When Canon announced a new flagship super telephoto, EF 800mm f/5.6 image stabilizer lens, I thought, “who would buy such a lens?” With a price tag set at over $10,000, it seemed to me that Canon was just shooting themselves on the foot!
Canon has many wonderful telephoto lenses such as EF 500mm f/4 and EF 600mm f/4. Both are known to work well with a 1.4x teleconverter. When attached a 1.4x teleconverter, a 600mm f/4 becomes a 840mm f/5.6. So to me it seemed that Canon 800mm lens was unnecessary.
Well, not so, and here are some of the reasons.
Mid summer I had a chance to evaluate this new super telephoto lens. My first impression was the weight! I had expected the lens to weight as much as my 600mm f/4, but it wasn’t. The lens weights about 10 pounds, which is between my 500mm f/4 and 600mm f/4. With the lens hood attached, this lens is actually shorter than a 600mm f/4. It also has more curves and is slimmer than any Canon lenses.
I also love the new focusing ring. It is wider and easy to operate. Image stabilizer is also improved by 4 stops compared to 2 stops on other super telephoto lenses. This comes in handy many times especially when 1.4x or 2x teleconverter is used with this lens.
While both Canon 500mm and 600mm lens are very sharp and produce a good result, this new Canon EF 800mm lens is scarily sharp! It is by far the sharpest telephoto lens I’ve ever used.
The lens arrived in time for me to test it with a Painted Bunting that I had been photographing in the past few months. Even with 1.4x teleconverter attached, the images were a lot sharper than 600mm lens. The lens also did very well with 2x, but the camera viewfinder became so dim that made it harder to focus.