Canon RF800mm F/11 is a Challenging Lens

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On July 30th, 2020, Canon released a brand new lens (that did not previously exist) – the Canon RF 800mm with a fixed F/11 aperture in a highly portable size and bargain price.  Under the right conditions, it produces incredible results like the image above, especially when combined with the new Canon R5.  But, it can be a challenge.

I shot with the RF 800mm three days this weekend.  I experimented with a variety of settings trying to get the best results.  Starting with the F/11 is a tough launching point.  Because both the R5 and the RF 800mm has built-in stabilization, I started with a 1/500 shutter and had mixed results.  After two calls to Canon CPS, they recommended a minimum of 1/1000 shutter with an Auto ISO.  Panning may need an even faster shutter like 1/2000.  Thankfully, the R5 can handle that speed compensating with high ISO and relatively low noise.

This lens is great for slow moving wildlife.  It makes an excellent Zoo lens.  Panning takes a lot of practice and patience.  A bird flying at you or across the sky is a perfect target.  For example, Ospreys typically circle soaring higher and higher.  The fast shutter plus full stabilization in lens and body works well.  But, keep in mind, that 800mm can make it tough to find your target and follow it.  (Zooms are easier since you can locate the subject and then zoom in to the desired telephoto range.) Changing the lens focus setting from Full to 20m to Infinity will make it focus faster.

Other helpful settings for Wildlife with Canon R5:

Under AF > Tab 1> select AF Method > AF Face + Tracking.

Under AF > Tab 1> select Subject to Detect > Animals.

Under AF > Tab 1> select Eye Detection > Enable.

Under AF > Tab 3> select Case 2 – Continue to track subjects, ignoring possible obstacles.

With these settings combined, the R5 will use the Eye Detection on Animals and follow the subject as it moves.

Of course, the RF 800mm can be used for non-wildlife subjects like the moon … which I HAD to try LOL.

The Canon RF 800mm F/11 is a bargain for $899.  The optics are great and it only weighs 2.8 pounds.  It is so portable!  And it is a FUN lens!  Keep in mind, it is not an L-series lens and it is not weather sealed.  That price does NOT include a lens case nor lens hood.  If you want the Canon branded products, look for the LZ1435 Lens Case and the ET-101 Lens Hood but both are currently backordered.  Check eBay.  The Lens case is is very trim and compact yet still fits the inverted lens hood.  But, a Lowepro or Think Tank lens case has much better padding for the price.  I also recommend a neoprene strap instead of the supplied strap.

Here are some additional photos taken with the Canon R5 and the Canon RF 800mm F/11. 

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