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Canon 800mm f/5.6
© 2008 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

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Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS

Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM. enlarge. I'd get mine at Adorama or Amazon. It helps me keep adding to this site when you get yours from those links, too.


June 2008    More Canon Reviews

SALE, May 2013: Canon 800mm f/5.6 L IS now includes a $1,000 Gift Card!


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Canon announced the EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM on January 23rd, 2008. It started shipping in May, 2008. It is the world's longest focal length lens with an Optical Image Stabilizer system.

You birders will love this! There is no substitute — Nikon's copy costs so much more that you could buy this Canon 800mm and a Canon body to go with it for the same price.




Canon calls this the EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM.

   EF: Electronic Focus. Every Canon lens since 1986 has been this.

   L: Expensive as "L."

   IS: Image Stabilization.

   USM: Ultra-sonic motor. It doesn't make any noise as focused, and you just grab the focus ring at any time for instant manual override.



18 elements in 10 groups. Two of these are fluorite, one is UD glass and one is super-D glass.


Close Focus

19.7 feet (6m).


Maximum Reproduction Ratio




52mm drop-in


18.1" long x 6.4" diameter (461 x 162mm).



9.9 pounds (4.5 kg).



Magnesium alloy.

Gasketed against weather.



EF 1.4x II and EF 2x II.

Only some AF sensors may with with the 1.4x TC, and forget it with the 2x.



Case, Canon 800mm f/5.6

Case, Canon 800mm f/5.6. bigger.



$10,900, USA, July 2010.

$11,999, USA, 2008.



23 January 2008.



Since May 2008.



I've only used this lens a little bit in Yellowstone.

It's is surprising how little it weighs, considering its huge size.

Everyone else made fun of me trying to hand-hold it like a rifle, but as we drove around the park, the others quickly tired of setting up the tripod each time, and were hand-holding it, too. You won't get hte best results hand-holding because the IS system isn't really designed for it, but it's better than nothing.

Optically it's magnificent, but your biggest limitations to sharp images are atmospheric conditions like haze and heat shimmer, as well as camera motion. Just like most astronomical telescopes, this 800mm lens is far better than anyone's ability to make use of everything it can do.

Canon 800mm f/5.6

Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM. enlarge


Here are casual snaps of the sky on a 5D Mark II, firmware 1.1.0, with no peripheral illumination correction. Showing these against a flat gray background greatly exxagerates any falloff.


Canon EF 800mm f/5.6 L IS falloff on full-frame at infinity.


© 2010 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.






You people know who you are. If I needed an 800mm IS lens, I'd get one.

On the other hand, I don't need an 800mm lens. For most people, a shorter lens, like the 400mm f/2.8 IS or 600mm f/4 IS are more flexible options because teleconverters can make these lenses into an 800mm f/5.6, but if you have an 800mm f/5.6, you can't convert it back into a shorter, faster lens.

The Canon 400mm f/2.8 IS has the same diameter, costs only half as much as the 800mm, is shorter, but weighs two pounds more.

The Canon 600mm f/4 IS also has the same diameter, costs 2/3 as much as the 800mm, is the same length, and weights two pounds more.


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