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Testing the Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8 Lens for 10 Days in California

The trinity is now complete. Since the release of the Canon EOS R about a year ago, the mirrorless camera is my go-to tool for shoots. Not least because of its size and weight, as well as the amazing lenses (RF 28-70mm f/2, RF 50mm f/1.2, and my RF 24-240mm f/4-6.3 expedition lens) the EOS R has benefits over its DSLR counterpart.

With the EF lens-adapter combination that I’ve been using so far, especially for the EF 11-24mm f/4 wide-angle lens and the EF 70-200mm f/2.8 tele-zoom lens, there was a noticeable imbalance between the camera body and the lenses. There was no optical quality loss when I used the adapter ring, but compared to the camera, my old 70-200mm f/2.8 was pretty long and heavy.

With the release of the trinity lens set in the RF mount, I can now use the EOS R for a focal length of 15mm to 200mm with a fixed aperture of f/2.8 and a 5-stop image stabilization — and all this with lenses that are specifically designed for the mirrorless system. I’d like to share my experiences with you here, especially with the RF 70-200mm f/2.8.

Disclaimer: I’m a Canon Ambassador and I was sent the lens to test on a commercial job. This test report is based on my subjective experiences over 10 days under real-life conditions. The report covers day-to-day use of the lens. I’ve intentionally left out technical details and lab tests since this isn’t something that applies to my daily use.

Canon EOS R with RF 70-200mm at 200mm – f4 – 1/1600 – ISO 100

My first experiences using the RF 15-35mm f/2.8 and the RF 24-70mm f/2.8

When I compare the new RF 15-35mm to my old lens (EF 11-24), sometimes I miss the 11-14 mm focal length. But the fixed f/2.8 aperture lens and its 5-stop image stabilizer, things my EF 11-24 didn’t have, makes up for this. Better yet, it’s about 30% lighter, and not needing an adapter ring makes it quite a bit shorter.

The fact that the RF 15-35mm f/2.8 lets you use filters with a diameter of 82mm that can also be used with the RF 24-70mm f/2.8 isn’t really that important to my daily work, but this is definitely an advantage for lots of nature photographers. The EF 11-24mm f/4’s bulbous front lens doesn’t make this possible.

The RF 24-70mm f/2.8 is pretty much the same size and length of my old EF 24-70mm f/2.8, but with its 5-stop image stabilization, it outdoes the old lens, also when it comes to optical quality. Especially on the edges, the differences are easy to see (just as for the 15-35 compared to the 11-24). I’m not going to get into these two lenses in more detail here; my focus will be on the RF 70-200mm.

Canon EOS R with RF 15-35mm at 35mm – f3.5 – 1/400 – ISO 800

The “little” RF 70-200mm f/2.8 is a big accomplishment

The first time I saw photos of the new lens, I could hardly believe my eyes. After waiting for more than a year, it looks like I’ve finally got a tele-zoom solution for my EOS R. Armed with the RF 15-35mm, the RF 24-70mm and the latest RF 70-200mm, I headed off to California for 10 days to test the trinity set on a commercial shoot.


Weight and size

To reiterate, size and weight are important factors when considering the EOS R mirrorless system. The RF 70-200mm f/2.8 is almost 30% smaller and lighter than the EF 70-200mm f/2.8. The length, when zoomed at 200mm, is the same as my old EF lens. But what’s most important for me: it’s much shorter at 70mm. I often have to carry my gear around for hours in my backpack. Any extra space I gain in my photo gear backpack can be used for other things.

5D Mark IV with EF 70-200mm f/2.8, EF 24-70mm f/2.8, EF 11-24mm f/4

EOS R with RF 70-200mm f/2.8, RF 15-35mm f/2.8, RF 24-70mm f/2.8

Image stabilization

When it comes to the RF lens, the 5-stop image stabilization has 1.5 aperture stops more than my previous EF lens. Image stabilization has improved a lot, especially when it comes to long focal lengths or filming. This makes it possible for me to photograph with shutter speeds that I never dared use before, never mind when I’m taking tele shots! The following picture was taken at almost 160mm at just 1/20 seconds:

Canon EOS R with RF 70-200mm at 158mm – f6.3 – 1/20 – ISO 100

100% crop of the image above. No post production sharpening.

Here’s a sample video filmed at 200mm with image stabilization:



February 2020
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