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Canon RF 70-200mm F/4L IS USM Lens Review

John Riley has been out capturing images with the compact Canon RF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM lens. Read on to find out what he thinks of this telephoto zoom.

| Canon RF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM in Interchangeable Lenses

Canon RF 70-200mm F/4L IS USM Lens Review: Canon RF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM



One of the most popular lenses in any range for full-frame cameras has to be the 70-200mm. The f/2.8 models are generally big and heavy, the f/4 versions also big, although slimmer and not quite so heavy. Canon now blows all of that out of the water, with the new, very compact RF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM. Armed with the top-of-the-line 45MP Canon R5 mirrorless flagship, we set off to discover what the new lens can do in the field and how it performs technically as well.


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Canon RF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM Handling and Features

Canon RF 70-200mm F/4L IS USM Lens Review: Canon RF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM

The lens presents in a smart white finish, with black control rings, and certainly looks the part of the professional tool. It is squat and although quite bulky, very short, indicating quite a strong telephoto design. It weighs in at a very reasonable 695g, not a problem to carry it around all day. A round bayonet fit lens hood is provided, and this clips easily into place. There is a locking catch to keep it securely in place. There is no chance of this becoming accidentally dislodged.

Within the bayonet fit for the hood is a standard 77mm filter thread. Looking into the front element, we see the nine circular blades of the diaphragm and also the movement from the floating elements of the lens. Construction is 16 elements in 11 groups, including UD (Ultra Low Dispersion) elements.

Continuing our tour of the lens, first up is the control ring, lightly but positively click stopped, that can be programmed to alter a parameter. This is useful for continuous operation with the camera held to the eye. Default, as received, is exposure compensation, extremely welcome as this feature is often only accessed from the camera menus. ISO, aperture or shutter speed can also be selected via the camera menus. If the click stops are a problem, then a Canon Service Centre can remove them (chargeable) although this does seem a rather clunky approach when a simple switch would make a more accessible option.


Canon RF 70-200mm F/4L IS USM Lens Review: Canon RF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM


The manual focusing ring is electronic, and utterly smooth, and can be operated after AF has locked on if a half pressure on the shutter release is held and single-shot AF selected. Focusing is down to 0.6m, or 1.97 feet, for a maximum magnification of 0.28x, approaching 1:3 and very usefully close. AF is driven by Dual Nano USM motors and the result is virtually silent, fast and very reliable AF.

There is a broad, tapering and very comfortable wide zoom ring, clearly marked with focal lengths of 70mm, 100mm, 135mm and 200mm. A lock switch is provided so the lens can be locked to its shortest length of 70mm for carrying.

Closest to the camera body we find several switches. Stabiliser on/off is self-explanatory, as is AF/MF. The Stabiliser Mode switch offers three settings. Mode 1 is general purpose. Mode 2 is for vertical or horizontal panning. Mode 3 is also for panning, but more for following the movement of unpredictable subjects, such as on the football field. Canon recommends switching the stabiliser off when using a tripod.


Canon RF 70-200mm F/4L IS USM Lens Review: Canon RF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM

Stabilisation of 5 stops is claimed, and this can be comfortably achieved. This reviewer managed a reliable result of 7 stops when using the lens OIS coupled with the in-body IS of the R5.

We also have a focus limiter, giving a choice of a full range of a restricted range of 2.5m to infinity. There is however no possibility of using any extenders as the lens is not compatible.

Construction quality is excellent and the lens is dust and water-resistant. It is also a really good lens to use, doing the job without fuss and locking on virtually instantly to a wide variety of subjects. It is also light and compact enough to not be a burden when carrying it all day.  


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Big Bri 22 16.7k United Kingdom
30 Aug 2021 10:28AM
Interesting information on the prices of the alternatives - 2 lenses that on the face of it look similar but for different systems:
RF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM £2729
EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM £1979

Why the huge disparity? Is it because Canon need to claw back their R&D costs from early adopters? Or just that if someone can afford an R5 they can damn well pay an extra £750 for their 70-200?

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