Issues with RF100-500

kimster

EOS M50
Jul 9, 2020
33
39
I was one of the first to buy the RF100-500. For various reasons I was unable to use the lens for some weeks..
In my first shoot I was very disappointed with the images as they were soft, particularly at the long end of the zoom.
I have been out twice since and my pictures are rubbish.
It must be a lens issue as I also have the RF800 and those images are the proverbial tack sharp.
Today I spoke with Canon and I am preparing to send the lens in for service. (Dealing with Canon service by telephone wasn't the best or fastest process sadly).
Before I package the lens and send it off, has anybody else experienced issues with the lens?
(I have the latest firmware installed and I have tried stabiliser on, stabiliser off).
I am gutted because especially during my first outing I had what should have been awesome bird pictures.
 

AlanF

Stay at home
CR Pro
Aug 16, 2012
7,619
7,959
I always buy lenses on-line from dealers who will take returns up to 30 days so I can test them thoroughly. On the day of arrival or the next, I test the resolution and contrast against charts and paper currency notes, in the centre and across the frame. If it passes those tests, and I keep all my old results for comparison, then I do image stabilization and field tests. My 100-500mm is very sharp, and is particularly uniform across the field.
As you can handle the RF800, it can't be your technique so it must be your copy of the lens.
 

Joules

doom
CR Pro
Jul 16, 2017
1,481
1,773
Hamburg, Germany
For anything other than guesses and stories, you have to post pictures of something that can be used as a comparison point. Alan already mentioned suitable targets.

But seeing that you mention birds, I suppose you did not shoot just with one shutter speed that may be affected by shutter shock. You haven't mentioned the camera either, so maybe that is not a factor anyway in case it is an R or RP. Blaming the lens seems like the safest bet from the info you have provided.
 
  • Like
Reactions: AlanF

AlanF

Stay at home
CR Pro
Aug 16, 2012
7,619
7,959
For anything other than guesses and stories, you have to post pictures of something that can be used as a comparison point. Alan already mentioned suitable targets.

But seeing that you mention birds, I suppose you did not shoot just with one shutter speed that may be affected by shutter shock. You haven't mentioned the camera either, so maybe that is not a factor anyway in case it is an R or RP. Blaming the lens seems like the safest bet from the info you have provided.
I had missed that the OP hadn't mentioned which R it is. Reviewers all write that the 100-500mm has poor AF on the R and RP. Well spotted.
 

kimster

EOS M50
Jul 9, 2020
33
39
For anything other than guesses and stories, you have to post pictures of something that can be used as a comparison point. Alan already mentioned suitable targets.

But seeing that you mention birds, I suppose you did not shoot just with one shutter speed that may be affected by shutter shock. You haven't mentioned the camera either, so maybe that is not a factor anyway in case it is an R or RP. Blaming the lens seems like the safest bet from the info you have provided.
I have the R5. I pre-ordered the lens from B&H and I also bought a Canon carepak. I will post a few of my disappointing images along with metadata. One thing I forgot to mention is that video seems better. The plot thickens. On the other hand, the RF800 is amazing. I will post a couple of those. I see that the best course of action is to test a lens as soon as you receive it. I will remember that for the future. Thank you all.
 

kimster

EOS M50
Jul 9, 2020
33
39
Here is an example of my disappointment with the RF100-500. About 50% crop, animal Eye AF was locked on, ISO 1000, 500mm, f8, 1/2000 sec.
By comparison I am attaching an image from my RF800. 75% crop (I mean the image is about 25% of original), ISO 1000, f11 obvs, 1/2000 sec.
 

Attachments

  • example 1 of RF100-500 issue.jpg
    example 1 of RF100-500 issue.jpg
    398.8 KB · Views: 217
  • comparison rf800 image.jpg
    comparison rf800 image.jpg
    510.4 KB · Views: 216
Last edited:
I can tell based on looking at the water that the bird is dead center in the plane of focus, so it does seem like something might be off with the lens elements. It's definitely unacceptably soft, even for a heavy crop.

Was it shot with or without IBIS? Wonder if that is introducing blur somehow.
 

kimster

EOS M50
Jul 9, 2020
33
39
I can tell based on looking at the water that the bird is dead center in the plane of focus, so it does seem like something might be off with the lens elements. It's definitely unacceptably soft, even for a heavy crop.

Was it shot with or without IBIS? Wonder if that is introducing blur somehow.
Thanks for the comments. I leave IBIS on. My RF800 images are really good. I am quite depressed about the hundreds of images that I shot with the 100-500. I am tempted to buy the RF600 now. I am usually at 500 for birding shots.
 

kimster

EOS M50
Jul 9, 2020
33
39
Update to my RF100-500 woes. I sent the lens back to Canon. They have now asked for the R5 so that the lens and camera can be fine tuned together. This is even though images shot with my other lenses are good. Is this normal? Once they mess with my R5 what will this mean for my other lenses? Anyone? Thank you.
 
Last edited:

AlanF

Stay at home
CR Pro
Aug 16, 2012
7,619
7,959
Update to my RF100-500 woes. I sent the lens back to Canon. They have now asked for the R5 so that the lens and camera can be fine tuned together. This is even though images shot with my other lenses are good. Is this normal? Anyone? Thank you
They do that with DSLRs that have AFMA and EF lenses. But that is news for me about Canon mirrorless which don't have AFMA settings, though Nikon mirrorless do have AF fine tune. I hope they don't think your R-series is a DSLR... A lens with aberrations could, in theory, need tuning.
 

kimster

EOS M50
Jul 9, 2020
33
39
They do that with DSLRs that have AFMA and EF lenses. But that is news for me about Canon mirrorless which don't have AFMA settings, though Nikon mirrorless do have AF fine tune. I hope they don't think your R-series is a DSLR... A lens with aberrations could, in theory, need tuning.
I am not at all confident about this. My images from the RF100-500 are soft, those from my other lenses are not. If they fine tune my R5 and RF100-500 to work together what will that mean for my other lenses I wonder?
 

AlanF

Stay at home
CR Pro
Aug 16, 2012
7,619
7,959
I am not at all confident about this. My images from the RF100-500 are soft, those from my other lenses are not. If they fine tune my R5 and RF100-500 to work together what will that mean for my other lenses I wonder?
You had better explain that to them unless the camera can register it to an individual lens as AFMA does on DSLRs.
 

kimster

EOS M50
Jul 9, 2020
33
39
You had better explain that to them unless the camera can register it to an individual lens as AFMA does on DSLRs.
Thanks Alan. This is where I am looking for somebody who has knowledge of the R system. Canon told me that my RF100-500 was the first that they had seen at the repair facility. I don't have good feelings about any of this. I think they should send me another RF100-500.
 

amorse

EOS RP
Jan 26, 2017
756
969
www.instagram.com
Thanks Alan. This is where I am looking for somebody who has knowledge of the R system. Canon told me that my RF100-500 was the first that they had seen at the repair facility. I don't have good feelings about any of this. I think they should send me another RF100-500.
Didn't lens rentals find some unusual damage to a 100-500 repeated across a few lenses on return? I wonder if you had damage to an internal element?

This is the article they posted:
https://www.lensrentals.com/blog/20...ement-a-canon-rf-100-500mm-f4-7-7-1-teardown/

Disappointing to hear - this is one of those lenses I'm really looking forward to getting my hands on.
 

kimster

EOS M50
Jul 9, 2020
33
39
It seems as though others may be having issues with soft images. Maybe it is not just my RF100-500 and I should start a thread.
 

Ramage

EOS R5
CR Pro
Aug 27, 2019
421
782
It seems as though others may be having issues with soft images. Maybe it is not just my RF100-500 and I should start a thread.
I have seen lot of reports of soft images with the RF 100-500 and turns out that most of the issues are use error or expecting things that are not possible. Your posts on DPReview are getting the attention of some really helpful people on that forum.

@YuengLinger had some issues with critical focus on a couple of copies of his 100-500 which he sent back and now has a good copy but I do not think he had results as bad as the shot you have posted.

I posted this link (
) on DPReview because Ron seems to be getting great shots and was also getting reports of soft images with the R5 and RF100-500 from viewers.

I am not saying there is not an issue with your setup but I tend to blame me for issues with my shots and not the gear so I am always trying to improve.

@kimster for the soft shot you posted what were the exposure settings you used?
 
Feb 15, 2020
426
294
I am not at all confident about this. My images from the RF100-500 are soft, those from my other lenses are not. If they fine tune my R5 and RF100-500 to work together what will that mean for my other lenses I wonder?
They might just want to get the R5 in to rule out any other possibilities. I have sent my cameras and lenses back to canon together in the past but they often just made a repair to the lens by itself with no changes made to the camera.

It seems like your copy of the 100-500 is actually focusing properly but that the point of focus is not resolving into a sharp image. If Canon can see that the AF is doing it’s job but that image is not very sharp I think that should rule out any changes being made to the body. Especially if the body performs well with other lenses. I wouldn’t stress about sending it in, it’s all you can do really... other than try and get a refund for the lens.

sorry for your trouble!
 

YuengLinger

Godzilla needs boxing lessons.
CR Pro
Dec 20, 2012
3,447
1,847
USA
...
@YuengLinger had some issues with critical focus on a couple of copies of his 100-500 which he sent back and now has a good copy but I do not think he had results as bad as the shot you have posted...
Friendly correction, I've only had AF issues with one copy. My first copy was excellent, but when I called Canon Pro Services early on, before they had been informed about image stabilization design changes, they thought my copy was not working properly because the IS element didn't park. They recommended that I return the lens while in my return window. Of course this turned out to be a mistake: The Rf 100-500mm is designed intentionally to not need parking. An excellent tear down by lensrentals.com, and lots of discussion online, led me to understand the new design sufficiently to be confident the lens is rugged enough for hiking, etc.

However, I did order a new one that was obviously subpar, though at first I didn't want to believe it, and I got a bit discouraged. But who knows what forces gear is exposed to during shipping? Or whether we might be receiving somebody's return? In any event, I missed the lens's compactness, weight, and performance so much that I gave it one more shot, and now I have another excellent copy. AF, IS, and IQ, all absolutely top notch and consistent.

It has taken me a long time to learn to reduce the emotional intensity of buying an expensive piece of gear--or to at least live with the suspense and anxiety. Just my personality, I guess. But when I see generally trustworthy reviews and sample images from smart photographers, and I read opinions here on CR expressed by members I've come to trust over the years, then find something I've purchased not behaving as expected, I know that it is easier to exchange an item than to agonize over it. Plus, I have become, over the years, more confident as a photographer, so I can troubleshoot methodically to eliminate user-error.

I knew very quickly, for example, that my second copy had problems, because I had already taken photos with an excellent copy, and because I was seeing proper results posted online--while reading praises from some very demanding photographers here! Despite all this, I still was ready to give up on the lens, to mumble "sour grapes." I'm glad I didn't.

The Rf 100-500mm might be a little slow at f/7.1, but with the new sensors' high ISO performance, and the compact design of the lens, it is the right longer-focal-length option for me. The lens is easy to use on walks, even if I'm with my two little kids. I can't imagine having the time or patience to drive to a special location with a Great White, tripod, and gimbal, and then sit with the mosquitoes until a bird does something interesting. ;) But I raise a glass to the intrepid nature photographers who are willing, and who bring back so many great moments!

Another note here: Despite being "experienced," I hadn't shot at over 200mm for at least two years before getting this lens. Getting sharp shots handheld at 500mm consistently, even with remarkable IS + IBIS, doesn't just happen. It is taking me trial and error, and plenty of practice. Making sure my shutter speed is high enough for creatures flying or swimming or even walking is a challenge. Light as the lens is, after holding it to my eye at the ready for more than a few minutes, my hands begin trembling more--and I can see it when reviewing my images, how a static subject starts jumping around all over the place in the frame. And even at f/7.1-f.10, depth of field can be an issue. At f/11, I think I'm seeing some tiny bit of softening from diffraction already. So this is a lens that needs patience, practice, and understanding of its limitations. Sometimes I need the tripod!
 
Last edited:

YuengLinger

Godzilla needs boxing lessons.
CR Pro
Dec 20, 2012
3,447
1,847
USA
I have seen lot of reports of soft images with the RF 100-500 and turns out that most of the issues are use error or expecting things that are not possible. Your posts on DPReview are getting the attention of some really helpful people on that forum.

@YuengLinger had some issues with critical focus on a couple of copies of his 100-500 which he sent back and now has a good copy but I do not think he had results as bad as the shot you have posted.

I posted this link (
) on DPReview because Ron seems to be getting great shots and was also getting reports of soft images with the R5 and RF100-500 from viewers.

I am not saying there is not an issue with your setup but I tend to blame me for issues with my shots and not the gear so I am always trying to improve.

@kimster for the soft shot you posted what were the exposure settings you used?
This might be THE most useful youtube video for owners of the R5 seeking to understand and maximize the camera's still photography potential. Should be required viewing!
 
<-- start Taboola -->