Reviews |Canon RF 16mm F2.8 STM first impressions

Canon RF 16mm F2.8 STM first impressions Review

Canon RF 16mm F2.8 STM
Review

Price when reviewed

£319

$299.99 / €369
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Our Verdict

There’s a time and a place for big, heavy lenses, but sometimes you need something small and light. 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’.

For

  • Very compact and light

Against

  • Single ring for control or manual focusing

What is the Canon RF 16mm F2.8 STM?

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.

The Canon RF 16mm F2.8 STM is available to pre-order from Adorama in the US.

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

Features

Canon has arranged elements in 7 groups inside the RF 16mm F2.8 STM’s compact barrel and the company’s Super Spectra coating has been applied to reduce flare and ghosting.

Focusing is handled by a stepping motor (STM) which is designed to be quiet and smooth-running.

The closest focusing distance is just 13cm from the sensor, at which the maximum magnification of 0.26x is achieved. This means that it’s possible to get very close to your subject while still capturing plenty of interest in the background.

Canon RF 16mm F2.8 STM

Build and Handling

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. Incidentally, if the RF 16mm F2.8 STM is used on a Canon R-series camera in APS-C crop mode, it produces a framing equivalent to a 25.6mm lens on full-frame.

Being small, it also takes a dinky 43mm filter, which is great news as smaller filters cost less.

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.

It’s not the most robust-feeling lens, but at 165g, RF 16mm F2.8 STM is perfect when you want to travel light. It’s also very discreet which could make it a nice lens for wide-angle street photography.

Canon RF 16mm F2.8 STM

Performance

Having used a pre-production sample of the Canon RF 16mm F2.8 STM, I can confirm that its focusing is fast and very quiet. However, I’ve only used it in a meeting room so I’ve yet to use it in earnest or to capture a moving subject.

Looking in the viewfinder of the Canon R6 and the Canon R3 (announced at the same time) with the RF 16mm F2.8 STM mounted, there didn’t appear to be heavy vignetting and details looked crips. However, we’ll have to wait for a full production sample to come in before I can give any detailed comments on the lens.

The Canon RF 16mm F2.8 STM is available to pre-order from Adorama in the US.

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