Lensrentals.com: Canon RF 600mm f/11 IS STM Teardown

highdesertmesa

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I've never seen an image come out of a 100-400L II w/2X that looks even remotely close to a keeper.
I had bad luck with even the vIII 1.4x on 100-400 II the 5DsR. It made the IS perform poorly enough that I would get maybe one shot in 5 that was perfectly sharp. Of course I could have raised the ISO, but I don't care for high-ISO landscapes so much with the 5DsR noise levels. I think a lot of the reports of usability with the 100-400 II and the TCs are from high-ISO bird shooters and/or tripod shooters.
 

Eclipsed

EOS R5, "Hefty Fifty" and more.
Apr 30, 2020
143
143
DPR just put up samples for the 600 and went to the opposite extreme for SS and ISO compared to what they did for the 800. Both lenses are decently sharp for f/11 and have minimal CA, so they should clean up quite well with proper processing. I suspect the biggest problem many buyers who are buying on price will encounter is the atmospheric challenge of getting decent distance shots with a long lens, no matter how good the glass is. Personally, I am looking forward to see how much the IBIS in the R5 improves the handling of my 1000mm Nikon mirror lens.
I’m troubled that IBIS in my R5 is providing no discernible effect on my Questar 700 lens. Unlike my former Nikon Z6.
Does impressively well at 200 with a decoupled RF 70-200
 

AlanF

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I had bad luck with even the vIII 1.4x on 100-400 II the 5DsR. It made the IS perform poorly enough that I would get maybe one shot in 5 that was perfectly sharp. Of course I could have raised the ISO, but I don't care for high-ISO landscapes so much with the 5DsR noise levels. I think a lot of the reports of usability with the 100-400 II and the TCs are from high-ISO bird shooters and/or tripod shooters.
The 5DSR + 100-400mm II + 1.4xTCIII is part of my standard kit for hand holding BIF and static birds at low iso without a tripod and I have posted many here. May be something wrong with the IS of your lens? Here are a couple of shots, a Kestrel and Green Heron,and they are typical, not rare keepers.

3Q7A7301-DxO_kestrel_flying-lsss.jpg
3Q7A2349-DxO__greenheron.jpg
 

highdesertmesa

EOS R6 | GFX 50R
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Apr 17, 2017
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358
Placitas, NM
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The 5DSR + 100-400mm II + 1.4xTCIII is part of my standard kit for hand holding BIF and static birds at low iso without a tripod and I have posted many here. May be something wrong with the IS of your lens? Here are a couple of shots, a Kestrel and Green Heron,and they are typical, not rare keepers.

View attachment 192424View attachment 192425
I haven’t owned the combo for a while — returned the 1.4x and eventually sold it all in the typical/cyclical system changes I’ve gone through. Just always seemed sharper to crop instead, so I didn’t want to be bothered with the hassle of a TC — maybe I should have tried doing the +/- calibration on it.

As for the IS, I was often shooting last-light on the mountains while trying to hang onto ISO 100. Just not enough light for it to keep up.
 
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AlanF

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I haven’t owned the combo for a while — returned the 1.4x and eventually sold it all in the typical/cyclical system changes I’ve gone through. Just always seemed sharper to crop instead, so I didn’t want to be bothered with the hassle of a TC — maybe I should have tried doing the +/- calibration on it.

As for the IS, I was often shooting last-light on the mountains while trying to hang onto ISO 100. Just not enough light for it to keep up.
AFMA calibration is essential when using the TCs. Mine on the 5DSR changes the bare lens by 6 units.
 

melgross

EOS RP
Nov 2, 2016
603
396
I think people are making some mistakes here. Canon has numerous lenses. Many are superb telescope. They gave been known for that for many years. The complaint used to be that they were not great at shorter focal lengths.

with these new lenses, Canon is trying something new. A very light, inexpensive series of lenses that also pretty inexpensive. From what I can tell, they have succeeded. Dispute the expected cry’s about how crappy the lens must be, it’s actually quite good, as reported by pretty much everyone who has actually used it.

is it too slow for lower light levels without a tripod? Yes. Does it focus as closely as some other, much more expensive lenses? No. Is it as tack sharp as some far more expensive, and heavier lenses? Not quite.

so what? From photos I’ve seen, from full size RAW files, it’s pretty sharp. Contrasty enough (fewer elements actually help here). And generally, most people aren’t going to focus closer than 15 feet with a 600, or 20 feet with an 800.
overall, these lenses offer an opportunity for many people who can’t afford much more expensive lenses, and who cant, or won’t, carry much heavier lenses.

so, really guys, stop nitpicking here. You haven’t used these yet, so wait until you do.
 

CanonFanBoy

Real men single speed.
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Jan 28, 2015
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Irving, Texas
I think people are making some mistakes here. Canon has numerous lenses. Many are superb telescope. They gave been known for that for many years. The complaint used to be that they were not great at shorter focal lengths.

with these new lenses, Canon is trying something new. A very light, inexpensive series of lenses that also pretty inexpensive. From what I can tell, they have succeeded. Dispute the expected cry’s about how crappy the lens must be, it’s actually quite good, as reported by pretty much everyone who has actually used it.

is it too slow for lower light levels without a tripod? Yes. Does it focus as closely as some other, much more expensive lenses? No. Is it as tack sharp as some far more expensive, and heavier lenses? Not quite.

so what? From photos I’ve seen, from full size RAW files, it’s pretty sharp. Contrasty enough (fewer elements actually help here). And generally, most people aren’t going to focus closer than 15 feet with a 600, or 20 feet with an 800.
overall, these lenses offer an opportunity for many people who can’t afford much more expensive lenses, and who cant, or won’t, carry much heavier lenses.

so, really guys, stop nitpicking here. You haven’t used these yet, so wait until you do.
You are right. Heck, I have an old 400mm Mamiya/Sekor lens that has a 19' minimum focus distance. People who expect on par performance (even close to the same performance) with multi-thousand $ lenses are being silly. They are very inexpensive lenses at those focal lengths.
 

Dragon

EF 800L
May 29, 2019
260
214
I’m troubled that IBIS in my R5 is providing no discernible effect on my Questar 700 lens. Unlike my former Nikon Z6.
Does impressively well at 200 with a decoupled RF 70-200
I assume you did set the focal length for the Questar (and is it actually 700mm or just somewhere near?).
 

AlanF

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Aug 16, 2012
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I think people are making some mistakes here. Canon has numerous lenses. Many are superb telescope. They gave been known for that for many years. The complaint used to be that they were not great at shorter focal lengths.

with these new lenses, Canon is trying something new. A very light, inexpensive series of lenses that also pretty inexpensive. From what I can tell, they have succeeded. Dispute the expected cry’s about how crappy the lens must be, it’s actually quite good, as reported by pretty much everyone who has actually used it.

is it too slow for lower light levels without a tripod? Yes. Does it focus as closely as some other, much more expensive lenses? No. Is it as tack sharp as some far more expensive, and heavier lenses? Not quite.

so what? From photos I’ve seen, from full size RAW files, it’s pretty sharp. Contrasty enough (fewer elements actually help here). And generally, most people aren’t going to focus closer than 15 feet with a 600, or 20 feet with an 800.
overall, these lenses offer an opportunity for many people who can’t afford much more expensive lenses, and who cant, or won’t, carry much heavier lenses.

so, really guys, stop nitpicking here. You haven’t used these yet, so wait until you do.
I think that these lenses are a great idea and there will be many happy buyers. But, I guess, you are not a nature photographer because we do often need to focus close up as well as far distant - everything from small birds to insects - and frequently need to do it without changing lenses.
 

highdesertmesa

EOS R6 | GFX 50R
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Apr 17, 2017
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Placitas, NM
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I think that these lenses are a great idea and there will be many happy buyers. But, I guess, you are not a nature photographer because we do often need to focus close up as well as far distant - everything from small birds to insects - and frequently need to do it without changing lenses.
Or they are a *casual* nature photographer without an extra $12K and a sherpa.

Even the 100-500 plus 1.4x is $3,200.
 

AlanF

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Or they are a *casual* nature photographer without an extra $12K and a sherpa.

Even the 100-500 plus 1.4x is $3,200.
There are lenses other than $10k big whites or the 100-500mm. I have used and can recommend the Tamron and Sigma 100-400mms and 150-600mms, which are in the same price range as the 800 f/11 and have very short mfds. I shall be using with my R5 my 100-400mm II (which you can pick up used) or my Sigma 150-600mm C. Most of my best shots of small birds are taken about 4m away, and dragonflies and butterflies much closer.
 
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melgross

EOS RP
Nov 2, 2016
603
396
I think that these lenses are a great idea and there will be many happy buyers. But, I guess, you are not a nature photographer because we do often need to focus close up as well as far distant - everything from small birds to insects - and frequently need to do it without changing lenses.
I’ve done a great deal of nature photography over the decades. It depends on what you’re photographing. For most things, these minimum focus distances are just fine. But it’s like anything else. No lens has everything. If you have a 400 with you, and you need an 600 or 800, are you going to fault the lens for not having these focal lengths? I hope not. Same thing here. So it may not focus quite as closely as some others.

Spend several times as much to get a lens that focuses a few feet closer, if you don’t mind the extra size and weight that is. How many time do people miss photos because they have the wrong lens, or it’s too heavy to take everywhere? Much more often than this not focusing another five feet closer.
 

AlanF

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I’ve done a great deal of nature photography over the decades. It depends on what you’re photographing. For most things, these minimum focus distances are just fine. But it’s like anything else. No lens has everything. If you have a 400 with you, and you need an 600 or 800, are you going to fault the lens for not having these focal lengths? I hope not. Same thing here. So it may not focus quite as closely as some others.

Spend several times as much to get a lens that focuses a few feet closer, if you don’t mind the extra size and weight that is. How many time do people miss photos because they have the wrong lens, or it’s too heavy to take everywhere? Much more often than this not focusing another five feet closer.
I go out photographing birds and small creatures daily and for these common subjects an mfd of 15-20 feet can be hopeless. As I have written a few posts above, you can buy great telephoto zooms that cost about the same as an 800mm f/11, of similar weight, and focus down to 3 or 4 feet. A $10,000+ 800mm f/5.6 is a very specialised lens and so is an 800mm f/11.
 

melgross

EOS RP
Nov 2, 2016
603
396
I go out photographing birds and small creatures daily and for these common subjects an mfd of 15-20 feet can be hopeless. As I have written a few posts above, you can buy great telephoto zooms that cost about the same as an 800mm f/11, of similar weight, and focus down to 3 or 4 feet. A $10,000+ 800mm f/5.6 is a very specialised lens and so is an 800mm f/11.
I’ve tried some of those zooms, and no, they’re pretty bad. One problem is thatvtheyre particularly bad as you get closer. Very expensive long lenses, with their sophisticated focusing groups, do much better.

look, these lenses are compromises. But they’re great compromises.
 

Dragon

EF 800L
May 29, 2019
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I’ve tried some of those zooms, and no, they’re pretty bad. One problem is thatvtheyre particularly bad as you get closer. Very expensive long lenses, with their sophisticated focusing groups, do much better.

look, these lenses are compromises. But they’re great compromises.
For those looking for close-ups, slap a 500D diopter on the front of that 600 f/11 and you might get some cool shots.
 

AlanF

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Aug 16, 2012
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I’ve tried some of those zooms, and no, they’re pretty bad. One problem is thatvtheyre particularly bad as you get closer. Very expensive long lenses, with their sophisticated focusing groups, do much better.

look, these lenses are compromises. But they’re great compromises.
I shoot regularly near and far with telephoto lenses ranging from very sharp expensive primes to lower priced zooms and can always get sharp shots. For about $2000, you can get some spectacular zoom lenses. The Canon 100-400mm II is really sharp. The Sony 200-600mm is used by some of the best bird photographers. If you think the f/11s are going to be sharper, just look at the Digital Picture comparison of the 600mm/f11 with the Canon 100-400mm zoom at 400mm or 560mm f/8 with a 1.4xTC and the Sony zoom at 600mm/f6.3




Also my copy of the Sigma 150-600mm C at 600mm is sharper than my 100-400mm II at 560mm. So, I am puzzled why you find the zooms pretty bad.
 
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AlanF

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For those looking for close-ups, slap a 500D diopter on the front of that 600 f/11 and you might get some cool shots.
A 500D is designed for lenses up to 300mm. If it were to work on the 600/11, it would give a 273mm f/5 lens, with a minimum focal distance of round about 2m or 79", which is not exactly a close-up lens (calculated from the standard lens equations). The Canon 100-400/500 zooms will get down to half that distance.