Canon Unveils the RF 800mm and RF 1200mm Super-Telephoto Lenses


There probably isn’t a photographer in the world who hasn’t thought, “If only I could get a bit closer, or have a longer lens, I could get the shot!” Well, Canon has heard your internal monologue and has just rolled out a pair of lenses that put the “super” in super-telephoto: the RF 800mm f/5.6 L IS USM lens, and the RF 1200mm f/8 L IS USM lens for its RF mount mirrorless interchangeable lens camera systems.

RF 800mm f/5.6 L IS USM lens
RF 800mm f/5.6 L IS USM lens
RF 1200mm f/8 L IS USM lens
RF 1200mm f/8 L IS USM lens

Yes, the second lens above has a four-figure focal length, clocking in at 1200mm. Usually the filling-out of the fourth digit on the focal length spec sheet only happens when we talk about superzoom point-and-shoot cameras, mystical mirror lenses of the past, or the legendary and exceedingly rare Canon EF 1200mm f/5.6 L that sells for stratospheric prices. The new Canon RF 1200mm f/8 L IS USM lens is the longest super-telephoto focal length lens available that is built for mirrorless camera systems.

RF 1200mm f/8 L IS USM lens

Both lenses are designed to have exceptional optical qualities. Dressed in the famous Canon white paint, these super-telephotos have fluorite elements, Super UD, and UD (ultra-low dispersion) glass. The lenses are coated with Canon’s SSC (Super Spectra Coating) multi-coating and specialized ASC (Air Sphere Coating) technologies.

The new 800mm f/5.6 and 1200mm f/8 lenses join Canon’s already manned mirrorless stable that includes its premium RF 400mm f/2.8 L IS USM and RF 600mm f/4 L IS USM lenses, as well as more affordable telephoto lenses like the RF 100-400mm f/5.6-8 IS USM and RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1 L IS USM and the super-lightweight RF 600mm f/11 IS STM and RF 800mm f/11 IS STM lenses.

For those who are familiar with exemplary large 400mm and 600mm lenses, the new 800mm and 1200mm will be very familiar in looks, operation, image quality, and weather resistance. In fact, the new lenses are based on the optical designs of their older, but shorter, siblings. Like the 400mm and 600mm, these lenses are designed to be lightweight and truly portable—certainly not something that was always true of lenses of this magnification in the past. The 800mm f/5.6 weighs 6.9 lb and is 17" long with an additional 6.5" with the lens hood—barely heavier than the 400mm f/2.8. The new 1200mm f/8 weighs only 7.4 lb and is 21.1" in length with an 8" lens hood. For comparison, the Canon EF 1200mm weighed 36 lb and was almost 3' long.

Close focusing is an awesome trait to have in a super-telephoto lens, and these two new Canons do not disappoint in that area, either. The 800mm close-focuses to 8.53' (0.34x magnification) and the 1200mm focuses as close as 14.1' (0.29x magnification). The OIS stabilization systems give the 800mm 4.5 stops of compensation, and the 1200mm, 4 stops. Presently, these lenses cannot combine with the current EOS R3, R5, or R6 internal stabilization systems for Coordinated IS.

Sample Images: RF 800mm f/5.6 L IS USM lens 

Sample Images: RF 1200mm f/8 L IS USM lens

Need a longer reach? Both lenses are compatible with the Canon Extender RF 1.4x and RF 2.0x teleconverters that transform the 800mm into an 1120mm or 1600mm lens and the 1200mm into a 1680mm or 2400mm optic.

These two new Canon long-reach powerhouses will certainly find a home in the kit lockers of photographers and videographers looking for that extra range in the realm of sports, wildlife, commercial, journalism, and other specialty applications.

What are your thoughts about these two new optics from Canon? Are you excited to see them? Let us know in the Comments section, below!



What monopod were you using in the demo video?

How different is the new 1200mm from an RF 600mm f/4 with a 2x converter or an EF 600mm f/4 with 2x and EF-RF converter?

It should be the same, but unfortunately there's some image degradation when a converter is used. 

I would expect it to perform slightly better, though it will be very similar. As the new RF 1200mm has all of the elements in a single design that can result in slightly improved optical performance. 

Someone should put a 2x tele on the 1200mm lens (2400 friggen' mm) this is insane!

Hey Darwin,

I am 1000% that is going to happen as soon as this lens hits the shelves!

Thanks for reading!