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Summary

The Canon RF 70-200mm f2.8L IS USM is a bright telephoto zoom for the full-frame EOS R mirrorless system. It’s shorter and lighter than the EF version and focuses closer too, although - spoiler alert - the barrel now extends as you zoom it. I went hands-on for my first-looks preview!

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Canon RF 70-200mm f2.8L IS USM review so far

The Canon RF 70-200mm f2.8L IS USM is a bright telephoto zoom for the full-frame EOS R mirrorless system. Teased earlier in 2019 and officially announced in October that year, it’s shorter and lighter than the EF version and focuses closer too, although – spoiler alert – the barrel now extends as you zoom it, and it’s also unsurprisingly more expensive than the EF Mark III version which you can of course alternatively use on an EOS R with an adapter. I had a quick look at an official Canon briefing, although wasn’t allowed to take any photos with it yet. I’ve made a video showing you around it below and will publish sample images and results as soon as I’ve tested it further.

 

 

 

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Above: The RF 70-200mm f2.8L joins the existing RF 15-35mm on the left and RF 24-70mm in the middle to complete the so-called Holy Trinity of professional f2.8 zooms. All three have L-quality optics, a fast and constant f2.8 focal ratio, weather-sealing and optical image stabilisation – and as you can see, they’re also remarkably similar in size.

 

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Above: The compact barrel – at least when zoomed to 70mm – is its key selling point of the RF 70-200mm and an obvious difference when placed alongside the older EF 70-200mm f2.8L Mark III. Measuring 146mm long, it’s 53mm shorter than the DSLR version, allowing it to squeeze into smaller bags, typically able to now stand up rather than lying down. It’s also almost one third lighter at 1070g versus 1480g. Very impressive stats, although unlike the older model which zoomed internally, the new RF version extends its barrel when zooming to longer focal lengths and roughly matches the length of the EF model when set to 200mm. But again at least it can retract to a much shorter length, which along with the lighter weight makes it much more portable.

 

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Above: The downside is the potential for dust to enter the barrel as it extends and retracts. I of course asked about this and Canon claimed they’ve tried to reduce the suction effect and that the lens remains dust and moisture-resistant, but only time will tell. We’ll find out soon enough once they’re in the field.

 

Thanks to the shorter flange-to-sensor distance of the RF mount, the lens employs a simpler optical design with 23 elements in 19 groups including two aspherical, four UD and one Super UD element. It also becomes Canon’s first lens to employ a dual floating focus system with two Nano USM motors which allows closer focusing with sharper results. The RF 70-200mm can now focus almost twice as close as the older EF Mark III model at an impressive 70cm vs 1.2m. The image stabiliser is also improved from 3.5 to 5 stops on the new model.

That’s all I can say until I test a final production sample, but right now the new RF 70-200mm f2.8L is certainly an impressive-sounding lens with some key benefits over the EF Mark III version – you’re getting a noticeably smaller and lighter lens with much closer focusing, better stabilisation and, if the optics fully exploit the short flange distance and floating focus, the potential for superior quality too. Obviously there’s the higher price to weigh-up and the unknown impact of the extending barrel when it comes to sealing, but I’d say it looks very promising indeed. Plus EOS R owners can of course adapt the older EF model if they prefer.

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Canon RF 70-200mm f2.8L

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