Canon RF 400mm F2.8 Assessment



Lengthy, shiny glass is tough to come back by, however Canon didn’t wait lengthy earlier than bringing its 400mm f2.8 over to the RF mount. The Canon RF 400mm f2.8 L IS USM brings the identical optics because the EF 400mm f2.8 IS III USM to cameras just like the R3 and R5 with out the usage of a mount adapter. As a part of the L sequence, it makes use of each a high-end, climate sealed construct and professional stage optics. Lenses of this stature are dear, nevertheless, and the brand new Canon RF 400mm f2.8 is not any exception. The glass retails for just below $12K.

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However, paired with options like eye AF and exceedingly quick shutter speeds, the Canon RF 400mm f2.8 offers the latest mirrorless cameras the attain for sports activities and wildlife images. I took the Canon RF 400mm f2.8 out birding to see how this new optic holds up. The lens used on this evaluate was supplied by LensRentals.

Too Lengthy; Didn’t Learn

The Canon RF 400mm f2.8 is a heavy piece of glass, but it surely captures some great photos. With little aberration and plenty of background blur, this lens produces some great pictures. The autofocus can be wonderful. However, that $12K is a excessive value to pay.

Professionals and Cons


  • Nice bokeh
  • Lovely coloration with little aberration
  • Wonderful autofocus
  • Plenty of bodily controls
  • A bit extra manageable than the bigger 600mm


Gear Used

I examined the Canon RF 400mm f2.8 with the next gear:

The 400mm lens was a rental from LensRentals.


To carry tremendous telephotos to the RF mount rapidly, Canon reused the optical design from the EF 400mm f2.8 IS III USM. It shares sufficient qualities of the EF mount lens that house owners of the older optic who’re switching to mirrorless will wish to see how effectively the EF lens focuses on the RF digital camera earlier than contemplating RF mount. Whereas this lens doesn’t provide any dramatic new applied sciences, Canon is including extra full-frame mirrorless tremendous telephotos at a quicker charge than Nikon or Sony.

Tech Specs

LensRentals lists the next specs:

  • Angle of View: 6°
  • Aperture Blades: 9
  • Autofocus: Autofocus
  • Model: Canon
  • Compatibility: Full Body
  • Diameter: 6.4”
  • Filter Dimension: 52.0mm
  • Focal Size: 400.0-400.0
  • Teams/Parts: 13/17
  • Hood Included: Sure
  • Picture Stabilization: Sure
  • Merchandise Sort: Lens
  • Size: 14.4”
  • Lens Sort: Tremendous telephoto
  • Max Aperture: 2.8
  • Most Magnification: 0.17x
  • Mfr. Mannequin Quantity: 5053C002
  • Minimal Aperture: 22.0
  • Minimal Focusing Distance: 8.2 toes
  • Mount: Canon RF
  • Tripod Collar: Detachable and Rotating
  • Weight: 6.4 lbs.


I examined the Canon RF 400mm f2.8 alongside the RF 600mm f4 lens. The 2 lenses are ergonomically comparable, with the 400mm being a bit shorter and lighter, buying and selling the shorter focal size for a brighter aperture. As a result of the 2 lenses have the same management scheme, alternating between them is simple. However, with the load of the 2 lenses, carrying each directly isn’t straightforward.

The Canon RF 400mm f2.8 looks like a cannon (lowercase C, three Ns). It’s a 14.4-inch lens that weighs virtually 6.5 kilos. Handholding this lens was a exercise; I used to be exhausted on the finish of my hike. It’s attainable to handhold due to the built-in stabilization, however when it’s sensible, a monopod will make capturing extra gratifying.

On the prime of the lens simply after the silver detailing by the mount, two silver buttons press in to tug out a drop-in filter. This permits the lens to take 52mm filters, since becoming the big entrance of the lens with a filter could be impractical. 

Simply beneath the drop-in filter is the primary financial institution of management switches, resting inside attain of the left hand. The highest change is the AF to MF change. This lens additionally has a PF mode, which makes use of the smaller ring on the entrance of the lens for energy focusing: a function geared in direction of video due to the quicker, smoother transitions. Beneath that’s the focus limiter change.

Persevering with out from the mount, the subsequent a part of the lens is the tripod collar. A twist knob loosens the collar, permitting it to regulate to shoot vertically. The bottom of the collar has two tripod mounting screws, together with a grippy texture for utilizing the collar to assist the load of the lens when capturing handheld.

The second financial institution of management switches is twice the dimensions of the primary. On the prime are two switches for the stabilization system. The primary has three totally different stabilization modes; the second turns stabilization on and off. A set button separates the highest two switches from the underside two. This button units the totally different focus positions when utilizing the main target preset function on the entrance ring. The following change turns the main target preset off, on, or on with sound. The ultimate change adjusts the pace of the guide focus ring.

The Canon RF 400mm f2.8 has two rings. The big, grippy black ring adjusts guide focus. The thinner textured white ring is the facility focus and focus preset change. Relying on the settings on the switches, this ring can be utilized to rapidly commute between two pre-set focal distances, or as an influence focus ring. The 400mm lens appears prefer it has a 3rd ring within the footage — however that closing ring of black is simply added grip. 4 evenly-spaced buttons round this ring can be utilized to quickly pause autofocusing.

The entrance of the lens is generally glass, with none broad plastic edging. It exhibits off a nine-blade aperture inside.

Due to the dimensions and value of this lens, it doesn’t ship with the standard equipment. As an alternative of a plastic lens cap, it features a comfortable, padded slipcover. The lens additionally ships with a superb bag that accommodates the dimensions of the lens and makes use of a single sling strap for carrying the lens in your again. It is a good function since few digital camera baggage are made to accommodate such a big lens.

Construct High quality

The Canon RF 400mm f2.8 is heavy sufficient with out being a steel lens. However, the barrel doesn’t really feel like low-cost plastic. It feels strong within the palms — although these palms are a bit too busy managing the load of the lens to understand the texture. 

As a part of the L sequence, this lens is weather-sealed. I gave the lens dousing with a cup filled with water, and every little thing continued to operate usually. The mud and weather-sealing really feel strong.

The a part of the lens that I see carrying out first is the white paint job. I examined a rental lens, and there was some minor put on on the paint across the tripod mount and some different scuffs on the physique. That is all beauty, however noteworthy. 


With fewer items to maneuver a shorter distance, the Canon RF 400mm f2.8 had a greater hit charge than the 600mm lens, which was already wonderful. When birding with this lens, solely round two to 3 % of the pictures had been comfortable. The autofocus motor works on topics as shut as 8.2 toes from the lens, which is great for such a protracted focal size.

There have been a couple of cases the place birds in flight had been too comfortable, most frequently when working with smaller songbirds that don’t take up a lot of the body. On a bigger topic, like my canine working full pace in direction of the digital camera, the autofocus was close to good. The one or two pictures that missed deal with his face acquired his ears and shoulders. I additionally had a couple of stretches of photos the place the main target didn’t transition fairly quick sufficient — the main target limiter change ought to assist with this. However, 98 % of the time, this lens did spectacularly. 

The R3 is Canon’s greatest autofocusing physique for the time being and it’s a fairly spectacular pairing. The animal eye AF on the R3 is one of the best I’ve examined to date. With it, the 400mm was in a position to pick birds from a multitude of branches that may have been tough for many methods to seek out.

For one of the best outcomes, photographers ought to familiarize themselves with this lens sufficient to find the AF limiter change blindly and to learn to use the main target preset function. With that, the RF 400mm will ship a lot extra sharp pictures than comfortable ones.

Ease of Use

The L sequence is made for Professionals, and the controls on the Canon RF 400mm f2.8 mirror that. Photographers might want to spend a while with this lens for seamless use. Studying to seek out the AF limiter change with out pulling the attention from the viewfinder, for instance, will take a while. The switches all have the identical really feel to them, so that is achieved solely by place.

There are a couple of choices on this lens which are sometimes discovered solely on longer luxurious glass. Regardless of having used a number of L sequence lenses, I needed to dig up the directions for utilizing the Focus preset function and be taught what that PF on the main target mode change meant. However, as soon as acquainted, these switches will assist customers get essentially the most out of this lens.

Nonetheless, the trickiest a part of utilizing this lens is its sheer dimension. Pointing and capturing is easy sufficient. However, when it’s a matter of pointing and ready for the topic to do one thing fascinating, the load of the lens makes it tougher to handhold for lengthy stretches. It’s a big sufficient lens that it’s simpler to twist the physique onto the lens somewhat than twist the lens onto the physique.

Picture High quality

The mix of the 400mm focal size and the brilliant f2.8 aperture is bokehlicious. When utilizing that 8.2-foot minimal focus functionality, the background turns into a strong, creamy coloration. The lens is sharp, with just some minor fall off on the corners and there’s little in the best way of chromatic aberration, vignetting, or pincushion distortion.


Goal this lens at one thing with comparable colours, and the background melts away as if shot towards a studio background. The focal size, aperture, and shut focusing capabilities work effectively collectively for comfortable, creamy backgrounds. The topic actually stands out whereas the remainder of the scene has extra depth than lenses with narrower apertures.

Factors of sunshine are largely spherical with comfortable edges. I didn’t spot onion ringing or cleaning soap bubble results. Due to the longer focal size, the bokeh has a decrease tendency to cat-eye in direction of the sides than shorter lenses. The bokeh balls stay largely spherical even in direction of the sides.


Notice: In contrast to the opposite birds, this hawk is in captivity, which made for a bit nearer photos than I used to be capable of seize with wild birds at 400mm.

May Canon have made this lens sharper by ranging from scratch as an alternative of borrowing the optical design of the EF lens? Maybe. However I’m unsure you’d discover it exterior a laboratory setting. The lens is sharp and creates wonderful element. I used to be shocked at how effectively I might see the high-quality particulars on particular person options and the way a lot I used to be capable of crop in in publish. There’s a slight softness to the corners at f2.8, however it’s going to hardly ever be seen out within the area.

Lens Character

There’s little barrel or pincushion distortion right here to select up on. Equally, I didn’t discover any overwhelming chromatic aberration or vignetting. This lens lives as much as the L sequence normal.

Directed in direction of the solar, it produces a comfortable, white flare with lowered distinction. On the proper angle, there’s sometimes a spot of coloured ghosting circles, however not typically.

Colour Rendering

With out many aberrations or coloured flare to struggle, the colours from this lens really feel like an excellent stability between lifelike and wealthy. The JPEGs look wonderful. On the RAW information I selected to edit, I didn’t must mess with odd coloration casts. I edited for fashion, with out feeling the necessity to edit for accuracy.

Additional Picture Samples

From day one, The Phoblographer has been large on transparency with our viewers. Nothing from this evaluate is sponsored. Additional, plenty of people will publish critiques and present plenty of modifying within the photographs. The issue then turns into that anybody and everybody can do the identical factor. They’re not displaying what the lens can do. So we have now a bit in our Additional Picture Samples space to indicate edited and unedited photographs. From this, you may make a call for your self.





  • Backgrounds are easy with nice bokeh.
  • I really like the colour coming from this lens.
  • The autofocus has an awesome hit charge with motion.
  • There are many bodily controls and a spotlight preset ring.
  • It’s a bit extra manageable than the 600mm.


  • Whereas typical for the class, this lens continues to be heavy and huge.
  • The worth makes it a luxurious most can’t afford.
  • The paint exhibits some indicators of wear and tear.

The Canon RF 400mm f2.8 L IS USM is a superb piece of glass. The bokeh is dreamy whereas topics stay sharp. The autofocus has an awesome hit charge even with motion. And the sturdiness and management scheme is made for execs.

Nonetheless, this lens comes at a excessive value. Whereas the 400mm blended and the f2.8 create a depth that’s tough to seek out, it additionally prices a fairly $12K. That value will put it out of attain for hobbyists. Canon additionally borrowed the optics of the EF lenses to make this lens, and I’m wondering if they may have made it smaller in the event that they made extra adjustments. However, for the professionals who can afford the fee and carry the load, the reward is a few dreamy photos filled with depth and element.

I’m giving the Canon RF 400mm f2.8 L IS USM 5 out of 5 stars. Need one? You may decide one up at Adorama or lease one from LensRentals.