My take on the RF 800mm f/11 DO IS STM for birds

Started 4 months ago | Discussions
OP BirdShooter7 Veteran Member • Posts: 7,143
Re: My take on the RF 800mm f/11 DO IS STM for birds

Fazal Majid wrote:

I didn’t realize they were DO lenses. Certainly it is not included in the official product name, even if they don’t hide this if you drill down in the specs, and they don’t have green rings.

I had the meh 70-300 DO zoom, and later replaced it with the better L version, but DO/PF lenses can be outstanding like Nikon’s 300/4 PF and 500/5.6 PF primes.

Yes the original EF 400mm f/4 and especially the EF 70-300 DO could yield some funky results.  Canon definitely seems to be on the right track with these.  It is odd that Canon didn’t include DO in the name of the lens.  I assumed that they did but after reading your post I went back and looked at the box and noticed that it wasn’t part of the name and had to go back and re-read the announcement to make sure that I hadn’t dreamed the DO tech in this lens up.  Sure enough, they mentioned that the use of DO tech made the lens much less expensive to produce.  I guess Canon now considers DO tech standard so no more green ring.

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quiquae Senior Member • Posts: 2,148
Re: My take on the RF 800mm f/11 DO IS STM for birds

CameraCarl wrote:

This is a lens which is somewhat of a paradox to me. The value for the money seems amazing to me. But I am torn: should I make my next lens expenditure this 800mm and keep using my EF 100-400 IS II and 1.4x on my R5? Or sell the 100-400 and the 1.4x; buy a RF 100-500; and just crop when I need to? I do find it so much easier to acquire birds in flight with the zoom lens, and the ability to crop is the main reason I bought the R5 instead of the R6.... decisions....decisions.

As an owner of the 100-400L2 (but no extender), I had this conversation with a Canon rep at a store in Japan a few weeks ago. We concluded that I should get an EF 1.4x extender rather than the RF 600mm F11, but if I want an 800mm, I'd be better off buying an RF 800mm rather than an EF 2x extender. That said, he said he personally likes the 600mm better, as it is more compact, and less difficult to aim than the 800mm (this problem was mentioned elsewhere in the thread).

By the way, 100-500L was not among the rep's recommendations: he told me it is so scarce that even he has never tried one. He does get shipments from Canon, but he doesn't get to open any of them because they're all spoken for. Poor guy.

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Rahto Senior Member • Posts: 1,528
Re: My take on the RF 800mm f/11 DO IS STM for birds
1

I ordered the RF 100-500mm and the RF-1.4x months ago but they are still on back order. They will probably show up when the snow flies.

Bob

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1Dx4me
1Dx4me Forum Pro • Posts: 12,345
Re: My take on the RF 800mm f/11 DO IS STM for birds

BirdShooter7 wrote:

CameraCarl wrote:

Great review and wonderful photos. I borrowed a friend's rented 800mm lens when birding in Alaska. Here are my thoughts after using the lens for several hundred images:

When I was able to get the lens centered on a bird I got some excellent shots. But I found it very difficult to locate/frame birds, especially birds in flight, with the 800mm lens handheld. I didn't find high magnification BIF photography as difficult back when I used a supertelephoto lens on a gimbal mount and a tripod. I found it even tougher to track BIF with the 800mm... almost impossible with fast moving birds such as ducks and puffins. I presume I would eventually get better at this, but I certainly have lots of respect to the OP for the great BIF shots!

I didn't like the overall feel of the lens. It seemed plasticky and lightweight (probably because it is both!!) The material used to cover the lens seemed to get dirty easily and was hard to clean once soiled. But, boy, is it light and easy to handle. (Yes, I, too, see the contradiction here.)

I was also bothered by the minimum focusing distance of the lens, often needing to back up to get a bird in focus.

I was never that bothered by the f/11 aperture; I usually stop down when photographing wildlife anyway. And the high ISO capability of the R5/R6 coupled with modern noise reduction plug-ins make my worries about ISOs above 6400 insignificant.

The lens definitely needs a lens hood. OP: where did you buy yours?

This is a lens which is somewhat of a paradox to me. The value for the money seems amazing to me. But I am torn: should I make my next lens expenditure this 800mm and keep using my EF 100-400 IS II and 1.4x on my R5? Or sell the 100-400 and the 1.4x; buy a RF 100-500; and just crop when I need to? I do find it so much easier to acquire birds in flight with the zoom lens, and the ability to crop is the main reason I bought the R5 instead of the R6.... decisions....decisions.

Thanks for your question, comments and experience with the lens. I bought the lens, hood and tubes at Amazon. I know it might not be the popular thing to do but it was super convenient.

Being mostly a fixed focal length lens user the 800mm lens wasn’t that big of an adjustment for me. If you’re mainly a zoom user then selling the 100-400 and replacing it with the 800 might be a more difficult adjustment.

i have thought about my options quite a bit when i move to R3, as far as lenses are concerned. for someone who starts fresh, i think it would be wise to start with RF lenses. i own canon EF 600 f4.0 II/300 f2.8 II, and 100-400 II, as far as telephoto lenses are concerned, so i'll stay put with those lenses because i can use them with both camera formats.

it would be costly and tragic to unload EF "L" lenses and start with RF lenses, if you have a healthy collection of EF lenses, IMO. it is critical to think with eyes wide open before indulging in unloading one's EF lenses/EOS cameras impulsively before thinking about the financial cost of it.

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OP BirdShooter7 Veteran Member • Posts: 7,143
Re: My take on the RF 800mm f/11 DO IS STM for birds

1Dx4me wrote:

BirdShooter7 wrote:

CameraCarl wrote:

Great review and wonderful photos. I borrowed a friend's rented 800mm lens when birding in Alaska. Here are my thoughts after using the lens for several hundred images:

When I was able to get the lens centered on a bird I got some excellent shots. But I found it very difficult to locate/frame birds, especially birds in flight, with the 800mm lens handheld. I didn't find high magnification BIF photography as difficult back when I used a supertelephoto lens on a gimbal mount and a tripod. I found it even tougher to track BIF with the 800mm... almost impossible with fast moving birds such as ducks and puffins. I presume I would eventually get better at this, but I certainly have lots of respect to the OP for the great BIF shots!

I didn't like the overall feel of the lens. It seemed plasticky and lightweight (probably because it is both!!) The material used to cover the lens seemed to get dirty easily and was hard to clean once soiled. But, boy, is it light and easy to handle. (Yes, I, too, see the contradiction here.)

I was also bothered by the minimum focusing distance of the lens, often needing to back up to get a bird in focus.

I was never that bothered by the f/11 aperture; I usually stop down when photographing wildlife anyway. And the high ISO capability of the R5/R6 coupled with modern noise reduction plug-ins make my worries about ISOs above 6400 insignificant.

The lens definitely needs a lens hood. OP: where did you buy yours?

This is a lens which is somewhat of a paradox to me. The value for the money seems amazing to me. But I am torn: should I make my next lens expenditure this 800mm and keep using my EF 100-400 IS II and 1.4x on my R5? Or sell the 100-400 and the 1.4x; buy a RF 100-500; and just crop when I need to? I do find it so much easier to acquire birds in flight with the zoom lens, and the ability to crop is the main reason I bought the R5 instead of the R6.... decisions....decisions.

Thanks for your question, comments and experience with the lens. I bought the lens, hood and tubes at Amazon. I know it might not be the popular thing to do but it was super convenient.

Being mostly a fixed focal length lens user the 800mm lens wasn’t that big of an adjustment for me. If you’re mainly a zoom user then selling the 100-400 and replacing it with the 800 might be a more difficult adjustment.

i have thought about my options quite a bit when i move to R3, as far as lenses are concerned. for someone who starts fresh, i think it would be wise to start with RF lenses. i own canon EF 600 f4.0 II/300 f2.8 II, and 100-400 II, as far as telephoto lenses are concerned, so i'll stay put with those lenses because i can use them with both camera formats.

it would be costly and tragic to unload EF "L" lenses and start with RF lenses, if you have a healthy collection of EF lenses, IMO. it is critical to think with eyes wide open before indulging in unloading one's EF lenses/EOS cameras impulsively before thinking about the financial cost of it.

This has been my thinking so far but I have to say the IS/IBIS performance I’ve seen so far from the 600 & 800mm f/11’s and from my brief experience with the 100-500L make me think it might be worth biting the bullet and ponying up for the RF 500mm f/4 when it arrives, especially if it’s lighter weight.  The 800 definitely won’t be replacing my f/4 lenses but it might well replace my Sigma 150-600 C.

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MyReality
MyReality Senior Member • Posts: 2,132
Re: My take on the RF 800mm f/11 DO IS STM for birds
1

I noticed that your highest ISO was 6400.  It looks like smart shooting to me with good light.  At that ISO detail is not going to suffer with todays cameras.  I cap my ISO at 8000.

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MjMac Forum Member • Posts: 76
Re: My take on the RF 800mm f/11 DO IS STM for birds
2

Excellent review Bird. How do you find the RF 800 F11 compares to the RF 100-500 F4.5-7.1 with the 1.4 extender (making the long end 700mm F10)?

John Sheehy Forum Pro • Posts: 25,170
Re: Clarification.
1

J.K.T. wrote:

MyDog Is Incharge wrote:

Crop mode, cropping, and a TC all reduce the effective aperture. There is no way to crop or use crop mode on an F8 image and still end up at F8.

When you crop, use a TC, or use crop mode, you are throwing away light. A TC throws away light and spreads the remaining light across the full sensor. Crop modes and cropping, crops away light and uses a smaller portion of the sensor.

I'm not convinced about that.

Whether you crop or not, your front element size is the same (d). When you crop, your focal length is the same as before (f) and the ratio f/d is not changed. Thus your aperture does not change.

The aperture or pupil is one of the most real things in photography.  It is true that it does not change when you crop (or when using a TC), but the resulting image, other than the change of MP (for cropping), looks just like a photo taken with a longer lens and a higher f-ratio, in terms of DOF, diffraction, and noise.

On the other hand, adding a TC changes the focal length and that changes the ratio and thus your aperture.

The f-ratio is not the aperture.  F-ratios are for completing (optional) exposure triangles, and AF systems are generally affected directly by the f-ratio used for focusing, for geometric reasons (IOW, beyond the loss of light flux on the AF sensors).  Multiplying the f-ratio by 1.4 with a TC may slow or disable AF, depending on the camera, even if you double the available light, because AF isn't about the quantity of light alone, but the various angles that light is coming from the lens converge from on the sensor.

If you just crop, the diffraction does not change either ... relative to your pixel size. Relative to to the entire image it does, but calling that effective aperture is a bit of reach in my opinion.

That happens because some people assume that f-ratios are visible image parameters, making them some kind of photographic currency.  They are not.  They seem that way and have gotten into photographic culture because lots of people used film cameras with a single prime lens, where varying the f-ratio gave different effects at the same focus distance, but the aperture or pupil was being changed, too, and that is where the visible qualities come from.

And if you use crop body with same number of pixels as the original, your diffraction is now larger relative to your pixels too. However, your description of the effective aperture seems a bit odd in that case as well.

Edit: Just a bit late...

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(unknown member) Regular Member • Posts: 217
Re: Clarification.

John Sheehy wrote:

J.K.T. wrote:

MyDog Is Incharge wrote:

Crop mode, cropping, and a TC all reduce the effective aperture. There is no way to crop or use crop mode on an F8 image and still end up at F8.

When you crop, use a TC, or use crop mode, you are throwing away light. A TC throws away light and spreads the remaining light across the full sensor. Crop modes and cropping, crops away light and uses a smaller portion of the sensor.

I'm not convinced about that.

Whether you crop or not, your front element size is the same (d). When you crop, your focal length is the same as before (f) and the ratio f/d is not changed. Thus your aperture does not change.

The aperture or pupil is one of the most real things in photography. It is true that it does not change when you crop (or when using a TC), but the resulting image, other than the change of MP (for cropping), looks just like a photo taken with a longer lens and a higher f-ratio, in terms of DOF, diffraction, and noise.

On the other hand, adding a TC changes the focal length and that changes the ratio and thus your aperture.

The f-ratio is not the aperture. F-ratios are for completing (optional) exposure triangles, and AF systems are generally affected directly by the f-ratio used for focusing, for geometric reasons (IOW, beyond the loss of light flux on the AF sensors). Multiplying the f-ratio by 1.4 with a TC may slow or disable AF, depending on the camera, even if you double the available light, because AF isn't about the quantity of light alone, but the various angles that light is coming from the lens converge from on the sensor.

If you just crop, the diffraction does not change either ... relative to your pixel size. Relative to to the entire image it does, but calling that effective aperture is a bit of reach in my opinion.

That happens because some people assume that f-ratios are visible image parameters, making them some kind of photographic currency. They are not. They seem that way and have gotten into photographic culture because lots of people used film cameras with a single prime lens, where varying the f-ratio gave different effects at the same focus distance, but the aperture or pupil was being changed, too, and that is where the visible qualities come from.

And if you use crop body with same number of pixels as the original, your diffraction is now larger relative to your pixels too. However, your description of the effective aperture seems a bit odd in that case as well.

Edit: Just a bit late...

Good post.  I am guilty of confusing aperture and F-ratio which confuses the topic.

OP BirdShooter7 Veteran Member • Posts: 7,143
Re: My take on the RF 800mm f/11 DO IS STM for birds

MjMac wrote:

Excellent review Bird. How do you find the RF 800 F11 compares to the RF 100-500 F4.5-7.1 with the 1.4 extender (making the long end 700mm F10)?

Thanks!  I haven’t had an opportunity to use the 100-500L with the TC.  In fact my total experience with the 100-500 was maybe 10 minutes long so any opinions I have about the lens aren’t based on much.

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Kokopelli_Rocks
Kokopelli_Rocks Senior Member • Posts: 2,622
Re: My take on the RF 800mm f/11 DO IS STM for birds

MjMac wrote:

Excellent review Bird. How do you find the RF 800 F11 compares to the RF 100-500 F4.5-7.1 with the 1.4 extender (making the long end 700mm F10)?

Excellent review and images.

I received my 800mm f/11 a few weeks ago.  Yesterday was my first opportunity to use the lens beyond a few test images. I came across a herd of Bison in Kansas. All I can say is wow. The lens performed great. The images were sharp.

I did have some challenges. The day was really windy and I did not have my monopod. I used a fence to steady the lens in the wind. Also, a little challenging keeping to the reduced AF area. Still, great way to shoot 800mm for under $1K.

I tried some BIF of hawks and found the 800mm a little challenging.  The birds were really fast and I don't shoo BiF very often.

I don't see much reason to compare against 100-500 + TC. The combo is 3.5x the cost of the 800mm.  If you can afford the 100-500 and can find one that is a nice option.  I personally consider the 800mm a nice, but a specalized lens. I  have heard a few call the 800mm f11 a good lens for beginners. If they mean photography beginners I disagree.  You need to have good knowledge of using R series and understand how to used an f11 lens.

I like the weight and feel of the lens. Just need to remember to unlock extend and lock to use the lens.

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MjMac Forum Member • Posts: 76
Re: My take on the RF 800mm f/11 DO IS STM for birds

Thanks for the feedback. I've seen a handful of reviewers show that the 800mm F11 is at least as sharp as the 100-500 with the 1.4 Ext. at 700 F10. The AF is lights out without the extender and still very good with it. How did you find the AF with the 800 F11? I know the focus box is smaller being at F11 which could present some issues with BIF.

MjMac Forum Member • Posts: 76
Re: My take on the RF 800mm f/11 DO IS STM for birds
2

Thanks for the reply. I've been blown away by the AF and image quality of the 100-500. I've been ruined for any system that doesn't have animal/bird eye AF. I shot my A9 and 200-600 the other day and enjoyed it, but in my opinion the Canon R5 AF is better than the A9. The A1 is of course an entirely different animal all together. There are times I wish I had a bit more reach, and would love a 200-600mm f6.3 equivalent for Canon, but it seems like we'll have to wait awhile for that. It probably won't come from Canon unless they decide to push the 200-800mm 6-8.5 up the production chain. They're having a hard enough time producing the lenses they currently offer though. Just because they hold the patent doesn't mean it will ever hit the shelf. Thanks again for the great review of 800mm F11.

OP BirdShooter7 Veteran Member • Posts: 7,143
Re: My take on the RF 800mm f/11 DO IS STM for birds

Kokopelli_Rocks wrote:

MjMac wrote:

Excellent review Bird. How do you find the RF 800 F11 compares to the RF 100-500 F4.5-7.1 with the 1.4 extender (making the long end 700mm F10)?

Excellent review and images.

I received my 800mm f/11 a few weeks ago. Yesterday was my first opportunity to use the lens beyond a few test images. I came across a herd of Bison in Kansas. All I can say is wow. The lens performed great. The images were sharp.

I did have some challenges. The day was really windy and I did not have my monopod. I used a fence to steady the lens in the wind. Also, a little challenging keeping to the reduced AF area. Still, great way to shoot 800mm for under $1K.

I tried some BIF of hawks and found the 800mm a little challenging. The birds were really fast and I don't shoo BiF very often.

I don't see much reason to compare against 100-500 + TC. The combo is 3.5x the cost of the 800mm. If you can afford the 100-500 and can find one that is a nice option. I personally consider the 800mm a nice, but a specalized lens. I have heard a few call the 800mm f11 a good lens for beginners. If they mean photography beginners I disagree. You need to have good knowledge of using R series and understand how to used an f11 lens.

I like the weight and feel of the lens. Just need to remember to unlock extend and lock to use the lens.

Thanks very much for sharing your experience and thoughts.  I agree that this lens probably isn’t the easiest long telephoto to learn with but once you get the hang of it, the results are quite pleasing.

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acollins Forum Member • Posts: 80
Re: My take on the RF 800mm f/11 DO IS STM for birds
1

First of all, I wish you would write a book as I love to read your posts and look at your photographs! Second, this lens has just moved to the top of my "gotta have it" list. What an outstanding review and write-up as well as your usual superb photographs! Thank you for taking the time to share this information. I was also very doubtful about both the 600mm and the 800mm when I first read about them (the superzoom cheap ebay lenses also came to mind for me!), but this has changed my mind!

Andy

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Kokopelli_Rocks
Kokopelli_Rocks Senior Member • Posts: 2,622
Re: My take on the RF 800mm f/11 DO IS STM for birds

MjMac wrote:

Thanks for the feedback. I've seen a handful of reviewers show that the 800mm F11 is at least as sharp as the 100-500 with the 1.4 Ext. at 700 F10. The AF is lights out without the extender and still very good with it. How did you find the AF with the 800 F11? I know the focus box is smaller being at F11 which could present some issues with BIF.

If find the AF good and fast enough for my needs at 800mm. I did find it hard on fast flying birds, but I have very little BiF experience.  I am pretty sure the 100-500's AF will be much faster even with a 1.4x.

For the cost the lens is fun to use. I was very skeptical about a f11 lens, but no more. I can reach a little longer with my Sigma 150-600mm plus 1.4x and I  like the results, but the weight and cost of the Canon makes it a great addition to my kit.

I might next year depending on finaces and availability might sell my Sigma and buy the 100-500. I will keep the 800mm f11.

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bernie r Contributing Member • Posts: 536
Re: My take on the RF 800mm f/11 DO IS STM for birds
1

I'd love to live in an area with this kind of wildlife...

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