Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM Lens Review (Podcast 717)

Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM Lens Review (Podcast 717)


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I picked up my Canon RF 100-500mm F/4.5-7.1 L lens on August 27, the day it was released into the wild, and I’ve spent the last few days putting it through its paces, although the oppressive Tokyo heat has held me back to a degree. I like to ensure that my gear is insured before using it outside, as I’ve actually dropped a camera body in a river before, and don’t want to take any chances, so I had to get that sorted out first but then waited for it to cool down a little on Friday the 28th, before heading out to the river down the road from where I live to see what I could find.

We’ll take a look at some of my photos shortly, but first I’d like to touch on some of the key points of this wonderful new lens from Canon. First of all, the biggest change for a lens with this positioning is, of course, the increase in the zoom range, from 400mm to 500mm. It was this new increased range that made me decide to sell my 200-400mm lens with the 1.4X Extender built-in, as well as financial considerations. With business being the way it is right now, I simply couldn’t have afforded to make all of the recent changes I’ve made without setting that beast of a lens, but I honestly don’t think it’s necessary anymore, with this new offering in my kit bag.

Canon RF 100-500mm Compared with EF 100-400mm Mark II Lens
Canon RF 100-500mm Compared with EF 100-400mm Mark II Lens

I photographed the R5 with the 100-400mm on it the day before I part exchanged the 100-400mm for the 100-500mm, and I left my tripod out and marked the background paper so that I could place the 100-500mm on the right, and shoot a second shot to merge together for comparison. You can see that the RF lens is slightly smaller than the EF lens with the Control Ring Adapter. Despite the extra 100mm reach, the RF 100-500mm is 1,370g without the tripod ring, compared to 1,530g for the EF 100-400mm lens, also without the tripod ring, so the 100-500mm is 160g lighter and slightly shorter than the 100-400mm, although Canon is claiming a 200g difference for some reason.

Extender Zoom Restrictions

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, the only slightly negative aspect of the 100-500mm is that it is restricted to a widest focal length of 300mm when used with either of the new RF mount Extenders. As you can see in the following image, the rubber-coated lens element protruding out of the Extenders prevents the back element of the lens from moving to back to its full extent. This means that instead of a 200-1000mm lens with the 2X Extender, we get a 600-1000mm lens, and with the 1.4X Extender, we’re looking at a 420-700mm lens. This does reduce the versatility of the lens when combined with the Extenders and was a bit of a disappointment, but this is the first time that the shorter distance between the back of the lens and the sensor has added a negative aspect to Canon’s RF Mount and Mirrorless line-up.

2X Extender and Back of RF 100-500mm Lens
2X Extender and Back of RF 100-500mm Lens

Although this should have been obvious, I also didn’t really think about the fact that the lens would be locked in an extended position while the Extenders are fitted. Here are two photos, one with each Extender fitted, showing the shortest focal length that the lens can be pulled back to with each of the Extenders. I’m also still trying to find out if there is a mechanical stopper that prevents the lens from going under 300mm or if the Extender is physically butting up against that back element. I’m hoping there is a mechanical stopper, as that would make me more comfortable stowing the lens away with the Extender fitted, but if it’s elements bashing together, I would not be comfortable putting this combination into my bag.

These are my only concerns though, and I’ll certainly live with this for the versatility of this lens. Having the ability to shoot at up to 1000mm with such a small system is very welcome.

One last physical difference between the RF 100-500mm and the EF 100-400mm lens is that the hood is now white, so it matches the body of the lens much better, and although purely cosmetic, the case that comes with the 100-500mm has also switched from white to black. I think I would have preferred white simply because it doesn’t get as warm as a black case in strong sunlight, but for me, I actually never use the case anyway. I pretty much always just put the lens into my camera bag, or sling it over my shoulder attached to a camera, as long as I don’t have to walk on a slippy surface.

Canon RF 100-500mm Lens with Hood and Case
Canon RF 100-500mm Lens with Hood and Case

Aperture Decrease Points

As you’ll have noticed from the name of the lens, the widest available aperture gradually decreases as you zoom the lens. Starting at f/4.5 at 100mm, this drops to f/5.0 at 150mm, then f/5.6 at 280mm, F/6.3 at 370mm and the smallest aperture of f/7.1 starts from 460mm and, of course, remains at 7.1 up to the maximum focal length of 500mm. The widest aperture available at 300mm is f/5.6 and this remains in place with the Extenders fitted, so the widest available aperture with the RF 1.4X Extender fitted is f/8, with an effective focal length of 420mm, and that transitions through f/9 to f/10 once you zoom to the maximum effective focal length of 700mm. With the RF 2X Extender fitted, you get f/11, dropping to f/14 as the widest aperture at the longest focal length of 1000mm.

The Moon

The image quality is pretty much unchanged with no real visible degradation when working with the Extenders. Here is a photograph of the Moon shot on a humid summer night here in Tokyo, so there was a large halo around the Moon, but the photo is still nice and sharp. This is quite heavily cropped, down to an image of around 17 megapixels, so that you can see and appreciate the detail. I increased the ISO to 1250 for this shot with a shutter speed of 1/160 of a second at f/14, which is the widest aperture available at 1000mm.

The Moon at 1000mm
The Moon at 1000mm

This was actually the last outdoor test shot that I made to share with you, so let’s back-pedal a little now and I’ll walk you through a number of images that I was able to get as I tried to put this lens through its paces. Unfortunately, the oppressive heat of Tokyo at this time of year, and the fact that we are having a bit of a heatwave on top of that, has meant that both the wildlife and me couldn’t spend much time in the sun. The day after I got the lens, I took it up to the river a 10-minute walk from my apartment, hoping to see some Black Eared Kites, and maybe also some Egret, but it turned out to be a case of Mad-Dogs and Englishman. I was the only living being out there, except from one Egret that came to the river for a drink, and then promptly flew away again. It was on the far bank, so even at 1000mm was too far to photograph with any impact.

I shot some insects, all with the 2X Extender and the lens at its full extent of 1000mm. These aren’t great, because of the surroundings, but it will give you an idea of the image quality and show that this lens can actually be used in the macro range, so first, here is a butterfly shot.

Cabbage White Butterfly
Cabbage White Butterfly

Here also is a Dragonfly, also at 1000mm, and the detail at the base of its wings is absolutely stunning, even when using the 2X Extender and the lens at full extent. I didn’t expect to see any real image degradation when using these Extenders with the 100-500mm, but it’s certainly nice to get that confirmed first hand.

Dragonfly
Dragonfly

Scraping the barrel a little, here is a shot of a Water Strider insect, that I actually don’t dislike. It’s great to see the water bending under the weight of the Strider, but also be able to see how the surface tension is keeping him afloat. Again, shot at 1000mm and has beautiful image quality. These shots were all made hand-held by the way. Also, don’t forget that you can click on the images to open them up in the Lightbox and view the shooting information below the image.

Water Strider
Water Strider

Fledgling Barn Swallows

After a few hours, I was drenched in sweat and needed to leave to avoid getting heatstroke, but then as I got to my apartment, I noticed three Barn Swallow fledglings on the telegraph wire over a stream that runs by the building. Their parents were busily catching beaks full of bugs from over the stream and then flew back to the fledglings who, although already larger than their parents, opened their mouths wide to accept the buggy meal before the parent flew off to catch some more. Here is a photo as the parent swallow flies away and the fledgling tries to swallow its new mouthful of bugs.

Barn Swallow Parent Flying Away After Feeding Fledgling
Barn Swallow Parent Flying Away After Feeding Fledgling

I was impressed with the way the autofocus of EOS R5 and 100-500mm lens stayed with the parent as they dropped down off the telegraph wire and started to fly away. You can see that the fledgling is already out of focus in this shot. I’ve been asked about the smaller aperture compared to the 100-400mm, but really, the depth of field is so shallow at these focal lengths that you have to be stopped down to get anything sharp anyway, so it really isn’t a problem. I am cranking up the ISO quite a bit though to get these shots. Although this was shot at ISO 6400 and a shutter speed of 1/3200 a second, as it got darker and I increased my shutter speed I ended up shooting at 12800 ISO as well, but the images all still look pretty good.

Dragonflies In Flight

The following day, I visited a local botanical garden’s water-plant zone, hoping to photograph some Kingfisher, but it’s too hot for them again, as we go through a particularly hot spell, so once again there wasn’t really any bird action for me to shoot. As I waited for the Kingfisher that would ultimately not show, I realized that there were enough dragonflies buzzing around to try my hand at photographing them in flight. I’ve tried this a number of times in the past, and could never focus on them.

At first, I left my autofocus settings the same as those which I showed you in my video showing my settings that I included in the Canon EOS R5 review, but trying to use a single focus point to focus on a small insect flying erratically and always completely out of focus because of the shallow depth of field, was simply not possible. I quickly tried using a cluster of focus points but was instantly reminded of why I dislike this autofocus mode, and it was still not possible to focus, so I pulled all the way back to full Auto, where the camera decides what to focus on. You don’t have any visible focus points to start with.

EOS R5 Autofocus Settings for the Dragonfly
EOS R5 Autofocus Settings for the Dragonfly

So, in this photo of my settings screen, which you’ll find under menu AF5, you see the setting that I usually use highlighted in light blue and the Auto setting that I selected for the Dragonfly selected with the pink border here. I went straight back to my usual setting afterward, and that’s why I also registered this setting in My Menu, so that I can quickly get back to it as and when necessary.

I got a number of shots of the Dragonfly in flight, but here are a few that I’m particularly happy with, and once again, I’ve never been able to get this kind of shot in the past, so I put this down to the EOS R5’s improved autofocus and the speed at which the RF 100-500mm can focus, even with the 1.4X Extender fitted, which is what I was using to shoot these images. Note though that I did have to pull back a little to give myself a chance to get this guy in the frame, so the effective focal length was actually 480mm, so I could have removed the 1.4X Extender for this shot.

Lesser Emperor Dragonfly in Flight
Lesser Emperor Dragonfly in Flight

I love how this looks like an X-Wing out of Star Wars! Also note that the pale blue background of this shot is water, not the sky, and that is why you can perhaps make out some small round lighter areas. These are sunlight reflecting off the water but really out of focus.

Here is a second shot of the Lesser Emperor Dragonfly, this time over a textured background of the foliage reflected in the water. I’m completely impressed that the EOS R5 and 100-500mm lens are able to pick out and focus on a very fast and erratically moving dragonfly the way that it did.

Lesser Emperor Dragonfly in Flight Over Reflected Foliage
Lesser Emperor Dragonfly in Flight Over Reflected Foliage

So, no bird shots other than the Swallow image which doesn’t really count, but I’ll keep trying and report back as time allows. I’m sure you’ll agree though that as a test of the autofocus capabilities, these last few shots are pretty impressive.

No More Stroboscopic Subjects!

One thing that I promised to report back on in my EOS R5 review is how much smoother the electronic viewfinder is for real-life subjects, because the EOS R, even with the best settings I was able to find, used to present you with a kind of stroboscopic view of the subjects when shooting in bursts, and at times it made it difficult to track moving subjects. Well, I’m happy to report that this is no longer a problem. With the Electronic shutter, there is no interruption in the signal. It’s so smooth it’s actually difficult to tell that you are exposing frames at all. And with the mechanical shutter, it’s still very smooth. I can’t recall ever seeing the shutter in motion as I shot over the last few days.

The White-Tailed Skimmer Video

The various ponds at the garden I visited attract the White-Tailed Skimmer Dragonfly in larger numbers than the Lesser Emperor that I got the flight photos of. The Skimmers are pretty common here and I believe are gradually spreading as far west from Japan as Eastern Europe. They tend to hang around on the stems of reeds quite a lot, so as a test of the 120 frames per second 4K video, I grabbed a number of minutes of footage, all shot hand-held although I was often resting on posts and things, but at mostly 700mm, I was very impressed with the stability of the video.

From what I have been able to find on the web, it would seem that the RF 100-500mm gets around 5 stops of image stabilization from the lens and in-body image stabilization, but this footage looks better than that, although that’s probably because it was shot at 120 fps, so you’re only seeing 25% of the camera shake that was introduced anyway.

Note too that I had not realized that you can’t record audio when shooting at 120 frames per second, and I did not have any audio equipment with me, so you’ll have to put up with my new track “Nostalgia” as the backing the music. This is the same music that I started using in the podcast a few weeks ago, but the full version, because the length of the track perfectly matched the length of the video that I ended up with.

A Word of Caution

One thing that I would like to mention before we move on, is that I found that sometimes with very fast moving close-by subjects, that I had to drop back to the 1.4X Extender just to be able to frame the subject. I’m pretty good at aligning my camera when zoomed to 400 or 500mm, as you’ll have noticed from my tightly frame sea eagle shots that I share each year, but things like the dragonflies flitting around were very difficult to frame up, even with the 1.4X Extender. The 2X Extender will probably be more suited for more distant subjects, simply because we then get more depth of field, so you can see the scene better to focus, and the amount of the scene in your frame increases as the distance to subject increases.

Thankfully though, because the R5 is 45 megapixels, we also have a little more freedom to crop, which helps with small or distant subjects that don’t fill the frame. For larger birds, like the Red-Crowned Cranes and Sea Eagles that I love to shoot, I am really looking forward to working with them with just the 100-500mm but do also sometimes need a bit more reach when the cranes are a way off, so the Extenders will come in useful then too. Basically, the Extenders are necessary, and a welcome addition, but I want you to be aware that it sure can become a lot of lens to try to frame up a close-by, and with fast moving subject.

Resolution Test Chart Shots

To finish, I’ll share a number of shots of a resolution test chart at some of the key focal lengths and apertures, both with and without the Extenders. The results of these tests are now so good with Canon RF lenses that I’m almost ready to just stop including this test in my review, but I think it’s still worth it, just to prove how good the resolution of this system is across the range, and especially when using Extenders. I’ve included details of the focal length, aperture and extender in the caption for this image, so click on them to open them in the Lightbox to see for yourself.

Also note that I was only able to include the full chart up to around 600mm due to lack of space in my studio, so the image does get larger as I add extenders and zoom etc. Note too that I have cropped out the center of the test shots at 100% so that you can see the detail. Including a resized version of the entire image would not show you anything other than what the chart looks like.

Chromatic Aberration from 700mm

I did notice a little bit of Chromatic Aberration creeping in in the corner of the image from around 700mm with the 1.4X Extender and when using the 2X Extender. This is only in the corners, and even without a lens profile, the Chromatic Aberration Lens Correction in Capture One Pro removes this instantly, so it’s not something to worry about. This screenshot is from the top left corner of the 1000mm f/14 photograph, shot with the 2X Extender, but as you can see it disappears with lens correction Chromatic Aberration turned on.

Removing Chromatic Aberration
Removing Chromatic Aberration

OK, so I think we’ll start to wrap it up there for now. I will report back as I continue to shoot with both the R5 and the 100-500mm lens. At this point, it’s still not clear whether my Winter tours will be able to proceed or not next year, and we are still being asked to stay in Tokyo, because we have a higher concentration of corona virus patients than other prefectures, but as soon as these restrictions are lifted, I’ll jump in my car and get somewhere that has some decent wildlife and jump back into this.

Conclusion

As with the EOS R5 that I also reviewed recently, the 100-500mm lens is probably one of the best lenses that Canon has ever made. It’s not perfect, with a touch of Chromatic Aberration when using the Extenders, and being locked at a widest focal length of 300mm when using the Extenders isn’t ideal either, but for the image quality and versatility that it does bring, I can absolutely live with these tiny inconveniences.

I would like to say in closing, that I have never been happier to be a Canon user. I realize that there are other systems out there that are making good advances as well, but my preference has always been Canon, and that makes it a natural progression to stay with them, but I do get a chance to look at other systems on my workshops, and I can honestly say that none of them are as attractive to me as Canon’s current line-up.

As I also mentioned in my recent EOS R5 review, I believe that it is the best camera Canon has ever made, and the RF 100-500mm is an amazing addition to the line-up. It’s sharp, hand-holdable with a huge range, and with the RF Extenders gives me enough reach that I will simply never regret having to part with my 200-400mm lens to help with the purchase. I have a second EOS R5 on order, although I hear it may be months now before that arrives.

When I consider that my gear bag will comprise of just three lenses and two bodies and two Extenders now to get me from 15 to 1000 mm, it makes traveling, both logistically and physically, so much easier than just 7 or 8 years ago. For wildlife work back then I was lugging around two full-sized bodies with vertical grips, a 14mm lens, a 16-35mm lens, and a 24-105mm lens, and then the 70-200mm f/2.8 lens and Extenders, and a 300mm f/2.8 and a 600mm f/4 lens. My bag weighed a ton and with the tightened weight restrictions on international flights now, there is no way I’d get all of that overseas, and I honestly don’t think I could carry it all now anyway, definitely not for a full day. So, a huge thumbs up on this latest influx of gear from Canon!

If you are still concerned about jumping to a mirrorless camera system, don’t be. The R5 no longer handles like a Mirrorless camera. This is what I was holding off for, for the past five years or so. The EOS R was a great introduction, and it was the RF mount that got me sold on that camera and starting me selling my EF lenses. Now, the system is perfect, and in almost every respect now better than the DSLRs I’ve owned over the years.

Affiliate Links

As always, if you have found the information I shared here useful, please consider using our affiliate links below when placing your order from B&H Photo. Also, note that no third party has provided any gear to enable me to write this review. I bought everything I have mentioned today with my own hard-earned yen, and everything that I have relayed to you is my own unbiased opinion.

Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1L IS USM Lens – https://mbp.ac/100-500

Canon EOS R5 Body – https://mbp.ac/EOSR5

Canon LP-E6NH Battery – https://mbp.ac/lp-e6nh

Canon EOS RF 24-105mm f/4L Lens – https://mbp.ac/rf24-105

Canon RF 50mm f1.2L USM Lens – https://mbp.ac/RF50mm
Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM Lens – https://mbp.ac/15-35

The Moon Video

A few days after I released this review, I made the time to pull together the video footage that I shot of the Moon at 8K but downsampled to 4K for the video, and I quickly created a backing track. By quickly, I mean, it’s a 12:30 track, and it took me about 13:30 to create, but it’s better than silence, I hope. Anyway, go full screen on this and enjoy the detail in the Moon. Note that some of the juddering of the moon is from heat shimmer, but there is also a little movement in our apartment, and the camera moves slightly as I stepped off of our balcony to go and grab a shower while the video ran.


Show Notes

Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1L IS USM Lens – https://mbp.ac/100-500

Dragonfly video: https://vimeo.com/452959987

Music by Martin Bailey


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The Canon RF Revolution – More Gear Changes Than Ever Before (Podcast 712)

The Canon RF Revolution – More Gear Changes Than Ever Before (Podcast 712)


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Canon has started taking orders for the EOS R5 and a wealth of other gear, and it will result in me changing more gear in such a short space of time than ever before, so today I’m going to explain my strategy and expectations for the future. The EOS R5 was first announced around six months ago, with Canon uncharacteristically publishing a news release about the fact that they were developing this camera and a number of other lenses including a new 100-500mm RF lens.

If you’ve been following my blog or podcast for the last few years, you’ll already know that I am all in on Canon’s mirrorless camera range, but I’ll step back a little further and explain what changed, and why I have been so happy to make this shift, and then move on to why I’m really looking forward to the R5 and how my gear bag will completely transform over the next two months. I’ll also talk about how I’m essentially doing this with virtually no additional expenditure, although that is mostly due to past investment, and not some magic formula that I’ve stumbled across.

Why Canon Mirrorless?

First, let’s talk about why I’m all in with the Canon RF Mirrorless system. You’ll probably agree that Canon came late to the mirrorless camera market, and I have to tell you, that around the time they released the Canon EOS 5Ds R, I was seriously considering jumping ship to Sony. Sony has and continues to really push the boundaries with mirrorless and have probably been a big factor in finally forcing Canon to pull their thumb out of their aperture. The high resolution and image quality of the 5Ds R were enough to keep me loyal though, and since its release in the summer of 2015, I was in many ways totally happy with my gear, and my decision to stay with Canon.

I took great pleasure in blowing all of the myths about the 5Ds R out of the water, using it hand-held at low shutter speeds and high ISOs, and for most major genres, including wildlife, which no-one thought this camera was capable of. Even my friends at Canon told me that they weren’t necessarily 100% happy with what I was publishing, because they didn’t think that everyone could pull as much out of the 5Ds R as I could, but for me, that just made me even happier to do what I was doing.

When the EOS R was announced almost two years ago, I initially pretty much ignored it, mostly because I was in gear nirvana. I was so happy with the gear that I owned that I just didn’t have my antenna out looking for anything other than a higher resolution 5Ds R. But then I stumbled across a technical document about the RF mount, and after a few minutes looking at that, I realized that Canon had done what they needed to do to not only get into the mirrorless game but to put a foundation in place to help them lead it. It was also obvious to me at that point, that Canon wasn’t playing at this. They’d developed a mount that would take their camera system into a new era.

The RF mount has more electronic contacts, helping them to do more with the lens, like the addition of the Control Ring, which I love having mapped to my ISO, but the biggest change was that the RF mount puts the back of the lens just 20mm from the sensor. Compared to 44mm with the EF mount, because they needed room for the mirror, the light coming out of the back of the lens has less distance to travel and therefore doesn’t spread out as much, which of course, leads to sharper images.

Not to say that the images from my old EF lenses were bad in any way, but as I showed in my 5Ds R and EOS R Printoff post, a 30-megapixel image from the EOS R with the RF 24-105mm lens could be printed larger than a 50-megapixel image with the EF 24-105mm lens. I also have a quick test shot to share later from the new RF 15-35mm f/2.8 lens that absolutely blew me away with regards to edge sharpness on such a wide-angle lens.

EOS R Not Perfect, But…

I saw Canon’s future in that one document about the RF lens mount, and it gave me enough confidence to sell one of my 5Ds R bodies, and replace it with my first EOS R at the end of 2018. On my Hokkaido Landscape Tour & Workshop, I found the first problem with the EOS R that would hamper my photography a number of times over the course of the next year, and that was the tendency for the electronic viewfinder to fog up if the camera got wet. It didn’t seem to be a problem when it was really cold, but in temperatures floating around freezing point, it was a pain.

As I got stuck into faster-paced shooting on my Japan Wildlife Tours in 2019, even with the settings adjusted to give the best possible performance of the electronic viewfinder, I found that I was always looking at a stroboscopic view of the subject as I released the shutter in burst mode, and although I got used to it after a day or so, it would occasionally cost me a few frames. These two issues were really the only issues though, and I could work around both and was in general very happy with the EOS R. So much so that I quickly replaced my second 5Ds R with a second EOS R, and sold my EF 24-105mm lens. I also sold my EF 85mm f/1.4 lens and replaced it with the RF 50mm f/1.2 lens, which is absolutely stunning!

No Newly Developed EF Lenses

I was all-in and confident that Canon was on the right track, and then they announced that they will not be developing any new EF lenses, to enable them to concentrate of the RF line-up, and I did a few mental fist-pumps, as this proved to me that my hunches had been spot-on. The RF mount is the future of Canon. Canon’s lens mounts over almost a century of camera manufacturing have mostly lasted around ten years each, until the EF mount which was released in 1987, and lasted over thirty years. Although there will be no new EF lenses developed, they’ll still be manufactured for a while to support current customers, so the EF era isn’t necessarily over, but with the RF mount coming onto the scene in 2018, it makes me wonder if it’s going to outrun the EF lineup. If it does, the RF mount will probably outlive me too, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Looking Ahead

So, that’s the background, now let’s talk about what’s coming soon, and my strategy to move pretty much all of my work over to RF glass and the new EOS R5 which will be hitting the streets in about a week’s time. The biggest change that I’ve just executed, although I decided that this would be what I’d do in January this year, is that I have just sold my 200-400mm lens, with the built-in 1.4X Extender. I loved that lens, but want to talk about the reasons for letting it go.

First and foremost, is that since Canon released the updated 100-400mm lens in the summer of 2016, I actually really only used the 200-400mm for the Red-Crowned Cranes, owls and foxes on my Japan Winter Wildlife Tours. Even for the rest of this tour I almost exclusively used the 100-400mm, so we are talking around 4 to 5 days of use per year, and that really isn’t enough to warrant keeping it. For my other wildlife work, such as Namibia, and all other trips that I do, the 100-400mm was the longest lens that I took along.

That is the main reason for letting it go, making up around 70% of the incentive, with around 29% of the remainder being a financial incentive. With the virus hitting my business pretty hard, I simply cannot afford to buy all of the new gear that is coming along without selling something, and I was able to get the equivalent of around $6,000 US for my six and a half-year-old lens, and along with the money I got for one of my EOS R bodies, will pay for both the EOS R5 and the new 100-500mm lens which is scheduled for release in September.

The other change which I have made just last week is that I have sold my EF 11-24mm f/4 lens, along with my Mark III 1.4X and 2X Extenders, and they came to around $15 more than I needed to pick up the RF 15-35mm f/2.8 lens, which has actually been on the market for around six months already. I have been planning to make this change for a while, but because I wasn’t in a position to also sell the Extenders, I held off until now. And if you are wondering what I’m going to do for extenders now, well, I actually had around $1,600 of points from selling the second of my 5Ds R bodies, and that neatly covers the cost of the two new RF mount Extenders which are also being released in around a week’s time.

Extender Zoom Restrictions

With the 100-500mm a couple of months out, the Extenders will have no lens to attach them to for a while, but I’ll report on how these work with the 100-500mm as soon as I get a chance to shoot with them in September. One relatively large disappointment with this combination is that the 100-500 lens is restricted to a 300mm widest focal point when used with the new Extenders.

Looking at the design, it’s obvious that the protruding elements of the Extenders prevent the back element of the lens from moving to their full extent, so instead of a 200-1000mm lens with the 2X Extender, we get a 600-1000mm lens, and with the 1.4X Extender, we’re looking at a 420-700mm lens. This does reduce the versatility of the lens when combined with the Extenders, but this is, at this point, the first time that the shorter distance to the sensor has added a negative aspect to Canon’s RF Mount and Mirrorless line-up. I’ll live with it, and having the ability to shoot at up to 1000mm with such a small system will be very welcome too.

The Final Upcoming Change

To round out all of my planned changes, I will actually sell the EF 100-400mm and my second EOS R body in September, when the 100-500mm is released, and expect that the money I get for those two items will get me pretty close to what I need to buy a second EOS R5. I really like shooting with two identical bodies, and I know for a fact that once I start shooting with the R5, taking my EOS R as a second body will really mean that unless the R5 broke, the second body would hardly get used. It’s not that the EOS R is a bad camera. I really do like that camera, but I know how my mind works, and when there are benefits to be reaped from using something else, I generally go with that.

I recall being in Iceland around six years ago with my 5D Mark III and a 1 DX body and killed my 5D Mark III in the rain to prove a point, and I hated the fact that I had to drop down from 22 megapixels to 18 for the few days that it took for my 5D to come back to life. That was me worrying over just 4 megapixels, so I know that a drop of 15 megapixels from the R5 to the EOS R will be too great for my simple mind to handle.

A Tribute to the 200-400mm Lens

I can’t say that I am all smiles regarding these changes. I will miss the 200-400mm and 11-24mm lenses. These two lenses are absolutely amazing and have been a pleasure to own. In the past, I’ve done entire posts as tributes to lenses that I’ve had to let go. I just opened Capture One Pro and started looking through my 200-400mm shots hoping to find just one that I could share and say, this is my favorite! But that plan went out of the window in just a few minutes. I managed to whittle it down to a selection of 10 images though, so I’ll drop those into an album in case anyone is interested.

I was reminded too, as I looked through these images, how liberating it was to switch from the 600mm f/4 and 300mm f/2.8 to just the one lens, and the zoom and built-in extender made it incredibly versatile. I also remember though that in the few years before Canon releasing the Mark II 100-400mm lens, I would routinely hand-hold the 200-400mm on the boat photographing the sea eagles.

That Missing 1%

I also just recalled that I didn’t tell you what the last 1% of my reason for selling the 200-400mm lens was. Well, it was because as wonderful as it was to have that 1.4X Extender built right into the lens, there were a number of times in fast-paced shooting when I’d lose shots through being indecisive about the timing of flipping that switch. Of course, having to take the lens off the camera to add an external extender takes much longer, but when it’s fitted, or not fitted, you generally run with it until the action stops. There’s less to be indecisive about.

A Tribute to the 11-24mm Lens

I did the same exercise with images from my 11-24mm lens, and actually found it harder to whittle down my initial selection of 41 images to just ten, but here again, is an album of my favorite ten images with this lens. I know I’m a big softy, but I enjoy looking back and taking a moment to pay tribute to the gear that has helped me to capture what I consider to be some of my best work.

There will be times when I miss that 4mm that I’m losing by switching from the 11-24mm to a 15-35mm lens, but I can’t say I’ll miss having to take the lens off my camera to put a piece of cut gelatin ND filter into the filter holder on the back of the 11-24mm lens, and then try to get it back on the camera without moving the focus or zoom rings, because with heavy filters, even by increasing the ISO, I couldn’t see to compose and focus with the filter attached. But otherwise, I’ll certainly miss the 11-24mm.

RF 15-35mm f/2.8 Lens First Impressions

Having literally only shot a handful of images with the RF 15-35mm f/2.8 L IS USM Lens at this point, I’m not really in a position yet to do a full review, but I did want to share a few images in a First Impressions style update. The first thing that hit me as I took the 15-35mm lens out of its box is that it’s bigger than I anticipated, but being an f/2.8 lens, and a sturdily built L lens, I guess I should have expected that, and it certainly isn’t a problem.

EF 11-24mm (left) and RF 15-35mm (right)
EF 11-24mm (left) and RF 15-35mm (right)

I lose 4mm on the wide end of the focal length zoom range and gain 11mm on the long end, and it will be nice to once again have a little overlap with my 24-105mm lens, which makes it more versatile. Here is a photo of the two lenses together, to give you an idea of their difference in size and shape. Note that the 15-35mm lens is slightly closer to the camera so that I could focus on the text of both lenses, and that might make the 15-35mm lens look slightly larger by comparison. At 840g though, the 15-35mm is a welcome 340g lighter than the 11-24mm lens, and dimensions-wise it’s 20mm smaller in diameter, and 5mm shorter in height.

EF 11-24mm (left) and RF 15-35mm (right)
EF 11-24mm (left) and RF 15-35mm (right)

Before I boxed up the 11-24mm lens to send to the shop that I’d bought the 15-35mm lens from in part-exchange, I placed the 50mm lens on the table, and from approximately the same distance, shot a photo with each of the wide-angle lenses at the widest focal length. This may not be an apples-to-apples comparison, but with limited time, I found the information that I was most concerned about, and that was how much wider that 4mm gets me in practical use, and sharp the lenses are in comparison, at the center, and near their edges.

First, here are the two images uncropped, so that you can see the approximate difference between 11mm and 15mm. You’ll have to excuse my shadow on the left of the frame and that I didn’t use a tripod. As you can see, either side of the white background paper is more visible in the 11mm shot, but it’s not a huge amount. Click on one of the images then navigate back and forth with your mouse or arrow keys on your keyboard to compare the images.

Next, here is a crop of just the 50mm lens from the middle of the frame, so that you can compare the sharpness of the two lenses. The 11-24mm lens image is on the left, and the image from the 15-35mm lens is on the right. There is not a lot in it, but under close inspection, you can see that the 15-35mm lens image is slightly sharper.

In this final pair of crops though, all from the same image, we can compare the sharpness of the two lenses near the edge of the frame. On the left is the image from the 11-24mm and the image shot using the 15-35mm lens is on the right. I was blown away by how much sharper the 15-35mm lens is close to its edge, wide open, at 15mm.

I thought for a moment that the lens in the edge of the image shot with the 11-24mm lens might be out of the depth of field, but at 11mm, focusing at around 60cm or two feet, and with an aperture of f/5.6 which is what I was using, with my Photographer’s Friend app set in Pixels Peeper mode, which is the most punishing, we still have almost 60 cm or two feet of focus, so that is not the case. The 15-35mm lens is just amazing! I was never really unhappy with the sharpness of the 11-24mm at the edges, but that was before I saw what Canon could do with the RF mount and their mirrorless camera bodies. This, to me, is a revelation!

This whole slew of new gear is a revelation in many ways too. Over the last six years or so, Canon has enabled me to gradually shrink my kit down, while continuously increasing the image quality of my work. I have, of course, yet to see what the Canon EOS R5 and the new 100-500mm lens is capable of, but I trust that Canon wouldn’t release anything that is a smidgeon less than stellar at this point, so I’m really just not worried about that. I will continue to report on my findings and hope that it helps those of you that reside with me in the Canon camp or are thinking of jumping ship.

We’ll start to wrap this episode up there. If you are thinking of picking up any of this new gear that we’re seeing released in the coming months, and you found this post useful, please help to support my efforts by buying with our B&H Photo affiliate links to the right. You might also want to check out my gear page on B&H as this is updated relatively regularly, and some RF related changes will be implemented soon! No lenses or cameras were injured or ill-treated during the making of this review, and no-one paid me to do this or gave me any of the gear that I talked about today.


Show Notes

View Martin’s Gear Page on B&H Photo: https://mbp.ac/gear
Canon EOS R5 Body – https://mbp.ac/EOSR5
Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1L IS USM Lens – https://mbp.ac/100-500
Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM Lens – https://mbp.ac/15-35

Music by Martin Bailey


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The CapturePRO from Peak Design (Podcast 394)

The CapturePRO from Peak Design (Podcast 394)

A number of months ago, I backed a Kickstarter project, to help a company called Peak Design bring the version 2 of their Capture camera clip system to market. After the team spent a little more time than they expected to iron out some international shipping logistics, my order with my backing, containing two CapturePRO clips and a PROpad arrived recently, so today I’m going to walk you through this great system and how it will work into my overall camera support strategy.

The key component of this system is the Capture camera clip, which comes in two flavors; the standard Capture and the CapturePRO. The advantage of the PRO version is that it comes with your choice of Pro Plate, which has an anti-rotation rubber surface and a D-Ring so that you can attach a sling style strap like the Black Rapid, which we’ll look at later. It also has a screw thread in the base so you can use it as a quick release clamp if necessary too. As you can see from this photo (below) the packaging for the CapturePRO is pretty good, especially for a company still relatively young.

NOTE: After releasing this Podcast, the Peak Design Team sent us an Affiliate Link that saves you 10% of all purchases! Please use this link https://mbp.ac/pd10 to apply the coupon or enter mbp10 on checkout.

 

Peak Design CapturePRO with Arca Plate

Peak Design CapturePRO with ARCAplate

Both Capture and CapturePRO clips come with a microfiber pouch to store the clip in, and a 4mm hex key. This is a very small detail, but I love the fact that the hex key has a ring on it, so I could tie this to something, or even attach it to a camera strap or the key clip in my camera bag. The Peak Design team also probably made a conscious decision to go with the 14mm size because this is the same size that Really Right Stuff use for their clamps, so we don’t have to carry multiple hex keys around.

Peak Design CapturePRO and PROpad

Peak Design CapturePRO and PROpad

I also chose a PROpad, which is an accessory that enables you to attach the clip more comfortably to a belt or ruck sack strap, especially if you are going to be carrying large cameras around. We’ll take a look at this in more detail soon too. First, here’s a photo (below) of the CapturePRO attached to my Gura Gear Bataflae backpack camera bag.

CapturePRO on a Gura Gear Bataflae Camera Bag

CapturePRO on a Gura Gear Bataflae Camera Bag

This is the first clip system I’ve used, and I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to clip the camera into the CapturePRO clip. There’s a nice reassuring click as the safety catch locks into place, and to remove the camera, you have to push the red button, which you can see in the earlier photos.

For extra safety, you can turn the plate lock screw on the top right of the clip, to lock the camera plate firmly into the clip, so it won’t come out if you accidentally push the red button.

Another great safety feature though, is if you rotate the red button 90 degrees, you can no longer push it in to remove the camera. This gives you an extra level of reassurance.

Peak Design have also created a leash, simply called Leash, and a wrist strap they called the Cuff. I will consider picking up the Leash at some point as I really see how this system fits into my shooting workflow, but to start with, I’m using the clip without the leash, and so far have not had any issues.

In addition to attaching the clip to the shoulder straps of a rucksack, you can also attach it to the strap of a shoulder bag, or directly to your belt in a vertical position. Because the safety catch clicks in as you drop the camera into the clip, it doesn’t need to be oriented horizontally as I show it here, although I must admit the paranoid safety freak in me feels a little less anxious using the clip horizontally.

Here’s a photo of the PROpad attached to my belt (below left). Although you can loop the pad over your belt, I am passing my belt through the loop in the PROpad itself, for extra safety, especially when using the clip with large lenses like the 70-200mm f/2.8 lens that we see in the other shot here (bottom right).

PROpad with CapturePRO on a Belt

PROpad with CapturePRO on a Belt

CapturePRO with PROpad with 5D and 70-200mm Lens

CapturePRO with PROpad with 5D and 70-200mm Lens

The PROpad is well padded though, and is very comfortable even when carrying a large lens like this. Note though, if you have a tripod ring with an Arca-Swiss style plate on it, it gets in the way so you can’t easily drop the camera into the clip without rotating the tripod ring moving the plate out of the way, or removing the tripod ring altogether, which is an option if you know that you are not going to be using a tripod.

Attaching a Black Rapid Strap

Attaching a Black Rapid Strap

For me, this system will be most useful when I’m out and about, running and gunning, rather than the more steadily paced landscape photography. It will be most useful for street photography, but also for any photography that I do predominantly hand-held. I can imagine me using this system when I’m out photographing the Snow Monkeys for example, as I always keep two cameras with me, and I have my rucks sack on the entire time.

This is one of the reasons I bought two CapturePRO clips, so that I could put one on my rucksack shoulder strap and then the other on my belt using the PROpad for the longer lens. Also note that at the moment, I’m finding it more comfortable to use this system without the battery grip on my 5D Mark III. It can be used with the battery grip, but then the camera really sticks out from your chest, and just feels a bit awkward, although I’ll probably try and get used to that at some point.

My photography is very varied though, and I don’t see me trying to replace my current workflow entirely with the CapturePRO clip system. For example, the Leash can be used as a sling style camera strap, but despite the claims that it is comfortable even with heavy cameras, I just can’t see how that can be the case, especially when we are talking really heavy gear like a 300mm f/2.8 for example.

I’ll continue to use my Black Rapid straps, which are much wider, and when I’m doing my wildlife photography with much larger lenses, I will continue to use my Black Rapid Double Strap. As I mentioned earlier though, the nice thing about the ARCAplate that I chose with my CapturePRO is that it has a D-Ring as we can see in this photo (above right), that you can clip a Black Rapid strap through too, so the CapturePRO plays well with other systems.

CapturePRO ARCAplate with Really Right Stuff BH-40

CapturePRO ARCAplate with Really Right Stuff BH-40

For example, because as the name implies the ARCAplate complies with the Arca-Swiss standard, I can attach the camera to my Really Right Stuff quick release plates without having to remove the CapturePRO ARCAplate.

As I say though, this is not going to fully replace my current workflow. There will be times when I want my battery grip on the 5D Mark III or I’m using the 1D X, and in these situations I’ll be using my Really Right Stuff L-Brackets, because I love the freedom to switch between portrait and landscape orientations without flipping the camera over on it’s side.

The 5D Mark III L-Bracket does have a screw thread, so I could attach the ARCAplate to the L-Bracket, but to be honest, once it starts to get that convoluted I lose interest. I want my workflow to work for me, not against me, so as I said earlier, there will be times when I feel that the CapturePRO is the way to go, and there will be times when I put it into its nice little microfiber pouch, and leave it in my camera bag.

That though, is another really nice part about the CapturePRO system, and why I have bought into it. It’s small enough to be able to drop in your bag, and use it when it makes sense, and then not have to worry too much about the additional size and weight when you don’t need it. After all, the CapturePRO clip itself weighs just 110g and the ARCAplate is 30g. Sure, you have to be careful of weight, especially when traveling internationally, but I’m sure you’ll agree that the benefits of the system more than make up for carrying this little extra.

I should also note too that although I’m aware of the Spider Holster system, and I think that the action of clipping the camera into the support is perhaps a little easier with the Spider, at least until you get used to the CapturePRO clip, the reason I have gone with the CapturePRO over the Spider Holster, is the Arca-Swiss compatibility. As I mentioned earlier, I have Really Right Stuff plates on all of my lenses and L-Brackets on my cameras. All of my tripods have Really Right Stuff quick release clamps including my Manfrotto video fluid head, which I mated with an RRS quick release to maintain full compatibility with my system. Although I’ll only be using CapturePRO when it makes sense, it’s important to me to be able to use it with my current range of camera supports, so this was the deciding factor. If you don’t have this consideration to bear in mind, then by all means take a look at the Spider Holster too. My friend Pete Leong swears by it, so I know it’s also a class product.

So, all in all I’m very happy with this new addition to my kit, and my first few ventures out with it have proved it very easy to use. It’s one of those technologies that quickly disappears into the background, so it’s definitely something that I’m happy to recommend with a big thumbs-up!


Show Notes

The Peak Design Team sent us an Affiliate Link that saves you 10% of all purchases! Please use this link https://mbp.ac/pd10 to apply the coupon or enter mbp10 on checkout.

Capture System: https://peakdesignltd.com/capture/

Capture Pro : https://peakdesignltd.com/store/index.php?route=product/product&path=60&product_id=66

Arca Plate: https://peakdesignltd.com/store/index.php?route=product/product&path=60&product_id=53

Pro Pad: https://peakdesignltd.com/store/index.php?route=product/product&path=60&product_id=67

Music by UniqueTracks


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