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Canon RF 600mm F11 IS STM Image Gallery

Dustin Abbott

August 25th, 2021

I’ve noted in many previous Canon RF mount reviews that the new RF mount seems to have really unlocked a new wave of creativity from Canon.  Historically Canon has been a very conservative company that could be relied on to provide solid support of very good products but with significant innovation being fairly rare.  They certainly have NOT been an offbeat company that make quirky products.  But, as noted, Canon has taken a few more chances on the RF mount front, and none so daring (and quirky) as the development of the Canon RF 600mm F11 IS STM and Canon RF 800mm F11 IS STM telephoto primes.  Canon is no stranger to developing long telephoto primes, but none of them have been anything like these lenses.  A lens with a maximum aperture of F11 would have been unthinkable on DSLRs, as such a lens wouldn’t have even autofocused on most all cameras.  Mirrorless cameras have a little more tolerance for small apertures, though we will see that physics still has a way of raising its ugly head on occasion.   

The quirkiness begins when you attach either the RF 600mm or the RF 800mm to your camera.  On the screen comes a simple message against a black background:  “Set the lens to the shooting position”.  You cannot use the lens until you rotate a locking ring near the lens mount to the “unlocked” position and then move the rest of the lens forward about 7.5cm.  This means that the optical path for proper focus can’t be achieved by the lens in the retracted position.  The end result is rather odd lens profile where a slender inner barrel is extended at the back rather than the front of the lens.

But things get stranger still.  This is an F11 lens.  That in itself is weird, though we’ve established the Canon’s EOS R mirrorless cameras (like the EOS R5 that I used for this review) can autofocus at F11.  But this is not a lens with an aperture range from F11 to, say, F22.  This is an F11 lens.  Period.  There is no aperture iris.  You can’t change the aperture, so every shot taken with either the RF 600mm F11 or RF 800mm F11 will be at F11.  I’ve never tested an interchangeable lens where you couldn’t change the aperture until now.  This shot is taken at F11, just like every other shot shown in the review or image gallery!

There’s more unique observations to come, but that’s sufficient to demonstrate that these two lenses are unlike any other Canon lenses save each other.  

So why?

Though these lenses are not necessarily my own personal “cup of tea”, I do appreciate what Canon is trying to accomplish here.  The RF600 retails for $699 USD, while the RF800 retails for $899 USD.  These are undoubtedly the cheapest ways to achieve either of these focal lengths on the Canon RF system.  They are also reasonably compact and lightweight, which in its own way makes them accessible.  Most photographers would never be able to own a 600mm F4, for example, as Canon’s RF 600mm F4L IS USM retails for – gulp! – $12,999 USD!  You could buy 18 1/2 600mm F11 lenses for that price!  This is a chance for photographers to get long reach at a reasonable price on their new Canon mirrorless camera – so long as they are willing to accept a few compromises.  We’ll explore those compromises in this review while also keeping in mind that this is a competent lens that can produce beautiful 600mm results at roughly $700!  For proof positive, check out the gallery below!


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Thanks to Camera Canada for getting me loanerd of these lenses.  They are my personal source for my gear and have been great to work with.   As always, this is a completely independent review. *The tests and the photos shown in this review have been taken on my 45 MP Canon EOS R5.

Photos of the Canon RF 600mm F11 IS

Photos Taken with the Canon RF 600mm F11 IS

Gear Used:

Purchase a Canon RF 600mm F11 IS @ B&H Photo | Amazon | Camera Canada | Amazon Canada | Amazon UK 

Purchase a Canon RF 800mm F11 IS @ B&H Photo | Amazon | Camera Canada | Amazon Canada | Amazon UK 

Purchase a Canon EOS R6 @ B&H Photo | Amazon | Camera Canada | Amazon Canada | Amazon UK | Amazon Germany | Ebay 

Purchase a Canon EOS R5 @ B&H Photo | Amazon | Camera Canada | Amazon Canada | Amazon UK | Amazon Germany | Ebay 


Buy DA Merchandise https://bit.ly/TWIMerch

Purchase a Sony a7C @ B&H Photo | Amazon | Camera Canada | Amazon Canada | Amazon UK | Amazon Germany | Ebay 

Peak Design Leash Strap:  Peak Design StoreB&H Photo | Amazon | Amazon Canada  | Amazon UK

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Keywords: Canon RF 600mm F11, Canon RF 600mm F/11, Canon RF 800mm F11, Canon RF 800mm F/11, IS, STM, RF, Canon RF 600mm F11 Review, Canon RF 600 IS STM, Canon Review, Dustin Abbott, Portrait, Telephoto, Canon EOS R5, R5, R6, EOS R, Sharpness, Resolution, Bokeh, Video Test, Sample Images, Real World

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