[Review] Canon RF 100-400mm F5.6-8 IS USM

For photographers who want to capture telephoto subjects like wildlife, team sports, and other far-off action but can’t afford the professional-grade RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM ($2,699), the Canon RF 100-400mm F5.6-8 IS USM ($649.99) is a great option. The 100-400mm is light enough for hikes and vacations while providing enough zoom power to get images of backyard animals. Although some L series features, like weather sealing, aren’t available, the autofocus is reliable, the photos are sharp, and the stabilized optics make handheld photography simple. Another excellent midrange option for makers utilizing the EOS R system is the RF 100-400mm.

Example Pictures for the Canon RF 100-400mm F5.6-8 IS USM

If you have an RF-EF mount adapter, you should be aware that many other lenses made by independent companies are available. The Sigma 150-600mm is one option for individuals who need a lot of reach; however, it is substantially longer and has a wider maximum aperture at the zoom end, albeit with a little more vignetting at large apertures (approximately £150/ $150/ AU $ 300 extra).

There are options if you want to shoot using the built-in RF mount. For instance, you may choose the RF 600mm F11 IS STM (about £860/$699/AU $1,219) or the RF 800mm F11 IS STM (around £1,100/$1,000/AU $1,500) if you don’t want a zoom lens. Remember that both of these lenses have a fixed f/11 aperture in addition to the lack of a zoom, making them possibly less suitable for beginning photographers. In addition to being somewhat longer and brighter than the RF 100-400, the Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L I USM is also weather sealed, however it costs roughly £2,000 / $2,000 / AU $3,000 (about) more. If you’re feeling flush, you can get it for that price instead.

Autofocus and Handling

Three distinct control rings—zoom, focus, and function—as well as control switches to select the focus mode and activate optical stabilization are included with the RF 100-400mm. The function ring is plain polycarbonate with a diamond-textured design, while the zoom and focus rings feature a rubber covering with raised ridges.

The inner barrel may be moved in or out by turning the zoom ring, which only needs a tiny bit of torque. It’s wonderful that the focal length is stable after it’s been adjusted and that the inner barrel doesn’t automatically extend lower. When engaged, a zoom lock switch maintains the lens’s smallest 100mm focal length.
Autofocus is powered by a silent USM focus motor. With the EOS R5, the lens quickly switches between close-up and distant focus and is swift enough to follow moving targets. There is also the option of manual focus, with both linear and nonlinear responses available. The RF 100-400mm is a good choice for videographers as well because it doesn’t show any obvious focus breathing, allowing you to achieve excellent focus photos without any distracting changes to the angle of view.

I use the control ring as an EV control, but you might find it more handy to switch between several focus modes, alter the aperture, or precisely adjust white balance. You can always tell how much of an adjustment you make since it clicks as it spins. For a cost of $79.99, you can have the ring switched to silent, click-free operation at a Canon servicing location.
As they are designed for distant things rather than up close ones, long lenses sometimes forgo their macro capabilities. The RF 100-400mm’s close-focus capability, which allows for a respectable 1:2.4 life-size magnification rating, extends to 3.4 feet (1 m).

Teleconverters and extenders

Installing extenders, commonly known as teleconverters, behind this lens is an even better alternative for boosting its magnification. The Canon RF 1.4x and RF 2x Extenders are compatible with the Canon RF 100-400mm F5.6-8 IS USM Lens. Contrary to the limited focal length range extender compatibility of the Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM Lens, the RF 100-400 can make use of extenders over the whole focal length range.
When the Canon RF 1.4x Extender is mounted behind the RF 100-400, a 140-560mm f/8-11 image stabilized lens with a 0.12x to 0.58x maximum magnification range is produced. The low max aperture range will be a deterrent to photographers of animals and sports, but this focal length range will be appealing to them.
The 560mm f/11 vs. 400mm f/8 comparison demonstrates that there is always some image quality loss when an extender is fitted. At 400mm, this lens is the least crisp. While extenders may operate better at wider lengths and cover the complete range of focal lengths, they are only useful for extending the range of natively available focal lengths beyond their maximum. Performance at or near 400mm is therefore most important.

At 400mm, the RF 100-400 has a moderate level of lateral CA, and I anticipated that this would somewhat increase with the extension, having a minimal influence on corner sharpness. The modification, though, is slight. A little degree of barrel distortion is added by the RF 1.4x, partially offsetting the lens’s inherent pincushion distortion.
When the 1.4x is fitted, AF speed is just marginally slowed down, and performance is still strong even in rainy outside situations.
Consider purchasing the Canon RF 600mm F11 IS STM Lens rather than RF 1.4x to RF 100-400. Although the 600 costs a little more, the image quality is superior.
A 200-800mm f/11-16 image stabilized lens is produced by attaching the Canon RF 2x Extender behind the RF 100-400. (capable of 0.18x – 0.83x maximum magnification). Again, wildlife and sports photographers will find this focal length range appealing, and bird photographers in particular. The maximum aperture range will once more not be as welcoming, sometimes resulting in noisy-high ISO settings.

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