Canon RF 200-800mm Review & Tests | Supertelephoto
Canon has just launched the RF 200-800mm, a super telephoto zoom lens that is good for a lot of types of photography. As a sports or wildlife photographer, a super telephoto lens is really indispensable, perhaps this is the lens you need.
I understand that you are curious about the quality, autofocus speed, and all other aspects of the lens. I’m going to explain exactly that to you, you can also read some reviews from other professional photographers, so you don’t just hear my voice.
In this article, I will tell you exactly how good the Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 is, and whether you should buy it for wildlife or sports photography, for example. Let’s get started right away!
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To give you the answer right away, yes the Canon 200-800mm is a good lens. Especially if you like to go into nature to photograph birds and deer. I will of course explain to you why this is a good lens for action photography.
To start with, the zoom ring is very smooth, you have an extra ring with which you can adjust this. This way you can zoom in very quickly or slowly up to 800mm. It doesn’t have an internal zoom, which is something I didn’t expect.
Fantastic image quality
We have come to expect from Canon that the image quality of the RF glass is fantastic, of course, you have the kit lenses from which you should not expect too much.
The 200-800mm has optically very good image quality.
The photos can be a tiny bit softer if you open the aperture all the way, after all, it is a lens that is very light and compact. Despite the white coating, this is not an L lens.
The sharpness of the lens is good and the contrast is not on the bad side. Of course, Canon has made savings in certain areas, such as aperture, but that does not mean that the image quality is poor.
The sharpness is good at both 200mm and 800mm, it is much better than the kit lenses. You can easily crop 100% and maintain good image quality.
For full-frame cameras
You can use the Canon RF 200-800mm on Canon full-frame cameras, i.e. the R3, R5, R6 and R8. You do not have to multiply the focal length, which is the case with APS-C sensor cameras.
If you want to use an APS-C sensor camera, I recommend the Canon R7. You then have a 1.6x crop factor, making this lens 320-1280mm. You can then get close to wildlife.
Canon has previously released the 800mm F/11, but here you are limited to the F11 aperture and 800mm. With the new 200-800mm these limitations no longer apply, you can be much more flexible.
Take photos from your hand
With a weight of just over 2KG (4.4 lbs) you can easily photograph handheld, I find photographing from my hands a lot better than with a monopod or tripod. This makes you much more flexible and this is especially necessary during wildlife photography
Canon has taken a good step by keeping the weight low, I know that you sometimes have to walk through a forest for hours trying to find birds, so a heavy lens doesn’t help. Now I must honestly say that 2 kg (4.4 lbs) is not necessarily light, but for an 800mm lens, it is quite impressive.
7.5-stops image stabilization
With this low weight, it is quite possible to photograph from your hands, but it is useful if the image is also stable at 800mm.
The Canon 200-800mm also has optical image stabilization, up to 5.5 stops.
When using a camera with IBIS, the stabilization becomes even better, you can compensate for up to 7.5 stops. Handy for photographing wildlife, I have often had to move quickly and stabilization makes a world of difference.
Is the autofocus good for wildlife photography?
The autofocus of the RF 200-800mm lens is very good, we saw that this was not the case with the RF 800mm F11.
It was especially very slow when it came to wildlife photography.
Fortunately, Canon has decided to change this and put a nano USM motor in this lens, which means that it focuses even quieter and faster. Especially with the new autofocus tracking in the cameras, this makes wildlife photography a lot easier.
The focus locks on birds and other animals and doesn’t let go. This of course also depends on your camera, but most EOS R cameras have tracking options. The lens never searches for focus, something I was quite afraid of beforehand.
The Canon 200-800mm is highly recommended for wildlife photography, it performs far above my expectations.
Teleconverters on the Canon 200-800mm
Both the Canon 1.4x and 2x teleconverters are compatible with the new RF 200-800mm lens, although the aperture will be very small. With the 1.4x teleconverter, the aperture becomes F9-F13, but you then have a 280-1120mm lens.
With the 2x teleconverter, you have a 400-1600mm lens with an aperture of F13-18. So you seriously need a lot of light to take nice photos with this without setting your ISO to 10,000.
However, I must say that this is a great option with Adobe’s AI Denoise, for example, so you can bring back a lot of detail.
The autofocus still works even if you use the 2x teleconverter, but the surface area does decrease. You cannot focus on the corners.
Macro photography with the 200-800mm
Now you may be wondering how close to a subject you can get with the new 200-800mm lens, which varies per focal length. You can use the following minimum focus distances with the new lens:
- 80cm at 200mm
- 1.8m at 400mm
- 2.8m at 600mm
- 3.3m at 800mm
How does the aperture change with the 200-800mm
It is a white lens, but you should not confuse that with an L lens. It is not an L lens, which means the lens may score fewer points on this point. You go up in F-stop fairly quickly, which starts at F6.3 at 200mm and quickly goes to F9.
- 200mm F6.3
- 268mm F7.1
- 455mm F8
- 637mm F9
In general, it is not too bad, but you should also know that with this lens you will mainly photograph at the extremes and therefore use the F9.
Other reviewers about the Canon RF 200-800mm
I searched the internet to collect all reviews of the Canon 200-800mm.
Below you can read a summary of the most important reviews.
- Fstoppers (Ondrej, Review) – Ondrej is very positive about the new Canon lens. He says the lens weighs a lot, but despite its size, it is manageable if you want to take handheld photos. The lens feels very balanced when you mount a camera on it, regardless of what focal length you use.
Canon says the lens is weather resistant, but not at the level of ‘L’ lenses, so you shouldn’t go into a rainforest. Ondrej says his ISO has not been lower than 1000, even during the day. So you do need a camera that can handle this.
The aperture is no problem for the autofocus, which is very reliable, fast, and accurate. Ondrej never once suffered from slow autofocus that did not work.
You can easily use the lens with ‘lower’ resolution cameras, such as the Canon R6 Mark II. Cropping is not necessary if you photograph at 800mm. The photos look ‘crispy’ with enough details and have almost no problems with chromatic aberration.
The sample photos look very sharp with bright, beautiful colors. This is the perfect lens for many wildlife and sports photographers.
Pros: Low weight, comfortable handle to hold, well balanced on a tripod, fast and quiet autofocus, 5.5 stops of stabilization, and weather resistance.
Cons: The lens doesn’t stop rotating at 0 and 90 degrees (at the handle), a smaller aperture means higher ISO and no focus limiter switch.
- DigitalCameraWorld (Gareth Bevan) – Gareth is also positive about the RF 200-800mm lens. He finds the weight high, but not unbearable. After having the lens on the R5 for more than an hour, it had no problems whatsoever. The lens hood is large and you get it shipped in the box, but it is not of the same quality as the L version. It’s handy to have him there. At first glance, the lens is quite impressive.
At 200mm everything is nice and sharp and you have a lot of contrast and colors. You also have good quality from 400-600mm. It wasn’t until Gareth got to 800mm that the quality dropped slightly. You can especially see this in the feathers of birds, you see less detail and sharpness.
Even with a 2x teleconverter, the photos are sharp without much compromise, and you get the same effect at the 1600mm end.
If you want a lens that can zoom far, then the Canon 200-800mm is the lens for you, for wildlife photography or sports photography it is the perfect combination of weight and length. The autofocus works well and this will be a good choice, especially with a lot of light.
Youtube review of the RF 200-800mm
Here is a nice YouTube review of the Canon RF 200-800mm, here they show it in action and you know exactly how good the autofocus is for wildlife and sports photography. Be careful, the urge to get will increase!
In short, the Canon RF 200-800mm lens is an excellent choice if you want a telephoto lens for wildlife photography. You can get close to the animals without being physically next to them, as that would scare them away.
The sharpness is good, the colors are natural and the autofocus is above all an impressive specification. All in all a good performer for any kind of photography.
I recommend this lens, especially for the price it costs. You can of course also get an RF 100-500mm, which is of better quality, but you miss that extra length of 800mm.
Are you going to get one? Then share this Canon 200-800mm review with fellow photographers!
Who is Sebastiaan?
Hi! I am Sebastiaan, the writer of this blog. With years of experience as a professional photographer, I want to share my expertise with you. From recommending cameras and lenses to giving tips that make a world of difference, that’s what I enjoy doing most.
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