Canon RF 800mm f11 IS STM first impressions with images Review

Canon RF 800mm f11 IS STM review
Review
Website: Canon

Price when reviewed

£979.99

$899 / €1149.99
Check current price

Our Verdict

I've only used the Canon RF 800mm f11 IS STM for a few hours so far but I'm very impressed by it, especially at its price. It's light enough to carry over long distances and to hand-hold while shooting, plus the image in the viewfinder is stabilised very effectively so it's easier to frame the subject than with some bridge cameras. My first assessment of the images shot with the lens on the Canon EOS R5 is that they look great!

What is the Canon RF 800mm f11 IS STM?

The Canon RF 800mm f11 IS STM is a super-telephoto lens aimed at enthusiast photographers, especially those interested in wildlife photography.

What sets the Canon RF 800mm f11 IS STM apart from most other modern telephoto lenses is that it has a fixed aperture of f/11. That and it’s sub-£1000/$1000 price.

T has a collapsible design which takes it from 281.8×101.6mm to 351.8×101.6mm when fully extended.

We’ve now got a sample of the Canon RF 800mm f11 IS STM in for testing and although we haven’t had a chance to test it fully, we want to share some images and our first impressions.

Specification

  • Announced: 9th July 2020
  • Lens mount: RF
  • Lens construction: 11 elements in 8 groups
  • Format: Full-frame
  • Number of aperture blades: N/A
  • Maximum aperture: f/11
  • Minimum aperture: f/11
  • Closest focusing distance: 6m
  • Maximum magnification: 0.14x
  • Dust/moisture resistance: No
  • Filter size: 95mm
  • Compatible Extenders: Extender RF 1.4x (1120mm and aperture f/16), Extender RF 2x (1600mm and aperture f/22)
  • Dimensions (length x maximum diameter): Extended: 351.8×101.6mm, collapsed: 281.8×101.6mm
  • Weight: 1260g
Build and Handling

At 1260g, the Canon RF 800mm f11 IS STM is noticeably lighter than the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM (1480g). I walked for 3 miles with the RF 800mm f11 IS STM mounted on the Canon EOS R5, with the camera on a Peak Design Slide strap across my body. I felt fine at the end of the walk and I was excited by some of the images that I’d been able to capture – an 800mm lens is not the sort of optic that I would normally carry on a walk!

If you mount the lens on a camera without extending it, you’ll get a warning to extend it when you power-up the camera. To extend the RF 800mm f11 IS STM, you need to give the ring nearest the camera body a short anti-clockwise (as you hold the camera) turn then push the ring forward. Once the barrel is fully extended, rotate the ring to the right to lock it in place.

With the camera and lens ready to shoot, I took my first look through the viewfinder. What struck me straight away was how easy it is to frame a distant subject. The lens’s Image Stabilisation (IS) does a great job of steadying the view without having that nauseating sway that is problematic with early IS systems. Naturally, it’s still fairly easy to lose the subject in the frame, but I didn’t find myself struggling to compose an image of a static subject.

Performance

I need to shoot a lot more images before I pass final judgement on the Canon RF 800mm f11 IS STM, but so far I think it’s very capable.

Shooting during a late afternoon in September in the UK meant that the sun was heading to the horizon, and although the conditions were still very bright, they weren’t the brightest that the lens would encounter.

I set the Canon R5 to aperture priority mode with the sensitivity on Automatic. This means that the camera was in charge of the shutter speed and ISO value. The R5 opted for shutter speeds of around 1/800 to 1/1000 sec automatically, I just tweaked the look of my images using the exposure compensation control. Meanwhile, the sensitivity varied between ISO 125 and 12,800.

Naturally, the higher ISO settings have an impact on the image quality, but the Canon R6 and R5 have good noise control.

Canon RF 800mm f11 IS STM Sample Images

The follow the link to browse and download full-resolution images from the Canon RF 800mm f11 IS STM

Canon RF 800mm F11 IS STM Image Gallery

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Early Verdict

I’m still weighing up the Canon RF 800mm f11 IS STM, I want to shoot a lot more images and take a close look at more results. However, my first impressions of the lens are very good.  It’s a very usable optic at an attractive price!

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