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Canon RF 100-400mm F5.6-8 IS USM Image Gallery

Dustin Abbott

April 10th, 2022

I recently finished up my review of the L (luxury) series Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS – a lens that is thoroughly premium in both performance and price (retailing for about $2900 USD!).  That price point is a prohibitively high bar for many photographers, however.  Fortunately Canon has already created a much less expensive alternative in the form of the Canon RF 100-400mm F5.6-8 IS USM.  This lens retails at a much more palatable $650 USD, and while it is short on features relative to its big brother and has some real limitations, it is surprisingly competent alternative with a few advantages of its own.  The RF 100-400mm IS is compact, has good autofocus, and has fairly good image quality while covering a very important telephoto zoom range that spans from 100mm:

to an impressive 400mm:

There’s a lot of subjects you can fit into a focal range like that, and the weight of only 635g means that you will be able to bring along the lens on your treks even if you aren’t a photography Hercules.

There are some unique strengths of the RF 100-400 IS even relative to its much more expensive big brother.  These include:

  • Much lower price
  • Much smaller and lighter (700g lighter!)
  • Higher magnification level (0.41x vs 0.33x)
  • Fuller compatibility with 1.4x/2x extenders
  • Slightly higher stabilization rating (5.5 stops vs 5 stops)

That’s not to say that the L-series is outclassed in some way, as it has a long list of its own strengths, including:

  • Bigger zoom ratio (5x vs 4x)
  • Faster maximum aperture throughout zoom range
  • Weather sealing and pro grade build
  • Dual Nano-USM motors vs 1 Nano-USM
  • More stabilizer modes
  • Focus limiter
  • Tripod collar
  • Friction ring 
  • Included lens hood and case
  • Much stronger image quality

I don’t think that anyone is going to argue that the consumer grade lens is a better lens than the professional lens, but I do think that those who have a tight budget can be reassured that they are actually getting a very nice lens even if you could buy 4!!! of the RF 100-400 IS lenses and still pocket $300 for the price of the L-series lens!  And as a consolation, you can still get images like this!

Our goal here is to give a comprehensive review of the strengths and weaknesses of this lens, but I think that it is important to acknowledge that this the kind of lens of that Canon has desperately needed – less expensive alternatives to their premium offerings.  There have been more Canon RF lenses costing more than $2000 than those in the under $1000 range.  Lenses like the RF 100-400 IS help to fill out the catalog with lenses that average photographers can actually afford…and that’s important.  You can find my full thoughts in either the text review or video review.


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Thanks to Camera Canada for getting me a loaner of the RF 100-400 IS.  If you’re in Canada, check them out for a reliable online retailer. *The tests and the photos shown in this review have been taken on my 45 MP Canon EOS R5.

Photos of the Canon RF 100-400mm F5.6-8 IS

Photos Taken with the Canon RF 100-400mm F5.6-8 IS


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