Testing lenses... again.

Started 2 months ago | Discussions
fredlord
fredlord Veteran Member • Posts: 3,170
Testing lenses... again.
2

Remember, I'm not a scientist or optical engineer. If I were, I'd still be working on this comparison.

I was able to do a setup on our patio to shoot with the following:

Canon R5

RF 100-500 with both the RF 1.4X and RF 2X extenders

RF 800 with both extenders

EF 500 II with both the EF 1.4X III and EF 2X III extenders.

I let the camera focus each time shooting a minimum of four frames with each lens setup. I picked the sharpest from each set of exposures after processing all the images. They were very consistent I thought.

I used the Canon RC-6 infrared, no-touch remote.

The tripod was my old faithful 2002-vintage Gitzo G3250 carbon-fiber tripod using only one set of leg extensions. It was used on our concrete patio surface. Tripod head was the PhotoClam version of the Arca-Swiss Cube.

It went much as I expected.

The sharpest was, as always, the EF 500 II lens with or without extenders.

The second sharpest was the RF 800 with or without extenders.

The RF 100-500 was last but it did throw one curve ball. It seems to be sharper with the RF 2X extender vs. the RF 1.4X extender. I will be comparing further with these two combinations.

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Johnbro Regular Member • Posts: 259
Re: Testing lenses... again.

Don't know about the other two, but  my 2 weeks with an RF800 has really surprised me in just how sharp it is, even handheld. Especially given the low cost of this lens, it's quite a value.

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fredlord
OP fredlord Veteran Member • Posts: 3,170
Re: Testing lenses... again.

Johnbro wrote:

Don't know about the other two, but my 2 weeks with an RF800 has really surprised me in just how sharp it is, even handheld. Especially given the low cost of this lens, it's quite a value.

The RF 800 is an incredible bargain.

I used it for four months solid. It's only real negatives, for me, are the small focusing area in the viewfinder and the near 20-feet of the minimum focusing distance.

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Photofrankenstein Regular Member • Posts: 221
Re: Testing lenses... again.

fredlord wrote:

Johnbro wrote:

Don't know about the other two, but my 2 weeks with an RF800 has really surprised me in just how sharp it is, even handheld. Especially given the low cost of this lens, it's quite a value.

The RF 800 is an incredible bargain.

I used it for four months solid. It's only real negatives, for me, are the small focusing area in the viewfinder and the near 20-feet of the minimum focusing distance.

With 20ft minimum focus distance and reduced central focus area, plus fixed focal length and fixed aperture, the usage is strictly limited. RF800, although cheap and sharp, is still hard to recommend to anyone as a telephoto prime. It is a very niche product for special cases.

NickZ2016 Senior Member • Posts: 2,266
Re: Testing lenses... again.
1

OTOH 800mm lenses in general are not niche ?

A 10+K lens is hardly non niche.

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fredlord
OP fredlord Veteran Member • Posts: 3,170
Re: Testing lenses... again.

Photofrankenstein wrote:

fredlord wrote:

Johnbro wrote:

Don't know about the other two, but my 2 weeks with an RF800 has really surprised me in just how sharp it is, even handheld. Especially given the low cost of this lens, it's quite a value.

The RF 800 is an incredible bargain.

I used it for four months solid. It's only real negatives, for me, are the small focusing area in the viewfinder and the near 20-feet of the minimum focusing distance.

With 20ft minimum focus distance and reduced central focus area, plus fixed focal length and fixed aperture, the usage is strictly limited. RF800, although cheap and sharp, is still hard to recommend to anyone as a telephoto prime. It is a very niche product for special cases.

It is a very reasonable way to get into super-telephoto lenses and find out if you are interested in that world.

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fredlord
OP fredlord Veteran Member • Posts: 3,170
Re: Testing lenses... again.

NickZ2016 wrote:

OTOH 800mm lenses in general are not niche ?

A 10+K lens is hardly non niche.

You've got that right!

As I said elsewhere, the RF 800 a good way to dip your figurative toe in the water and see what working with a super-telephoto lens is like.

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Nimonus Regular Member • Posts: 234
Re: Testing lenses... again.

Photofrankenstein wrote:

fredlord wrote:

Johnbro wrote:

Don't know about the other two, but my 2 weeks with an RF800 has really surprised me in just how sharp it is, even handheld. Especially given the low cost of this lens, it's quite a value.

The RF 800 is an incredible bargain.

I used it for four months solid. It's only real negatives, for me, are the small focusing area in the viewfinder and the near 20-feet of the minimum focusing distance.

With 20ft minimum focus distance and reduced central focus area, plus fixed focal length and fixed aperture, the usage is strictly limited. RF800, although cheap and sharp, is still hard to recommend to anyone as a telephoto prime. It is a very niche product for special cases.

Not at all.

Highly recommend to everyone.

Not everybody wants to take photos in his house with an 800mm lens.

Photofrankenstein Regular Member • Posts: 221
Re: Testing lenses... again.

Nimonus wrote:

Photofrankenstein wrote:

fredlord wrote:

Johnbro wrote:

Don't know about the other two, but my 2 weeks with an RF800 has really surprised me in just how sharp it is, even handheld. Especially given the low cost of this lens, it's quite a value.

The RF 800 is an incredible bargain.

I used it for four months solid. It's only real negatives, for me, are the small focusing area in the viewfinder and the near 20-feet of the minimum focusing distance.

With 20ft minimum focus distance and reduced central focus area, plus fixed focal length and fixed aperture, the usage is strictly limited. RF800, although cheap and sharp, is still hard to recommend to anyone as a telephoto prime. It is a very niche product for special cases.

Not at all.

Highly recommend to everyone.

Not everybody wants to take photos in his house with an 800mm lens.

If someone just gets into photography and wants to build a system from ground up. Would you recommend RF800 as the first second or third lens? IMO, not even the first 5 lenses. So for people own 6lenses or more, RF800 is an option if they want to try out 800mm. There are plenty of people own 6 different 35mm prime lenses and not have a 800mm. UWA zoom, compact wide prime, standard zoom, 35mm prime, 50mm prime, 85-135mm prime, 70-200 zoom, 100-400 zoom, a macro, a tilt shift are all much more useful than 800mm. That's why I say it is very niche.

NickZ2016 Senior Member • Posts: 2,266
Re: Testing lenses... again.

Many of the lenses on your list are more expensive than the F/11 primes. They're also for most people not general purpose lenses.

The average person is likely best off buying a 24-70mm or a 24-105mm type lens and than adding need lenses.

The main reason for some of the lenses on your list is they might be faster or lighter than a mid range zoom.

The F/11 lenses actually do something that is difficult without it.  The same way the UW zooms do. The difference being you can buy both the 600mm and 800mm likely for less than an UW zoom.

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juliemeikle Contributing Member • Posts: 530
Re: Testing lenses... again.

Interesting. Thanks for posting this. I was a little surprised that the RF800 out-performed the RF100-500.  I was very pleased that the EF500 hit the top spot ....as it should as it costs 7 or8 times the RF800! So far I don’t see any need to change my EF100-400 to the RF 100-500. The annoying use with an extender puts me off, and the stellar 500 beats the 100-500 by so much.

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cocoanud
cocoanud Regular Member • Posts: 457
Re: Testing lenses... again.
1

Initially I thought these RF600 and RF800 were the worst lens ideas ever.

After having used the RF600 my conclusion is that these are probably the most accessible way to get super telephoto on full frame.

They are not expensive (compared to the Big Whites) and even if these were cheap and not light, it would have defeated the purpose.

Regarding limited focus area, I don’t know what to make of it really. I am also trying out a Tamron 100-400 with a 1.4x giving me 560mm at f/11ish (assuming that Tamron lens is best at f/8) and I can’t say having the entire sensor available for AF has helped. Granted, I am not even close to the skill level of even an armature bird photographer. But restricting the focus area seems to help rather than come in the way. (In case of BIF photography as a specific use case)

Similar thoughts on the 4.5m MFD. It doesn’t get in the way.

For me (and I am guessing for others), these lenses could be the gateway drug to getting a Big White... OR try it out and move on after scratching that itch. At the very least, they have made BIF and Bird photography accessible for me where previously I believed that to be frustrating and one of the least rewarding form of photography ever. (Equal credit to R6 as well BTW)

Cheers,

—C

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RDM5546
RDM5546 Senior Member • Posts: 2,576
Re: Testing lenses... again.

Different buyers are looking for and value things. The EF100-400II with the 1.4XIII and 2XIII are excellent setup for IQ to cover this range. However, just have great IQ is not everything in a lens that a shooter might want. The EF100-400 rig has USM single motor focus speed limited by the EF interconnection pins and it weighs more than the other choices in question. Still the EF100-400II remains as my favorite long FL zoom.

The RF600 and RF800 are outstanding in being sharp, in having the extra RF lens interconnection pins for faster focus speed/viewfinder update and in being light in weight.

However, they do not zoom, they are not weather sealed, they have limited focus area of 60%, and they have STM focus motors. These two long fixed prime focal lengths are more challenging to track fast action up close since zooming is not an option and the 800mm does not focus under 20feet.

I have not tried yet the RF100-500mm. It has been popular and fairly hard to find in the marketplace. I thought would initially spend my evaluation time master my EOS R and R5 since I both of those cameras in the last two years and there is a lot to master in setting up those cameras for peak performance in my preferred shooting modes. I am much more familiar in use with my older 5DIV, 7D2 and 70D that I still use at times and enjoyed in specific uses. Sometimes I use two bodies with different lenses at the same time. Until R5 I did have mirrorless body that would compete with DSLRs for action shooting and for EVF high speed performance.

Focus speed and tracking action are important for many of my shoots. The EF100-400 has focus speed and can zoom 100-400, 140-540 or 200-800 but the focus speed is slightly worse at longer FL using the 1.4X III and 2.XIII. I have the Sigma 150-600 with Sigma 1.4X and 2X TC which offers a little more reach to 210-840 & 300-120. The R5 is the best of my camera bodies for using the 2X TCs on both the 100-400 and 150-600. The 2X TCs are worst on all the DSLRs vs the mirrorless R and R5 The 2X with lens pretty much work with manual focus only and are best when stopped down two stops from wide open.

Despite my having lenses for this FL already I am interested in the RF 100-500 for action shooting. Lighter weight, excellent IQ, fast EVF, and particularly the excellent quick dual nanomotor focus features are extremely attractive while the huge MSRP is the primary unattractive thing I see. Still I expect to use this lens in my money making activities which is much more than hobby in many years (not so perhaps for last year).

One thing that caused me concern was the zoom control ring of the 100-500 that requires more throw than I can do in one grip and probably it best done with two twists when zooming from 100-500. However to be fair it is a 5X zoom range and not a 4X zoom range like the others I am comparing it with. It is a variable aperture zoom so it comes up short in some video zooming shooting. I am mostly a stills shooter but for some important cases I may do video comprised of 1 or 2 minute clips. 4KHQ and 120 frame rate modes with lightning fast autofocus are fantastic on the R5 providing you use a good quality sharp lens.

I suspect the 100-500 autofocus performance with the R5 is better than the 100-400II. This hard to measure excepting my shooting action a lot and comparing the keeper rates. The focus speed is important to me and if it to works for me that would justify the cost of the 100-500. The lighter weight and extra 100mm is a pure bonus. Focus speed me is where my budget justification lies.

The only way I expect that I can will be tell this is by getting an RF 100-500 and trying it out with lots of shooting. I expect do this. I have one on order B&H which may not come for months. Canon has not caught their backlog and many of the new lenses and gear are on backorder. There is a COVID virus to blame. Japan is currently hard hit and worse health state than the US. The high volumes of vaccine are just arriving their now. Only Pfizer is approved but Moderna and Astra Zenica will be approved shortly along with the receipt of volume vaccine shipments. I wish them well in Japan.

I expect the difference from the 100-400 to be small, and somewhat subjective to the shooter which is why I have not been rushing out to be an early buyer. Not to mention the high costs involved.

I now have a great experience with my amazing R5 gain in the past six months and now I feel pretty comfortable knowing what it can do for me. Now is the time for me to get a 100-500 and do some shooting to see what it does in my hands.

I do not expect to love the limited zoom range of 300-500 when TCs but I do hope to love the reduced weight, faster focus, and superior stabilization when used with the R5. I have been shooting since the 1960s 35mm film days. I used a Nikon FTN for 20 years before I switched to Canon film camera due to the awesome snappy focus of the Canon USM motors and have Canon lens buyer since the early awesome focus EF lenses were delivered in 1990. I have more than 20 EF lenses and around 15 of them are "L". Most of the L lenses were awesome on introduction. I only have five RF lenses. I have ten EF to RF adapters which do a fantastic job and they are always on my favor ten L lenses.

I do not need another very expensive lens unless it will provide noticeable advantages that have value for me. Lens buying is subjective matter. There is no right or wrong. One size does fit all.  Needs, wants and budgets do vary with the shooter.

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StanyBuyle
StanyBuyle Senior Member • Posts: 1,654
Re: Testing lenses... again.
2

fredlord wrote:

Remember, I'm not a scientist or optical engineer. If I were, I'd still be working on this comparison.

I was able to do a setup on our patio to shoot with the following:

Canon R5

RF 100-500 with both the RF 1.4X and RF 2X extenders

RF 800 with both extenders

EF 500 II with both the EF 1.4X III and EF 2X III extenders.

....

The sharpest was, as always, the EF 500 II lens with or without extenders.

The second sharpest was the RF 800 with or without extenders.

The RF 100-500 was last but it did throw one curve ball. It seems to be sharper with the RF 2X extender vs. the RF 1.4X extender. I will be comparing further with these two combinations.

Thanks for testing.
You just confirmed my findings that the RF 800 is optically fantastic and a real bargain.I was skeptical when I ordered it but blown away soon after that...

Also, the RF800' AF speed is much faster than I expected.

Kindest regards,

Stany

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