Buyers Guides |Best Canon RF lenses in 2022

The Buyers guide to...Best Canon RF lenses in 2022

From wide-angle primes to telephoto zooms, we've chosen the best Canon RF lenses to start your collection

Canon RF 15-35MM F2.8L IS USM
Buyers Guide

Choosing the best Canon RF lenses for your EOS R system camera is easier than it once was. Now four years into the development of Canon’s mirrorless EOS R system, there are now plenty of optics to choose from. The Canon RF range began as a handful of primes in 2018 and has grown into a diverse system of more than 26 optics that offers everything from wide-angle zooms to standard zooms to super telephoto lenses. There’s even now a dual fisheye lens for shooting 180 VR content!

Before we round up our picks for the best Canon RF lenses, though, let’s take a look at the Canon RF mount design and what makes it so innovative.

RF mount dimensions

The Canon RF is the same 54mm diameter as the old EF mount, which supports ultra-wide apertures. However, Canon has dramatically reduced the flange back distance from 44mm to 20mm. What this means is that the back of the lens now sits much closer to the image sensor on RF mount bodies. This design cuts down on bending light rays that previously would pass through the lens and create aberrations and other distortions.

What’s more, the reduced flange distance means Canon can design its RF lenses and R system camera bodies much smaller and, thus, lighter.

Can I use a Canon EF lens on an RF mount body?

You can use Canon EF lenses on an RF mount body only with an adapter. Though Canon EF and RF lenses have the same 54mm diameter, they cannot be used interchangeably. Both lens mounts have a three-tab bayonet design, but they bayonets are placed in different positions.

To use your EF lenses on an R system camera, you’ll need the Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R. This adapter also lets you many any EF-S lenses you may have. You can also use Canon’s Control Ring Mount Adapter EF-EOS R, which is effectively the same but adds a Lens Control Ring that you can customise to control different exposure settings.

12-pin connection

The other innovation of the RF mount design are its 12 points for data transfer around mount. Canon EF mount bodies had eight pins, so the RF mount offers a 50% increase. This means RF lenses and R system bodies can work in tandem to share higher volumes of data at faster rates.

What are the actual benefits of this faster data transfer? As a photographer you’ll realise these benefits in better AF performance, image stabilisation and better, faster overall performance.

In-lens Image Stabilisation

Some Canon RF lenses come equipped with in-lens Image Stabilisation. These lenses have a built-in dual gyro sensor that can detect motion blur from your movements. This dual gyro sensor system then sends a message to the camera’s processor, and the camera accounts for the movement. While many other lenses out there have similar in-lens stabilisation systems, what makes the RF lenses’ system unique are its dual sensors, which are designed to ascertain more nuanced movements.

The best Canon RF lenses you can buy today

As we mentioned above, there are now 26 Canon RF lenses you can choose from at the time of writing. We won’t list them all here. Instead, we’ve focused on the best Canon RF lenses to start your collection, choosing optics to cover all the most common focal lengths.

Canon RF 28-70mm F2L USM

Canon RF 28-70mm F2L USM

Specification

  • Product type: Standard zoom lens
  • Announced: 5th September 2018
  • Mount: Canon RF
  • Format: Full-frame
  • Focal length: 28-70mm
  • Maximum aperture: f/2.0
  • Minimum aperture: f/22
  • Construction: 19 elements in 13 groups
  • Coatings: ASC (Air Sphere Coating), Super Spectra and fluorine
  • Focusing system: USM
  • Minimum focus distance: 39cm from the focal plane
  • Maximum reproduction ratio: 0.18x
  • Stabilisation: No
  • Number of diaphragm blades: 9
  • Filter size: 95mm
  • Weight: 1430g
  • Diameter x length: 103.8 x 139.8

The Canon RF 288-70mm f2L USM is an unusual lens. It’s a full-frame zoom lens covering a popular focal length range (although 24-70mm is more common), with a larger than average constant aperture of f/2.0. This large aperture is useful in low light conditions and when the background needs a bit of extra blur, but it also makes the lens very big and heavy.

In fact, at 1430g, the RF 28-70mm f/2L USM is 360g heavier than the RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS. As a result, it’s cumbersome to use it routinely and it seems a mismatch with cameras like the Canon EOS R5 and R6.

However, if you can stand the weight and large proportions of the RF 288-70mm f2L USM, it’s capable of delivering very high quality images with an excellent level of detail throughout the focal length range and when wide-open.

You can find the Canon RF 28-70mm F2L USM on Amazon UK.

Price when reviewed
£3109
$2999
Check current price

For

  • Superb image quality
  • Fast maximum aperture
  • Robust build with weather-sealing

Against

  • Huge and heavy for the focal length
  • Unstabilised
  • No 'de-click' switch for the control ring

Canon RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM

Canon RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM Review

Specification

  • Product type: Zoom lens
  • Mount: Canon RF
  • Format: Full-frame
  • Focal length: 24-240mm
  • Maximum aperture: f/4-6.3
  • Minimum aperture: f/22-38
  • Construction: 21 elements in 15 groups, with Aspherical and UD elements
  • Coatings: No
  • Focusing system: Nano USM Autofocus
  • Minimum focus distance: 0.5
  • Stabilisation: Yes, 5 Stop IS with Dynamic IS
  • Number of diaphragm blades: 7
  • Filter size: 72mm
  • Weight: 750g
  • Diameter x length (extension from lens mount): 80.4 x 122.5mm

A focal length range of 24-240mm is very attractive for a range of shooting opportunities. The 24mm end is useful for street, landscape and interior photography, while the long end is handy for sport, wildlife and capturing distant objects. Then the range in-between is useful for all manner of situations, including portraits and candid photography.

Offering a 10x zoom range, the Canon RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM offers a compact design and lightweight build at just 750g making it extremely portable for any of those genres listed above.

The Canon RF 24-240mm should also appeal to the photographer on the go thanks to its five-stop image stabilisation, which promises shake-free images in low-light conditions as well as stable video footage.

The Canon RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM construction features a circular seven-bladed variable f/4-6.3 aperture and both aspheric and ultra-dispersal lens elements. There’s also a Super Spectra Coating to help reduce ghosting and flare.

On the lens barrel is a diamond knurled focus/control ring and a lockable zoom ring with 100° rotation. There’s also built-in DLO Profile and Electronic Distortion Correction.

You can find the Canon RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Price when reviewed
£929
$899
Check current price

For

  • 10x zoom
  • 5-stops image stabilisation
  • Customisable Control Ring

Against

  • Doesn't come with a lens hood

Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 MACRO IS STM

Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 MACRO IS STM

Specification

  • Product type: Full-frame wideangle prime
  • Mount: Canon RF
  • Format: Full-frame
  • Focal length: 35mm
  • Maximum aperture: f/1.8
  • Minimum aperture: f/22
  • Construction: 11 Elements in 9 Groups
  • Maximum magnification ratio: 0.5x
  • Minimum focus distance: 17cm
  • Stabilisation: Yes
  • Number of diaphragm blades: 11
  • Filter size: 52mm
  • Weight: 305g
  • Diameter x length (extension from lens mount): 74.4mm x 62.8mm

Canon’s RF 35mm f/1.8 IS Macro STM is compact and lightweight that is quite a unique wide-angle prime in that it offers the versatility you get from this focal length and adding in the capability of a 1:2 macro optic.

A Super Spectra coating helps keep ghosting and flare at bay, which also helps for more accurate colours. Also, an STM motor helps it achieve quiet, smooth AF performance, making it one of the best 35mm lenses on this list for video.

What’s more, it boasts a five-stop image stabilisation and a customisable Control Ring where you can adjust exposure settings. All of this for a very affordable price tag.

Price when reviewed
£529
$499
Check current price

For

  • 1:2 macro capability
  • 5 stops image stabilisation
  • Excellent image quality

Against

  • None

Canon RF 50mm F1.8 STM

Canon RF 50mm F1.8 STM

Specification

  • Lens type: Full-frame standard prime
  • Announced: 4th November 2020
  • Mount: Canon RF
  • Focal length: 50mm
  • Maximum aperture: f/1.8
  • Stabilisation: No
  • Weather-sealed: No

Canon completely redesigned the RF 50mm F1.8 STM compared to the old EF 50mm f/1.8 and has given it a higher optical standard. The new construction features PMo aspherical lenses for improved image quality and Super Spectra Coating technology, for reduced ghosting, flare, and aberration.

It uses an STM focusing motor, which helps to keep the price down, and although quiet it will be audible when used during video shots using the camera’s on-board mic.

A popular focal length, the RF 50mm F1.8 STM captures an angle of view close to our eyes, while the large aperture enables lenty of control over depth of field.

Find the latest deals on the Canon RF 50mm F1.8 STM at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Price when reviewed
£220
€249.99
Check current price

Canon RF 70-200mm F4L IS USM

Canon RF 70-200mm F4L IS USM

Specification

  • Lens type: Full-frame telephoto zoom
  • Announced: 4th November 2020
  • Mount: Canon RF
  • Focal length: 70-200mm
  • Maximum aperture: f/4
  • Stabilisation: Lens-based to 5EV, up to 7.5EV with the Canon EOS R5 or R6
  • Weather-sealed: Yes

The Canon RF 70-200mm F4L IS USM is the world’s shortest and lightest interchangeable 70-200mm f/4 lens.

It has a collapsible design and although when it’s extended it’s almost identical in length to the EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II USM, when it’s collapsed its just 11.9cm long so it will fit in the space normally occupied by a standard f/4 zoom lens. It also weighs just 695g.

The RF 70-200mm F4L IS USM has Air Sphere Coating, four Ultra Low Dispersion (UD) lenses, and a focusing distance of 0.6m – down from 1m with the EF lens. It also has a 9-blade aperture which is a constant f/4 throughout the zoom range.

In addition, it is dust- and weather-sealed while the lens’ front element is fluorine-coated to help repel dirt and water droplets.

The IS in its name indicates that the RF 70-200mm F4L IS USM has Canon’s Optical Image Stabilizer, which in this case offers up to 5 stops of shutter speed compensation. When mounted on the Canon EOS R6 or R5, however, the compensation reaches up to 7.5 stops.

The RF 70-200mm F4L IS USM features Dual Nano USM autofocus motors for near-silent focusing, making it suitable for use when shooting video.

You can buy the Canon RF 70-200mm F4L IS USM at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Price when reviewed
£1700
€1969.99
Check current price

For

  • Collapsible design
  • Canon’s Optical Image Stabilizer provides 5 stops compensation

Against

  • Expensive

Best Canon RF lens for portraits

It’s not cheap, but Canon’s RF 85mm F1.2L USM offers everything you could want or need from a portrait lens. As 85mm is a common focal length for portraiture, the RF 85mm F1.2L series lens will deliver the high-resolution images demanded by the latest cameras and technology.

Canon RF 85mm F1.2L USM

Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM DS

Specification

  • Product type: Short telephoto lens
  • Mount: Canon RF
  • Format: Full-frame
  • Focal length: 85mm
  • Maximum aperture: f/1.2
  • Minimum aperture: f/16
  • Construction: 13 elements in 9 groups, with Aspherical and UD elements
  • Coatings: ASC (Air Sphere Coating)
  • Focusing system: USM
  • Minimum focus distance: 0.85m
  • Stabilisation: No
  • Number of diaphragm blades: 9
  • Filter size: 82mm
  • Weight: 1195g
  • Diameter x length (extension from lens mount): 103.2 x 117.3mm

Canon’s L-Series has always been the mark for optical quality and the RF 85MM F1.2L USM is one of the fastest aperture autofocus lenses you can buy for portraiture.

Partnering the lens with Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF, the fast f/1.2 aperture is able to render stunning shallow depth of field to create bokeh and background separation.

The nine-aperture blade system has been designed to enhance the subject against a blurred background, making it the perfect choice for portraiture . This ultra-wide f/1.2 aperture transmits 50% more light than an f/1.4 lens – down to -6EV (EOS R) and -5EV (EOS RP).

Also inside this lens is Canon’s BR Optical technology, which corrects axial chromatic aberration that cannot be corrected using glass alone. The result is improved resolution and sharpness across the frame.

You can find the Canon RF 85mm F1.2L USM at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Price when reviewed
£2869
$2999
Check current price

For

  • Very Large f/1.2 aperture with 9-blade aperture for superior low light performance
  • Control Ring giving direct control over Tv/Av/ISO settings

Against

  • Very heavy

Best Canon RF lens for landscapes

It might have a hefty price tag, but the Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM performs exceptionally well, keeping barrel and pincushion distortion under impressive control, delivering bright corners and not suffering from chromatic aberration. If you’re in the market for a great RF-mount lens for landscapes, you might want to start saving.

Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM

Canon RF 15-35MM F2.8L IS USM

Specification

  • Product type: Wide-angle zoom lens
  • Announced: August 2019
  • Mount: Canon RF
  • Format: Full-frame
  • Focal length: 15-35mm
  • Maximum aperture: f/2.8
  • Minimum aperture: f/22
  • Construction: 16 elements in 12 groups with 3 aspherical and 2 UD elements
  • Coatings: Subwavelength structure coating (SWC), ASC (Air Sphere Coating)
  • Focusing system: Nano USM
  • Minimum focus distance: 28cm from the focal plane throughout the zoom range
  • Maximum reproduction ratio: 0.21x at 35mm
  • Stabilisation: Yes to 5 stops
  • Number of diaphragm blades: 9
  • Filter size: 82mm
  • Weight: 840g
  • Diameter x length: 88.5 x 126.8

Wide and fast, the Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM is an attractive lens for landscape photographers using a Canon R-series camera such as the Canon EOS R5.

Despite having a slightly wider focal length range, the RF 15-35mm f/2.8L is a fraction smaller than its closest match in the EF mount, the EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM. A 1mm difference might not sound much, but it’s significant with very wide lenses.

Combined with the closest focusing of 28cm throughout the zoom range to enable foreground elements to loom large, that extra width could be especially useful for landscape photography. And in low light, the image stabilisation, which extends the safe hand-holdable shutter speed by up to 5EV, could be very handy.

Being a Canon RF lens, the 15-35mm f/2.8L has a customisable lens ring, which is helpful for making intuitive adjustments to aspects such as the aperture or exposure compensation.

You can find the Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM on Amazon UK and Amazon USA

Price when reviewed
£2389
$2299
Check current price

For

  • Excellent optical quality with minimal distortion
  • Attractive focal length range
  • 5-stop image stabilisation

Against

  • High price
  • Big and heavy
  • No 'de-click' switch for the control ring

Best Canon RF lens for wildlife

Yes, there are other wildlife lenses in the Canon RF stable. But the RF 400mm F2.8L IS USM, which is aimed squarely at pro wildlife photographers, retails for £12,440/$11,999 and the RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM costs £2,979 / $2,799, putting both beyond the reach of most enthusiasts, but the RF 100-400mm F5.6-8 IS USM is a viable alternative. It’s also lighter and more manageable than a faster comparable lens.

Canon RF 100-400mm F5.6-8 IS USM

Canon RF 100-400mm F5.6-8 IS USM review

Specification

  • Product type: Telephoto zoom lens
  • Mount: Canon RF
  • Format: Full-frame
  • Focal length: 100-400mm
  • Maximum aperture: 100mm: f/5.6, 400mm f/8
  • Minimum aperture: 100mm: f/32, 400mm: f/45
  • Construction: 12 elements in 9 groups with 1 UD (ultra-low dispersion) element and 1 PMo (plastic-moulded) aspherical element
  • Coatings: Supra Spectra
  • Focusing system: Nano USM
  • Minimum focus distance: 0.88m
  • Maximum Magnification: 0.41x
  • Stabilisation: Up to 5.5EV alone or 6EV with IBIS
  • Number of diaphragm blades: 9
  • Filter size: 67mm
  • Compatible teleconverters: Extender RF 1.4x and Extender RF 2x
  • Weight: 635g
  • Diameter x length (extension from lens mount): 79.5 x 164.7mm
Price when reviewed
£700
$649.99 / €799.99
Check current price

For

  • Affordable
  • Compact and lightweight for the focal length

Against

  • Maximum aperture f/8 at 400mm

Best Canon RF lens for astrophotography

With a 16mm focal length, the Canon RF 16mm F2.8 STM gives an ultra-wide view that can be ideal for capturing impactful landscapes or the night sky and at just 165g in weight, you won’t mind slipping it in your bag ‘just in case’.

Canon RF 16mm F2.8 STM

Canon RF 16mm F2.8 STM

Specification

  • Product type: Full-frame wideangle prime
  • Mount: Canon RF
  • Format: Full-frame
  • Focal length: 16mm
  • Maximum aperture: f/2.8
  • Minimum aperture: f/22
  • Construction: 9 Elements in 7 Groups
  • Minimum focus distance: 13cm
  • Maximum magnification ratio: 0.26x
  • Stabilisation: No
  • Number of diaphragm blades: 7
  • Filter size: 43mm
  • Diameter x length (extension from lens mount): 69.2 x 40.1mm
  • Weight: 165g

The Canon RF 16mm F2.8 STM is the first ultra-wide Canon RF lens. Its 16mm focal length and full-frame coverage make it a good choice for astrophotography but it can also be used for landscape photography, cityscapes, group portraits and vlogging.

With a maximum diameter of just 69.2mm and at 40.1mm in length, the Canon RF 16mm F2.8 STM seems tiny. You could easily think that its an EF-M mount lens and designed for an APS-C format camera like the Canon EOS M5 Mark II.

As a result of its small size, the RF 16mm F2.8 STM only has one control ring. This can be swapped between being used for manual focusing or to adjust aspects such as the aperture, sensitivity (ISO) or exposure compensation with a flick of the switch on its barrel.

The RF 16mm F2.8 STM offers a minimum focusing distance of 0.13m and a maximum magnification ratio of 0.26x. Other features include a 43mm filter thread and weighs just 165g.

You can find the latest deals on the Canon RF 16mm F2.8 STM at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Price when reviewed
£319
$299.99 / €369
Check current price

For

  • Very compact and light

Against

  • Single ring for control or manual focusing
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments