Debating the Canon rf 100-500mm

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Greetings all, sounding out some thoughts on upgrading my longer lenses this year and I've got a quandary

Right now I've got the following - mounted to either a 7D or R6MII

Sigmar 120-300mm f2.8 OS (the edition that came just before the "sport" version)
Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8 MII L


The 70-200mm I don't want to give up at all, its a great general purpose lens, but it lacks the long reach. The 120-300mm works great in its range and it offers me f2.8 performance through the whole range; but its heavy and its focus is decent but not as fast as newer lenses (esp canon ones). In concept I like it, in practice I find it gets stuck; 120 isn't wide enough for general purpose and 300m is too short.

My general subjects are wildlife and equine/events

So I've been doing some looking and I've found a few options;
1) Canon rf 100-500mm (new). The most practical generalist range on offer of the 3 with not a bad weight for what it offers. From what I can see it out-performs the ef 100-400mm MII and the 100-500 doesn't seem to have the copy-variation problems that plagued the early 100-400mm (or if it does I've not found mention of it yet). My main concern is that its aperture at the long end isn't all that special. Whilst the R6MII has awesome high ISO performance, I do worry that being effectively at f8 at the long end might just be too limiting at times on the creative front.

2) Canon ef 300mm f2.8 IS L MII (secondhand). Yes its a prime, its mostly on the list because the original 300mm L was one of the early "I want that lens" dream lenses I had way back ages ago. The secondhand price isn't that far from the 100-500mm. Of course the downside to this is that its a 300mm prime, so suddenly I've got to put TCs on it (I do have 1.4 and 2 ef TCs) to get the range increase for wildlife; and I don't have the benefits of a zoom for events.

3) Canon ef 200-400mm (built in 1.4TC) (secondhand). Even secondhand this is way more expensive an option. Like the 300m its main boon is having more aperture to play with, esp at the longer end. A bit more light gathering for better AF performance in lower light; a bit more creative freedom on the aperture chosen. The built in 1.4TV is a boon as well on reach. The big downside is weight, even the 120-300mm f2.8 I have now is lighter than the 200-400mm.
Another boon is I could trade-in/sell my 120-300mm though it won't have a huge impact on the price.


Right now I'm warming to the 100-500mm. I feel like its offering me the best all-round performance whilst excelling at nothing save for being an all rounder. It doesn't give me the creative freedom of the other two in aperture, but it gives more all round practicality. I'd also still have my 2.8 lenses for lower light situations (though again I could possibly trade in the 120-300mm).


I'd be interested to hear if any others have had a similar choice and if there are other lenses I've overlooked; or considerations I've not taken into account. Or if I've drawn some wrong conclusions along the way.
 
Also another spanner in the works that I'd discounted but more research is making it sound more attractive

200-800mm. Which to me sounds like a nuts amount of zoom to have in a single lens and yet the results I've seen are showing its not doing badly as a generalist lens, esp for smaller wildlife like small birds.

Downside is that I think its much more of a small birds/wildlife lens than the 100-500mm which seems to have a touch more of the general eventing/generalist around it. Of course the pair combined then end up being as much as the 200-400mm secondhand, which whilst heavier is a better performer with a wider aperture (even if it needs a 2X to get to that equivalent range).
 
Hi, you are right about the 100-500mm being better overall than the EF100-400mm II. I have been using EF100-400mm II for few years before trading them for 100-500mm and you can definitely feel the differences. AF is snappy and virtually no noise. I have been on some hides and found that my EF500mm II made hell of a noise when the environment is dead silent.

Here's my thought:
1. Think about the aperture you need, the only downside of 100-500mm is the aperture on 500mm being f/7.1 and how does it impact your requirement and how often you shoot in low lights.
2. EF300mm II is a good choice, however for small birds you may have to live with 2x tc being stuck on all day. But you will have the flexibility of f/2.8 when the light condition isn't favourable.
3. EF200-400mm TC, I have considered this in the past before getting my EF500mmII but having tried them out at Canon Elstree I decide against it due to the weight alone.

RF 200-800mm is a serious contender. I am considering this lens and potentially swapping with the 100-500mm for the FL advantage but downside is again the aperture at 600-800mm and also the lens size in terms of packability/travel and weight difference.

Another option is check your previous photos and see which FL that you often use at and go from there.

Another argument to be had is the noise reduction software is pretty good, shooting at higher ISO compromising the noise but gaining the shutter speed maybe favourable too. I often shoot around ISO6400 and 12800, depending on conditions sometimes I do not require noise software.

Have you try out the Canon Test Drive? You can hire the lens for free over the weekend https://testdrive.trythekit.com/
 
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OH traded in her 100-400 MK 2 when she went mirrorless She still has her 5D4 used with 'wide' lenses but telephoto on the R6 RF70-200/2,8 and eventually the 100-500.

100-500 went to MPB, 300 /2,8 Mk2 EF came the other way.....hasn't regretted it.
 
Another option is check your previous photos and see which FL that you often use at and go from there.
Thing is in part I don't have anything in the 4-500mm range so I can't test for that.
I did got to a county show the other day and felt like whilst the 70-200mm did great on the R6.2 I was always wanting more reach and did crop a fair bit. Whilst the camera can most certainly do cropping really well; the more you get in frame the less post work and the more you have to play with.

I think in part its events like that which are pushing me to the 100-500mm. Basically another 70-200mm but in "longer reach" situations as a generalist; where I "might" want 200mm but where if its all I've got its not always enough; and where the 120-300mm gives me that, but is too big/heavy for those situations. Which is also a bit of a knock on the 200-400mm as that's another very big very heavy lens.

If you do decide on the rf 100-500m, what camera will you use?
R6MII. It's my only R mount camera, if I got an EF (eg 300mm 2.8 MII) then I could also use it on a 7D, though honestly the AF between the 7D and R6 feels like a night and day difference; same for the ISO performance. One bonus of not updating for ages is that the shift in technology REALLY feels like a big step.

OH traded in her 100-400 MK 2 when she went mirrorless She still has her 5D4 used with 'wide' lenses but telephoto on the R6 RF70-200/2,8 and eventually the 100-500.

100-500 went to MPB, 300 /2,8 Mk2 EF came the other way.....hasn't regretted it.
What did she feel were the issues with the 100-500mm that the 300mm f2.8 solved for her that the 100-500mm failed to deliver on?
 
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Thing is in part I don't have anything in the 4-500mm range so I can't test for that.
I did got to a county show the other day and felt like whilst the 70-200mm did great on the R6.2 I was always wanting more reach and did crop a fair bit. Whilst the camera can most certainly do cropping really well; the more you get in frame the less post work and the more you have to play with.

What did she feel were the issues with the 100-500mm that the 300mm f2.8 solved for her that the 100-500mm failed to deliver on?

That's correct the more FL reach the less you have to crop. I suggest to use the Canon test drive before making your purchase. Re-reading your comments, you may want to consider Canon 100-400mm RF I heard it is sharp lens.

Canon Prime lens has always been better than zoom in sharpness and clarity of photo, caveat is flexibility. But Canon 100-500mm come close.
 
What did she feel were the issues with the 100-500mm that the 300mm f2.8 solved for her that the 100-500mm failed to deliver on?
She felt that the 100-500 wasn't giving her the same results as her EF 100-400/2 did. And as she has always hankered over a 300/2,8 she got that instead of going back to the 100-400EF, you never know that the copy you get will be as good as the one you had.
 
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