Canon Lens News

The Canon RF 600mm f/11 IS STM and RF 800mm f/11 IS STM were inspired by lenses from the 1960’s

Two of the strangest and surprising products Canon announced this year were the Canon RF 600mm f/11 IS STM and Canon RF 800mm f/11 IS STM super-telephoto lenses. There really isn’t any other lenses like these on the market, and reviewers have been pleasantly surprised by how useable these lenses are.

DC Watch had the chance to interview the Canon engineers responsible for these lens designs, and it’s kind of cool where the idea for them came from.

Top to bottom: The Canon R 600mm f/5.6, Canon R 800mm f/8 and Canon R 1000mm f/11 lenses from 1960 (image credit: Canon // Digital Camera World)

According to the Canon engineers, the ideas for these lenses were inspired by the super-telephoto lenses from the 1960s.

The Canon RF mount also makes these lenses possible, since the cameras can autofocus at f/22, which wasn’t possible on DSLRs.

I wanted to create specs that can only be achieved with the EOS R system and enjoyment through new user experiences. Among them, I wondered if I could break through the three barriers of ‘heavy, big, and expensive’ for super-telephoto lenses. Canon’s dual-pixel CMOS AF is strong against AF even in the dark, so a super-telephoto lens with a large F-number may be possible.

Since the EOS R system can measure distances up to the maximum aperture of f/22, I thought that the f-value of the lens alone would be f/11, considering the installation of a 2x extender. With f/8, the lens becomes thicker, and with f/16, it exceeds f/22 when the 2x extender is attached.

Even in the era of single-lens reflex cameras, I wondered if I could manage to get closer to the world of super-telephoto lenses that exceed 400 mm. I considered increasing the F-number as I did this time, but it didn’t work. If you increase the F value, you can only AF at the center of the screen. With a single-lens reflex camera, the viewfinder became dark and there were concerns about usability, so I gave up.

These new f/11 super telephotos are going to be quite popular as more and more people try them out. I haven’t yet gotten my hands on one, but I hope to soon.

You can read the full interview over at DC Watch.

cayenne

EOS 5D Mark IV
CR Pro
Mar 28, 2012
2,368
352
Are these F/11 lenses useful for anything other than bright daylight shooting?

cayenne
 

Joules

EOS R
CR Pro
Jul 16, 2017
1,104
1,245
Hamburg, Germany
Are these F/11 lenses useful for anything other than bright daylight shooting?

cayenne
They can be used in all situations a Sigma 150-600 mm 5.0-6.3 can be used on an APS-C body, or cropping an EF 100-400 mm L IS II on a FF body to 50% horizontal and vertical size yields acceptable results. From experience with the former, that is a lot of situations, although of course good light conditions are preferable.
 

blackcoffee17

EOS RP
Sep 17, 2014
506
546
Are these F/11 lenses useful for anything other than bright daylight shooting?

cayenne
Yes. Cameras like the R5 and R6 can be used at ISO 12800 or 25600 with very good results and still print big. I would say these lenses are good for situations when there is decent light, not necessarily sunny.
 

degos

EOS RP
Mar 20, 2015
329
251
They can be used in all situations a Sigma 150-600 mm 5.0-6.3 can be used on an APS-C body,
Err no, the flux reaching the sensor pixel through a 600mm f/6.3 doesn't care one jot about 'crop' or not.

You can't carve-out some imaginary central light-tube and say "aha! It's f/11 now". That's not how exposure works. Otherwise the very central 1% portion of a full-frame image could be said to be f/352 or something daft.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Ahmed Hindawi

blackcoffee17

EOS RP
Sep 17, 2014
506
546
These lenses are great as small/affordable options. But if these are going to be the only affordable options for the RF mount, that's not good.
 

amorse

EOS RP
Jan 26, 2017
711
905
www.instagram.com
Are these F/11 lenses useful for anything other than bright daylight shooting?

cayenne
That depends on what you're taking pictures of I guess? If shutter speed and shallow depth of field isn't limiting to what you're trying to capture, then these can likely play a pretty useful role. I keep coming back to the ultra-long distance shots of people against things like the sun or the moon. Petapixel did an article on these sorts of shots at 800mm for context. I'll admit - I was curious to try landscapes at 800mm too.

Also the massive weight/size/price reduction has value if you can get past its limitations - obviously not everyone can. I mean, at 1260g and small enough to go in a carry on, the 800mm f/11 is pretty easy to add to a bag as an after thought. On the other hand, the 800 f/5.6 is 4500g and requires some forethought and planning to bring to distant locations.

I probably wouldn't suggest either the 600 or 800 f/11s will do the same job as their f/4 or f/5.6 counterparts, but for someone going on a family holiday to somewhere exotic, adding an 800mm f/11 means being able to get some neat pictures of wildlife in bright light without planning the trip around it.
 

AlanF

Hands. Face. Space.
CR Pro
Aug 16, 2012
7,197
6,687
I'm using the 2xTC on the 100-400mm II at f/11 with the R5 and finding it quite useful. From this morning - a dull day with a break in the rain and chancing across a Migrant Hawker Dragonfly. The 2xTC on the 100-400mm II + R5, f/11, 1/160s iso 1000.
309A1888NN_migrant_hawker_dragonfly-ss.jpg
 

Joules

EOS R
CR Pro
Jul 16, 2017
1,104
1,245
Hamburg, Germany
Err no, the flux reaching the sensor pixel through a 600mm f/6.3 doesn't care one jot about 'crop' or not.

You can't carve-out some imaginary central light-tube and say "aha! It's f/11 now". That's not how exposure works. Otherwise the very central 1% portion of a full-frame image could be said to be f/352 or something daft.
The question was about usability. It was probably raised due to concerns about the limitations an f/11 lens has in terms of light gathering. So I'm talking about equivalency in terms of the amount of light gathered:

The f number just gives you the light per area. So you have to consider the area that your image is based of if you are interested in the total light captured. Which is what you should be interested in, as it determines signal to noise ratio and therefore how noticable noise is in the image. A Canon APS-C sensor has about 39 % the area of an FF one. And f/11 is about 33 % the amount of light per area compared to f/6.3. So you get comparable levels of total light gathered when comparing f/11 on FF (uncropped) to f/6.3 on an 1.6 crop sensor.

Similarly, cropping the FF image from a 400 mm 5.6 lens to match the FoV of an 800 mm lens reduces the image area to 25 % of the original image. f/11 is 25 % the light per area of f/5.6. If you want to think about it in terms of physical aperture, like it is the norm for astro photography purposes, both have very similar apertures: 400/5.6 = 71.4 ~ 72.3 = 800/11
 

bbasiaga

Canon Shooter
Nov 15, 2011
333
288
USA
Are these F/11 lenses useful for anything other than bright daylight shooting?

cayenne
I think these are mainly statement lenses - 'look at what our mirrorless system allows us to do - AF at f/22! Small compact super telephotos"!

But yes they have an audience and a use. Look at some of the reviews on YouTube. A lot of people who were skeptical at the announcement seemed to find themselves surprised by the size and weight, and affordability of that kind of reach. That said, serious event photographers are probably not looking at this as an alternative to their big whites! My take away has been that they feel its neat and attractive for a lot of reasons, but not for professional use. And that is how it is built and priced so I think Canon agrees.

I want one to take to the zoo. I know some folks want one for air shows. A lot of types of bird or wildlife photography is possible in daylight conditions with this, down to maybe twilight at higher ISO. Heck, even some shots of the far side of the field at my daughter's soccer game would be cool.

My EF glass has me covered for the most part. But honestly either of these are near the top of my list for when i switch to the RF system.

-Brian
 

Joules

EOS R
CR Pro
Jul 16, 2017
1,104
1,245
Hamburg, Germany
I think these are mainly statement lenses [...] My take away has been that they feel its neat and attractive for a lot of reasons, but not for professional use.
I don't think they are statement lenses at all. And of course they are not aimed at any sort of high end. They are non-L lenses with flippin STM AF. With higher end APS-C going the way of the Dodo apparently, Canon still needs affordable options that provide reach. These lenses are a good solution for that. The RF 28-70 mm is a statement lens. These are just the beginning of Canon's lineup of affordable RF lenses. And they are the first cheap DO lenses, possibly experimenting with a newer version of the technology that they are more comfortable rolling out in this price category. Like they often do, with tilty-flippy screens, touchscreens, DPAF, nano-USM, mirrorless in general. It will provide value to the high end in the long term as well to have a healthy set of options for low and mid range market segments.
 
  • Like
Reactions: heart+eyes

bbasiaga

Canon Shooter
Nov 15, 2011
333
288
USA
I don't think they are statement lenses at all. And of course they are not aimed at any sort of high end. They are non-L lenses with flippin STM AF. With higher end APS-C going the way of the Dodo apparently, Canon still needs affordable options that provide reach. These lenses are a good solution for that. The RF 28-70 mm is a statement lens. These are just the beginning of Canon's lineup of affordable RF lenses. And they are the first cheap DO lenses, possibly experimenting with a newer version of the technology that they are more comfortable rolling out in this price category. Like they often do, with tilty-flippy screens, touchscreens, DPAF, nano-USM, mirrorless in general. It will provide value to the high end in the long term as well to have a healthy set of options for low and mid range market segments.
They're both statements, just on opposite ends of the capability spectrum. the f/2 series is about how far they can take it on the cutting edge, and the f/11s are about how much capability they can provide on the cheaper end. A lens like the 600 or 800 would have been close to useless because of lack of AF on the EF mount, and is possible now only because of the RF/mirrorless technology. That's why, to me at least, they are a 'statement'.

-Brian
 
  • Like
Reactions: Joules

cayenne

EOS 5D Mark IV
CR Pro
Mar 28, 2012
2,368
352
That depends on what you're taking pictures of I guess? If shutter speed and shallow depth of field isn't limiting to what you're trying to capture, then these can likely play a pretty useful role. I keep coming back to the ultra-long distance shots of people against things like the sun or the moon. Petapixel did an article on these sorts of shots at 800mm for context. I'll admit - I was curious to try landscapes at 800mm too.

Also the massive weight/size/price reduction has value if you can get past its limitations - obviously not everyone can. I mean, at 1260g and small enough to go in a carry on, the 800mm f/11 is pretty easy to add to a bag as an after thought. On the other hand, the 800 f/5.6 is 4500g and requires some forethought and planning to bring to distant locations.

I probably wouldn't suggest either the 600 or 800 f/11s will do the same job as their f/4 or f/5.6 counterparts, but for someone going on a family holiday to somewhere exotic, adding an 800mm f/11 means being able to get some neat pictures of wildlife in bright light without planning the trip around it.
Well, I was thinking of shooting concerts or festivals, indoors or after sunset.....?

cayenne