12 lenses of Christmas: November 2023 was Canon’s BIG month, launching a world-first super-telephoto zoom

Canon RF 200-800mm f/6.3-9 IS USM
(Image credit: Canon)

Big news doesn’t get much bigger than this. The Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 IS USM is a real whopper with unprecedented super-telephoto reach. Despite its monster zoom range, it’s relatively ‘affordable’ for one of Canon’s big white lenses, and makes handheld shooting viable with a weight of 2kg. At the other end of the scale in every way, there was also news of the forthcoming Canon RF-S 10-18mm F4.5-6.3 IS STM, an ultra-compact, ultra-cheap wide-angle zoom for APS-C format EOS R cameras.

The Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 IS USM makes handheld super-telephoto shooting a distinct possibility with 5.5-stop optical stabilization, rising to 7.5-stop performance with cameras that feature IBIS. That might still present a challenge if you add a Canon RF Extender, which can boost the reach to as much as 1600mm. (Image credit: Gareth Bevan / Digital Camera World)

In other telephoto news, further details were announced for the much anticipated Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG DN OS Sports for Sony E and Leica L mount cameras, revealing a tempting spec sheet and an even more tempting price tag. In the own-brand Sony camp, the Sony FE 300mm F2.8 GM OSS was officially launched, along with unofficial first glimpse of the relatively lightweight new Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G. And sticking with ‘unofficial’ rumors surfaced of a Nikon Z 28-400mm f/3.5-6.3 superzoom lens, and that a Panasonic 100mm L-mount Macro lens might be with us in January 2024. Back on the official side of the fence, there was the launch of a new AstrHori 28mm F13 2X Macro Periprobe lens that can see round corners.

The Sony FE 300mm F2.8 GM OSS became the 73rd E-mount lens in the company’s line-up and was described as the ‘missing link’ in its pro sports sector. (Image credit: James Artaius)

We weren’t short of prime-time news in November. There was the launch of a new Viltrox 20mm F2.8 AF lens for full-frame Sony cameras, and with a bargain basement price tag. A similarly bargain buy was the new TTArtisan 35mm F1.8 AF, available in a variety of mount options, as was the forthcoming Brightin Star 50mm F1.4 AF for crop-sensor cameras. And if more is merrier, there was a trio of APS-C format Sirui 23mm, 33mm and 56mm f/1.2 primes.

Following directly on from our news story, we got our hands on the Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 IS USM for November’s first review, and found it had ‘mostly’ super performance. Next up was the Nikon Z 600mm f/6.3 VR S, which really wowed us for handheld super-telephoto shooting. Other telephoto highlights in the testing schedule included the Sony FE 300mm F2.8 GM OSS and Leica 100-400mm Vario-Elmar-SL f/5-6.3.

The Leica 100-400mm Vario-Elmar-SL f/5-6.3 delivers a mighty zoom range that makes it hugely versatile but it’s pretty compact and easily manageable, with a weight of just over 1.5kg. (Image credit: Leica)

The early verdict on the ‘hybrid’ Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8L IS USM Z was that it worked really well for shooting both stills and video, as advertised. A full test of the Nikon Z 135mm f/1.8 S Plena revealed that it was everything we could have hoped for, combining scintillating sharpness with wonderfully soft and creamy bokeh.

The outstanding image quality and all-round performance of the Nikon Z 135mm f/1.8 S Plena makes it one of our all-time favorite Nikon lenses. (Image credit: Matthew Richards)

Finally, proving that great things sometimes come in small packages, the Canon RF-S 10-18mm F4.5-6.3 IS STM impressed us in being a super-compact zoom with a really expansive field of view.

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Matthew Richards

Matthew Richards is a photographer and journalist who has spent years using and reviewing all manner of photo gear. He is Digital Camera World's principal lens reviewer – and has tested more primes and zooms than most people have had hot dinners! 

His expertise with equipment doesn’t end there, though. He is also an encyclopedia  when it comes to all manner of cameras, camera holsters and bags, flashguns, tripods and heads, printers, papers and inks, and just about anything imaging-related. 

In an earlier life he was a broadcast engineer at the BBC, as well as a former editor of PC Guide.