Canon Reviews

Review: Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS III USM

The-Digital-Picture has completed their review of the hard-to-come-by Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS III USM.

As with any Canon super-telephoto lens that followed up a classic, we have ourselves a new classic, Canon just knows how to do it.

From The-Digital-Picture

The Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS III is a top-notch wildlife and sports lens created by a company with a long history of delivering best-available camera lenses. This lens is a roll-up of the best-available technology, including the technology utilized in the lens’ design as well as the innovative manufacturing techniques required to make this lens a reality for the professionals who will ultimately rely on it. Read the full review

Adorama finally has stock of the Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS III USM

Hector1970

EOS 6D MK II
Mar 22, 2012
1,086
260
As an owner of a 600 II I'm amazed they were able to shave off 870g off it.
I could see a considerable advantage in that and the weigh moving back.
I've used my on safari and while a great lens lifting it up and down (as you tend to do on safari ) is some work out.

I'm really curious about this bit
"Check out that awesome 3rd lens element, a thin concave optic tightly nested between the two fluorite elements. Per Canon, "This lens element is so delicate that simply holding the edges of it in your hand can cause localized warping due to body heat."

Hand temperature is 37 degrees. It's not beyond the possibility that this lens would be out in temperatures like this. Can it be impacted by hot weather. Even though they are painted off white, they can still warm up considerably.

This bit was interesting
"The version III vs. II comparison shows the version II lens very slightly sharper in the center of the frame with the difference becoming more apparent when extenders are mounted. The version III lens has considerably less lateral CA. "

This was a curiosity too. I didn't think there would be much difference in autofocus. I'd love to know how noticeable that is. I tend to blame myself when I don't focus quick enough or it tracks the wrong thing.
"Note that Canon specifically mentions that the "EOS-1D and EOS 5D series benefit from improved AF performance when used with the III series lenses."

I see it has padded bag. I certainly find no use for the hard case.
The padded bag would be better if you could fit a camera to it too.
There isn't much choice in bags that you can store a 600 III with a camera attached.
I've a Vanguard Alta Sky (66 I think). It's a great bag. You can't fit much else in with it but it stores the camera and lens together safely. Reversing the hood to store it is a bit annoying and makes me nervous. I hate seeing the front glass temporarily unprotected. It would be a bad time to let it fall.

I watched the 600 II for about 7 years and dreamed of owning it.
I followed the price for years and bought it when it temporarily dropped in price in 2018 to the lowest it had ever been. It's still a crazy price to pay for a lens. The new lens is even crazier.
For sure they are great but they are mad prices.
I really enjoy owning it. It still "sparks joy". I can see a time in the future where its just too heavy.
(So buy it when you are young if you can).
 

Jack Douglas

CR for the Humour
Apr 10, 2013
6,092
1,031
Alberta, Canada
Interesting comments. I'd say there is zero chance Canon will produce an oversized bag as much as it makes sense for many. Whenever, I travel in a vehicle, I have my bag along that allows my 400 DO and 2X to be attached with the camera, ready to be pulled out in an instant. I've generally moved in the direction of modifying a bag that's close to what I need but I happen to have an upholstery sewing machine. However, upholstery shops have talented people and do custom jobs.

Jack
 
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Graphic.Artifacts

EOS 7D MK II
Aug 1, 2017
425
244
Sounds like a terrific lens but I guess I'll have to make do with my v2. Interesting that the new lens isn't quite as sharp as the v2 and there seemed to be variability between the three test samples. I expected there might be sharpness issues with such an exotic optical layout. I would love for my 600 to be lighter and easier to handle but not at the cost of sharpness. The bare lens is probably plenty sharp enough but any issues with IQ are magnified when you add extenders as I often have to do.

At least that's what I'll tell myself when I watch guys my age hand holding those things for hours to shoot BIF's. ;)

edit: I guess the 600 is too long for Roger Ciala's optical bench. No disrespect to TDP but I'd like to see data from a professional lens tester with a state of the art optical bench.
 
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ethanz

1DX II
Apr 12, 2016
1,027
271
ethanzentz.com
I think its a fair trade off: a tiny tiny bit less sharp and not quite as phenomenal with teleconverters for such large weight savings.
 
Nov 7, 2013
5
0
Honestly, with 1.4x and 2.0x it looks noticeably softer than either 600 II or 400 DO II :rolleyes:

Looks like there're optical compromises which many wouldn't like at this price. Not worth the weight savings. 400/2.8 III looks a bit better in comparison, but still not as good as 400/2.8 II in the center.
 

fabao

I'm New Here
Apr 26, 2019
11
19
This may sound like sacrilege, but I just came back from a safari and had a fantastic experience using a panasonic 200-800 mm equivalent on my GH5. I used to own one of these large white lenses from Canon but the hassle of carrying them (and their price tag) was not very appealing. The zoom flexibility and the much shorter size and weight means I could hand hold them all day without bothering with support systems, and quickly switch to my 2nd and 3rd cameras with different lenses. Of course, once the light was sub-optimal (very early in the morning and late evening), I would switch to a 70-200. Anyone with a similar experience?
 
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Hector1970

EOS 6D MK II
Mar 22, 2012
1,086
260
This may sound like sacrilege, but I just came back from a safari and had a fantastic experience using a panasonic 200-800 mm equivalent on my GH5. I used to own one of these large white lenses from Canon but the hassle of carrying them (and their price tag) was not very appealing. The zoom flexibility and the much shorter size and weight means I could hand hold them all day without bothering with support systems, and quickly switch to my 2nd and 3rd cameras with different lenses. Of course, once the light was sub-optimal (very early in the morning and late evening), I would switch to a 70-200. Anyone with a similar experience?
I could imagine what you are describing to be the case. Comfort is important too. You get images with a 600mm but it’s awkward. Minimal focusing distance can be an issue. Sometimes on safari you have to react quickly to capture something suddenly noticed. The 600mm can be like a supertanker.
 
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Codebunny

EOS M50
Sep 5, 2018
37
17
I always look forward to reviews from TDP, he seems to condense the information down to just enough that is not overwhelming. Though now, as before, I am still struggling to pick between the 200-400, 400 2.8, and the 600. It's all rather a fuss to pick between them.
 

NorskHest

EOS T7i
Jan 11, 2018
55
60
Minnesota - US
Visit site
I always look forward to reviews from TDP, he seems to condense the information down to just enough that is not overwhelming. Though now, as before, I am still struggling to pick between the 200-400, 400 2.8, and the 600. It's all rather a fuss to pick between them.
I have a 100-400 vii and 600vii and I find them to be an incredible combo. I looked at getting the 200-400 and the 400 as well but after using the 1-4 I knew the 2-4 was not the purchase to be made. The 600 is my favorite lens and it will be yours too. Don’t buy the other two.
 

Attachments

May 3, 2016
3
0
For users anticipating moving to mirrorless once the new pro models arrive, do you buy this lens now and just plan that you will need a converter mount Would hate to buy the lens and then in two years find the lens comes out with the new mount. The weight loss is a huge deal that makes the move up to the 600 from a 500 a lot more attractive.
 
Mar 14, 2012
2,294
180
For users anticipating moving to mirrorless once the new pro models arrive, do you buy this lens now and just plan that you will need a converter mount Would hate to buy the lens and then in two years find the lens comes out with the new mount. The weight loss is a huge deal that makes the move up to the 600 from a 500 a lot more attractive.
Are you willing to wait more than 2 years? Or will using it and selling it in 2+ years when the RF version arrives be worth the "extended rental fee"?

I have a mixed EF/RF system and I'll unload most of the EF gear once the pro models are better than my 5D4. If the 600 will be your only EF lens, just leave the adapter on the lens and treat it as part of the lens.
 
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AlanF

Canon 5DSR II
Aug 16, 2012
5,651
2,886
This may sound like sacrilege, but I just came back from a safari and had a fantastic experience using a panasonic 200-800 mm equivalent on my GH5. I used to own one of these large white lenses from Canon but the hassle of carrying them (and their price tag) was not very appealing. The zoom flexibility and the much shorter size and weight means I could hand hold them all day without bothering with support systems, and quickly switch to my 2nd and 3rd cameras with different lenses. Of course, once the light was sub-optimal (very early in the morning and late evening), I would switch to a 70-200. Anyone with a similar experience?
The story of lenses with micro 4/3 being equivalent to twice longer lenses with larger sensors is mainly a myth because of the low density of the M4/3 sensors and the fact that many FF and crop cameras having higher density sensors. The GH5 has 3.33 µ pixels. The 80D has 3.73 µ and the 5DS has 4.13 µ. In terms of resolution, the 100-400mm on the GH5 is equivalent to only 112-448mm on an 80D or only 124-500mm on a 5DS (or 7DII). It's only 200-800mm equivalent versus the 1DX. I have tried the Pana-Leica lens with the G9, read all the reviews and figures on its resolution etc, and came to the very strong opinion that I would far prefer to use the much higher quality Canon 100-400mm on a crop or 5DSR. The Canon lens has much better MTF values at 400mm, you can put a 1.4xTC to go further still, and have all the advantage of FF in low light. You also have twice the field of view on FF, which is a real plus for stills.
Lenstip has a very detailed write-up of the Pana-Leica 100-400mm f/6.3, which highlights its deficiencies - https://www.lenstip.com/index.html?test=obiektywu&test_ob=476
Sorry to be so negative, but it is very important to point out these drawbacks for people to consider before buying.
 
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Codebunny

EOS M50
Sep 5, 2018
37
17
I have a 100-400 vii and 600vii and I find them to be an incredible combo. I looked at getting the 200-400 and the 400 as well but after using the 1-4 I knew the 2-4 was not the purchase to be made. The 600 is my favorite lens and it will be yours too. Don’t buy the other two.
Thanks, I am certainly considering the 600 as a top choice. I did some checking on the pictures I take at 300mm and found that a good majority of these pictures where cropped in quite a bit. I have two trips planned early next year where I'll rent a 600 and 200-400 so I can get a better idea.
 

NorskHest

EOS T7i
Jan 11, 2018
55
60
Minnesota - US
Visit site
Thanks, I am certainly considering the 600 as a top choice. I did some checking on the pictures I take at 300mm and found that a good majority of these pictures where cropped in quite a bit. I have two trips planned early next year where I'll rent a 600 and 200-400 so I can get a better idea.
The weight of the 600 sucks but the results make it worth it. When paired with the 2x extender you will love it even more. When I have to do longer hikes I leave my 1D and bring my 5d4 as to lighten the load. If you have questions or want sample images feel free to reach out.