The Strange Case of the Missing Canon RF Lens Reviews

Canon have announced the development of two new super telephoto prime lenses for the RF (mirrorless) mount bodies, a 800mm f/5.6 priced at $17,000 and a 1200 mm f/8 prime lens priced at $20,000. Both of these lenses will be important additions to the Canon RF lineup, giving wildlife and sports photographers with deep pockets their bling bling to hang on their mirrorless bodies.

I’m sure they’ll be very good lenses, as well they should with price tags like that.

I had a chance recently to see a Canon EOS R5 in action. A 45 megapixel mirrorless body getting good reviews and producing very nice images from what I could see. Costing $3,899 (current price on Adorama), it’s obvious that buying into Canon’s RF mirrorless lineup for serious photographers is going to cost you some serious moolaah.

After I saw the R5 in use, I wanted to get a handle on what the RF lens lineup was (for the rest of us) and see how these lenses were testing out at the major photography lens test websites. Guess what? I couldn’t find any in depth testing results for Canon RF lenses. Everything is either initial reviews, with a smattering of owner reviews. No actual test chart performance tests on DXO, Imaging Resource, DP Review, LensTip, or anywhere else I can find.

There are a few Nikon Z mount lenses that have been reviewed, as well as a few Sony mirrorless lenses. What’s the deal with Canon RF mount lenses? Are they in too short supply to allow the normal testing sites to acquire and run tests on? Is there some kind of hidden agreement with Canon not to test these lenses? Who the hell knows?

I know this much. The Canon R5, as good a body as it is or may be, it’s over priced and has a serious design flaw that causes it to overheat when shooting high resolution video. Canon needs to straighten that issue out before I’d give even the slightest thought of spending that kind of money on a camera. I seriously doubt it’s going to produce a better image quality than a D850 DSLR. I can’t compare lenses because there are no available comparisons beyond word of mouth.

It’s till too early to buy into mirrorless in my opinion.

*Addendum 2/25/22*

Since I made this post, I have continued to research the available lens reviews for the Canon RF system lenses and have found one website that has actually done an analysis on a few Canon RF lenses. Optical Limits has a small selection of lens tests posted. You can view them here.