible with Canon’s RF 1.4x and RF 2x teleconverters.


  • Product type: Super-telephooto zoom lens
  • Announced: 2nd November 2023
  • Mount: Canon RF
  • Format: Full-frame
  • Focal length: 200-800mm
  • Maximum aperture: f/32-54
  • Minimum aperture: f/6.3-9
  • Construction: 17 elements in 11 groups, including 3 UD (ultra-low dispersion)
  • Weather-sealed: Yes
  • Coatings: Super Spectra
  • Focusing system: Nano USM
  • Minimum focus distance: 200mm: 80cm, 400mm: 180cm, 600mm: 280cm, 800mm: 330cm
  • Maximum Magnification: 200mm: 0.25x, 800mm: 0.2x
  • Stabilisation: Up to 5.5 stops by itself or 7.5 stops at 200mm on a camera with IBIS (in-body image stabilisation)
  • Filter size: 95mm
  • Teleconverter compatibility: Canon Extender RF 1.4x (280-1120mm, f/9-13, magnification 0.37x) Canon Extender RF 2x (400-1600mm, f/13-18, magnification 0.54x)
  • Weight: 2050g
  • Maximum diameter x length (extension from lens mount): 102.3 x 314.1mm


While a focal length range of 200-800mm is very appealing for wildlife and outdoor sports photography, there are always times when you need even more reach. In these instances, the Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 IS USM can be used with a Canon RF 1.4x Extender or RF 2x Extender. These take the range to 280-1120mm and 400-1600mm respectively.

Constructed with 17 elements arranged in 11 groups, the Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 IS USM lens incorporates three Ultra-Low Dispersion (UD) elements to enhance image quality across the frame. In addition, Canon’s Super Spectra Coating has been applied to minimise flare and ghosting, ensuring images maintain their clarity and contrast.

Focusing is taken care of by a Nano USM system, which is both quiet and fast. It’s worth noting that unlike the Canon RF 800mm F11 IS STM and RF 600mm F11 IS STM, this lens provides full autofocus coverage when directly mounted on a camera. However, using a teleconverter has an impact as follows:

  • When using the RF 2x Extender with the Canon EOS R3, R5, R6, R6 Mark II, or EOS R8, the camera’s autofocus area shrinks to about 40% horizontally and 60% vertically of the total image field.
  • For the Canon EOS R7, R10, R50, or R100 paired with the RF 2x Extender, the autofocus coverage diminishes to roughly 60% in the horizontal plane and 80% vertically within the frame.
  • When any of the mentioned Canon EOS R series models are used with the RF 1.4x Extender, the autofocus area minimises to nearly 90% horizontal and stays fully covered vertically at 100%.

At the 200mm end, the lens can focus on subjects as close as 0.8m, while at the 800mm end, the minimum focusing distance extends to 3.3m. Midway, at 400mm and 600mm, the closest focusing distances are 1.8m and 2.8m, respectively.

As we’d hope with such a long lens, it has optical image stabilisation, offering up to 5.5 stops of compensation. This improves to a more impressive 7.5 stops at the 200mm end when paired with a camera featuring in-body image stabilisation (IBIS), however, at longer focal lengths the maximum is 5.5 EV.

The lens comes with a tripod foot on a fixed collar that can be rotated to switch the camera between portrait and landscape orientation. It’s also supplied with a deep lens hood.

Build and Handling

There will be two schools of thought about the Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 IS USM. Those who aren’t particularly interested in wildlife photography will thinks it’s massive and heavy. However, those who have looked longingly at lenses like the Canon RF 600mm F4L USM which weighs 3090g and is 472mm long or the RF 800mm F5.6L IS USM which weighs 3140g and is 432mm long, will be pleasantly surprised to learn that the RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 IS USM weighs 2050g and is 314.1mm long.

As the zoom doesn’t operate internally, the lens extends significantly when zooming to its longest focal point.

Having used the lens on a Canon R5, I can say that while the RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 IS USM is heavy and long, it doesn’t feel ridiculous and I was able to shoot handheld pretty comfortably. Naturally, a monopod or a tripod with a gimbal, or even just a bean bag on a hide windowsill would be advantageous for prolonged shoots, but it’s hand-holdable.

It’s good to see robust strap lugs built- into the tripod foot collar.

Although it isn’t part of Canon’s revered L series, the RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 IS USM has the familiar white coating to reduce heat build-up from direct sunlight. It’s sealed against dust and moisture.

There are three rings on the barrel of the RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 IS USM. The broadest is the zoom ring and it sits near the centre point of the lens which make it the natural point for supporting the lens with your left hand. This ring has a ridged rubber coating that gives good grip and it moves smoothly.

Close to the zoom ring, a little nearer to the camera, is the ridged tension control. This rotates to dictate the amount of force that’s required to move the zoom ring, and consequently it controls the speed of zoom adjustment.

The ring closest to the mount has a knurled finish and by default it’s used for manual focusing. However, it can also be customised to control key features such as a aperture or exposure compensation.


I’ve shot with an early sample of the Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 IS USM, and while I can share some images here, it’s not suitable for in-depth analysis of the image quality. However, I have been able to ascertain that the lens focuses quickly and quietly. Backed by the R5’s excellent subject detection, I was able to follow the movement of ducks around a lake and keep their eyes in sharp focus.

The lens also captures plenty of sharp detail across the frame throughout its focal length and neither chromatic aberration nor vignetting are significant issues. I’ll investigate it further when I get a final production sample in for full-testing, but flare also seems to be kept under good control.

When shooting at the 500mm point with the lens mounted on the Canon R5, I got around 60% of my images perfectly sharp at a shutter speed of 1/10 sec. That’s inline with Canon’s claim for 5.5EV of stabilisation.

Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 IS USM sample images

These images were captured using a beta-sample Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 IS USM mounted on the Canon R5.

Early verdict

It’s early days with the Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 IS USM but it’s off to a promising start and I think it’s going to be in high-demand from enthusiast photographers. Naturally, I want to dive deeper into the lens’s capabilities, but my first impressions are very good. Its sharpness levels are impressive and even though the widest aperture is f/9 at the longest end of the lens, it still gives decent separation of the subject from it surroundings.

Naturally, the comparatively small aperture could be a concern in low light conditions, but on a bright day in late October, I was able to use shutter speeds of 1/500 sec at ISO 500-1000 without worrying about noise on the R5.