The Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM is a telephoto zoom with a big range for the Canon R system. Thanks to the variable brightness, the lens is relatively light and compact. What is special is that it can be combined with Canon’s new teleconverters.
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TEST RESULTS Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM:
The Canon RF 100-500 mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM is an all-round telephoto zoom with a nice balance between range, weight and brightness.
The Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM is a new, long telephoto zoom for the Canon R system. Until recently, you only had a choice of EF lenses with an adapter for this range. Now there are suddenly three options with an RF mount: this Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM, the RF 600mm F11 IS STM and the RF 800mm F11 IS STM. Both fixed focal lengths offer even more range at a lower weight and a lower price. On the other hand, the Canon RF 100-500 mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM is a weather-resistant L lens with a higher brightness and more compact dimensions. And, because it is a zoom, it can also be used much more widely.
As a sports or nature photographer, it is often not easy to quickly walk forwards or backwards when a subject suddenly comes much closer than you expected. With the Canon RF 100-500 mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM, you can easily solve this by zooming out. Combine this 100-500mm with, for example, a 24-105mm, and you can handle almost anything on safari. The Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM is the first super-telephoto zoom for the EOS R system.
Until now, anyone working with an EOS R and needing a comparable range had to use a Canon EF lens with an adapter. Now there is an alternative with EOS RF lens mount. The lens has two additional advantages compared to the Canon EF 100-400mm F4.5-5.6L IS II USM. To begin with, the zoom range is larger by 100 to 500mm. Moreover, you can combine the Canon RF 100-500 mm with a 1.4x or 2x Extender. With the Extender RF 1.4x, you get a range of 420 to 700mm on F8 to F10, and with the Extender RF 2x, you get a range of 600 to 1,000mm on F11 to F14.
The Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM is an L lens. This means that it is suitable for professional use and has a dust- and splash-proof finish. It also has the familiar white color of Canon L lenses. It is a slim lens with a maximum diameter of 94 mm; at the front you can use screw filters with the standard filter size of 77 mm. At 208mm in length, it’s also fairly short, almost the same size as the Sony FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM. It is slightly lighter, but it also has 100mm less telephoto range. When zooming, the inner lens tube extends, and the length increases as a result.
The downside of the larger range is the lower brightness, which is already F5.6 at 250mm and F6.3 at 400mm. As a result, the shutter speed has to be slower or the sensitivity higher, and you get a somewhat busier background.
The wide zoom ring is at the front, and the much narrower focus ring is much closer to the body. In between is a ring with which the friction of the zoom ring can be adjusted. That’s very useful: if you zoom in and out often, you can set a minimum friction, while photographers who do not want to risk accidentally zooming in or out can choose maximum friction. Just in front of the mount is the Lens Control Ring, which is programmable like on other Canon EOS RF lenses. The lens also offers switches for limiting the focus range (full or from 3m to infinity), for switching from autofocus to manual focus and for setting the built-in image stabilization. This results in a profit of five stops (measured by the CIPA standard). The optical design consists of twenty elements in fourteen groups with one Super UD and six UD elements. These help to reduce chromatic aberration.
The Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM uses Dual Nano USM motors for focusing. Such motors are quiet, accurate and fast. It is a dual system because the RF 100-500mm has floating lens elements that are controlled separately. These floating elements ensure that the image quality remains optimal at all distances and zoom positions. The shortest setting distance is 90 centimeters at the shortest zoom position and 120 centimeters at the longest. For this test, I used the EOS R6. In combination with the intelligent AF system with face and eye recognition, the autofocus worked very reliably.
The autofocus is not as fast as Canon’s top telephoto lenses, but it is sufficient for sports action photography. In series shots, the focus was almost always correct, even with unpredictably moving subjects. I haven’t been able to test with the EOS R and RP, but I suspect the focus performance on those cameras will be less impressive.
The Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM is compatible with the new teleconverters for the EOS RF system. The autofocus continues to work normally – a big advantage of Canon’s mirrorless cameras over the SLRs, where the autofocus no longer works at such small apertures.
Two teleconverters will also be available for the Canon RF 100-500 mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM. They are the Extender RF 1.4x and the Extender RF 2x. These two new teleconverters can also be used with the RF 600mm F11 IS STM and the RF 800mm F11 IS STM. With the Extender RF 1.4x, in combination with the RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM, you get a 420-700mm f/8-f/10, and with the Extender RF 2x, a 600-100mm f/11-f/14. Since the shortest setting distance remains the same and the field of view becomes smaller, the magnification increases. With the Extender RF 2x, the maximum magnification becomes 0.66x.
The RF 100-500 mm offers good to very good image quality in combination with the EOS R6. At the edges, the sharpness with the aperture fully open is already good; if you want maximum sharpness there too, it helps to stop down. Like all EOS R cameras, the EOS R6 addresses a number of lens flaws during image processing. The residual pincushion distortion is so minimal that you won’t notice it in real-life situations unless you purposely photograph brick walls. Ditto for lateral chromatic aberration – sometimes noticeable as purple fringes on high contrast lines but easy to correct in post-processing.
|Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM|
|field of view (diag)||24° – 5°|
|min. setting distance||90 cm@100mm/ 120cm@500mm|
|image stabilizer||yes, five stops|
|length||119.5 – 269.5 mm|
|list price||€ 3149.99|
Conclusion: Review Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM
The larger range than the 100-400 mm that Canon offers for the EF cameras is included.
The Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM is another wonderful addition to the EOS RF range. It offers an image quality that is exceptional for this type of lens, with (on Canon’s latest system cameras) very good focusing performance. The larger range than the 100-400 mm that Canon offers for the EF cameras is included, but comes at the expense of some brightness. The price tag is hefty.