Canon's monster RF super telephoto lens is a sports photographer's dream

Canon RF 100-300mm F2.8L IS USM
(Image credit: Canon)

Canon has today announced its new Canon RF 100-300mm F2.8L IS USM telephoto lens, promising a long zoom range with a wide f/2.8 aperture.

While you may be familiar with Canon's current lineup of long prime lenses like the Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L USM IS, or short telephoto zooms, such as Canon's RF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM, this new super-tele optic marks a new generation of powerful zooms. 

The RF 100-300mm aims to provide incredible telephoto reach with a versatile zoom range, constant wide f/2.8 maximum aperture and the outstanding image quality you’d expect to see from a prime lens (a lens with a fixed focal length and no zoom). The flexible zoom range and wide constant aperture of f/2.8 throughout the entire zoom makes the Canon RF 100-300mm F2.8L IS USM an ideal choice for sports, wildlife, and reportage photography. 

The fast maximum f/2.8 aperture will also help allow in lots of light so you can shoot at faster shutter speeds without having to raise the ISO value higher, which can degrade image quality and introduce digital noise. This, paired with 5.5 stops of Optical Image Stabilization (increasing to 6 stops with an IBIS body) should make it ideal for fast subjects in low light, and opens the door to potentially capturing stills or video handheld.

The new optic is perfectly paired with professional Canon EOS R bodies such as the Canon EOS R5 and Canon EOS R3 with stabilized full-frame sensors and eye detection autofocus.

With a versatile zoom range of 100-300mm, Optical Image Stabilization and a fast f/2.8 maximum aperture, Canon's RF 100-300mm F2.8L IS USM is ideal for sports, wildlife and reportage photography. (Image credit: Canon)

Canon RF 100-300mm F2.8L IS USM specs

Mount: Canon RF
Full frame: Yes
Image stabilization: Yes 5.5 stops (6 stops with IBIS)
Autofocus: Yes - Dual Nano USM motor
Lens construction: 23 elements in 18 groups (inc 1 Flourite and 4 UD elements)
Diaphragm blades: 9 (rounded)
Maximum aperture: f/2.8
Minimum focusing distance: 1.8m
Maximum magnification ratio: 0.16x
Filter size: 112mm
Dimensions: 128x323.4mm
Weight: 2590g / 91.3oz

Tipping the scales at 2.6kg, the new Canon telephoto is only 190g heavier than the fixed focal length Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM, yet boasts the incredibly useful 3x optical zoom. In addition, it features 5.5 stops of Optical Image Stabilization and a Dual Nano USM motor, which Canon claims delivers a silent and blisteringly fast AF operation. 

It's also Canon's first professional RF super telephoto lens to feature a control ring and also boasts a new customizable L.FN button for greater manual control.

The Canon RF 100-300mm F2.8L IS USM boasts one Flourite lens and four UD lens elements, as well as a moulded glass aspheric lens for razor sharp images and low chromatic aberration. (Image credit: Canon)

As one of Canon’s top-flight L-Series lenses, you can expect dust and weather sealing to protect against the elements in harsh environments, making it a reliable optic for professionals. The aperture is made up of nine circular blades which Canon says will create beautiful bokeh. It also features a heat shield coating for consistent performance in high temperatures.

Also on the spec sheet is one Fluorite lens and four UD (Ultra-low dispersion) lenses which Canon claims will correct chromatic aberration and deliver incredibly sharp images with little color blurring. It also boasts a molded glass aspheric lens designed to ensure high resolution from the center to the edge of the image. We can't wait to get our hands on it and give it a thorough test to see if it lives up to its big claims.

The Canon RF 100-300mm F2.8L IS USM is fully compatible with Canon's RF 1.4x and 2x Extenders, giving you a little more reach at the cost of a slower maximum aperture. (Image credit: Canon)

The new telephoto is also fully compatible with Canon RF extenders. Attaching the RF 1.4x Extender will effectively turn the optic into a 140-420mm f/4 lens, and a 200-600mm f/5.6 lens when paired with a Canon RF 2x Extender.

The lens has a retail price of $9,499/£11,499.99/AU$26,999 with sales slated to start on May 19. There will undoubtedly be lots of immediate demand for this lens - so expect we'd expect you may well need to get on the waiting list behind hundreds of professional sports photographers and news agencies if you want this monster!

Pre-order the Canon RF 100-300mm F2.8L IS USM at BHPhoto (USA)

Pre-order the Canon RF 100-300mm F2.8L IS USM at Park Cameras (UK)

Pre-order the Canon RF 100-300 F2.8L IS USM at CameraPro (AU)

Find out more about all the latest from Canon in our guides to the best Canon lenses, the best Canon RF lenses, and the best Canon telephoto lenses for sport and wildlife.

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Dan Mold
Deputy Editor

Deputy Editor on PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine, Dan also brings his technical wizardry and editing skills to Digital Camera World. He has been writing about all aspects of photography for over 10 years, having previously served as technical writer and technical editor for Practical Photography magazine, as well as Photoshop editor on Digital Photo

Dan is an Adobe-certified Photoshop guru, making him officially a beast at post-processing – so he’s the perfect person to share tips and tricks both in-camera and in post. Able to shoot all genres, Dan provides news, techniques and tutorials on everything from portraits and landscapes to macro and wildlife, helping photographers get the most out of their cameras, lenses, filters, lighting, tripods, and, of course, editing software.