Gear Tech

Canon brings the big guns

Canon launches two new RF lenses, including the world’s longest focal length AF lens for mirrorless cameras…

Need a longer focal length? Well if you shoot with Canon then you’re in luck, as the brand has just released not one, but two premium prime telephoto lenses – the RF 800mm F5.6L IS USM and RF 1200mm F8L IS USM – which have designed for the brand’s full-frame mirrorless camera range.

The new lenses will be of great interest to professional wildlife and nature photographers and both options, which sit in Canon’s range of premium L-series, offer image stabilisation technology.

Let’s start with the RF 1200mm F8L IS USM – the longest focal length on the market that isn’t a telescope, which will get photographers closer to the action. Those seeking even more focal length will be pleased to hear the lenses are compatible with Canon’s  RF 1.4 x or RF 2 x extenders – taking that 1200mm to 2400mm. Canon says the RF 1200mm F8 ‘gives photographers the ability to capture incredible detail of subjects over 400 metres away.’ Canon also states that the while the RF 1200mm F8L IS USM is the smallest lens of its size ever released – at 3.34kg it is 1/5th of the weight and more than 13kgs lighter and 30cm smaller than its legendary predecessor the EF 1200mm f/5.6L USM.

The RF 800mm F5.6L IS USM features a large maximum f/5.6 aperture, which should deliver comparatively fast shutter speed, which will be useful for those photographers working in low light, but both lenses benefit from Canon’s IS (Image Stabilisation) technology which delivers four-stops of compensation. What’s more, both lenses feature a 9-blade circular aperture that can move in 1/8th steps, achieving smoother transitions between apertures when shooting video. The RF 800mm tips the scales at just over 3.1kg – remarkably lightweight for a lens of this nature.

Canon introduces the RF 800 F5.6 L IS USM…

Other features on both lenses include Fluorite, Super UD and UD elements, and there’s also ASC coatings to minimise ghosting and flare. When it comes to minimum focusing distance, Canon has managed to reduce this when compared to the previous models with the RF 800mm offering a closest focusing distance of 2.6m and the RF 1200mm offering 4.3m. Canon says the  RF 800mm F5.6L IS USM and RF 1200mm F8L IS USM both work with the AF system in the EOS R3 to keep track of subjects up to 30fps. 

Both lenses also feature a Ring USM Drive, Dual Power Drive, high-speed CPU and optimised AF algorithm, which will provide fast and quiet autofocus. The customisable AF stop buttons on the lens also give photographers enhanced control when focusing on subjects. As you’d expect, the new lenses are built to a premium standard and to operate in extremely cold/hot environments thanks to a dust and drip proof structure, along with fluorine coating to prevent oil, water or dust from sticking to the front of the lens.