Best Canon RF Prime Lenses – For Superb Photos

Written by
Sharing Is Caring!

In recent years there has been massive growth in Canon’s new-generation RF lens range. These lenses are designed for Canon EOS R series mirrorless camera bodies. If you consider upgrading to the Canon RF range for your full-frame mirrorless, we will help you get the best prime lens according to your need.

In this article, we will provide a list of our recommendations for Canon prime RF lenses. First, let us discuss briefly some related concepts like what is Canon RF mount, the advantages of using prime lenses, and the different types of autofocus motors.

Canon RF mount

The RF mount was announced by Canon in September 2018. It is a mount designed for its full-frame mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras, and for RF Mount APS-C Cameras.

RF mount is characterized by its wide 54mm diameter and short 20mm flange-back distance, which promotes the ability to design lenses that are both faster and smaller than their SLR equivalents. The RF mount has a 12-pin connection between the camera and lens, compared with 8 pins in the previous EF mount. This enables much faster communication between lens and camera.

What is an RF lens?

RF lenses feature the RF mount which is designed for Canon EOS R series mirrorless bodies. These lenses work on the full-frame EOS R series bodies like the EOS RP, EOS R, EOS R6, EOS R5, EOS R5 C, and EOS R3. They are also compatible with APS-C EOS R series bodies like the EOS R7 and EOS R10. This is often recognised by a red line on the camera body and lens.

The RF lenses feature many advantages such as:

  • Superior image quality and sharpness
  • Faster communication between the lens and the camera body
  • Powerful Image stabilizer
  • It has a lens control ring that offers customisable control over shutter speed, ISO, or exposure compensation.
  • Compact size

What is a prime lens?                                            

A prime lens is a lens with a fixed focal length (fixed angle of view) and typically comes with a maximum aperture of f/1.2-f/2.8. They’re very good for photographers who want the best optical quality and prefer a shallower depth of field in their images. Popular prime lens focal lengths are 35mm, 50mm, and 85mm.

They don’t have a zoom ring and can’t provide optically magnified views of a scene like a zoom lens does. Because a prime lens has a single focal length, you can only change your field of view by getting nearer or farther from your subject, this changes the appearance of your photo by altering your perspective.

What are the advantages of using prime lenses?

There are three advantages that make prime lenses worth the money. This lens features better image quality and improved performance.

The design of Prime lenses has a major feature that is not possible with zoom lenses. Simply, they don’t need all the extra complicated lens elements that zoom lenses do. So, prime lenses have the following advantages:

  • They’re sharper, even at their widest aperture, and they don’t have the same issues with chromatic aberrations, barrel distortion, or pin cushion effect that zoom lenses do.
  • They have a larger maximum aperture. That means more light can enter your camera, allowing you to shoot in low-light situations, and use faster shutter speeds.
  • They are more compact, have less weight, and generally cost much less as they contain much less glass compared to zoom lenses

Types of the autofocus system

The requirement of an autofocus system is quite different when you are using the camera for photography or when you are shooting a video. For normal photography situations, you need a fast and accurate focusing system, however, when shooting videos you need a smoother and silent autofocus system.

Generally, there are two different types of autofocus systems used in Canon lenses: USM (Ultrasonic motor), and STM (Stepping motor)

The STM motor allows the lens to focus smoothly and quietly. The smooth autofocus creates natural and seamless-looking footage so you get clean transitions when moving between subjects or when focusing from the foreground to the background. Additionally, the STM’s near-silent focusing, allows you to record without introducing the motor sound into your video track.

The USM is well known for its extremely fast autofocus, but it is not quite. Recently designed Nano USM combines the speed and precision of USM motors when locking focus onto a subject, with the silent actions of the STM motors.

Best Canon RF Prime Lenses


Table of Contents


Canon RF16mm F2.8 STM

Great for landscapes, interiors, architecture, and large group photos.

Canon RF16mm F2.8 STM


The Canon RF16mm F2.8 STM is an ultra-wide-angle prime lens, it is designed for use with full-frame Canon RF-mount mirrorless digital cameras. It has a bright f/2.8 maximum aperture suits working available lighting conditions, helps control depth of field, and contributes to a sleek form factor.

Its optical design includes one aspherical element that helps control distortion and promotes a high degree of sharpness. Besides an applied super spectra coating to minimize flare and ghosting for improved contrast and colour fidelity when working in strong lighting conditions.

This lens has a stepping motor (STM) that offers fast, quiet, smooth, and accurate autofocus performance that is ideal for video recording as well as still shooting. And its minimum focusing distance of 5.1″, along with a maximum magnification of 0.26x, makes this a unique option for close-up shooting while retaining a great depth of field.

Finally, the lens has a configurable control ring which can be used to adjust a variety of exposure settings, including aperture, ISO, and exposure compensation.

Pros & Cons

Pros:Cons:
Compact High distortion
AffordableHeavy vignette
Accurate focusHas chromatic aberrations
AF eye tracking for vloggingCorners aren’t sharp at wide apertures
High magnification
Good center sharpness
Excellent flare resistance

Specification

Focal Length16mm
Maximum Aperturef/2.8
Minimum Aperturef/22
Lens MountCanon RF
Lens Format CoverageFull-Frame
Angle of View108° 10'
Minimum Focus Distance5.1" / 13 cm
Maximum Magnification0.26x
Optical Design9 Elements in 7 Groups
Diaphragm Blades7, Rounded
Focus TypeAutofocus
Image StabilizationNo
Filter Size43 mm (Front)
Dimensions (ø x L)1.6 x 2.7" / 40.1 x 69.2 mm
Weight5.8 oz / 165 g

landscape and mountains

Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash

Back


Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 IS STM Macro Lens

Great for street and travel photos

Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 IS STM Macro Lens


This lens is suitable for, portraiture and even landscape photographers.

The RF 35mm F1.8 is reasonably compact at only 2.9″ (74.4mm) in diameter and 2.5″ (62.8mm) in length and weighs in at a diminutive 10.8oz (305g).  This makes it very comparable in size and weight to the Canon EF 35mm F2 IS.

The lens has a bright f/1.8 maximum aperture which offers more control over depth of field and also suits working in a variety of lighting conditions. The Autofocus of the RF 35mm F1.8’s STM motor is reasonably speedy, but it is not silent enough, video shooters may find that some focusing sound is recorded in captured footage.

In addition, it has optical image stabilization, which helps to minimize the appearance of camera shake by up to five stops, and enables the photographer to work in low-light conditions and with slower shutter speeds., while ‘Macro’ in the name indicates a close focusing distance of 17cm / 6.7 in

Finally, the lens has a configurable Control Ring which lets you adjust exposure settings, including ISO, aperture, and exposure compensation, from the lens itself.

Pros & Cons

PROSCONS
Small and lightweightNo weather sealing.
Fast to focus
Image stabilization
Excellent bokeh
Affordable

Specification

Focal Length35mm
Maximum Aperturef/1.8
Minimum Aperturef/22
Lens MountCanon RF
Lens Format CoverageFull-Frame
Angle of View63°
Minimum Focus Distance6.69" / 17 cm
Maximum Magnification0.5x
Macro Reproduction Ratio1970-01-01 01:02:00
Optical Design11 Elements in 9 Groups
Diaphragm Blades9, Rounded
Focus TypeAutofocus
Image StabilizationYes
Filter Size52 mm (Front)
Dimensions (ø x L)2.93 x 2.47" / 74.4 x 62.8 mm
Length at Maximum Extension2.44" / 62 mm
Weight10.76 oz / 305 g

 Portrait of a beautiful girl

Photo by Alex Suprun on Unsplash

Back


Canon RF 50mm F/1.8 STM

Great starter lens, extremely popular and affordable

Canon RF 50mm F/1.8 STM


The Canon RF 50mm f/1.8 STM is a prime lens offering a classic, versatile field of view and an especially compact design. An ideal lens for everyday, walk-around shooting, this 50mm f/1.8 is characterized by its bright design for available light shooting and appropriate depth of field control.

The optical design incorporates one aspherical element, which reduces spherical aberrations and distortion, and also sports a Super Spectra coating to minimize flare and ghosting for improved contrast and colour accuracy.

Its focusing system includes an STM stepping motor that offers fast, quiet, smooth, and accurate autofocus performance that is ideal for video recording as well as still shooting. Additionally, a configurable Control Ring lets you adjust exposure settings, including ISO, aperture, and exposure compensation, from the lens itself.

Pros & Cons

PROSCONS
Small and lightAutofocus adds some noise when shooting video
Bright F/1.8 Not the sharpest at f/1.8
Very affordableNot weather sealed
Hybrid Focus/Control ring

Specification

Focal Length50mm
Maximum Aperturef/1.8
Minimum Aperturef/22
Lens MountCanon RF
Lens Format CoverageFull-Frame
Angle of View46°
Minimum Focus Distance11.8" / 30 cm
Maximum Magnification0.25x
Diaphragm Blades7, Rounded
Focus TypeAutofocus
Image StabilizationNo
Filter Size43 mm (Front)
Dimensions (ø x L)2.7 x 1.6" / 69 x 40 mm
Weight5.6 oz / 160 g

Close shot of a plant

Photo by Muhammed Zafer Yahsi on Unsplash

Back


Canon RF 50mm F/1.2 L USM

Super-fast with “L” level performance, it’s expensive because it offers high performance

Canon RF 50mm F/1.8 STM


The Canon RF 50mm F1.2 L USM Lens has professional-grade build quality, impressive image quality, and very accurate AF. Combine those qualities with a general purposes focal length and the end result will be the most-used lens in many kits.

It is distinguished by its speed due to its bright f/1.2 maximum aperture. The bright aperture allows for excellent results in difficult lighting conditions and also benefits working with shallow depth of field and selective focus techniques.

The lens optical design incorporates one UD element and one aspherical element, which help to reduce both chromatic and spherical aberrations in order to produce greater clarity and sharpness.

This lens has a ring-type Ultrasonic Motor (USM), focusing algorithms, and a high-speed CPU that delivers fast, precise, and quiet autofocus performance as well as full-time manual focus override.

Additionally, the lens has a weather-resistant design (Canon “L” series) that protects against dust and moisture

Pros & Cons

PROSCONS
Impressive image qualityExpensive
Weather sealingNo image stabilization
Fast autofocus
Solid Build quality

Specification

Focal Length50mm
Maximum Aperturef/1.2
Minimum Aperturef/16
Lens MountCanon RF
Lens Format CoverageFull-Frame
Angle of View46°
Minimum Focus Distance1.31' / 40 cm
Maximum Magnification0.19x
Optical Design15 Elements in 9 Groups
Diaphragm Blades10, Rounded
Focus TypeAutofocus
Image StabilizationNo
Filter Size77 mm (Front)
Dimensions (ø x L)3.54 x 4.25" / 89.8 x 108 mm
Weight2.09 lb / 950 g

A car moving very fast

Photo by Max Burchill on Unsplash

Back


Canon RF 85mm F/2 Macro IS STM

It is great for Portraits, weddings, and Macros on a budget

Canon RF 85mm F/2 Macro IS STM


The Canon RF 85mm F/2 Macro IS STM is a portrait-length prime, and it is designed for use with full-frame Canon RF-mount mirrorless digital cameras. The lens has a modestly bright f/2 maximum aperture that benefits working in available lighting conditions.

This lens with its macro design benefits working with close-up subjects and provides a 1:2 maximum magnification along with a minimum focusing distance of 1.15′. Also, the Optical Image Stabilizer helps to minimize the appearance of camera shake by up to five stops to better enable working in low-light conditions and with slower shutter speeds.

Its STM stepping motor offers fast, quiet, smooth, and accurate autofocus performance that is ideal for video recording as well as still shooting.

Like all RF lenses, the RF 85mm f/2 has a configurable control ring that can be used to adjust a variety of exposure settings, including aperture, ISO, and exposure compensation.

Pros & Cons

ProsCons
Small and lightweightMade of plastic
A large aperture (f/2) for a shallow depth of fieldNo internal focus system
Image stabilization rated up to 5 stopsOnly linear focusing possible, no variable speed
Accurate and fast STM focus systemMacro has only a 1:2 reproduction rate
Image sharpness is very goodChromatic aberration is quite prominent at f/2
Price (affordable)No weather-sealing

Specification

Focal Length85mm
Maximum Aperturef/2
Lens MountCanon RF
Lens Format CoverageFull-Frame
Angle of View28° 30'
Minimum Focus Distance1.15' / 35.05 cm
Maximum Magnification0.5x
Macro Reproduction Ratio1970-01-01 01:02:00
Optical Design12 Elements in 11 Groups
Diaphragm Blades9, Rounded
Focus TypeAutofocus
Image StabilizationYes
Filter Size67 mm (Front)
Dimensions (ø x L)3.07 x 3.56" / 78 x 90.5 mm
Length at Maximum Extension3.54" / 90 mm
Weight17.64 oz / 500 g

Face portraitof lovely lady

Photo by Alexandru Zdrobău on Unsplash

Back


CANON RF 85mm F/1.2 L USM

It is great for professional portraits and weddings photos

CANON RF 85mm F/1.2 L USM


The CANON RF 85mm F/1.2 L USM is a portrait-length prime lens, that is designed for full-frame Canon RF-mount mirrorless digital cameras.

It has an exceptionally bright f/1.2 maximum aperture, which affords extensive control over the depth of field for selective focus applications and also benefits working in low-light situations.

Its optical design includes Blue Spectrum Refractive Optics element that virtually eliminates colour fringing and chromatic aberrations. And one aspherical element and one UD element also help to control aberrations and distortions for sharper, clearer image quality.

Additionally, an Air Sphere Coating (ASC) has been applied to lens elements to reduce backlit flaring and ghosting for maintained light transmission and high contrast in strong lighting conditions.

The focusing system includes a ring-type Ultrasonic Motor (USM) that deliver fast, precise, and quiet autofocus performance as well as a full-time manual focus override.

Finally, the lens has a configurable Control Ring, which allows you to adjust a variety of exposure settings, including aperture, ISO, and exposure compensation. As a member of the Canon L-series, this lens has a weather-resistant design that protects against dust and moisture.

Pros & Cons

PROSCONS
Ultra-fast apertureLacks image stabilization
Snappy autofocusHeavy
Razor-sharpExpensive
Excellent image quality
Robust weather sealing

Specification

Focal Length85mm
Maximum Aperturef/1.2
Minimum Aperturef/16
Lens MountCanon RF
Lens Format CoverageFull-Frame
Angle of View28° 30'