Canon RF 100-400mm f/5.6-8 IS USM Review

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OpticalLimits formerly known by camera review elders as photozone.de has produced their review of the Canon RF 100-400mm F5.6-8.0 Without even really studying the review, it’s difficult to find fault in a telephoto 100-400mm that sells for $599 USD. Key features of the Canon RF 100-400mm F5.6-8 IS USM include; In the review, OpticalLimits notes

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Thx for sharing.

I don´t like the review that much. I´ve never been a fan of lab testing a lens, I prefer real-world use. Especially with consumer grade lenses real world testing is essential imho because they do perform way better than lab testing would indicate. For that being said, I bought the lens because people on the forum were thrilled about the lens. Later, I sold the lens because I thought it was overkill because I already have the RF 100-500mm, so I sold it. Now, I miss it and want it back for hiking trips, so I´m waiting for a good offer :) I actually took it hiking to the "Feldberg" in the Black Forest and I got some nice shots with it :)

I recently also rebought the 70-200mm F4 (which I sold when I got the 100-400mm) and I have decided that I will build a small collection of zoom lenses. Therefore I'll repurchase the rf100-400mm and I will get the 200-800mm given good offers. This is the area where imho SP will never really catch up. Weird, I know. But at least I know what I want now :ROFLMAO:
 
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Thx for sharing.

I don´t like the review that much. I´ve never been a fan of lab testing a lens, I prefer real-world use. Especially with consumer grade lenses real world testing is essential imho because they do perform way better than lab testing would indicate. For that being said, I bought the lens because people on the forum were thrilled about the lens. Later, I sold the lens because I thought it was overkill because I already have the RF 100-500mm, so I sold it. Now, I miss it and want it back for hiking trips, so I´m waiting for a good offer :) I actually took it hiking to the "Feldberg" in the Black Forest and I got some nice shots with it :)

I recently also rebought the 70-200mm F4 (which I sold when I got the 100-400mm) and I have decided that I will build a small collection of zoom lenses. Therefore I'll repurchase the rf100-400mm and I will get the 200-800mm given good offers. This is the area where imho SP will never really catch up. Weird, I know. But at least I know what I want now :ROFLMAO:


I can agree with that sentiment, but photozone / opticallimits are one of the longest running lab-based lens testing around. I can't recall one going further back. I know there was one that tested out contax / zeiss optics, but it was a basic MTF test, but I can't remember the site. I don't think they are active anymore.

if there's anyone I'd trust to do these sorts of tests, it is optical limits.

Oh also as I mentioned, Canon consumer lenses shine if you use DLO.
 
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AlanF

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That review is 2 years late! Here is our review of over two year ago: https://www.canonrumors.com/forum/threads/canon-rf-100-400mm-f-5-6-8-is-usm-first-impressions.40938/

Now for opticallimits own data. The RF 100-500mm has resolution in the centre of 4003 at 100mm, 3679 at 350mm and 3583 lw/ph at 500mm on the 30 Mpx R at 30mm and gets a 4* rating for being impressively sharp throughout the range. The RF 100-400mm gets 4758 at 100mm and 4370 lw/ph at 400mm on the R5 at 45 mpx R5. Downsize the 100-400 results to 30 Mpx gives 3880 at 100mm and 3568 lw/ph at 400mm. The edges are not as good but its the centre that counts for telephotos, and the RF 100-400mm at the centre is very close to the 100-500mm! The RF 100-400mm gets 3*.

I find and have posted many images here showing that the 100-400mm at 400mm on the R7 gives about the same resolution as the RF 100-500 at 500mm on the R5. I have no axe to grind as both are go-to lenses for me.

Compare all that with the final comment by opticallimits: "Overall, the Canon RF 100-400mm f/5.6-8 IS USM is a good lens for the money, especially for those with a lower-megapixel camera body. If you want more ... well ... the RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1 USM L IS will cost you 5x this much." The RF 100-400mm works very well on a high resolution sensor, and it is better at the mfd because it has less focus breathing than the 100-500mm.
 
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AlanF

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I can agree with that sentiment, but photozone / opticallimits are one of the longest running lab-based lens testing around. I can't recall one going further back. I know there was one that tested out contax / zeiss optics, but it was a basic MTF test, but I can't remember the site. I don't think they are active anymore.

if there's anyone I'd trust to do these sorts of tests, it is optical limits.

Oh also as I mentioned, Canon consumer lenses shine if you use DLO.
They have been a very good site for a long time, especially when they were Photozone.de and they are generally reliable. But, like all such sites, they examine only one copy of each lens and at an unspecified distance, and that distance is most certainly not the 10-30m used most commonly with telephotos and is like to be significantly less. With the RF 100-400mm, they have it slightly sharper at f/8 vs f/11 in contrast to other sites that have it softer wide open. My two copies of the lens are just as sharp wide open. Regarding DLO, DxO PL on RAW does very well with consumer lenses.

Opticallimits have had the review on the paid-for Patreon for a couple weeks before releasing it for free.
 
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koenkooi

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I got this lens refurbished last May when Canon Direct had a nice sale...$399!
Possibly best bang-for-the buck lens I've purchased.
Nice! I bought one with a nice discount that was eligible for the winter cashback a few weeks ago and I’m very happy with it.
It’s much easier to bring along than the 100-500 with very similar performance.
 
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Gino_FOTO

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Great everyday telephoto, even though my camera doesn\'t have IBIS /R10/, sharp handheld shots on 400mm /640EQ/ are possible at ridiculously long shutter speeds, even 1/15sec is manageable.

What I don\'t like is T-stop of this lens, is so much darker compared to other lenses at f/8.
 
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AlanF

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I searched for when the internet sites were started. Here are a few of the earliest.
Photozone.de/opticallimits.com
Klaus Schroiff
“I reckon that I registered the domain during 1998.
It is a commercial operation since 2005 I think.”

Ken Rockwell 1999

ePhotozine founded 2001

The-digital-picture Nov 2003

Optyczne.pl Feb 2006/Lenstip.com 2009
 
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Jethro

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They have been a very good site for a long time, especially when they were Photozone.de and they are generally reliable. But, like all such sites, they examine only one copy of each lens and at an unspecified distance, and that distance is most certainly not the 10-30m used most commonly with telephotos and is like to be significantly less. With the RF 100-400mm, they have it slightly sharper at f/8 vs f/11 in contrast to other sites that have it softer wide open. My two copies of the lens are just as sharp wide open. Regarding DLO, DxO PL on RAW does very well with consumer lenses.

Opticallimits have had the review on the paid-for Patreon for a couple weeks before releasing it for free.
I've found Klaus very reliable over a long time period - but you're right re using a single copy etc. He does, however, measure centring on lenses, and there are cases I've read where he has ended up testing additional lenses until he found one that was 'acceptably' centred, or finally gives up and concludes they never are! But of course there are other lens-specific issues than that.

Like you, I found his review of the 100-400mm a little harsh, given the optical results especially in the centre. Even for the edges, he notes that they are pretty well correctable in post.
 
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AlanF

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The single distance measurement is one of the worst problems with review sites. When Lensrentals did their MTFs - they stopped when Nephew Rog stepped down (he's too young to be my uncle) - they were at infinity on an optical bench. Some lenses are optimised for closer up, like some Nikon telephotos, where IMATEST is usually done for charts, and aren't as sharp at long distances. Others are best at long distances.
 
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The single distance measurement is one of the worst problems with review sites. When Lensrentals did their MTFs - they stopped when Nephew Rog stepped down (he's too young to be my uncle) - they were at infinity on an optical bench. Some lenses are optimised for closer up, like some Nikon telephotos, where IMATEST is usually done for charts, and aren't as sharp at long distances. Others are best at long distances.
I do not mind test charts but they should be taken at the focal lengths that people will use them for in real life.
 
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I do not mind test charts but they should be taken at the focal lengths that people will use them for in real life.
The problem is that test charts are designed to be shot with the chart filling the frame.

If your use case for a long lens is a small bird at a distance, say something the size of the spot imaging circle in the VF, a test chart would need to be the size of a billboard.
 
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AlanF

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The problem is that test charts are designed to be shot with the chart filling the frame.

If your use case for a long lens is a small bird at a distance, say something the size of the spot imaging circle in the VF, a test chart would need to be the size of a billboard.
I think that I shall never see a billboard lovely as a tree.
Perhaps, unless the billboards fall, I'll never see a tree at all.
Ogden Nash
 
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Jethro

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The optical rating is pretty low, especially after everyone was praising the lens.
Klaus' final overall rating is ordinary, but as AlanF says above:

Now for opticallimits own data. The RF 100-500mm has resolution in the centre of 4003 at 100mm, 3679 at 350mm and 3583 lw/ph at 500mm on the 30 Mpx R at 30mm and gets a 4* rating for being impressively sharp throughout the range. The RF 100-400mm gets 4758 at 100mm and 4370 lw/ph at 400mm on the R5 at 45 mpx R5. Downsize the 100-400 results to 30 Mpx gives 3880 at 100mm and 3568 lw/ph at 400mm. The edges are not as good but its the centre that counts for telephotos, and the RF 100-400mm at the centre is very close to the 100-500mm! The RF 100-400mm gets 3*.

I'm another very happy owner and user.
 
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