Canon Unveils RF 100-300mm f/2.8 L Telephoto Lens

04/20/2023Link18

Canon mirrorless fans, rejoice. The long-awaited RF 100-300mm f/2.8 L IS USM telephoto lens has arrived. The new lens will join only a handful of other telephoto lenses in the RF lineup. It is designed to fill the glaring gap left by the beloved EF 300mm f/2.8 L lens.

RF 100-300 f/2.8 L IS USM
RF 100-300mm f/2.8 L IS USM

A welcome addition to many low-light photographers' kits, the zooming lens maintains a quick f/2.8 aperture throughout the entire 100-300mm range, although first you will have to contend with its hefty price tag. The RF 100-300mm f/2.8 L is listed at $9,499, which at first glance seems high, until you compare it with Canon's RF 400mm f/2.8 L IS USM ($11,999) or the Canon RF 600mm f4 L IS USM ($12,999). Still out of the price range of many hobbyists, the RF 100-300mm f/2.8 L is aimed squarely at the professional (as the L might suggest) luxury market.

One of the most impressive aspects of this lens is its weight. At only 5.8 lb, Canon claims it is "the lightest f/2.8 zoom lens with a 300mm focal length on the market," a venerable option for any Canon shooter trying to lighten their camera bag.

With the Canon luxury branding comes Canon's signature lightning-fast autofocus. Two built-in nano ultra-sonic motors (USMs) can be thanked, in part, for this achievement. The independently actuated USMs allow the lens to focus effortlessly from close-up to infinity. Additionally, the weight and feel of the lens has been improved, reducing stress on your hand and wrist while taking handheld shots.

A focus preset button is also included on the RF 100-300mm f/2.8 L, which allows shooters to focus on a predetermined distance where they expect the action to occur. This is especially useful when photographing wildlife or sports.

Unsurprisingly, the lens is also built exceptionally well. Inside the RF 100-300mm f/2.8 L is one fluorite lens, four ultra-low dispersion (UD) glass elements, a fluorine coating, and a super spectra (SSC) coating to help minimize ghosting and flare. Seals around the mount, switches, and rings prevent dust and moisture from entering the lens and a specially designed fluorine coating prevents grime from sticking to the exterior.

In line with some of Canon's other RF telephoto lenses, the RF 100-300mm f/2.8 L has an impressive five-and-a-half stops of shake correction (which can be bumped up to six stops when paired with an in-body image-stabilized mirrorless body). This is a marked improvement over its predecessor, the EF 300mm f/2.8 L, which maxed out at four stops of stabilization.

Also in line with other telephoto lenses in the RF series, the RF 100-300mm f/2.8 L has a dedicated, programmable control ring on its barrel. This ring effectively acts as a bonus button for the minimalistic EOS bodies and can be programmed to control anything from shutter speed to ISO. This is especially useful for quick adjustments on the fly.

Those looking to enhance the focal length of this lens periodically (at the expense of several f-stops) will be happy to hear that the RF 100-300mm f/2.8 L is compatible with two extenders: the Extender RF 1.4x and Extender RF 2x. These extenders can expand the effective focal length to 140-420mm at f/4 with the Extender RF 1.4x, or to 200-600mm at f/5.6 with the Extender RF 2x.

Extender RF 1.4x
Extender RF 1.4x
Extender RF 2x
Extender RF 2x

While the RF 100-300mm f/2.8 L might be financially out of reach for many photographers, it does indicate a significant step by Canon in fleshing out the RF line. Undoubtedly, the 100-300mm focal range will be a useful addition to the arsenal of many photojournalists, sports and wildlife photographers, but whether these features outweigh the significant cost is up to you.

Feel free to leave questions or comments just below.

Comments

18 Comments

An interesting departure from tradition. Many years ago, the 300mm f/2.8 prime was the showcase optic from both, Canon & Nikon. In fact, it really wasn't until the turn of this century that the 400mm f/2.8 took its place for most photographers in this range. I suspect sales numbers are the reason behind this updated zoom version?? Since I've owned all of the Canon 300mm f/2.8's starting with the New FD 300mm f/2.8L back in the early 80's, and currently have/use the EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II lens today, I know first hand that all have been superb performers. I think changing the 300mm f/2.8 focal length into a zoom version took some guts, as the reputation of the current fixed focal length lens is stellar! I cannot wait to compare this new zoom lens, to the fixed version. Canon has a big shoe to fill (their own) with this new optic. And with the RF price increase built in, it had better be a truly outstanding performer! I hope it is!

Just think... my early 80's New FD 300mm f/2.8L version was ordered manually, over the telephone, with a B&H salesman, for $1545.00 USD. I can still remember him calling the warehouse using a "live intercom-connection" to make sure it was in stock, so I could have "Blue Label" shipping (that's 2nd Day Air UPS today) to my address. Anyone remember those days? Inflation is hell...

The Sigma version, 120-300 2.8 that came out in 2005 was an OK lens, but the Nikon version of this, the 120-300 2.8 was a stellar lens.  Faster focusing than my 200 f/2.0, and sharper than the best Nikon 300 2.8 prime.

The Nikon 120-300 2.8 is my most used lens.  It is a super useful zoom range, and focuses faster than almost every other Nikon lens.

But this Canon lens is 1.4 pounds LIGHTER than the Nikon version, and this one zooms out to 100mm - which is better than the Nikon at 120mm.  This may be a significant advantage for some people.

This will be a great lens for pro sports photographers, and those, who, like me, used to struggle swapping back and forth between the 70-200 2.8 and 300 2.8 prime on two camera bodies.

Those who think this lens expensive may not appreciate the value to a pro of not missing shots while you put down the 70-200 to reach for the 300 prime.

I expect this Canon lens to be very good.

Looks very promising, but at these prices soon the hobyist side of photography will only be a affordable for bankers, doctors and lawyers. 

Hey I resent that. I'm a lawyer and I can't afford these prices!

I like Canon lenses.  But not that much.

...and never will.

BTW: If you have been yearning for a Canon 600mm F4.0, your wait is almost over. I fully expect a 400mm RF 2.8 lens with built in 1.4 X to be in use at next year's Olympics. Nikon's version is already out ($14K). When the Canon version is released, there will be an abundance of used 600 F4.0 lenses for sale (including mine).

I'm sure this will be a stellar lens, but with Topaz Sharpening AI and Gigapixel AI, I will just keep my EF 100-400mm mark ii and learn to be happy with what I have.  Canon should use their new 100-300mm as a colonoscope to self diagnose cranial-anal impaction.

There is a rumor that this lens is shipped without a shade, and the shade is a $650 option. True or false ?

Listing shows the lens hood is in the box. I think Canon caused confusion by listing a replacement hood as an item. I recommend don't loosing the hood, the replacement is not cheap. 

According to Canon USA's website and to the "In The Box" section on our website under the Overview tab, the Canon ET-124 Lens HoodB&H # CAET124 • MFR # 6103C001, is indeed included with the purchase of the Canon RF 100-300mm f/2.8 L IS USM Lens (Canon RF)B&H # CA10030028RF • MFR # 6055C002, as a standard accessory. That being said, if you wish, it may also be purchased separately as a replacement item.

Regardless of features, $9500 is too much for a modern dedicated photographer to stomach with current market conditions and this lens will be either obtainable through rentals or aimed at big agencies.
 

I just don't see how Leica-level pricing will help with RF's popularity.

I agree with you. I have moved from EF to RF, but this lens will never be in my bag. I guess Canon wants to only sell a handful of these lenses. 

They will sell a TON of them.  Learn to MAKE MONEY with your gear and you can have fun toys, too.

This right here. The lens was never aimed at hobbyists. It will easily be one of the most popular lenses at the next Olympics. 

I certainly agree this lens is priced out of range for a lot of people (including me), but it will be a great lens for indoor sports and with teleconverters will be a travel-light marvel. I would expect the dual focus motors will pair up with the R3 dual drive system to create an incredibly fast and accurate focusing system.  As the Canon 400 mm DO IS II with a 2.x teleconverter worked very well with the 1dx II, this 100-300 mm RF lens  should be very good with a 2.x and Canon's pro mirrorless bodies. This renews my appreciation for my Sigma 120-300 MM lens (all 7 pounds of it) which works well with Sigma's 1.4 Teleconverters but is a bit soft with a Sigma 2.x.  That lens can be had used for under $2k and may now get renewed interest. It works on the new Canon mirrorless bodies with the EF to RF adapter and teleconverters can be mounted but the Canon EF TC's are required. I will now be trying the lens with the Canon 2.x TC. 

Love the 120-300 2.8, hadn't tried the 1.4x on it, used 1.4x on the 150-600 Sport, with less than stellar results.  Maybe I will have a use for it after all!  Wasn't listed on the Global site for a while, but was on Sigma USA.  I see B&H officially has it as discontinued. 

Glad I got it on sale for $3099, think it was $3699 MSRP, $9499 is a crazy expensive, don't think I would get my money's worth out of it, limited market pool, would be nice if they could do something for the rest of us, I guess that's what the 100-500 is for? 

They might need to be careful, the lack of 3rd party offerings may drive some of us faithful Canon buyers elsewhere.  I bought the FX-30 in January, the ZV-E1 last month and the ZV-E10 this week for my video needs to pair with the Lumix S5IIX (which may be the best value of my recent camera body purchases).  I finally broke down and purchased the R5 for a trip to the Dolomites this fall, after realizing the R5 II is in a holding pattern, likely exacerbated by the supply chain issues.

 

It'll be too expensive for many and not for many other photographers.  Ultimately I think most purchases will go to private photographers/artists as opposed to agencies/rental houses.  The lens is relatively pricey, but it's not $80k for a simple Phase One IQ4 kit kind of pricey.  I just wish Nikon/Canon would go ahead and add built-in TC/extenders to these kind of lenses from the start.

First of all, if it was Leitz glass it would be $20K or more.  The EF 300mm sold for close to $7000 I believe when I bought mine.  Now they're closer to $6000.  Expensive yes, but worth every penny.  I make money with mine so it's a no-brainer.  For a hobbyist it would be a hard swallow.  Now.... consider that the RF lenses tend to be very sharp and have features like the Control Ring which is very convenient to assign ISO so you can quickly go from darker to lighter scenes and not have to look at a menu or the top of the camera to make an adjustment.  THAT alone, not to mention typically sharper lens in the RF line (more modern computer aided designs) is worth hundreds of bucks to me if not one thousand dollar.  Do you see where I'm going yet?  So an RF 300mm would be worth $7000-8000 to me and I think most other pros. Next... what if you could ditch your 70-200mm 2.8?  You just saved $2500+ for the RF version.  You don't need to buy one or you can sell the one you may already have purchased.  AND you also no longer need the weight and expense of ANOTHER camera body over your shoulder to carry that 70-200mm.  When I shoot events I have 3 bodies on me: one with wide zoom, one with tele zoom, and the third on a monopod with the 300mm fixed.  So now a pro could just carry 2 bodies with lenses.  Way more pleasant to work with and less bling hanging off your shoulders or neck.   And instead of a $7000 fixed super telephotos AND a $2500 70-200mm now I could carry ONE lens that's $9500, saved me from buying or carrying a third body AND lens and it just made my load lighter and my work experience more pleasant and convenient.  So $9500 is NOT expensive when you think about it.