Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1L IS USM Lens: A Capable Front-runner


The Canon RF 100–500mm f/4.5-7.1L IS USM lens covers a broad range of focal lengths, from short to super telephoto. Shridhar Kunte tests it.

Lenses having focal lengths ranging from 150mm to 600mm are very popular among amateurs as well as professionals who are into wildlife photography. In fact, third party lens manufacturers have made this segment as their strong hold. The Canon EF 100– 400mm is a go-to lens for die-hard Canon fans. Taking this success ahead to their RF system, the company has introduced the RF 100–500mm f/4.5-7.1L IS USM lens.


This is the first telephoto zoom lens from Canon dedicated to RF system cameras. Up until now, you only had a choice of EF lenses with an adapter for this range. Now you have three options—the RF 600mm, RF 800mm and the RF 100–500mm, the first two being of fixed focal lengths. The RF 100–500mm comes with the “L” tag, bringing with it many advanced technologies. In its optical design, there are six UD (Ultra low Dispersion) elements and one Super UD element. This helps to minimise chromatic aberrations and colour fringing in order to provide greater clarity and colour accuracy. In front of the focus ring there is a configurable Control Ring that lets you adjust exposure settings, including ISO, aperture, and exposure compensation, from the lens itself. On older R system cameras, like the EOS R or RP, the lens offers five stops of image stabilisation, but when you use it with newer EOS R5 or R6 cameras, with their built-in stabilisation systems, it is possible to get the benefit of eight stops thanks to the bi-directional communication between the motion and gyro sensors in the camera body and lens.


This is a relatively compact lens and weighs 1530g and measures 207.6mm when retracted. When compared with conventional DSLRs, this is a much lighter and compact lens. It is slightly longer than the popular EF 100–400mm, but 200g lighter than its DSLR offering. I used this lens on the EOS R6. Well constructed, the lens balanced very well even without a battery grip attached. The fly-by-wire system accomplishes manual focusing. There are four switches and three rings on the lens barrel; the left hand thumb while supporting the lens with the left-hand palm can easily reach these. Once you get used to the positioning of these switches, you can operate them without taking your eye away from the viewfinder.

I was shooting these kids playing in a slight drizzle in fading light. Despite this, the focus tracking was spot on. Exposure: 1/500 sec at f/5.0 ( ISO 12800). Photograph by Shridhar Kunte


Handheld, the lens was easy to shoot with, but I observed that by using it on a monopod, I was able to achieve better results with regards to sharpness. The focusing speed was snappy and near silent; full time manual focus is easy to use. The image quality is excellent from centre to corners when using the lens at its wider end, but for better results, I preferred using it at f/5.6. There is a slight light fall off when used at its wider end, but it is not a major concern as it can be very well be corrected in post-processing.


This is a perfect lens if you own Canon’s full-frame mirrorless camera and if you are interested in shooting sports, action and wildlife, and are looking for a lightweight and versatile all-in-one zoom lens. Although it offers extra reach, it is optically slower at 400mm, when compared to the EF 100–400mm. The lens is priced at Rs. 2,45,995, which is certainly not cheap. If you can afford this hefty price tag, the Canon RF 100–500mm lens offers excellent performance for Canon full-frame mirrorless camera owners.

This article originally appeared in the July 2021 issue of Better Photography.

Focus limiter, hood with drawer
Effective IS, excellent edge performance when stopped down
Build Quality
Weather resistant design, protective coating on front element
Lens control ring, compact size
Warranty & Support
Wide service network, two year warranty
MRP Rs. 94,999
Who should buy it? Canon RF users who enjoy shooting action, sports and wildlife.
Why? ven though it is pricey, it is the only RF lens that offers focal lengths from medium telephoto to super zoom.