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The Canon RF 85, 100-500, 600 and 800mm MTF's
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The Canon RF 85, 100-500, 600 and 800mm MTF's

With the official release of all the new Canon RF lenses, we now have the official MTF graphs of the new lenses.

Don't forget, get on the pre-order list early as stocks will be shortened because of COVID-19 production issues.

Canon RF 100-500 F4.5-7.1 IS USM

Since we don't have an exact comparable that this lens is replacing, we'll compare it against the newest EF 100-400, the Canon EF 100-400 F4-5.6 IS USM. While the 100-400 is technically faster at the long end, from what I have been led to believe, the 100-500 is nearly at 5.6 at 400mm which means you basically get 400 to 500mm for free when using the 100-500mm lens.  (from actual testing it seems to be somewhere in between 5.6 and 6.3. If you have your camera set to 1/2 EV, then it shows 5.6, if you have your camera set to 1/3 EV, then it will show 6.3).  I'm not sure it actually matters in practicality, but for some, it will.  More information here.

In this MTF comparison, we show both the RF and the EF lenses.  We also took the telephoto end and overlayed the two MTF's the green / purple lines are from the 100-500mm as you can see the 100-500 is nearly as good at 500mm as the 400mm is at 400mm.  You simply aren't going to see much difference in performance between these two.  This is a great addition to the RF lineup.  Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM Pre-Order here.

Canon RF 85mm F2.0 IS STM Macro

Let's face it, the Canon EF 85mm is pretty long in the tooth. It was one of the original USM lenses for the EF mount.  It has horrible purple fringing wide open, and its minimum focus distance would drive me nuts at times taking portrait shots with it.  However, it was a fantastic bargain and pretty sharp too.  How does the RF 85mm compare? Here we show both MTF's from the 85's.

We also to the right, overlay the two MTF's with the RF lens showing as green and purple.  As you can tell, the RF is sharper in the center and doesn't tail away in the corners nearly as bad as the EF version. It also has a much higher contrast in the center and corners. The lines are also closer together for the meridional and sagittal which means the bokeh should be better as well.  Since the new RF version is a close focus macro as well (.5x) it wont' have the annoying minimum focus distance of the EF version.  All in all, this is a really solid update. Canon RF 85mm F2.0 IS STM Pre-Order here.

Canon RF 600mm F11 IS STM

There really isn't an MTF you can compare against this lens, I mean I guess I could compare it against the 600mm F4.0, but that seems a little ridiculous as one is a 13,000 lens and the other one is literally nearly 20x less in price.  In the end, I show the 600mm against the 100-500, it's nearest RF competitor - which is still over 4 times the price of the 600mm prime.

As you can see the 500mm is slightly sharper and has much more contrast (most likely due to the fact that the 600mm has diffractive optics).  However is it $2200 USD better? That's for you to decide.  Canon RF 600mm F11 IS STM Pre-Order here.

Canon RF 800mm F11 IS STM

There is no lens to compare the 800mm to at this time, however, Canon has published the MTF's of the 100-500 with the 1.4x extender, which delivers 700mm - so it's a good comparable.  Keep in mind though that the 100-500mm plus 1.4x extender is well over $3000, against an $899 telephoto.

As you can see the 800mm does, well, pretty well.  It's close enough to really call it a draw - you're not going to notice any difference in performance.  The 100-500mm is going to be F10 at 700mm versus F11 at 800mm for the prime, negligible difference in terms of light-gathering, and it's 100mm longer.  While it's no replacement for a Canon RF 800mm F5.6L or a Canon EF 800mm F5.6L, it may be a compelling hiking option if you find yourself always shooting at the long end.  Canon RF 800mm F11 IS STM Pre-Order here.


These are all really solid updates for the RF mount, I think that realistically 3 out of the 4 I would consider solid wins, with the 600mm perhaps leaving a bit to be desired, however, even then when you consider the price, it's really hard to beat as well.


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