Photography News 86 Newsletter

First test

ONTEST The chart test shots were taken indoors with the camera/lens mounted on a Leofoto LS-324C and LH-40 ball head using the EOS R6’s self-timer. Raws were processed in Lightroom. Both lenses delivered a high level of sharpness and fine detail was well resolved.



LEFT Sharpness from both lenses is impressive. This pigeon was caught with the 800mm handheld and the camera’s eye detect AF did a great job, and even reacted as the bird blinked. The enlarged section above shows excellent sharpness and fine detail. The aperture-priority exposure was 1/800sec at ISO 1250 (auto ISO)



more than a gentle waft, thanks to their lightness and surface area. One thing I did find with the IS was that composition jumped around a bit, so when slowly panning with some aeroplanes (I was shooting from a garden a few minutes’ flying time from London Heathrow), and when the planes were close to filling the frame, I got some poor crops. Autofocusing is handled by an STM motor, which is silent, quick and very smooth. AF with an f/11 lens would have been difficult, or even impossible, a while ago, so having good AF (including animal eye detect) with these lenses on the EOS R6 was amazing. However, I didn’t have any teleconverters to check the AF at even smaller apertures. The downside is that the AF area is restricted to a central, fixed square, so you get roughly 40% of the horizontal and 60% of the vertical of the full-frame format Obviously, this has an impact on compositions, unless you take over and focus manually or use focus lock, which is not so easy with a live subject and limited depth-of-field. I relied on local nature (and Heathrow) to provide subjects and used the camera in single and servo AF, with and without eye detect, and with different focusing zones. I used aperture- and shutter-priority AE with auto ISO, and set a ceiling of ISO 25,600. The Raws were processed in Lightroom with default noise reduction. OK, fair play to Canon, my initial cynicism about f/11 lenses was totally

misplaced. The AF is not infallible and you have to work at it, but I was very impressed with the results and overall effectiveness of both lenses. The camera’s auto ISO combined with lens IS meant I got good shots, even in late-afternoon winter light. Autofocus was also effective, provided I kept the subject in the central AF area. Animal eye detect worked well, too – so much so that the eye detect AF square appeared and disappeared as subjects blinked. That said, the eye detect could let you down when the composition was cluttered. This happened several times, even when a bird was slap bang in the middle of the frame. I also had a couple of cases where the AF on the planes was off. This was when the plane filled the frame so much that the AF area was filled with underbelly, with no sharp edges and little contrast to work with. Tracking a passenger plane was easy for these lenses, but not so with flying birds, unless you could lock on from a good distance and then track it. With its very narrow angle of view, I found it tricky to quickly pick a subject with the 800mmm unless it was some way away. Generally, though, the AF worked extremely well on the subjects I tried. When the focus was accurate, the resulting quality was impressive. You can see the excellent detail in my shots, as well as the test chart shots. The 600mm is a tiny bit better in terms of resolution and contrast, but there isn’t much in it. If you get it right,

both lenses are capable of sharp images packed with crisp detail. Sadly, lens hoods are not supplied as standard (they cost £59 each), which is short-sighted of Canon as I’d never normally use a telephoto lens without one – not just to stop stray light hitting the front of the lens and affecting contrast, but for physical protection, too. Canon should have included a hood and charged more. For a real-world experience, I tested the lenses without hoods and found they had good flare resistance, even when pointed directly at the sun. WC

ABOVE Bayonet fit lens hoods are sold separately at £59 each. The 600mm (left) has an 82mm filter thread, while the 800mm lens is 95mm

PROS Optical quality, IS works well, lightweight and compact, good to use, AF effective, the chance to enjoy super telephoto shooting at decent prices, teleconverter compatibility CONS Only one tripod fitting, hoods cost extra, a wider AF area would be good My longest lens is a 300mm, so using these Canon lenses was a fresh experience. I have to say, I really enjoyed my time with them: they work well, deliver impressive results and are fun to use, because of the new opportunities they bring. I had a few failures (user and kit error), but also quite a few shots I was really happy with, and I shot mostly handheld. If you want a super telephoto lens and have invested in the EOS R system, there aren’t many choices. If you own or can afford a long Canon DSLR prime lens, then using an EF-EOS R adapter is the obvious route. The same applies if you go for a long zoom, and there are good options from Sigma, Tamron and Canon – these get you up to 600mm with a wider maximum aperture, too. If you want a RF mount lens, there’s the impressive RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1 L IS USM, but it’s £2900. So, yes, while the RF 600mm f/11 and RF 800mm f/11 are not for everyone, if you have an interest in, for example, astro, aviation, wildlife and sport photography, or just enjoy compressing perspective, there’s definitely potential here. The lenses are nicely priced, so they’re good value, even if your need for such telephoto power is occasional. Learn to use them well and great results are yours. Verdict

62 Photography News | Issue 86

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