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Canon's $13,000 telephoto lens is a wildlife photography bazooka

Canon RF 600mm f/4L IS USM
(Image credit: James Artaius)

There are sports and wildlife lenses and then there are sports and wildlife lenses. And the Canon RF 600mm f/4 – one of the manufacturer's "big whites" – is a seriously powerful lens that enables professionals to squeeze every ounce of quality out of every last pixel.

Far and away one of the best lenses for wildlife (opens in new tab), the Canon RF 600mm f/4L IS USM (opens in new tab) is designed for the best of the best – namely professional wildlife photographers, elite sports shooters and news agencies – where anything short of peak performance simply isn't an option.

This kind of performance comes at a premium, of course; the 600mm f/4 carries a hefty $12,999 / £13,409 / AU$19,999 price tag, which is almost as hefty as its 6.8lbs / 3.1kg scale-tipping weight.

We got our hands on the behemoth at The Photography Show (opens in new tab), taking place at the NEC in Birmingham, England, on 17, 18 and 20 September. Initially launched to coincide with the release of the professional powerhouse Canon EOS R3 (opens in new tab), the 600mm f/4 is the first lens to feature a double power drive mechanism to support super-fast autofocus – namely the 30fps pace of the R3. 

That said, it would be equally at home on the Canon EOS R5 (opens in new tab) or Canon EOS R6 (opens in new tab) with their 20fps burst shooting. Or of course, while it would be a bit incongruous mounted on a $1,499 camera, it would also perform brilliantly on the Canon EOS R7 (opens in new tab) – which matches the R3's 30fps shooting, but whose APS-C sensor gives this 600mm lens an effective 960 focal length. 

Offering up to 5.5 stops of image stabilization, it keeps your shots rock steady even with its impressive reach. And between the f/4 aperture and the fantastic high ISO performance of Canon's EOS R system cameras, you can keep your shutter speed snappy and not worry about camera shake. 

You can see the Canon RF 600mm f/4L IS USM yourself, in person, at The Photography Show. 

 Get your tickets to The Photography Show (opens in new tab) and check out our live updates (opens in new tab)

These are the best Canon RF lenses (opens in new tab) and the best Canon lenses (opens in new tab). If you're just into long lenses, check out the best Canon telephoto lenses (opens in new tab) and the best 600mm lenses (opens in new tab).

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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.