The RF 200-800mm zoom lens is designed with nature, wildlife, and outdoor sports photography in mind and promises to capture sharp images of fast-paced action at a distance. Further, the new zoom lens is relatively affordable, and Canon believes it could replace a long, fixed telephoto and zoom lens combo for some photographers.
The RF 200-800mm f/6.3-9 lens weighs just 4.5 pounds (2,050 grams), so it can be used handheld. To help capture sharp handheld images, the lens features optical image stabilization (IS), which promises up to 7.5 stops of correction at 200mm and 5.5 stops at 800mm. Interestingly, the lens does not include an IS Mode switch on the lens barrel but instead automatically selects the appropriate IS mode, including an automatic panning detection feature. However, there is a toggle on the lens to disable IS.
A natural comparison point for the RF 200-800mm f/6.3-9 is the RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1 L IS USM lens. One obvious difference between the two zooms is that the 100-500mm lens is an L series lens.
The RF 200-800mm also sports a white coating, albeit not the same infrared-reflective paint surface as recent L-series lenses. Further, the RF 200-800mm lens features a weather-resistant design.
The two zooms are also different sizes, as is to be expected. The RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1 lens weighs about 3.3 pounds (1,525g). It is also noticeably shorter than the new RF 200-800mm lens. The RF 200-800mm has a max diameter of four inches (102.3mm) and is 12.4 inches (314.1mm) long at 200mm. On the other hand, the 100-500mm is 3.69 inches (93.8mm) in diameter and 8.17 inches (207.6mm) long at 100mm. Both lenses extend when zooming.
A significant point of departure is price. The L-series RF 100-500mm zoom is $2,900 — $2,600 on sale right at the time of writing — and the RF 200-800mm is $1,900, a very aggressive price for a super-telephoto zoom lens.
While there is naturally some expectation that image quality will be reduced, given that the RF 200-800mm lens is not part of Canon’s prestigious L series. However, Canon maintains that its new lens delivers excellent image quality and that photographers will be surprised by how good the lens performs. It is a lofty claim that PetaPixel looks forward to testing during real-world testing.
The RF 200-800mm f/6.3-9 IS USM includes 17 lens elements across 11 groups, including three ultra-low dispersion elements. The lens also includes Canon’s Super Spectra Coating (SSC). The lens has a nine-bladed aperture diaphragm.
As for autofocus, the USM in the model name tells it all. The lens sports Canon’s Nano USM focusing drive system. The lens can focus as close as 2.62 feet (0.8 meters) at 200mm and 10.83 feet (3.3m) at 800mm, resulting in a maximum magnification ratio of 0.25x at 200mm and 0.2x at 800mm.
Despite its relatively slow aperture, the lens is compatible with Canon’s RF teleconverters, the 1.4x and 2x. When using extenders, particularly the 2x model, autofocus area coverage will be reduced. That said, 1600mm reach is very impressive.
Speaking of aperture, the lens is at f/6.3 until 300mm, when it slows to f/7.1. The lens slows again to f/8 beyond 400mm and f/9 when zoomed past 600mm.
Pricing and Availability
The Canon RF 200-800mm f/6.3-9 IS USM lens can be pre-ordered now for $1,900, with shipping expected to begin in December. The lens ships with a lens hood, a very unusual inclusion for a non-L lens.
Image credits: Canon