On this evaluate I’m testing the 2 largest and most costly lenses for Canon’s EOS R mirrorless system so far: the RF 400mm f2.Eight which prices $12000 or 12500 kilos, and the RF 600mm f4 which prices $13000 or 13400 kilos.
Yep, that’s a ton of cash, however really no completely different from the newest EF Mark III variations of the identical lenses designed for EOS DSLRs, nor the equal fashions from Sony both. And whereas Nikon’s not but launched native Z-mount super-teles, the prevailing AF-S fashions are additionally in the same ballpark. That is the price of shiny aperture, full-frame super-telephotos.
Now these type of lenses are unashamedly aimed toward skilled or well-heeled sports activities and wildlife photographers. You’ll see them on the sidelines of each main sporting occasion or on location tracking-down unique birds and animals. And whereas their worth makes them a fantasy buy for many of us, they are often inexpensive to lease for an occasion or journey, plus it’s enjoyable to see top-end gear in motion, so in the same vein to supercar critiques, stick round to see what this type of cash should buy. As all the time the whole evaluate is within the video under, however hold scrolling in the event you desire to learn a written model.
First issues first: the RF super-telephotos launched in mid-2021 share the identical optics because the EF Mark III variations launched in late 2018, as a super-telephoto design is way the identical whether or not aimed toward DSLR or mirrorless. So that they share the identical optics, the identical controls, the identical construct, and the identical worth too.
The primary bodily distinction is the addition of a built-in EF to EOS-R adapter, and Canon’s not even attempting to cover that truth by colouring the extension in silver and gray. This adapter in flip provides 40-50g to their weight and 24mm to their size. You can in fact use a separate adapter on the previous EF fashions to mount them on an EOS R digicam, however it provides a possible level of failure which can appeal to some execs to the RF variations.
Past this, native communication over the RF mount supplies extra advantages. Most notably assist for Twin Energy Provide on future our bodies, presumably beginning with the R3, means extra energy may be delivered to the autofocus motors permitting them to run sooner. Each lenses additionally characteristic a sooner diaphragm system supporting burst speeds as much as 30fps, in addition to aperture management in ⅛ EV increments for video. Canon additionally quotes barely improved stabilisation whether or not the physique has IBIS or not. The RF super-teles are additionally appropriate with the RF tele-converters in the event you want longer attain.
Like different RF lenses, the main target distance home windows of the EF variations have been eliminated and of their place are digital scales on-screen or within the viewfinder. Not like most RF lenses although, there’s no customisable management rings.
Okay, so right here’s the RF 400mm f2.Eight on the prime and the RF 600mm f4 on the backside, each with out their lens hoods. The 400 measures 163x367mm and weighs 2890g, whereas the 600 measures 168x472mm and weighs 3090g. So that they’re comparable in diameter, however the RF 600 is roughly 10cm longer and 200g heavier.
When you add their respective hoods, I believed the 600 felt noticeably heavier in my fingers than the figures counsel, however at roughly 3kg every, they’re nonetheless method lighter than the Mark I and II EF fashions.
Again in 2018, Canon made important weight financial savings on the Mark III EF variations by exploiting fashionable optics in addition to shifting the steadiness extra to the center, making them a lot simpler to deal with. The brand new RF variations inherit this design, which can be much like Sony’s strategy on its mirrorless super-teles.
Certainly whereas the older variations had been very a lot the type of lenses you’d have to make use of with a stand, you possibly can nearly swing these newer ones round handheld, albeit for brief durations.
Each lenses share the identical controls, with generously extensive and clean guide focusing rings, a spring-loaded ring management for motorised guide focusing or preset distance jumps, and 4 focus maintain buttons.
Each lenses share the identical management panel too, seen right here on the 600 f4, together with distance limits for the autofocus, three speeds for the motor-assisted guide focus, and a set of buttons and switches to preset the ring management distance. I’ll present you all of this working in a second.
Like most super-telephotos, filters are accommodated through a drop-in system and each new RF super-teles unsurprisingly take the identical 52mm filters because the older EF variations.
Each RF super-teles are additionally outfitted with the identical built-in tripod foot with quarter and ⅜ inch threads, however sadly nonetheless no Arca Swiss dovetail carved into them. They’re not detachable, however enable the lens and digicam to rotate very easily by means of 360 levels with stable clicks at 90 diploma intervals. The ft additionally double-up as carrying handles, though there’s additionally lugs on the barrels for attaching a equipped strap.
Each lenses are equipped with substantial cylindrical hoods that clip onto the top of the barrels and are screwed in place. They provide nice safety, however clearly rework them into even bigger objects. Canon sells optionally available shorter hoods in the event you want one thing much less prone to clobber close by photojournalists as you swing them round. The hoods additionally reverse over the barrels for transportation, leaving the equipped padded caps to slip over to guard these enormous pretty entrance components.
The hoods are additionally tipped with a rubber ring on the finish, permitting them to be stood up fairly securely with out damaging the lens. That’s the 600 on the left with its equipped bag alongside and now right here’s the bag for the 400 with the lens inside. Canon switched from inflexible flight instances to smooth padded shoulder luggage with the Mark III EF fashions and the RF variations inherit them right here. They’re well-padded with comfy carrying handles and a single strap to hold them over your shoulder. Unzipping a big flap lets you entry the lens with the hood reversed over the barrel. Canon was clearly considering of the long run RF variations when designing the bag because it cunningly left sufficient area on the prime to accommodate their barely longer size. Sadly this implies there’s now not sufficient room to pack them away whereas a teleconverter is mounted, and just like the EF fashions, there’s additionally no area to incorporate a mounted physique both, so that you’ll want to hold that individually. I’d have most well-liked some means to accommodate a physique within the bag even when it wasn’t mounted to the lens.
Okay, now for some focus exams, beginning with the 400 2.Eight wide-open on an R5 physique, autofocusing utilizing Single AF and a central space. Even with a really shut topic, it’s fast and fairly assured. And for comparability, right here’s the 600 f4 at f4 on the R5 beneath the identical circumstances and this time regardless that the bottle is on the minimal focusing distance, there’s no wrestle.
Switching to guide focus, each lenses provide three completely different speeds. Discover the digital distance scale quite than counting on the mechanical window on the older EF lenses. The slowest of the three speeds permits for very exact changes.
When you desire a smoother guide focusing expertise with a continuing velocity, each lenses are additionally outfitted with a Energy Focus or PF mode which makes use of the spring-loaded ring management to rack focus in both path at one in all two speeds relying on how far you twist it. That is the 400 2.Eight and now for comparability, right here’s the 600 f4. It’s a helpful characteristic and you may in fact activate focus peaking for help, however at these unforgiving focal lengths and apertures, it’s nonetheless straightforward to overshoot. You’ll be able to in fact use the identical energy focusing throughout motion pictures, and with the 2 speeds, however once more it’s straightforward to overshoot.
Canon’s considered that although and each lenses alternatively let you preset both one or two focus distances activated by twisting the management ring left or proper. This lets you exactly return to an actual distance – or distances – with a easy twist of the ring and also you’re seeing it in motion right here with the 400 2.Eight the place I’ve preset on the label and the decoration, and now for comparability on the 600 f4. This characteristic is good in the event you repeatedly have to refocus again to a hard and fast place the place the motion usually occurs, similar to a department being utilized by a fowl to perch, and it additionally works for video.
The main target presets get rid of any likelihood of error, however Canon’s autofocus has grow to be so good for motion pictures that in most conditions you possibly can nonetheless depend on merely tapping on the display to pull-focus to wherever you want. Right here I’m simply tapping between the bottle and the decoration on the R5’s display whereas utilizing the 400 2.8, and now for comparability, the 600 f4. In each instances, the AF system slows down to substantiate when selecting the decoration, however in the event you desire an prompt snap forwards and backwards, simply use the preset characteristic.
Subsequent for stabilisation, with Canon providing the identical three modes relying on whether or not you need compensation full-time, or solely within the vertical axis whereas panning, or solely as you’re taking the shot. Canon quotes 5.5 stops of compensation is feasible on both RF lens – half a cease greater than the EF variations – however that there’s no distinction in the event you’re utilizing a physique with IBIS or not as sensor shift stabilisation turns into much less efficient at lengthy focal lengths.
Right here’s a shot I took handheld with the RF 600mm f4 on the R5 at 1/50 with stabilisation turned on. This was the slowest shutter velocity I might efficiently handhold a superbly sharp consequence beneath shut inspection and to match it with out stabilisation on the day required a shutter velocity of 1/800, in order that’s 4 stops of compensation. To point out you the distinction with and with out, right here’s two pictures taken at 1/50, with IS enabled on the left and disabled on the suitable. When you’re taking pictures at decrease resolutions or not trying as shut, I discovered I might get a reasonably respectable handheld consequence at 1/13 and even ⅙ and you may see the pictures at ⅙ with IS enabled on the left and with out IS on the suitable.
Earlier than I dive into picture high quality and real-life dealing with, a fast have a look at the rendering of blurred areas, beginning with a bokeh-ball check with the 400 2.8, wide-open at f2.8, and now regularly closing the aperture in a single third EV increments the place you’ll see the blurred lights within the background principally retaining a pleasant round form and solely actually revealing the nine-bladed diaphragm system from f5.6 onwards.
And subsequent the 600 f4, beginning at f4, however moved slightly additional away on account of its longer minimal focusing distance. Even from additional away although, discover how the background seems tighter as a result of longer focal size. And once more regularly closing the aperture one third of an EV at a time, the place once more the nine-bladed diaphragm system is doing a great job at holding a principally round opening for principally round blobs.
At longer topic distances, each lenses can nonetheless obliterate the background with a shallow depth of area. Right here’s a portrait with the 400 at 2.Eight the place you possibly can see the depth of focus in a skinny band working throughout the seashore with every little thing in entrance or behind turning into very blurred. And for comparability with the 600 at f4 from an extended distance to match the topic dimension on the body. Discover how the background components are tighter and bigger on the longer focal size, permitting you to actually consider the topic alone.
These lenses are actually designed for sports activities and wildlife although, so right here’s a sequence of pictures taken with the 400 at 2.Eight on the EOS R5 utilizing its mechanical shutter at 12fps, a velocity which was maintained throughout the burst. I used Servo AF for steady autofocus and set the world to human face and eye detection, with the R5 putting a field over Nick’s face all through. Beneath shut inspection, the bulk are pin sharp, and on the occasional time a body didn’t fairly hit, the next one did, so there’s loads of keepers to select from.
And now for the 600 at f4, once more utilizing the identical settings, though I briefly let go of the shutter a few occasions right here to check reacquisition – I’ve not skipped any frames although for this presentation. As earlier than I used to be counting on the R5’s face and eye detection and Servo AF set to Case 1 for general-purpose taking pictures. Just like the 400 2.8, I loved a really excessive, albeit not fairly 100% excellent hit charge, however higher outcomes could also be attainable by adjusting the case settings.
Now for birds in flight, utilizing Brighton’s quick and infrequently erratic Seagull inhabitants. In all instances the aperture was set to the utmost, and I used face and eye detection with animal chosen within the menu. As soon as once more I used Servo AF Case 1, though once more chances are you’ll take pleasure in better success by adjusting the settings, similar to Case three with elevated sensitivity; that mentioned, as you’ll see I loved a really excessive hit charge utilizing the default settings, particularly contemplating the birds rapidly darted out and in of the body.
This time I switched from the mechanical to the digital shutter, unlocking the R5’s prime velocity of 20fps, though with the elevated danger of skewing on account of rolling shutter. Swinging a super-telephoto forwards and backwards to comply with a fast-moving fowl is a worse-case state of affairs for rolling shutter and also you’ll see some skewing on the buildings within the backgrounds of some pictures. So in case your topic has lots of sideways movement chances are you’ll desire to shoot with the mechanical shutter as a substitute.
In sensible phrases, the erratic nature of those birds guidelines out tripod and even monopod assist for many pictures, with you as a substitute having to handhold for the quickest reactions. Unsurprisingly doing so with a 400 2.Eight or 600 f4 grows previous in a short time. Anytime you decide up both lens for the primary time, you’re impressed by how gentle they’re for the dimensions, however after swinging one round for even only a few minutes, you’ll need to take a break. Of the 2, the 400 2.Eight proved extra sensible for this sort of comparatively giant and shut fowl, and in use can be slightly lighter and extra manageable particularly when fitted with the hood.
Tremendous telephotos are additionally supreme for capturing distant topics with video, particularly since Canon’s video autofocus is so assured. So earlier than my closing verdict, right here’s an instance I filmed at 4k 100p on the R5 and slowed by 4 occasions.
Verify costs on the Canon RF 400mm f2.Eight at B&H, Adorama, WEX UK or Calumet.de. Verify costs on the Canon RF 600mm f4 at B&H, Adorama, WEX UK or Calumet.de. Alternatively get your self a replica of my In Digital camera ebook or deal with me to a espresso! Thanks!