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How Good Is Canon's Unique RF 800mm f/11 IS STM Lens?

The Canon RF 800mm f/11 IS STM certainly raised a few eyebrows when it was announced, due to its rather unique specs that offer extreme reach at an affordable price, but at the cost of using a very narrow and fixed aperture. How does it perform in practice? This great video review shows what you can expect and if it is workable in real-world situations. 

Coming to you from Brent Hall, this awesome video review takes a look at the new Canon RF 800mm f/11 IS STM lens and also compares it to the popular Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2. No doubt, the 800mm f/11 is a rather unique lens, but I think it is also exciting that such an extreme focal length is now available at an affordable price, even if that does come with the limitation of a very narrow aperture. The lens also comes with:

  • Gapless dual-layer diffractive optics for reduced aberrations and reduced size and weight
  • Retractable design with locking barrel
  • Optical Image Stabilizer with up to four stops of compensation
  • Fast and quiet STM motor for both photo and video work
  • Customizable Control Ring

Check out the video above for Hall's full thoughts. 

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6 Comments

David Illig's picture

Not so great. I’m not a birder, but I occasionally make stills of roosting birds with a 100-400 Canon zoom or a 150-600 Tamron zoom. I require that the fine details in the feathers be tack sharp or I toss the pic. I’m not seeing that sharp detail in the photos in this video. Hall said he hand-held. That may explain it; an 800mm lens demands a tripod, IMO.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/primeval/50138038862/, https://www.flickr.com/photos/primeval/50138420797/.

Never Mind's picture

Have fun following especially fast wild birds in flight with your tripod mount. Yes, I see your pics: a fountain... fully under control area, not flying birds, no focus hunting, no hiking yourself, and birds mostly accustomed to seeing people around, what distance? uncropped? cannot be compared.

Rayann Elzein's picture

Your last sentence is the most important. So many people think that long lenses are just like magic, and suddenly all your subjects will be sharp in the frame. No, it doesn't work like this, only as you say if your subject fills a larger portion of the frame. I had the same experience with the Sigma 150-600 lens, I had a really hard time getting good images unless my subject was really close. A prime lens with more expensive glass is more flexible (but still not a magic wand haha)

Billy Paul's picture

I see this lens as an attempt at Canon FF competing with m4/3. The PL100-400 is more expensive, however, it is a zoom and smaller and lighter and has an aperture and excellent stabilisation and is between 1 2/3 and 3 stops faster pretty much negating the FF advantage. The new Olympus 100-400 is about the same and less expensive.

Lawrence Huber's picture

Guess what?
There are thousands of uses for an 800mm lens besides birds.
Do any of those complaining own the 800mm EF lens?
This is a brilliant lens for active hikers and adventurers who do not just sit around watching birds. Eminently portable very sharp, fast focus and inexpensive for an OEM 800mm lens.
Even Nikon has announced recently that they are going to copy Canon with their own 800mm f11 lens. Last I looked B&H is sold out.
Yes most of the world does NOT revolve around sitting around taking bird photos.