Last Updated on March 20, 2020
The Canon RF 35mm F1.8 IS STM Macro lens boasts of a super spectra coating, STM stepping AF motor, RF-mount lens/full-frame format, and an aperture range from f/1.8 to f/22. It was announced at the same time that Canon introduced EOS R, the company’s first camera with a mirrorless system.
Video credit: Christopher Frost Photography
The lens is fairly versatile and sensible and is sure to appeal to nature, portraiture, street, and travel photographers. Despite the absence of a sensor-based stabilization, the camera’s image stabilization feature makes this less of an issue.
As a macro camera, it has a close focusing distance of 17cm/6.7 in and a maximum reproduction ratio of 1:2. When mounted on an EOS R or EOS RP camera, you will have access to canon’s full suite of options to rectify aberrations, including lateral chromatic aberration, vignetting, and diffraction.
What’s great about the Canon RF 35mm F1.8 IS STM Macro lens?
- 1:2 macro reproduction
- Affordable price
- Bright aperture
- Crisp optics
- Optical stabilization
What’s not-so-great about the Canon RF 35mm F1.8 IS STM Macro lens?
- Vignette at wide apertures
- Some barrel distortion
- Does not include lens hood or pouch
- Not weather-sealed or fluorine-coated
Now, let’s check out the camera lens in-depth.
Canon RF 35mm F1.8 IS STM Macro lens is compact and lightweight
At just 2.5 by 2.9 in and 10.8 oz in weight, this lens is considered the lightest and most compact RF lens so far. Compared to the EF 35mm F2 IS USM lens, it is 30 g lighter although a fraction wider. While the Nikon Z 35mm f1.8 is weather-sealed, this macro lens from Canon is not.
Because it is lightweight and compact, you can operate it using just one hand when the situation calls for it. The two large switches on the barrel allow you better control over image stabilization and focus mode.
The control ring and the focus ring sit close to each other but are easily distinguished by different finish. You’re unlikely to mistake one from the other. The control ring is also clickable.
Canon RF 35mm F1.8 IS STM Macro lens has admirable autofocus and image stabilization
Fitted with an STM motor, the lens autofocus is reasonably fast. The operation is not quiet, however, with focusing sound captured on video. In normal use, optical stabilization is effective for 3 stops.
What the camera lacks is an internal focus, which results in some barrel distortion of about 1.8% at 35 mm shooting. When extended, the barrel reaches around half an inch when focusing at a distance of 17cm, this means lighting issues are avoided.
Canon RF 35mm F1.8 IS STM Macro lens is sharp but with some distortion
With excellent sharpness at all normal apertures, expect the image quality of the lens to be just as impressive. Wide-open, the details can be a bit hazy, especially at F1.8 but simply use the sharpness to improve a shot.
There’s good consistency across the imaging area and the bokeh is pleasant at a wide aperture. In some situations, the lens may have moderate to severe lateral and longitudinal CA.
Video credit: Dustin Abbott
When used to shoot subjects up-close, the lens has very good detail in the center of the frame. Even at its widest aperture, the same detailed quality is maintained and spills into the peripheries. Enable servo AF, and the main subject is kept crisp even with heavy blurring around it.
Canon RF 35mm F1.8 IS STM Macro lens has many admirable features, especially at its price point. It is excellent for users of the Canon EOS R who want to work with a compact, sharp lens for close-up work and everyday shots. Photographers that regularly shoot in poor weather will find it lacking, especially with the absence of weather sealing.