2019-11-18

Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS Lens Hands On Review


We recently headed to Canon HQ where we were able to check out two new Canon RF lenses, the RF 70-200mm f/2.8 and the new 85mm f/1.2 DS lenses. At the time, we weren't able to take any photos using the lenses as they were both pre-production but we’ve managed to get our hands on the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS lens and I’ve been shooting with it for an afternoon to check it out.

Design

The first thing to talk about with this lens is the size and weight. It’s noticeably shorter and lighter than the EF version, in fact, it’s about 27% shorter at 70mm and 28% lighter which is very obvious when you’re shooting with it.



It means that it sits perfectly on the front of the EOS R like I did and shooting handheld with it for about three hours, it made a big difference. I shoot a lot with the EF version of the 70-200mm and after a few hours of handheld video and photos, my shoulders do start to ache but shooting for about 4 hours with the new RF lens, I had no problem at all.

Image Quality

This was the big thing that we couldn’t test out before and I’m happy to say, the images look great on this lens. I was shooting mostly in one location, so a bit of landscape and wildlife but the main takeaway is that the images are nice and sharp, the colour rendition is exactly what you’d expect from a Canon lens and it looks great.



With a maximum aperture of f/2.8, it’s a pretty fast lens and it means you can get some decent bokeh in your shots. The bokeh itself is nice and smooth and would be great for shooting portraits just like the EF version (check out our video on shooting portraits with a 70-200mm lens).



The other advantage of the fast aperture is, of course, low light shooting. Especially coupled with the EOS R and its fantastic lowlight ability, this is going to be a great option for lowlight photography and video.

Autofocus

For the first time ever, Canon have included dual nano USM motors in the lens making it faster, more accurate, quieter and more efficient. I certainly noticed this with the autofocus, it’s very fast, snappy and I wasn’t having issues with hunting or anything like that.



Image Stabilisation

A big plus for this lens is the image stabilisation, you get 5 stops of stabilisation while using this lens and it definitely helps. I tested this out shooting 4K video handheld while zoomed in to 200mm. The 4K video adds an extra crop as well making it more like 340mm.



Shooting handheld video at that kind of focal length really emphasises the tiniest movement and is often unuseable but here, I was able to follow a squirrel and a bird as they moved around without any issues. You can watch the footage in our video below and with a little bit of extra stabilisation in post-production, you could get this close to the smoothness of using a tripod.



Of course that stabilisation also helps again when it comes to lowlight, making it easier to shoot with a slower shutter speed without worrying about camera shake.

Conclusion

This lens completes the trio of zoom lenses that a huge number of photographers use, the RF 15-35mm f/2.8 IS, the RF 24-70mm f/2.8 IS and now the RF 70-200mm f/2.8 IS lenses. That’s a big plus for the RF system and something that anyone holding off on making the jump to mirrorless and the Canon EOS R or RP will likely have been waiting for. Of course, it was always possible to use the EF adapter and use the EF version of the 70-200mm but it’s not the same as having a native lens so it’s great to see it available now.



The biggest thing about this lens is how small it is, it makes extended photography sessions much more comfortable while still retaining the image quality you would expect from an L lens.

You can check out the full specs, description and pricing of the lens over on our website here.

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