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Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM

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Reviews Views Date of last review
16 83516 Jul 16, 2012
Recommended By Average Price
94% of reviewers $11,271.43
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.87
7.75
9.7
ef800_f56lisu_586x225_1_

Specifications:
This is the longest telephoto lens among Canon's lineup, and a terrific choice for any long-distance application-outdoor sports, wildlife, news photojournalism, and so on. It's actually lighter than Canon's EF 600mm f/4L IS lens, weighing just under 10 lbs. It uses a refined optical design, with two fluorite lens elements, one UD element, and one Super-UD-glass element, for outstanding correction of color fringing and superb contrast and sharpness. This super-telephoto lens uses magnesium-alloy barrel construction to enhance its light weight, and has weather-resistant gaskets throughout for use in harsh conditions. It's compatible with both the EF 1.4x II and 2x II tele extenders for even more reach: EOS cameras with 45 AF points will continue to provide autofocus at the center AF point when the lens is used with the 1.4x extender. Finally, it's image stabilized, providing up to 4 stops of correction for camera shake. This makes it even more practical in many situations.

Focal Length & Maximum Aperture: 800mm f/5.6

Lens Construction: 18 elements in 14 groups

Diagonal Angle of View: 3 5' (with full-frame sensor camera)

Focus Adjustment: Ring-type Ultrasonic Motor, with inner focus system; mechanical manual focus

Closest Focusing Distance: 19.7 ft./6.0m (maximum close-up magnification: 0.14x)

Filter Size: 52mm (Drop-in Gelatin Filter Holder)

Max. Diameter x Length, Weight: 6.4 in. x 18.1 in./162mm x 461mm (maximum lens length); 9.9 lbs./4,500g


 


      
miataroy
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Registered: Nov 8, 2003
Location: United States
Posts: 271
Review Date: Jul 16, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Speed of focus, Weight (or lack of), Image Quality, Color...
Cons:
NONE! I knew what I was buying.. I knew that it was not cheep but I also knew that I would get what I was paying for.. This lens is Awesome

As with any lens of great focal length.. technique is paramount.. but surprisingly my kill rate is even greater than expected.. the focus speed is "stupid" quick! I expected sharpness and great color and was not shocked when I looked at the first images WOW!
If you are thinking of getting this lens ... stop thinking and BUY IT! Money well spent

I was lucky enough to get this lens USED (9+) from B&H... They were great and the lens was cleaner than even they stated... I am and have always been VERY happy with them.. my opinion continues.


Jul 16, 2012
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dolina
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Registered: Nov 4, 2008
Location: United States
Posts: 3626
Review Date: Nov 16, 2011 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

Pros: Longest Canon lens in production, 4-stop IS, 1.9lbs lighter than the 600mm IS Version 1, full weather seal, faster AF and age (marketed late 2007, shipped mid-2008). Updated design makes it look like it wasn't designed from the 90's.
Cons:
Some vignetting at f/5.6, price (though justifiable due to its "newness) and a lens case that's two inches too big for airline carry on. Lens cover is cumbersome to use. No AF using any of the extenders since the 1D X's introduction.

This is my first Super Telephoto lens and decided to go big time. It's almost perfect except for the fact that it isn't f/4 but it's understandable seeming it'll weigh much much much more and be longer by maybe a foot.

This lens is perfect for those who aren't willing to go into the water or want to shoot from the comfort of their car seat when doing wildlife photography.

On a full frame body it is perfect for polo games where you are situated in the center field and the horses/riders are at the goal post. On a 1.6x cropped body it'll be too long.

When using either 2x or 1.4x extenders you lose all AF since the introduction of the 1D X

This is my experience shooting the moon. With the combination of 800m IS + 2x Ext + 7D body the full moon fills the top and bottom of the frame perfectly.

It would be perfectly priced if it was $1000 more than the 600mm IS Version 1.

If you want to see lens samples on full frame, APS-H and APS-C bodies go to http://www.flickr.com/photos/alabang/tags/canonef800mmf56lisusm/


Nov 16, 2011
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fotojev
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Registered: Feb 13, 2010
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 24
Review Date: Nov 13, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Speed, IQ, weight is considerable less than other super tele's, robust.
Cons:
Minimal focus distance, prices, F 5.6 is minimum sometimes a bit too dark in viewfinder. Slow with 1.4 extender.

This is simply the best lens at this moment for bird photography. I had the Canon 400mm 2.8 IS and Nikom 600mm VR before this lens.

This lens is clearly the best for me because of the reach. The high-end Nikon bodies have no crop that does not help for the reach. With the 1.4 extender and the 1D mk4 body focussing is rather slow and not really reliable. Manual is better then.

My keepers rate with birds and image quality in general has never been better. For the first time I do not long for another lens which is a really good thing considering the amounts of money one needs to pay!


Nov 13, 2011
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danob
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Registered: Mar 15, 2005
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 289
Review Date: Sep 12, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Superb handling and low weight for such a long focal length
Cons:
Expensive and a tad slow in Low light compared to f4 Super Telephoto lens like 400 or 500mm

This lens is by far the best wildlife lens for Hide/Blind work I own, and also rates high for birds in flight being to my surprise quite hand hold-able.. 4 stops IS is a joy and on a par almost with my 200 f2.. On a Wimberley and solid Tripod. I found the extra reach a real bonus, able to just wait until the action got going and nail some superb shots with a amazing Bokeh..

Focus lock was not quite as good as I would like in low light, but it is 5.6, so has half the light than with a f4 optic. But in my case, with the 1D4 this was not much of a problem with such great ISO performance. Also having gone from a 1D3 to 1D4 the older camera did perform better in lower light in my view.

Only other con is with 800mm you are " looking down a straw " So it will need more work to be able to capture fast moving Targets, and also your long lens technique.. With a shot gun I tend to use two eyes for focus so adapted the use of the other eye so to speak to help to locate the target.. Don't laugh until you try it..


Sep 12, 2011
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PetKal
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Registered: Sep 6, 2007
Location: Canada
Posts: 24075
Review Date: Apr 11, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $12,500.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: The "reach" (obviously), IS, AF drive speed when in the focusing distance ballpark, image quality.
Cons:
AF drive response is poor from very defocused state, front heavy and awkward to handhold, 20m to infinity focusing distance limiter is too long.

I've had this lens for a month now and it is pretty clear what the strengths and weaknesses are. I believe this kind of a lens rating should be based on the lens intended/advertised design features, and not on each user's expectations. However, in order to make the review more useful to people considering the lens purchase, I will state my more personalized experiences/views as well.

The lens succeeds as the ultimate FL instrument. Good image quality similar to 500 f/4 IS, very fast AF (only) on largely prefocused targets, good tracking performance when the target is large and it doesn't change focusing distance too fast, or in a major way, or too erratically. The subject isolation is also very high on distant targets, with fine background blur. Needless to say, 4 stop IS is very capable: this lens can produce blur free images of stationary/slow moving targets at surprisingly low shutter speeed values, when hand held.

However, my view is that 800L is not a suitable lens for generic wildlife photography where sudden and fast movement needs to be captured, or where a greatly variable focusing distance is encountered. Its AF behaviour is similar to a macro lens such as 180L on its full focusing distance range. That is probably an inherent design limitation of such a long lens with an extremely high defocus range. The lens being very nose heavy combined with a very narrow field of view aggravate the lens use for fast response photography hand-held.

People who always seem to be FL starved will probably be happy with 800L. Others moght find that 500 f/4 is a more flexible and more responsive wildlife lens available at significantly less money. In addition, the new 600 f/4 MkII merits a very close look too before plonking $12k+ on a new 800L.
800L is a very specialized long "reach" tool. Its high price doesn't make it the best tool, or even a good tool, for all wildlife photography applications.


Apr 11, 2011
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iammikie
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Registered: Oct 20, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 420
Review Date: Dec 22, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Balance, weight, improved IS, sharpness
Cons:
None

Truly amazing super-tele. I was surprised at how well balanced and light it is. Sharpness comparable to the legendary 500 IS, great improvement in the IS, and works well with the 1.4x TC. What's not to like except that it is expensive, but with the new version II lenses coming out at even higher prices, this could be a bargain!

Dec 22, 2010
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drobertfranz
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Registered: Nov 11, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 693
Review Date: Sep 10, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $10,600.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Extremely sharp optics, Much improved IS, Fast focusing, great balance
Cons:
Pricey but thats the trend these days however compared to the competition... Wait there is none!

I've used many different telephotos over the years and replaced my 600mm F4IS with this lens while holding on to my 500mm F4 and 300mm F2.8. This is without question the best supertele I've ever used. Extremely sharp with great IS that I've been able to handhold effectively down to 1/60th.
The lens is very well balanced, much better than the 600mm and handles very well. The weight reduction is much appreciated and after replacing the lens foot with a 4th Generation design foot the lens is practically as light as my 500mm. Tripod collar design is much improved and the lens roatates much smoother than the 600mm, 500mm etc. I've also noticed this lens focuses faster with all my cameras that the 600mm did. A simply stunning lens............


Sep 10, 2010
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BradleyGibson
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Registered: Jul 28, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 46
Review Date: Dec 17, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $10,900.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Diminutive size for an optic of this length, and very reasonable weight as well.
Cons:
Top 10 cons about this lens: 10. Rather long min. focus distance of 6m (workaround: use extension tubes). 9. "Only" f/5.6 (workaround: use a high-ISO-friendly body). 8. Price (workaround: start playing the lottery?) 7. Price 6. Price ... 1. Did I mention the price? :)

The lens is built to the best of Canon's toughness standards. No plastic--er, I mean--"polycarbonate" barrels here. Yet despite the build quality is actually lighter than the 600 f/4 and 400 f/2.8! 16% lighter, actually!

It takes the same hood as the 400/2.8 (so you an get an idea of the size of the first optic) and is just a hair longer than the 600 f/4 (by only 5mm--the thickness of a few coins.)

I find the lens is handholdable for reasonable lengths of time, but to get every last ounce of quality you'll want to tripod mount it.

On the tripod, the IS 'wanders' negating its effectiveness at longer shutter speeds. The effect cannot be seen in the viewfinder--use LiveView at 10x to watch the scene slide around. Note that this is direct contrast to what Canon says--that the IS is tripod-aware and will help with issues like mirror slap (and presumably shutter vibration, wind vibration, and vibration from the photographer moving about nearby--all of which are issues with this lens). You must turn off IS at slow shutter speeds with this lens. I tested a number of other lenses, tripods and bodies, and have determined this to be normal behavior across the EF 200/2L IS USM, EF 300/2.8L IS USM and EF 800/5.6L IS USM lenses with a 5D Mark II and a 1D Mark III with carbon and aluminum tripods. Others have reported similar behavior with other Canon super-teles. At high shutter speeds, I don't see how it will hurt--IS will at worst turn high-frequency vibration into low-frequency vibration, which the high shutter speed will all but eliminate, yielding sharper pictures.

I found that this lens magnifies the air itself, readily showing heat waves (even with snow on the ground here in Seattle) once the sun comes up. This shows up as somewhat ugly bokeh; I've shot in more stable air (including indoor) and/or with a faster shutter speed to eliminate the problem.

With all the factors 'just right', this lens does just what it claims. Obviously with 16x optical magnifcation, it will demand the very best of your technique to realize this, but the buttery smooth bokeh, and the pin-sharp details will make it all worth it.

Recommended--if you don't mind working on your technique.

-Brad


Dec 17, 2009
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thedigitalbean
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Registered: Jun 24, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 6236
Review Date: Jun 21, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $10,600.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Very sharp, beautiful colors, fast AF, very effective IS, lack of CA
Cons:
Vignetting at f/5.6, price

I've had this lens for 9 months now so I think I have a good idea of its characteristics. I had the 600 before and still have the 500.

The IQ is incredible and its a fine piece of glass. It does vignette at f/5.6. One other difference between this and the 500 and 600 is the lack of CA, even at the edges of the frame. The IS is also a lot of more effective. I've found that I can forego the Wimberley and shoot with a monopod or even short bursts handheld (something I couldn't really do with the 600).

Yes its expensive but the sting of the cost goes away after a few months Smile


Jun 21, 2009
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Dantis
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Registered: May 6, 2009
Location: Lithuania
Posts: 0
Review Date: May 6, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $11,000.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: I believe that this product is wonderful in almost every way...
Cons:
The only problem I have with it is the price, but I guess it's only reasonable.

The lense is very sharp. The ES image stabiliser works very quietly, the most silent of the lenses I've had so far. I used to use Canons' EF 500mm/4L IS USM and the EF 600mm/4L IS USM.
One of the largest advantages of the lense is that it's considably light. It also wonderfully works together with the 1D Mark III.
All in all, I'm very satisfied with this purchase.

Here are some links to picture examples done with this lense:

http://www.birdpix.lt/wallpapers/kurapka_1280x1024.jpg
http://www.birdpix.lt/displayimage.php?pos=-6136
http://www.birdpix.lt/displayimage.php?pos=-5962
http://www.birdpix.lt/displayimage.php?pos=-5844
http://www.birdpix.lt/displayimage.php?pos=-5841
http://www.birdpix.lt/displayimage.php?pos=-5736
http://www.birdpix.lt/displayimage.php?pos=-5735
http://www.birdpix.lt/displayimage.php?pos=-5071


May 6, 2009
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dolina
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Registered: Nov 4, 2008
Location: United States
Posts: 3626
Review Date: Feb 16, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Longest Canon lens in production, 4-stop IS, 1.9lbs lighter than the 600/4L IS, full weather seal, faster AF and age (marketed late 2007, shipped mid-2008). Updated design makes it look like it wasn't designed from the 90's.
Cons:
Some vignetting at f/5.6, price (though justifiable due to its "newness) and a lens case that's two inches too big for airline carry on. Lens cover is cumbersome to use. No AF using EF 2x Ext and center-point AF for EF 1.4x Ext with 1-series bodies only.

This is my first Super Telephoto lens and decided to go big time. It's almost perfect except for the fact that it isn't f/4 but it's understandable seeming it'll weigh much much much more and be longer by maybe a foot.

This lens is perfect for those who aren't willing to go into the water or want to shoot from the comfort of their car seat when doing wildlife photography.

On a full frame body it is perfect for polo games where you are situated in the center field and the horses/riders are at the goal post. On a 1D body it would fill the frame and on a 1.6x cropped body it'll be too long.

When using 2x extenders you lose all AF. While 1.4x extenders allows only center-point AF on a 1-series body.

This is my experience shooting the moon. With the combination of 800L + 2x Ext + 40D body the full moon fills the top and bottom of the frame perfectly.

It would be perfectly priced if it was $1000 more than the 600/4L IS.


Feb 16, 2009
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mikerae
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Registered: Feb 12, 2009
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 59
Review Date: Feb 12, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Outstanding image quality, Image Stabilization, Fast accurate focus, Relatively low weight,
Cons:
Usual silly Canon case and end cover,

I have used the 800 f5.6 since August 08 and the 500 f4 for three years and can give you my opinion on the two lenses I use. The image quality from the 500 is really excellent, however, the 800 is better. The best way I can describe the difference is that the RAW images from the 800 look as if they have been sharpened when compared side by side with the 500 images. The difference is small but still obvious to my eye. I was using the 500 with a lot with a canon 1.4 converter and the 800 image quality is very obviously much better than the 500 + 1.4.

Apart from the step up in image quality with the 800 it also has much improved Image Stabilization that has allowed me to get usable images that I would have found almost impossible with the 500. It is possible to get sharp images from the 800 at ridiculously slow shutter speeds (much slower than 100/sec) when hand holding or resting the lens on a car door etc. Hand held example

http://www.mikerae.com/life-in-the-landscape/52/otters-west-coast-scotland-and-hebrides#image173

resting on hide window example
http://www.mikerae.com/life-in-the-landscape/56/life-and-landscape-in-east-anglia#image181


Feb 12, 2009
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burningheart
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Registered: Mar 20, 2005
Location: Canada
Posts: 2357
Review Date: Jul 30, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Quiet fast focus, excellent image stabilization, great IQ, lighter than thought, can be handheld for short periods of time. Terrific detail very sharp and takes beautiful shots on my modified IR 5D.
Cons:
I would prefer a builtin hood like the old FD version or the 400 F5.6L, The case has no room for accessories and is a little hard to close if you don't get it in just rigt, no negatives on the lens itself.

As I moved from FD to EF lenses this was the only focal length that was not available tha I had in FD. Once this was announced I wanted it. Once it arrived was suprised how light this lens was and how well balanced. Though both weigh essentially the same. The old FD was very front heavy but the EF is better balanced in the center. The first tests were handheld with IS on and it worked great.

I find it very fast to focus, while mounted on my wimberley I was following a small bird quickly moving around the rocks by a creek, each time I depressed the shutter button halfway down it was instant focus.

The lens is tack sharp and even looks great at ISO3200 on a 5D.

Took a few shots with my modified 5D for IR and again extremely fast focus, sharp and great IQ.

What don't I like the is lens hood, you reverse it over the end of the lens and put the lens bag on. I prefer a builtin hood which would be much quicker to setup. For the dollars Canon charges they could have provided a builtin hood. as it turns out this hood is the same as the EF 400 F2.8, even the front lens bag identifies both lenses on it.

The image quality surpases the old FD version by miles.

You may pay a lot more than a shorter focal lengths, but the nice thing is it is 800mm without TC's. No loss of aperature or IQ. Extension tubes are handy to have when using this lens so you can decrease minimum focal length. Great lens highly recommend.


Jul 30, 2008
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JWilsonphoto
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Registered: Jan 16, 2002
Location: United States
Posts: 15893
Review Date: Jul 8, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $11,800.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Build quality, balance, image character, performance.
Cons:
It's not $499.00 :) You get what you pay for.

I picked up my 800 late last week and shot a few test images on the way home. The conditions were challenging, a 100 degree Texas afternoon with heat waves that were almost solid objects. The lens performed well in those conditions, although it was confused at times between the intended subject and the heat waves, completely understandable. On the other hand, if your going for a Monet effect, you can create some incredible images in these conditions.

The second outing was a much cooler morning and closer subjects. The 800 performed flawlessly in every mode. Autofocus is fast and accurate, the character and color of the images produce by this marvel are nothing short of amazing. The lens is nicely balanced, much easier to shoot with than my 600, and I do all my work hand held.

Great work Canon!

Jim Wilson


Jul 8, 2008
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fredster
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Registered: Jun 7, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 232
Review Date: Jun 25, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $11,500.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Images are tack sharp! fast focus, you can hand hold it, one fine piece of equipment!
Cons:
Why Canon did not do this much sooner! cannot fine fault with it.

Today I had a nice day sunny skies so i figured I road test the lens boy was I surprised when I got home and looked at the images a Killer lens to take killer images!! I really fell in love with this lens!!
from X413169 down were all taken today and all were hand held all
are raw images right out of the box. I want to thank Greg for hosting my images.

http://www.gschneiderphoto.com/800samples


Jun 25, 2008
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Scott Salter
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Registered: Sep 8, 2006
Location: Australia
Posts: 0
Review Date: Jun 19, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Longest lens currently in the canon line up but not as long or heavy as the 600 f4. Image quality to die for I repeat to die for!! Can be hand held if your shoulders hold up min can manage one or two shots only. http://www.pbase.com/scottsdigital/800_f56
Cons:
The price but I guess you get what you pay for.



Jun 19, 2008
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Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
16 83516 Jul 16, 2012
Recommended By Average Price
94% of reviewers $11,271.43
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.87
7.75
9.7
ef800_f56lisu_586x225_1_