Last Updated on 05/26/2023 by Chris Gampat
Just last week, we reported on the possibility of a 100-300mm f2.8 RF lens being released by Canon. This morning Canon USA Inc announced the launch of their new RF 100-300mm F2.8 L IS USM lens. Indoor & outdoor sports, concert, and fashion photographers, photojournalists, and even videographers loyal to Canon will be eagerly looking forward to this lens’s release.
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Today’s announcement from Canon also shows why Canon has held off so far on introducing a 300mm f2.8 lens in its RF lineup. Why have a 300mm f2.8 prime lens when you can give your users a much wider focal range in a compact 100-300mm lens? The EF mount 300mm f2.8 is a staple for sports photographers needing exceptional sharpness and subject isolation. In pro sports photography forums I’m a member of, I see pictures taken with this lens posted almost every other week. Professional Canon users to date would have been using those lenses coupled with an EF-EOS R adapter on their mirrorless Canon bodies. At this price point and weight, many EF mount 300mm lenses may soon be put up for sale as professional photographers opt for the new RF 100-300mm f2.8 lens.
What Makes This Focal Range Special?
For close-range sports like tennis, I’ve found 300mm at f2.8 to be a sweet spot for subject isolation. Sure, 400mm f2.8 can work better, but there’s the tradeoff of size and weight to consider. The perennial workhorse 70-200mm f2.8 lenses are often too short on the longer end of the focal range for those of us working on the sidelines of games or roaming among packed crowds at music concerts. Of course, at f5.6 on the smaller and lighter 70-300mm lenses, you’re sacrificing a lot of quality and losing light, making them impossible to use for severe low-light work.
I’d used Sigma’s 120-300mm f2.8 lens for a couple of years while photographing the local horse racing circuits. The focal range was a game changer for me at the stadiums and arenas I frequented. It often meant I didn’t have to carry a 2nd camera body with me (my shoulders still remember those painful days). After nailing the shots at the finish line, I’d hurry back to the winner’s circle and photograph the ceremonies at focal lengths between 120 and 150mm. No more having 300mm on one camera body and 70-200mm or 24-120mm on the other while trying to run around looking professional. This one lens did it all for me. And the f2.8 aperture (literally) opened up more possibilities of shooting inside indoor stadiums where ceiling lights inevitably required super high ISOs otherwise.
10 Percent More Zoom Than The Competition
Nikon’s closest competing lens (in its DSLR F-mount) is the AF-S NIKKOR 120-300mm f/2.8E lens. Sigma hasn’t gone any wider either, despite redesigning its 120-300 f2.8 model back in 2013. Sony doesn’t yet have an equivalent f2.8 lens which maxes out at 300mm. With this new lens, Canon has one-upped the full-frame competition by adding an extra 20mm of focal range at the wider end for more zoom versatility. But the benefits don’t stop there.
It’s So Small And Light
While Nikon’s and Sigma’s lenses weigh over 7 lbs (around 7.15 lb and 7.47lb, respectively), the Canon RF 100-300mm F2.8 lens weighs under 6 lbs. It weighs 5.8lb, to be precise, according to the lens spec sheet. Incredibly, it’s also less than 3 inches longer than the current EF 300mm f2.8 II lens from Canon, so you won’t have to do much realignment of the dividers inside your camera bag to fit this in there.
You also get 5.5 stops of in-lens Optical Image Stabilization, which goes up to 6 stops when paired with IBIS-equipped Canon bodies like the EOS R5. The Canon RF 100-300mm F2.8 is fully compatible with RF 1.4x and 2x Extenders.
Not one but two Nano USM focus motors will ensure you lock focus silently and accurately between the minimum focus distance of 5.9ft and infinity. And for those times when you don’t want the lens to focus close, there’s a limiter switch that sets this to 19.7ft. Of course, we’ll be thoroughly testing out the dust and weather resistance capabilities in our review.
No Drop-In Filters
This was surprising to read at first, but since the Canon RF 100-300mm F2.8 isn’t a massive lens in size, it makes more sense. Instead of having rear drop-in filters like the EF 300mm f2.8 does, you’ll have to use 112 mm screw-in filters on the front of this lens. The lens cap, lens hood, and dust cap come bundled with this lens, which is expected to retail for US $9,499 in May 2023.
This lens is something that I consider a disruptor because it’s a direct shoutout to competitors Sony and Nikon to produce something equivalent, if not better. The sports lens segment just got a little more interesting with the introduction of this new lens.
All images have been taken from Canon USA’s press release page