Canon launches budget 100-400mm telephoto lens for just $649

Canon RF 100-400mm f/5.6-8 IS USM
(Image credit: James Artaius)

Canon has announced the exciting new Canon RF 100-400mm f/5.6-8 IS USM, a new compact, versatile and competitively priced telephoto zoom lens for Canon EOS R series of mirrorless cameras.

Announced alongside the new Canon EOS R3 and the Canon RF 16mm f/2.8 STM, the lightweight Canon RF 100-400mm f/5.6-8 IS USM is aimed at keen amateur sports and wildlife photographers, looking for a Canon-quality long lens that won't break banks or backs.

• Read more: Best Canon telephoto lenses

A great tool for any nature enthusiast, it’s portable enough to carry around on long walks looking for wildlife to capture, and will be an ideal partner for the compact-yet-powerful and fast-shooting Canon EOS R6 mirrorless body.

The Canon RF 100-400mm f/5.6-8 IS USM is a more compact and cheaper, if slower, alternative to the pro-level Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1L IS USM. In fact, it's four times cheaper than the Canon L-series optic!

It's also noticeably smaller, with a filter diameter of 67mm compared to 77mm, and only 79.5 x 164.7mm in size compared to the RF 100-500mm's 93.8 x 207.6mm, plus it's almost 2.5 times lighter at only 635g compared to 1530g. And while it 'only' reaches 400mm at its long end, we often find the difference between 400mm and 500mm is negligible. 

Designed for budding sports and wildlife photographers, the 100-400mm range is great for capturing distant subjects. When stood on the sidelines of a soccer game, for example, the it gives photographers the same incredible reach as professional telephoto lenses. 

Alongside the telephoto performance, the Canon RF 100-400mm f/5.6-8 IS USM has a minimum focusing distance of 0.88m and maximum magnification of 0.41x, so that photographers can capture all the details of a subject at closer range. 

It achieves 5.5 stops of in-lens optical image stabilization, which increases to 6 stops when coordinated control is used with cameras featuring in-body Image stabilization  such as the Canon EOS R5, R6 and R3. 

Designed for speed and precision, the RF 100-400mm is equipped with a Nano USM focus motor for smooth, fast focus, and possesses the usual customizable lens control ring for enhanced control over AV, Tv, exposure and ISO settings. 

While some might be unsure of a lens with a relatively slow aperture range of f/5.6 at 100mm and f/8 at 400mm, Canon says that, "The bright viewfinder and extended ISO capabilities of EOS R camera bodies combined with Dual Pixel CMOS AF enables photographers to utilize a lens that breaks traditional conventions of size, weight, and focal range to capture images with convenience." 

The RF 100-400mm F5.6-8 IS USM also has Canon’s advanced Super Spectra Coating to reduce ghosting and flare for crisper, more detailed images. It also employs a single aspherical lens to achieve high image quality and reduce aberrations that might distort an image. 

The Canon RF 100-400mm f/5.6-8 IS USM will be available from 14 October for $649.99 / £699 / AU$1,379, with a ET-74B lens hood available as an optional extra ($44 / £76.99).

Read more: 

Best Canon RF lenses
Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1L IS USM review
Canon EOS R3 review
Canon EOS R6 review

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Peter Travers

The editor of PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine, Peter 14 years of experience as both a journalist and professional photographer. He is a hands-on photographer with a passion and expertise for sharing his practical shooting skills. Equally adept at turning his hand to portraits, landscape, sports and wildlife, he has a fantastic knowledge of camera technique and principles. As you'd expect of the editor of a Canon publication, Peter is a devout Canon user and can often be found reeling off shots with his EOS 5D Mark IV DSLR.