The only way to know . . .

. . . for sure is to try for oneself.

After watching a superb youtube review that showed some great samples of the RF 100-500mm and compared it with the f/11 lenses and 600mm f/4, I came across a store I sometimes shop at selling the lens at a slightly discounted price. That was enough to push me to give it a try, figuring the loss will be palatable if I choose to banish it after a thorough trial.

Not in my memory can I recall a day when I had a worst first outing with a piece of gear than with this lens. If I were to try to list all of the objectionable things I encountered this afternoon, I’d be like a mosquito in a nudist camp; I wouldn’t know where to begin. The functional design was obviously done by someone who never shot a lens hand-held, if they even ever did photography at all.

Out in middling overcast, cloudy weather I first tried M mode, setting ISO to float. Instead, it soared, often in five digits at just 1/640. The camera consistently overexposed by more than a stop, which couldn’t be altered by changing settings. The camera was slow to wake with the lens, and seemed to be slower than with the f/11 DO glass to acquire focus.

Tracking missed about half the time, and I eventually went back to aperture priority and spot focus, which exposed correctly and focused accurately. The setup carried uncomfortably with both a cross-body strap and a squared harness. The control ring is about half an inch from the mount, and both it and the focus drag ring repeatedly rolled out of adjustment no matter which way I carried the lens.

Tomorrow I’ll try carrying it by the base of the tripod collar, an extra third of a pound I’d rather not carry, and which looks something like a garden hoe with a circular handle. I already know it won’t balance to my liking. It will have to go through the full set of target tests, as I try to figure out how it might be made useful. Hopefully weather will allow at least one visit to the mud flat/seawall area this weekend as well.

Optics? Well, today, a solid notch below the Sigma 150-600mm, maybe a little bit crisper with details than the RF 100-400mm. But I’m suspicious that Canon borrowed Sony’s 100-400mm G Master trick with this lens and cooks a bit of sharpening into the RAW files. I’ll know later when I open the files in Canon’s DPP.

Light-wise, it had an odd draw in today’s outing. Out in the field, I recalled the reviewer having mentioned that his 600mm f/4 gets more details in low light than the 100-500mm, which I now think may have been a polite way of saying that the zoom sucks in anything but sunshine. If that’s the case, it’s not for me.

Do I regret acquiring it? No. It may yet work out. But if it doesn’t, at least I’ll know that from my own experience with the lens. A 100% crop of one of tne of the few decent shots I got today is posted below. My bulbul friends must have noticed me struggling today, and were very generous with their time.

R5/RF 100-500mm