Budget-Friendly Telephoto Lens with an Extender Surprise

Review by Fernando Santos

If you want a Canon RF telephoto lens, and you don’t like the weight and/or price of the RF 100–500mm f/4.5–7.1 L IS USM, then this new RF 100–400mm F5.6-8 IS USM may be a good choice. The $649.99 list price is almost $2,150 cheaper than the 100–500mm model, and the lens is also much smaller and lighter at just 22.4 oz. (635 g). According to Canon, the image stabilization (IS) on the lens gives you up to 5.5 stops of shake correction, or 6 stops if your camera has in-body stabilization. The IS switch just toggles between on/off (no IS modes), but does compensate for panning. There’s no tripod collar mount, but you won’t need it. Filter size is 67mm. 

The lens looks and feels solid, well-built, and performs well. I really like that you can use the Canon RF extenders throughout all its zoom range, something not possible with the RF 100–500mm, where you can only use them from 300mm up. There is a price to pay, however. On my EOS R6 with the Extender RF2x, the focusing area is reduced from almost the whole frame to just a large square in the middle of it. Focus performance is good when used with plenty of light, but in dimmer situations, you may notice some difficulties. 

The package doesn’t include the lens pouch, nor the lens hood. If you have the hood for the EF 70–300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM lens (ET-74B) then you just saved $44, because that’s the one you need. 

This is a good lens to have in your kit when you want a lightweight, budget-friendly telephoto. Add the RF 24–105mm f/4–7.1 IS STM lens and you have a very low-cost two-lens solution that covers 24–400mm (or 800mm if you add the 2x extender). ■