Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 IS USM Review (so far)
The Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 IS USM is a super-telephoto zoom lens for Canon EOS R full-frame mirrorless cameras.
It features Ultra Low Dispersion elements to reduce chromatic aberrations and it has a Super Spectra Coating to help reduce flare and ghosting.
This lens has a 9 blade diaphragm which creates an attractive blur to the out-of-focus areas of the image and it's fully weather-sealed.
It's equipped with an optical Image Stabilizer that offers 5.5-stops of built-in stabilisation, or up to 7.5-stops when used with an EOS R camera that is equipped with IBIS.
An internal focusing mechanism means the lens barrel doesn't move and it offers an impressive minimum focusing distance of 80cm / 31.5", whilst using 95mm filters.
There's a configurable combined focus/control ring on the lens barrel which allows you to either manually focus or quickly change the exposure compensation, shutter speed, aperture and ISO settings.
This lens is also compatible with the RF 1.4x and 2x extenders with no limitations on the zoom range, offering focal ranges of 280-1120mm and 400-1600mm respectively.
The Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 IS USM lens will be available in December 2023 priced at £2299.99 / €2619.99 in the UK and Europe, respectively.
Ease of Use
Weighing in at 2050g / 4.52lb and measuring 314.1mm in length (when set to the 200mm focal length) and 102.3mm in diameter, the RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 IS USM is a surprisingly compact and relatively lightweight lens given the large focal range of 200-800mm that's on offer.
It doesn't feel at all unbalanced when using it with a mid-sized camera body like the Canon EOS R5 body that we tested it with, as shown in the product photos, even without a battery grip fitted.
The lens does extend quite a lot further when fully zoomed out to 800mm, though, with the large circular lens hood adding even more length.
Build quality is very good for what is after all a non L-series lens. Despite its mostly plastic construction, the RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 IS USM feels solid in your hand, and it commendably has a metal mount.
While it may not officially be an L-series lens and therefore doesn't have the distinctive red ring, it does have a very similar white coating, and it also boasts a weather-resistant design to help protect it against dust and moisture.
There are two switches on the left hand side of the RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 IS USM lens. The top one is a switch for choosing between auto-focusing and manual focusing. The bottom one is a switch for turning image stabilisation on or off.
The built-in 5.5 stops of image stabilisation are important when hand-holding such a long lens, and the system thankfully works very well, ensuring that you can shoot at slower shutter speeds than 1/800th and still get sharp results (obviously depending on your technique).
This is especially important on the older EOS R and RP cameras, which lack the additional in-body stabilisation offered by the newer EOS R5 and R3, with the newer models enhancing the RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 IS USM's own stabilizer.
While they offer 7.5 stops of IBIS at 200mm, however, there's still only 5.5 stops of IBIS at 800mm, which is arguably where you need it most.
Rather than a dedicated control ring, as on some RF lenses, the 200-800mm instead has a combined focus/control ring. This can be used to either manually focus or to control certain key camera settings (TV, AV, ISO and exposure settings).
The fly-by-wire manual focusing ring is fairly narrow but it is ridged to help you to get a firmer grip on it.
There are also no hard stops at either end of the ring to help you know when the minimum or maximum focusing distance has been achieved.
You can change the resistance of the zoom ring to better suit your way of working. Polariser users should be pleased that the 95mm filter thread doesn't rotate on focus.
Auto-focusing with the Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 IS USM and the EOS R5 camera proved to be quick, quiet and accurate for the majority of the time.
The Nano USM auto-focusing system delivers quick autofocus performance with full-time manual focus override in the one-shot AF mode.
The lens is also very quiet, making it ideal for discreet situations, such as on safari or for birding, as well as for use while filming videos.
We didn't experience too much "hunting" at all, either in good or bad light, with the lens accurately focusing virtually all of the time, thanks to the superb low-light capabilities of the EOS R cameras.
There are two Lens Function buttons which by default act as Focus Hold/AF Stop buttons. You can choose to assign different functions to these buttons from the Customize Buttons section of the camera's menu system.
Around the base of the lens is a moveable, but non-removable, tripod collar/foot. This is not only useful when using the lens with a tripod, but also when handholding the lens to help keep it as steady as possible.
You can move the foot around the lens to whichever position you need, giving you good flexibility to move your camera.
There is a circular shaped lens hood and a soft case available for this lens, both of which are included in the box.
When using this lens with an RF 1.4x Extender and one of the following cameras: EOS R3 / R5 / R6 / R6 Mark II / EOS R8 / R7 / R10 / R50 / R100, the camera's AF area is reduced to approximately 90% horizontal and 100% vertical coverage of the image area.
When using this lens with the RF 2x Extender and one of the following cameras: EOS R3 / R5 / R6 / R6 Mark II / EOS R8, the camera's AF area is reduced to approximately 40% horizontal and 60% vertical coverage of the image area.
When using this lens with an RF 2x Extender and one of the following cameras: EOS R7 / R10 / R50 / R100, the camera's AF area is reduced to approximately 60% horizontal and 80% vertical coverage of the image area.