Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8 L IS USM

The Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8 L IS USM ($2,699) is the company’s first pro-grade telezoom for its full-frame mirrorless camera system, currently headlined by the EOS R5. The design is a must-have for photographers covering events, as it offers enough reach to keep your distance, and an f/2.8 aperture to blur out backgrounds and isolate your subject. It’s priced on the high side, a full $600 more than the Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8 L IS III USM for SLRs, but R system mirrorless owners may find the extra cost worth it, as the RF 70-200mm offers excellent optics and a compact, collapsible design.

The Compact 70-200mm

The RF 70-200mm is the first pro-grade zoom of its focal length and aperture to sport a collapsing design. It’s much shorter, just 5.8 inches long, at 70mm than at 200mm (8.2 inches), so it’s easier to find a home for it in your camera bag. It’s about 3.5 inches in diameter, and supports 77mm front filters.

Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8 L IS USMPeak Design Travel Tripod.

Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8 L IS USMSigma 70-200mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Sports has a foot that mounts right into a compatible tripod head, and costs a lot less, just $1,500. It’s an SLR lens, so you’ll need to use an adapter to mount it to your Canon RF mirrorless camera, though.

Aside from the quibble about the foot design, build quality is top-notch. Canon uses a mix of metal and polycarbonate materials for the barrel, and finishes the lens in light gray rather than the black. It gives the 70-200mm a decidedly pro look, and also helps to keep it cooler when working under bright lights—the gray material reflects more light than it absorbs.

Sample ImageControls and Focus

The 70-200mm offers a customizable control ring, positioned just ahead of the lens mount, joined by a manual focus control mid-barrel and a wide zoom ring at the front. The control ring has detent stops, something photographers typically want, but videographers don’t like.

Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8 L IS USMfactory for an additional fee. I noted a slight, but visible, change in the angle of view when adjusting focus, an effect called breathing, something that videographers care about but that won’t affect photos.

Sample Imageversion 1.06 loaded via your camera menu if you do end up buying it. Focus is spot-on with the update installed.

Sample ImageEOS R, and our tests show the figure to be on-point. I netted handheld shots with very little visible motion blur at speeds as long as 1/8-second, and consistently sharp detail at 1/15-second. At those speeds, subject motion will blur your shots more readily than camera shake. When paired with a model with IBIS, like the EOS R5 and R6, the two stabilization systems work together.

In the Lab

I tested the 70-200mm with Canon’s current top-flight mirrorless model, the 45MP EOS R5, and software from Imatest. The pair delivers strong resolution all through its zoom range, and is almost as sharp at f/2.8 as it is at its best.

Sample ImageSee How We Test Cameras and Lenses

Sample ImageLightroom takes care of both with a single click.

A Great Lens for a High Price

Canon has held nothing back with the L series glass for its EOS R mirrorless system. The RF 70-200mm F2.8 L IS USM is a statement lens—none of Canon’s competitors offer one that retracts to such small dimensions, after all. And it’s built tough, with internal seals and very sturdy construction. We’ve no complaints as to optical performance, and stabilization is also excellent.

Sample ImageCanon RF 70-200mm F2.8 L IS USM Specs

Dimensions5.8 by 3.2 inches
Weight2.6 lb
Filter Thread77 mm
MountCanon RF
Focal Length (Wide)70 mm
Focal Length (Telephoto)200 mm
Zoom Ratio2.9 x
Optical StabilizationOptical
Focus TypeAutofocus

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August 30, 2020
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