Canon’s RF 200–800mm Lens Combines Long Range With Excellent Stabilization

Last week, Canon announced a new telephoto-to-super-telephoto lens with the ability to zoom in 4x. This should let anyone take extremely accurate shots from a long distance with little noticeable blur, and it may open new doors for wildlife photographers (who, likely, would prefer to avoid disturbing any natural habitats) working without a tripod. It sounds like hand-holding a Canon EOS R-series full-frame camera equipped with one of these lenses provides comparable image clarity, which is important when you consider tripods are a drag on mobility. The lens making such photography wizardry possible is called the Canon RF200-800mm F6.3-9 IS USM, and — despite its $1,899 MSRP — you’re absolutely going to want one if you plan on capturing fast-moving distant objects, like wildlife or even fast-moving athletes or vehicles.

Designer: Canon

By default, this 200mm lens has a minimum focus distance of 2.62 ft or 0.8 meters. But that can be extended out to 800mm for much clearer long-distance shots with a minimum distance of 10.83 ft or 3.3 meters. Of course, that’s if you don’t use an extender. Sticking an Extender RF2x on top of a Canon RF200-800mm doubles its focal length even further to 1600mm, potentially making it one of the best super-telephoto lenses around. That’s partially thanks to Canon’s Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), which Canon claims provides “enhanced shake reduction for up to 5.5 stops”. When paired with Coordinated IS on the Canon EOS R-Series cameras, these benefits combine for “reliable handheld performance and clearer detail in low-light situations, without having to increase the ISO or decrease the shutter speed.”

Canon’s RF200-800mm F6.3-9 IS USM lens features a number of weather-proofing features which blend right into its stylish black-and-white matte design. For instance, its white paint is actually meant to work as a countermeasure against excessive heat when exposed to direct sunlight for long periods of time, as would be the case when capturing sports footage or when shooting wildlife in an area with a hot climate. The lens mount, focus/control ring, lens function buttons, and other interface pieces are rated for dust-proofing as well. Carrying it around should be a breeze; this lens only weighs 0.55 lbs, making it lightweight compared to other telephoto lenses — which usually weigh somewhere in the 1-3 lb range.

So far, reviews of the RF200-800mm F6.3-9 IS USM skew overwhelmingly positive. TechRadar praised the lens for its “unbeatable reach” and “sharp detail especially at its wider end”. Even then, it sounds like the lens’ aperture could use more headroom for lower-light scenes. But that isn’t a huge deal on its own. If you buy one of these, you’re likely going to pair it with one of Canon’s EOS cameras — packed-in with in-body stabilization — and if that’s the case, this lens should be able to capture incredibly detailed photos (even in low-light situations) from afar. According to Canon, the RF200-800mm is shipping out to customers in the United States on December 14.