Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM Lens Review

Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM Lens

The arrival of the new Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM Lens is TBD, but hitting the streets in September 2020 is the Canon estimate. I will complete this review when the lens arrives. In the meantime, here are my expectations.

It was only a matter of time. A telephoto zoom lens with long focal lengths is a staple in many kits, and Canon's first such lens in the RF mount was anxiously awaited. This lens series is being filled with ultra-high performing models, and the Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM Lens, getting the L-series designation, is expected to be another stellar performer.

When introducing the Canon EOS R with the RF mount, Canon's first full-frame lens mount introduced since the EF (electronic focusing) mount was introduced over 30 years prior, Canon's engineers promised that all RF lenses would have advantages over their EF counterparts. Those advantages would include smaller size, lighter weight, and/or new features.

In this case, indisputable is that we gain a very welcomed 100mm of focal length on the long end, and lost is about 14% of the weight. While the size of this lens is very slightly increased, the smaller size of the R-series cameras offsets the difference.

Canon's engineers indicated that image quality, advantaged by new lens design opportunities made available by the optimized RF mount, would be minimally equivalent and often better. Canon's earliest RF mount lenses set the image quality bar very high, and this lens reportedly does not disappoint in that regard.

The Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM Lens features a very long focal length range, ideal for wildlife and sports photography and perfect for families capturing memories while chasing their kids. With features like a Dual Nano USM AF system, close minimum focusing distance, 5-stop image stabilization, weather sealing, and professional-grade build quality, this lens should be very impressive in all regards.

You will need a camera with an RF-mount (the EOS R-series) to use this lens. Still, the RF 100-500 should be good enough to justify buying an RF-mount camera just to enable its use, and the latest R-series cameras need little additional justification.

Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM Lens Angle View

Focal Length Range

Choosing the right focal length or focal length range is of utmost importance for lens selection. The focal length determines the perspective and framing combination. With a range that starts at 100mm (short telephoto) and goes to a super-telephoto 500mm (before adding extenders/teleconverters), this lens covers a wide range of uses, including many general-purpose telephoto needs. In the past, I have had a 100-400mm lens with me a significant percentage of the time when out shooting, and I plan to step up to this specific lens, providing an additional, significant 100mm on the long end.

One of the best uses for the 100-500mm focal length range is wildlife photography. At the wide end of the range, large or very close wildlife can be contained in the frame, and environmental portraits can often be created. From the other perspective, when the wildlife is scared of you (or vice versa) or you cannot or do not want to approach more closely, 500mm permits capturing images of distant subjects rendered large in the frame. Smaller birds and animals, chipmunks for example, often need longer focal lengths to have a substantial size in the frame even at close distances, and these subjects are included on this telephoto zoom lens's uses list.

Staying with the fauna theme, the RF 100-500 is an ideal zoo and safari lens option.

A 100-500mm lens is very often a great choice for photographing people. The wide end has great portrait photography capabilities, even indoors, if adequate ambient light is available. The mid and long focal lengths, typically most-easily used outdoors, will provide a more-compressed appearance (due to the longer subject distance), and these focal lengths bring the potential for a strong background blur (the background blur is magnified). Parents chasing kids can also find plenty of uses for this entire focal length range, including for their at-the-park and at-the-beach needs. This focal length range is ideal for headshots.

People participating in sports make great subjects for this lens. While selecting a telephoto lens is a good choice from a safety perspective (safety both from and for the subject), it is also a good choice when there is a physical or designated barrier to getting closer, such as a fence or the perimeter lines on a sports field. Sometimes, the action can be close, and sports photography needs can cover this lens's entire focal length range. A full-frame camera-mounted 500mm lens will reach deep into large field events, covering a very significant portion of even large soccer, football, field hockey, lacrosse, etc. fields. At the same time, even close action will be nicely handled by the wide end of this zoom lens. A zoom range (vs. using a prime or single focal length lens) means that the proper cropping of a subject can be established and maintained over a wide range of subject distances, resulting in full use of your camera's imaging sensor, creating optimal image quality.

I use all of the focal lengths in this lens for landscape photography and expect to very frequently use this lens for such. I often find it quite easy to create attractive, compressed-perspective landscape images when using a telephoto lens. Note that long focal lengths can make even a mediocre sunrise or sunset look amazing. This lens is a great choice for smaller floura such as the flowers in your garden.

Wildlife, sports, and landscape photographers will make up a large percentage of the owners of this lens, but there are plenty of other uses for this wide 5x focal length range. Photojournalists, especially those with restricted access to their subjects, may find this focal length range very useful. With the close minimum focus distance, this lens will work excellently for product photography. This lens will be exceptionally well represented at air shows.

Sometimes, laziness (perhaps "relaxation" sounds better) is a good reason to use the 100-500mm focal length range. Sit in the comfort of your car, avoid the need to cross a creek, stay back from the surf, etc. A benefit of having the wider focal lengths available is that photos can be framed appropriately from in front of line-of-sight obstacles.

I've only touched on a handful of the most popular uses for this lens. If I am not using it as my primary lens, the RF 100-500mm lens will likely be handling much of the balance of my needs, including complementing a 600mm lens when photographing wildlife or a 24-70mm lens when photographing landscapes.

As I write this review, Canon RF lenses are not compatible with any cameras having an APS-C-sized imaging sensor. Should this lens someday become compatible with an ASP-C model, the 1.6x FOVCF sensor format will see an angle of view similar to a full-frame-mounted 160-800mm lens. This shifted-narrower angle of view range would take this lens's uses deeper into the sports and wildlife pursuits with bird photography and big-field sports being especially good choices for this focal length range. While this range would still be useful for portrait photography on an APS-C camera, tightly-framed portraits would be most comfortable with considerable space needed for full body portraiture.

Max Aperture

As always, the lower the aperture number, the more light the lens will allow to reach the sensor. Each "stop" in aperture opening reduction (examples: f/2.8, f/4.0, f/5.6, f/8, f/11) reduces the amount of light reaching the sensor by a factor of 2, a substantial amount. Allowing more light to reach the sensor permits freezing action and handholding the camera in lower light levels and can also permit the use of a lower, less noisy, ISO setting. In addition to allowing more light to reach the sensor, increasing the aperture opening permits a shallower DOF (Depth of Field) that creates a stronger, better subject-isolating background blur (at equivalent focal lengths).

Because the aperture is measured as a ratio of lens opening to focal length and because this lens' maximum opening does not increase adequately with focal length increase to maintain the same ratio, this lens's max aperture is a variable one, ranging from f/4.5 to f/7.1 as the focal length range is increasingly traversed. These are relatively narrow apertures at any specific focal length.

The advantages of a narrow aperture are primarily related to the lens elements being significantly smaller in size. They include a smaller overall lens size, a lighter weight, and a lower cost. Those are factors that we all can appreciate, and they apply to this specific lens.

The variable max aperture design provides the same size, weight, and cost efficiencies while delivering the widest aperture possible at each focal length. A downside is that the widest available max aperture, f/4.5, cannot be used over the entire focal length range. Your camera will automatically account for the change in auto exposure modes, but making use of the widest-available aperture in manual exposure mode is complicated somewhat.

For many, especially those already owning the impressive Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens (or any other Canon telephoto zoom lens), the unusually narrow to-f/7.1 spec on the Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM Lens gives us pause. In part, the Dual Pixel CMOS AF system in Canon's R-series cameras autofocus lenses with narrow apertures very adequately, making very narrow openings quite usable. None of us was disappointed by the to-500mm part of the spec, but we still wanted to know if the aperture opening size was being sacrificed at the 400mm aperture in order to keep this lens compact and light.

Thanks to Drew MacCallum's (Canon USA) effort to answer this question for us, now we know the answer. What is the Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM Lens's maximum aperture opening at 400mm?

Answer 1: When the camera is set to 1/3-stop increments, the maximum 400mm aperture reported to the camera is rounded to f/6.3.

Answer 2: When the camera is set to 1/2-stop increments, the maximum 400mm aperture reported to the camera is rounded to f/5.6.

I know, you are now planning to change your R-series cameras to use 1/2-stop increments. Don't bother as the difference is how the actual opening size is rounded (the true aperture is likely between these two numbers), likely holds for only a short range of focal lengths, and even if there was a 1/3-stop difference, the difference in noise made visible by an offsetting 1/3-stop ISO change will not matter to most. If the RF 100-500mm lens is an estimated f/6.0 at 400mm, the difference between it and the EF 100-400's f/5.6 is especially slight.

Again, do not overlook the fact that 500mm is a substantially longer focal length than 400mm. Both lenses are compatible with extenders, and with the 1.4x mounted, the EF 100-400 L II's focal length range reaches to 560mm, but with a resulting max aperture of f/8.

Here is a comparative look at the max aperture step-down by focal length for this class of lens with an additional column necessitated by this lens. The Canon RF 100-500mm numbers will be added when available.

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens100-134mm135-311mm312-400mm  
Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM Lens     
Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G AF-S VR Lens80-134mm135-249mm250-400mm 
Sigma 100-400mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM C Lens 100-111mm112-233mm234-400mm 
Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports 150-184mm185-320mm321-600mm 
Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM C 150-179mm180-387mm388-600mm 
Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS Lens100-115mm116-161mm162-400mm  
Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 Lens 150-212mm213-427mm428-600mm 

Overall, this lens is not the ideal choice for stopping low light action. When the sun goes down, action sports photographers using this lens (or similar models) will be reaching for very high (noisy) ISO settings to keep images bright enough when using the fast shutter speeds needed to freeze their subjects' motion. This lens is not the best choice for indoor sports or for photographing anything else that moves in low light.

With the relatively narrow apertures, this lens cannot create the shallowest depth of field among comparable focal length lens, but by virtue of its long focal lengths, it will create a very strong background blur.

Image Stabilization

Perhaps no lenses are better improved by image stabilization than narrow aperture telephoto lenses, and we can expect the Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L Lens's refined 5-stop IS system to greatly increase its versatility and provide considerably improved image quality. When used on Canon R-series cameras featuring IBIS (In-Body Image Stabilization), including the EOS R5 and EOS R6, coordinated image stabilization control takes the IS rating up to an even more impressive 6 stops.

Put a camera with this lens mounted to your eye with IS turned off, and a very jittery image is what you should expect to see. Move the IS switch to the on position, and the difference should be dramatic, with the scene becoming motionless.

While IS is great for reducing camera shake-caused blur in images, it is also very helpful for precise framing of subjects in the viewfinder.

Aiding AF precision is another image stabilization benefit that should not be overlooked. The camera's AF system can produce better focus precision if the image it sees is stabilized. Canon contends that this is true even with a subject that is in motion and at action-stopping shutter speeds.

As with many of Canon's L-series telephoto lenses, three IS modes are provided on the RF 100-500 — Mode 1 (general-purpose), Mode 2 IS (for panning with a subject with 1 axis of stabilization provided), and Mode 3. Mode 3 is useful for tracking erratic action. In Mode 3, image stabilization is active and ready for use the moment the shutter releases, but actual stabilization is not in effect until that precise time. The view seen through the viewfinder is not stabilized, allowing an erratic subject to be tracked without fighting against the image stabilization system trying to stabilize the view. IS Mode 3 is designed to detect panning motion, and when panning is detected, the lens will only apply Image Stabilization at right angles to the direction of the movement (like IS Mode 2).

When you want to leave the tripod behind, IS is there for you, helping to ensure sharp images, and adding significant versatility to this lens.

Image Quality

Is the Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM Lens sharp? Until we can get this lens in the studio, that and many other questions will remain unanswered. That said, my understanding is that we are going to be very happy with the performance of this lens. Expect it to be at least as good as the phenomenal Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens.

This lens design utilizes six UD (Ultra Low-Dispersion) elements and one 'Super' UD element along with ASC (Air Sphere Coating) to prevent flare and ghosting.


Unless in manual focus mode, a lens's autofocus performance is an extremely important factor in realizing the image quality capability of a lens. To that point, the Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM Lens, like the Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens, gets an advanced, high-performing AF system driven by Dual Nano USM (Ultrasonic) focus motors.

While Canon has been designing Nano USM AF systems into the latest L-series RF lenses, this dual-motor design is being featured for only the second time in the RF 100-500. What Canon said about the RF 70-200 Dual Nano AF system again applies: "The lens also incorporates a floating focus control ... that drives the two lens groups individually while using the two aforementioned Nano USM motors. The floating focus lens element shortens focusing distance and helps reduce breathing, providing users with fast, consistent and reliable performance."

Nano USM acts like an ultra-fast version of STM AF, combining the benefits of a high-speed Ring USM actuator with an STM system stepping motor's quiet and smooth, direct, lead screw-type drive system. Like Ring USM driven AF systems, Nano USM focuses nearly instantly. Like STM AF systems, Nano USM focuses almost silently and very smoothly. Cameras featuring Dual Pixel CMOS AF and Movie Servo AF make video recording very easy, and Nano USM lenses are very well-suited for this task. The smooth focusing makes focus distance transitions easy on the viewer's eyes, and the sound of the lens focusing should not be picked up by the camera's mic.

Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens Dual Nano USM

Canon U.S.A.'s Rudy Winston states: "Canon’s new Nano USM technology uses a completely different form factor, but achieves focus results within the lens via the same principles of ultrasonic vibration energy, transmitted here into linear (rather than rotational) movement within the lens. This tiny new Ultrasonic motor achieves the combination of fast, near-instant response during still image shooting, with the smoothness required for good focus during video recording." The RF 70-200 Dual Nano USM system is pictured above.

Ring USM was Canon's former preference for high-end lens AF systems. While most Ring USM lenses are great performers, they generally do not focus so smoothly in Movie Servo AF, and the Ring USM EF lenses produce considerably more focus chatter. Nano USM lenses autofocus substantially smoother and quieter than Ring USM lenses.

Of utmost importance is AF accuracy, and from that perspective, all of the Nano USM-driven AF systems to date have performed impressively.

The RF 100-500 provides a focus limiter switch, permitting the autofocus range to be limited to 9.8' (3m) - ∞. If subjects are known to be within the narrower range, focus lock times may be decreased by using this switch.

Like the RF 70-200mm f/2.8 and the EF 100-400 L II, the RF 100-500's mid-sized, ribbed-rubber-coated manual focus ring is positioned behind the zoom ring. I often complain about rear-positioned focus rings being near the lens balance point, making them too easy to inadvertently turn with the left hand while operating the zoom ring and while changing composition (including leveling the camera), and I'll still not likely be fond of this design choice. That said, all lenses in this class share this trait. Position your left hand slightly forward of the manual focus ring or disable electronic manual focusing after One Shot AF in the camera's menu to avoid any such problems.

Like STM, Nano USM utilizes a focus-by-wire or electrical manual focus design (vs. a direct gear-driven system) with the manual focus ring electronically controlling the focus of the lens. FTM (Full Time Manual) focusing is supported in AF mode with the camera in One Shot Drive Mode, but the shutter release must be half-pressed for the focus ring to become active. Note that FTM does not work if electronic manual focusing after One Shot AF is disabled in the camera's menu. The lens' switch must be in the "MF" position and the camera meter must be on/awake for conventional manual focusing to be available.

With electronics driving AF, the rate of focus change caused by the focus ring can be electronically controlled, and it can be variable, based on the ring's rotation speed. I prefer a linear adjustment speed, and have my cameras configured for such.

A focus distance window is not provided, but a focus distance meter shows in the lower portion of the camera's electronic viewfinder during manual focusing.

With a minimum focus distance of 35.4" (900mm), shorter than that of the already great EF 100-400 L II, this lens has a very attractive 0.33x maximum magnification spec at 500mm.

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens38.4"(980mm)0.31x
Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM Lens35.4"(900mm)0.33x
Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G AF-S VR Lens68.9"(1750mm)0.20x
Sigma 100-400mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM C Lens63.0"(1600mm)0.26x
Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS Sports Lens102.4"(2600mm)0.20x
Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS C Lens110.2"(2800mm)0.20x
Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS Lens38.6"(980mm)0.35x
Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC G2 Lens86.6"(2200mm)0.26x

As often the case, this lens focuses closer at the widest focal length. Here are some specific examples:
At 100mm: 2.95' (0.9m) — 0.12x maximum magnification
At 300mm: 3.28' (1.0m)
At 500mm: 3.94' (1.2m) — 0.33x maximum magnification

Need a shorter minimum focus distance and higher magnification? An extension tube mounted behind this lens should provide a reasonable decrease and increase, respectively. Extension tubes are hollow lens barrels that shift a lens farther from the camera, alloing shorter focusing distances at the expense of long-distance focusing. Electronic connections in extension tubes permit the lens and camera to communicate and otherwise function as normal. As of review time, Canon does not offer RF mount-compatible extension tubes, but third-party options are available.

Canon RF 1.4x and 2x Extender Comparison

Extenders / Teleconverters

An even better option for increasing the magnification of this lens is to use extenders, also referred to as teleconverters. The Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM Lens is compatible with the simultaneously announced Canon RF 1.4x Extender and Canon RF 2x Extender — with a catch.

These extenders, like most other high-performing options, have a front extension that requires room behind the mounted lens's rear element. With some EF lenses, we found that Canon EF extenders were compatible with lenses Canon did not indicate being compatible (such as the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM Lens) under a condition. If the lens was zoomed to a specific minimum focal length, the rear element moved forward enough to clear the extender. That is the case with the RF 100-500, and 300mm is that minimum compatible focal length.

The RF 100-500 physically prevents an extender from being mounted behind it at focal lengths below 300mm, and physically prevents the lens from being zoomed to focal lengths wider than 300mm when an extender is attached.

Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM Lens with Extender

Mounting the Canon RF 1.4x Extender behind the RF 100-500 creates a 420-700mm f/8-10 image stabilized lens. Those focal lengths will be attractive to wildlife and sports photographers, but the max aperture range will not be as welcomed. There is always some image quality reduction with an extender mounted, but the 1.4x caused degradation should be relatively minor as it is with the EF 100-400 L II.

Mounting the Canon RF 2x Extender behind the RF 100-500 creates a 600-1000mm f/11-14 image stabilized lens. Those focal lengths will be attractive especially to bird photographers, and the max aperture range will again not be as welcomed. The image degradation caused by the addition of a 2x extender into a lens's optical design is usually strong, with contrast and resolution taking a hit.

Build Quality & Features

The Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM Lens is said to have construction similar to the other recently introduced white Canon L-Series lenses, with membership indicated by the red ring and the "L" in the moniker. Members of this best-available series of professional-grade lens models are built tough, ready for the rigors of daily professional use. Those familiar with Canon's RF 70-200mm F2.8 L lens and similar EF models will not be disappointed with this one.

While Canon's RF L lenses take on a slightly updated look from the EF counterparts, those familiar with EF L lenses will immediately recognize this lens' heritage. Expect the RF 100-500 lens to have excellent fit and finish, similar to the RF 70-200 f/2.8.

Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM Lens Side View

The Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM Lens has an aesthetically pleasing design featuring a smooth exterior diameter that will be very comfortable in hand. The lens exterior is of high-quality engineering plastic.

The forward-positioned rubber-coated zoom ring is substantial in size. Expect it to be smooth in rotation and have no play, and the amount of rotation should be ideal for easy use.

Canon's RF lenses continue to feature a knurled Control Ring, able to be configured for fast access to settings including aperture, ISO, and exposure compensation. Positioning this ring behind the tripod ring makes it very easy to find while keeping it out of the way of the other two rings. Note that the control ring is clicked by default, and this ring's clicks are going to be audible in camera-based audio recordings. Canon offers a control ring click stop removal service (at a cost).

The RF 100-500 L lens gets the heat shield coating, including the white color, of the RF 70-200. While a white lens might be less stealthy, garnering more attention than a black lens, white remains cooler under a bright sun, reducing the temperature change and any negative issues that such contributes to, including part expansion, for consistent operation in high temperatures. I'll let you decide if white appears more professional, but white does hide dirt better than black.

The RF 100-500 gets a full complement of switches. All of the switches are very shallow with the IS-related switches being tactilely delineated by a slightly raised area of the lens. Based on the RF 70-200 design, these switches have sufficient raised area in the center to make them easily usable, even with gloves on.

Like most lenses in its class, the RF 100-500 features an extending design, and like the EF 100-400 L IS II, the RF 100-500 features a rotational type zoom ring (vs. a push-pull design). Also like the EF 100-400 L IS II, the RF 100-500 features a torque adjustment ring, dubbed the Zoom Touch Adjustment Ring (ZTAR) in the predecessor. Positioned between the zoom ring and switch panel, the torque adjustment ring allows the zoom friction to be set as desired. While many lenses provide a zoom lock switch that is usable only with the lens in its most-retracted position, the torque adjustment ring offers far more flexibility. Rotate the ring to adjust the focus ring resistance between smooth and tight, the latter permitting any focal length settings to be locked in, greatly enhancing a strong upward or downward angle shooting experience.

This lens is weather-sealed and built for outdoor professional use in conditions that are not always favorable. Lenses that extend move air in and out of the lens during use. To avoid dust and moisture entry, this lens design includes a ventilation route that permits air flow while filtering dust and moisture.

The front and rear elements are fluorine-coated, helping dust and water drops to shed off (or easily blow off) of the front and rear lens elements. Cleaning more problematic issues, such as fingerprints, is much easier to accomplish with this coating, and the difference is especially appreciated in the field.

The RF 100-500 gains 100mm of focal length range over the EF 100-400 L II while losing 14% of its weight. Disappointed about that is no one. The RF 100-500 weighs in at 48.1 oz (1,365g) Though not a light lens, this lens is light for its class.

ModelWeightDimensions w/o HoodFilterYear 
Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM55.4 oz(1570g)3.7 x 7.6"(94.0 x 193.0mm)77mm2014
Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM Lens48.1 oz(1365g)3.7 x 7.6"(93.8 x 207.6mm)77mm2020
Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G AF-S VR Lens55.4 oz(1570g)3.8 x 8.0"(95.5 x 203.0mm)77mm2013
Sigma 100-400mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM C Lens40.9 oz(1160g)3.4 x 7.2"(86.4 x 182.3mm)67mm2017
Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM C Lens68.1 oz(1930g)4.1 x 10.2"(105.0 x 260.1mm)95mm2015
Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS Sports Lens101.0 oz(2860g)4.8 x 11.4"(121.9 x 289.6mm)105mm2014
Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS Lens49.2 oz(1395g)3.7 x 8.1"(93.9 x 205.0mm)77mm2017
Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC G2 Lens71.0 oz(2010g)4.3 x 10.2"(108.4 x 260.2mm)95mm2016
Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC Lens68.8 oz(1950g)4.2 x 10.1"(105.6 x 257.8mm)95mm2013

For many more comparisons, review the complete Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM Lens Specifications using the site's lens specifications tool.

Tripod rings provide balanced tripod mounting of a camera and lens, avoiding tripod head and camera strain, avoiding sag after lock-down, and allowing easy camera rotation. Canon includes the Tripod Mount Ring F (WIII) with this lens.

Like the RF 70-200 Mount Ring E design, the RF 100-500's lightweight tripod mount ring is somewhat tall, leaving adequate room for fingers over the foot, yet compact. Expect this to be a solid mount, and when the locking knob is tightened with relatively light pressure, the ring should lock very tightly. The RF 70-200's Mount Ring E is not riding on steel bearings, and the friction fit is not especially smooth during rotation until the locking knob is rather loose. I initially didn't like this ring's smoothness but have acclimated to using a less-tight knob setting than seems right to obtain smooth rotation (I have a tendency to over-tighten anything that screws down).

It is often beneficial to have a tripod ring locked in a precise 90° angle increment. While this ring does not have click stops to indicate these positions, the collar has indicator lines that can be aligned with a tiny notch the top of the lens barrel.

Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM Lens Tripod Ring

As indicated by the low-profile hinge on the top, the RF 100-500's tripod mount ring is removable. Fully loosen the lock knob, and then pull it out to release the tripod collar completely, unhinging it while the lens is still mounted to the camera. The foot is not removable, and replacement lens feet will require the entire ring to be replaced. Consider a Wimberley P20 Lens Plate for use in Arca-standard quick-release clamps.

Weight specifications omit the tripod mount ring when such is removable, an attractive reason for manufacturers to make the ring removeable in the first place. The Tripod Mount Ring F (WIII) adds approximately 5.6 oz (160g) to the in-use weight.

The RF 100-500 lens uses ultra-common standard 77mm threaded filters. Filters of this size are somewhat large, but a huge number of lenses using 77mm filters makes effects filter options such as circular polarizer and neutral density filters easy to share. Larger filters cost more, but sharing is cost-reducing, and fewer filters consume less space in the backpack.

Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM Lens with Hood

Standard is for the lens hood to be included in the box with Canon L-series lenses. The RF 100-500 comes with the white color matching ET-83F (WIII) lens hood, the same hood included with the RF 70-200, in the box. The slightly flexible (helpful for absorbing impact), molded plastic ET-83F hood has a matte finish with a mold-ribbed interior and a stylish black finish on the front (this is not a rubberized surface). The round shape nicely facilitates use as a camera stand when conditions permit. This is a relatively large hood that adds significant protection to the front lens element – protection from bright flare-causing lights, protection from scratch-causing impacts, and protection from dust and rain. The push-button release makes installation and removal smooth and easy.

A door is provided on the side of this lens hood for filter rotation access. I find the door often gets opened inadvertently, especially from the camera being inserted into or removed from a case. I only have slim circular polarizer filters, and I'm not able to rotate them at all through the opening (on the RF 70-200). Even if my filters were rotatable, the amount of rotation possible through the small opening is minimal with many full-width swipes required for the most common rotation amount, the 90° rotation often required when switching the camera from horizontal to vertical. I epoxied the hood window closed on my EF 100-400 L II hood, and will probably do the same with this one.

Canon LZ1328 Lens Case

Standard is for Canon to include a lens case with all L-series lenses and this one gets the new Canon LZ1328 Lens Case. From the image, you likely figured out that the new part is the color black. Previous cases like this one are well-constructed, quite protective, and with a double-zippered opening, easy to use.

Price, Value, Wrap Up

This lens is rather expensive, and the price will represents a hurdle for non-serious photographers. However, this highly-useful lens should perform up to its cost.

As an "RF" lens, the Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM Lens is compatible with all Canon EOS R-series cameras. Canon USA provides a 1-year limited warranty.

Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM Lens


Many referred to 2014 as the "Year of the Lens", and the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens was one of many 2014-announced models. That lens was the hottest, most in-demand model of them all. The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II is in an elite class of zoom lenses capable of producing prime-grade image quality at all available aperture and focal length settings. Put a very useful focal length range into a ruggedly-built, pro-grade lens with fast and accurate AF, very effective image stabilization, and very impressive image quality, and it is destined to be a very popular model. The 100-400 L II has quickly become one of my favorite and most-used lenses.

Now, only six years later, the Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM Lens has been released. Featuring a lighter weight and longer focal length range, this lens promises to surpass the impressive predecessor. Sign me up — I preordered this lens.

Bringing you this site is my full-time job (typically 60-80 hours per week). Thus, I depend solely on the commissions received from you using the links on this site to make any purchase. I am grateful for your support! - Bryan

My Recommended Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM Lens Retailers

Where you buy your gear matters. You expect to get what you ordered, and you want to pay a low price for it. The retailers I recommend below are the ones I trust for my purchases. Get your Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM Lens now from:

B&H Photo
Canon USA (new)
eBay (Choose trustworthy sellers only)
(Using the links on this site to make any purchase provides support for this site)
Rent the Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM Lens
Do you need/want the Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM Lens for only a short period of time? Or, would you feel more comfortable buying after having a hands-on trial period? Consider renting. Renting is fast and easy. The rental companies I recommend below are excellent to work with. Schedule your rental now:
(Using these links for your rental supports this site)
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