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Canon RF 500mm f/4L IS leads trio of super telephoto lenses for Canon EOS R

Canon is working on an RF 500mm f/4L IS lens
The EF version of the Canon 500mm f/4L lens is getting an RF system update

Canon is working on not one, not two, but three super telephoto lenses for its mirrorless R-system cameras, headlined by a new version of its EF 500mm f/4L optic. 

The company continues to expand the range of lenses available for the full-frame  Canon EOS R (opens in new tab) and Canon EOS RP (opens in new tab), as well as the upcoming hi-res EOS R camera that has been the subject of endless camera rumors (opens in new tab)

We heard rumblings last week that three new RF lenses (opens in new tab) were being added to the Canon RF lens roadmap (opens in new tab), but now news has broken that a trio of RF super telephoto lenses are in development. 

Canon Rumors first reported (opens in new tab) that the Canon RF 500mm f/4L IS would be the company's first super tele to launch for the system, speculating that it likely wouldn't see release until the professional version of the EOS R is announced. 

Will we be getting a pro EOS R to go along with these lenses?

The Canon RF 500mm f/4L IS may not materialize until a pro-grade version of the Canon EOS R appears

"No timeline was given," wrote the site, "and I wouldn’t think RF mount super telephoto lenses would come until we get that EOS-1D level EOS R body, which is still a ways away."

Canon News then shared details (opens in new tab) of patent filings by the manufacturer detailing an additional Canon RF 400mm f/2.8L and Canon RF 600mm f/4L IS USM, noting that they were definitely not EF lenses. 

"EF mount super telephotos have the back focus distance between 60-75mm well exceeding the distance between the sensor and the lens mount of 44mm for the EF mount.

"The backfocus distances shown here are well under the 44mm required for the EF mount, therefore these are super telephoto designs specific for the RF mount which has a focal plane distance of 20mm."

The Canon RF lens roadmap is getting bigger and bigger

While these optics haven't been confirmed, the Canon RF lens roadmap is constantly swelling these days

The specs for all three lenses, according to the patents discovered by the website, are as follows: 

Canon RF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM

Focal length: 392mm
F number: 2.9
Angle of view: 3.16°
Image height: 21.64mm
Entire lens length: 360mm
Backfocus: 31mm

Canon RF 500mm f/4L IS USM

Focal length: 490mm
F number: 4.12
Angle of view: 2.53°
Image height: 21.64mm
Entire lens length: 412mm
Backfocus: 33mm

Canon RF 600mm f/4L IS USM

Focal length: 588mm
F number: 4.12
Angle of view: 2.11°
Image height: 21.64mm
Entire lens length: 476mm
Backfocus: 33mm

Read more:

Canon EOS R review
Canon RF lens roadmap
Three new Canon RF lenses in development

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The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a magazine and web journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients as diverse as Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photographic and lighting tutorials, as well as industry analysis, news and rumors for publications such as Digital Camera Magazine (opens in new tab)PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine (opens in new tab)N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine (opens in new tab)Digital Photographer (opens in new tab) and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and demonstrations at The Photography Show (opens in new tab). An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.