Canon RF100-500mm f/4.5-7.1L IS USM Review

Canon first announced the RF100-500mm f/4.5-7.1 L IS USM lens in July 2020, I managed to get a short hands on experience with the EOS R5, EOS R6 and new RF lenses (RF100-500mm, RF600mm and RF800mm) shortly after the new EOS R cameras and RF lenses announcements were made. While the shorts hand on experience was short, I was keen to have a go with the RF100-500mm f/4.5-7.1L IS USM lens when the opportunity arises. The opportunity came in January 2021 and here is my Canon RF100-500mm f/4.5-7.1L IS USM review. 

In my short hands on experience article that I published in July 2020, I confessed that I wasn’t really into lenses with focal length range of 100-500mm as my setup was geared towards the holy trinity setup and big prime lenses. During the period when I was reviewing the Canon RF100-500mm f/4.5-7.1L IS USM lens, I was enlightened, my perceptions and views of this focal length range changed.  

A favourite lens for wildlife photographers 

I have been reading and looking at Facebook groups/pages posts on wildlife photographs shot in Singapore. There is a trend on these combinations of Canon EOS R5 or EOS R6 with RF100-500mm lens. I had chats with the folks from my local camera shop that I regularly go to, this is quite a popular camera and lens combination that the photographers wanted to get.

When I had the RF100-500mm lens with the Canon EOS R5 for review, I finally understood and realise why this is such a popular combination and setup. From my adventures at Jurong Bird Park, to West Coast Park, Bukit Batok Nature Park, Pasir Ris Park and Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. I photographed quite a lot of wildlife photographs.

The 100mm to 500mm range is versatile for wildlife photography, you would not be constrained by shorter focal lengths or a fixed focal length lens. The photographs quality are sharp even when shooting at its maximum aperture. 

This would not be the fastest lens since it’s not a constant aperture lens, nevertheless the AF is pretty impressive and fast when paired with the EOS R5 body (and I believe it would be just as good with the EOS R6 body too).

More than just a lens for wildlife and sports photography 

Although this lens is probably going to be more geared towards wildlife and sports photography, it’s a versatile lens that photographers can use for sports, travel and landscapes too. While I didn’t get the opportunity to photograph sports events with this lens, I was able to photograph people/machines in action from a distance away and landscapes too. 

Photographing landscapes with this 100mm to 500mm focal length range telephoto lens is probably less common, even less common in Singapore when it’s a small country by land size and honestly speaking, it doesn’t have much of a wide and vast landscapes in big countries that I visited. Using the RF100-500mm to shoot landscapes in Singapore, I managed to capture some beautiful moments that I really like and didn’t expect to come out in a way that I would expect from my travel photography trips overseas. 

Personal thoughts and views

This is a lens that change my view on long focal length range telephoto zoom lens. While I am a user and supporter of zoom lenses such as 24-70mm and 70-200mm focal range, a longer range focal length such as 70-300mm or 100-400mm didn’t attract me as much initially in my photography adventures. I was more inclined towards prime telephoto lens such as the 300mm f/2.8L for their speed and optics. During the period when I was reviewing the RF100-500mm f/4.5-7.1L IS USM lens, it changed my view and approach towards wildlife, sports and action photography. I am now more inclined towards focal length range telephoto zoom lens, keen to get this lens some time down the road.

Key factors and points that convinced and changed me after using RF100-500mm f/4.5-7.1L IS USM lens

  • Lighter in weight
  • More versatile than a fixed focal length prime lens 
  • Easier to carry and move around with faster reaction time when photographing wildlife/sports versus a fixed prime lens on a tripod 
  • The optics quality and AF speed is excellent considering that it’s not a fixed focal length prime lens
  • Price is a lot lower as compared to a fixed focal length prime lens 

A versatile, portable and not too heavy telephoto zoom lens with excellent optics quality that is comparable to a prime lens. Since it’s not a constant aperture lens, the auto-focus speed may not be as fast as a prime lens. However, when paired with the Canon EOS R5 or R6, the AF speed is still pretty fast and impressive. 

This remarkable lens is very Ideal for wildlife, sports and travel, sometimes landscapes too. In the wildlife and birding community, a number of photographers have the Canon EOS R5 or Canon EOS R6 and RF100-500mm setup, a powerful, ideal, excellent and popular combination of both AF speed, AF accuracy, optics and output quality (45MP Canon EOS R5 sensor provides lot of details even when cropping in). 

The retail recommended price for the Canon RF100-500mm f/4.5-7.1L IS USM lens is SGD$4,459, compared to a cost of a big aperture prime lens, it’s not that expensive.

The Canon RF100-500mm f/4.5-7.1L IS USM lens is a versatile, portable and not too heavy telephoto zoom lens, very ideal and suitable for wildlife photographers, sports and travel. This highly capable long range telephoto zoom lens gives photographers options to choose from for their wildlife or sports photography. A value for money top quality Canon L lens that gives photographers, versatility and portability versus the more expensive prime telephoto lens. Whether it is a telephoto zoom lens or telephoto prime lens, photographers have the options available to choose from. 

 

More photographs shot with the RF100-500mm f/4.5-7.1L IS USM lens can be viewed here inside this Flickr photo album. Do check out my other photo albums on Flickr, Canon EOS R5, Canon EOS R6, Canon RF70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM and Canon RF24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM and check out my articles on my recent reviews and testings of the Canon EOS R5, Canon EOS R6, Canon RF70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM and Canon RF24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM.

* I would like to thank Canon Singapore for the opportunity to review the Canon RF100-500mm f/4.5-7.1L IS USM lens *

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