Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 IS Macro...the Ugly Bokeh KING?

Larsskv

Enthusiast with Canon related GAS
Jun 12, 2015
739
148
Hey there, gang. I went ahead and took some shots that I could easily reproduce tomorrow when I get my Sigma 35mm Art lens in the mail to directly compare bokeh quality at various focus distances. I took them next to my vintage FD 35mm f/2 S.C.C. lens, which is about 40 years old...and it appears to have performed better in terms of background smoothness - very sad but awesome for me because I love my FD lenses. LOL

Just looking through the shots I took it appears that this lens renders some very ugly bokeh from about 8-10ft out. When you focus on closer subjects, the lens does a magnificent job indeed.

Tomorrow when I get the Sigma in hand I will try to post the photos next to each other. Unfortunately for me, the weather conditions will change because it's lightly raining right now, so it will actually be MORE forgiving to the RF and FD mount lenses.
Looking forward to see a comparison to the Sigma. I’m glad you found the bokeh at closer focus distances to be much better, as I did.
 

jd7

EOS 7D MK II
Feb 3, 2013
692
78
Why the desire to switch at all? Better AF? Macro? I liked mine while I had it, but got mega GAS when the ef 35mm f/1.4L II came out. The slightly faster Canon gives me quick and reliable AF with better bokeh. On the other hand, no IS, and it ain't petite.
Reason I was (am?) interested in the RF 35 is the idea of an EOS R + RF 35 being a relatively small and light package to use as a walk around set up while still having good IQ and a reasonably fast aperture (and the IS would be a bonus on some occasions). I used to have a 40 f/2.8 pancake and a 35 f/2 IS for my 6D and I did like having that sort of set up for casual use. I sold the 40 f/2.8 though because of lack of use after I got the 35 f/2 IS ... but then I tried a Sigma 35 Art and stopped using my 35 f/2 IS so it got sold too. I generally use either the 35 Art or 24-70 f/4L IS as my walk around these days - and they do a good job - but the idea of having one small, light prime still appeals to me. Maybe I should just pick up another 40 f/2.8.
 
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jd7

EOS 7D MK II
Feb 3, 2013
692
78
It has been years since I sold of my 35ART, but I would be curious to see how it perform bokeh wise at f1.4 and f1.8 at various distances, up to at least 3 meters from your subject.
I'd be happy to go and take some example shots but I injured my neck last week and I'm still pretty much stuck on the couch at the moment, unfortunately. I'll see if I can find any suitable shots in my photo library as soon as I can, but my photos are all on my desktop computer and at the moment I can't even sit up to use it for very long! (On couch with a laptop at the moment.)

On a side note, I don't recommend straining ligaments in your neck. It will heal but it's not a whole lot of fun in the meantime!
 

Larsskv

Enthusiast with Canon related GAS
Jun 12, 2015
739
148
I'd be happy to go and take some example shots but I injured my neck last week and I'm still pretty much stuck on the couch at the moment, unfortunately. I'll see if I can find any suitable shots in my photo library as soon as I can, but my photos are all on my desktop computer and at the moment I can't even sit up to use it for very long! (On couch with a laptop at the moment.)

On a side note, I don't recommend straining ligaments in your neck. It will heal but it's not a whole lot of fun in the meantime!
If you don’t find any suitable comparison pictures (f1.4 with a focus point 3meters/10 feet away) and a busy background, it is probably because such photos don’t play to a 35mm strengths, and rarely becomes keepers.

I wish you a healthy a speedy recovery!
 
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jd7

EOS 7D MK II
Feb 3, 2013
692
78
If you don’t find any suitable comparison pictures (f1.4 with a focus point 3meters/10 feet away) and a busy background, it is probably because such photos don’t play to a 35mm strengths, and rarely becomes keepers.

I wish you a healthy a speedy recovery!
Thanks! Am recovering but I wouldn't call it speedy at this point :)

I have had a look in my photo library and I haven't found any really good examples of wide aperture shots with the Sigma 35 Art with the subject around 3 meters away and a busy background. As you say, that may be because that style of shot doesn't play to the strengths of a 35mm lens. Anyway, I've attached the closest examples I've found, for whatever they are worth.
 

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Mar 14, 2012
2,224
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I don't have a L-bracket yet for the R, so these were handheld. Shutter speed ranged from 1/1000 to 1/6400s. All at f/1.8. 4 shots each from the EF 35L II with RF/EF adapter and the RF 35 f/1.8 IS. IS was on all the time. Resized to max 3000 pixels to be able to load onto this site.
 

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navastronia

5D Classic
Aug 31, 2018
39
32
Love all this discussion of the EF and RF 35mm lenses. I just upgraded from a 7D to a 5D classic last month and plan to hop into the RF ecosystem in a couple years when there's a great replacement for the 5D IV or the 1DX mii. 35mm is one of my favorite focal lengths, and if you want to see some truly nervous bokeh, see what the Yongnuo EF 35mm does with a busy background ; )
 

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Larsskv

Enthusiast with Canon related GAS
Jun 12, 2015
739
148
Thanks! Am recovering but I wouldn't call it speedy at this point :)

I have had a look in my photo library and I haven't found any really good examples of wide aperture shots with the Sigma 35 Art with the subject around 3 meters away and a busy background. As you say, that may be because that style of shot doesn't play to the strengths of a 35mm lens. Anyway, I've attached the closest examples I've found, for whatever they are worth.
Thank you for sharing! I’m on my phone, so it is hard to make a good opinion, but I’d say the Sigma 35ART does very well in terms of bokeh in your pictures.
 
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Larsskv

Enthusiast with Canon related GAS
Jun 12, 2015
739
148
I don't have a L-bracket yet for the R, so these were handheld. Shutter speed ranged from 1/1000 to 1/6400s. All at f/1.8. 4 shots each from the EF 35L II with RF/EF adapter and the RF 35 f/1.8 IS. IS was on all the time. Resized to max 3000 pixels to be able to load onto this site.
Nice comparison! Thank you for the effort. It is no doubt that the 35LII does better, but from what I’ve seen in my own, and the other RF 35 shots in this thread, the RF 35 has very decent bokeh at closer distances. At longer focus distances, it can have some busy bokeh, which is worse than both the 35LII and Sigma 35ART. That said, if you play on the strengths of the RF35, it should be easy to avoid those situations when bokeh goes bad. Summarized, I am still considering selling my 35LII, after getting the RF35. I will decide after some more experience with the two, and after comparing color and clarity - a strong point for the 35LII.
 
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Larsskv

Enthusiast with Canon related GAS
Jun 12, 2015
739
148
Love all this discussion of the EF and RF 35mm lenses. I just upgraded from a 7D to a 5D classic last month and plan to hop into the RF ecosystem in a couple years when there's a great replacement for the 5D IV or the 1DX mii. 35mm is one of my favorite focal lengths, and if you want to see some truly nervous bokeh, see what the Yongnuo EF 35mm does with a busy background ; )
How do you like the 5D classic? I really like the colors in the cat picture. I consider getting a 5D for use with manual focus lenses.
 
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navastronia

5D Classic
Aug 31, 2018
39
32
How do you like the 5D classic? I really like the colors in the cat picture. I consider getting a 5D for use with manual focus lenses.
Thank you! I love it so far (I actually bought 2 bargain-grade bodies from KEH) and, coincidentally, I'm also getting into manual focus, since the autofocus isn't extremely reliable. It's head and shoulders above any of the crop bodies I've shot with - the colors are charming and the clarity is outstanding, even with cheaper glass.

I recently purchased an Ee-S focusing screen and installed it in one of the bodies, and that's taken my ability to manual focus to another level. I'm also waiting on a 1.2x viewfinder (apparently the Pentax expand o-me53 fits the 5D classic) to help me further. Will post photos when it arrives.

These 2 modifications have set me back only $30 each, and if they help me take better pictures, I'm going to be extremely pleased.

EDIT: in case you haven't seen it yet, here's also a list of manual focus m42 lenses and their compatibility with the 5D classic (link)
 
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Larsskv

Enthusiast with Canon related GAS
Jun 12, 2015
739
148
Thank you! I love it so far (I actually bought 2 bargain-grade bodies from KEH) and, coincidentally, I'm also getting into manual focus, since the autofocus isn't extremely reliable. It's head and shoulders above any of the crop bodies I've shot with - the colors are charming and the clarity is outstanding, even with cheaper glass.

I recently purchased an Ee-S focusing screen and installed it in one of the bodies, and that's taken my ability to manual focus to another level. I'm also waiting on a 1.2x viewfinder (apparently the Pentax expand o-me53 fits the 5D classic) to help me further. Will post photos when it arrives.

These 2 modifications have set me back only $30 each, and if they help me take better pictures, I'm going to be extremely pleased.

EDIT: in case you haven't seen it yet, here's also a list of manual focus m42 lenses and their compatibility with the 5D classic (link)
The appeal to me is to try out the CCD sensor, which seem to provide a different look, compared the CMOS sensors. Further I am a bit drawn to the simplicity of the 5D. Adding that EE-S focusing screen seems like good advice. With good MF lenses, it makes you focus on what you want in focus in a very intuitive way, not needing to fiddle around with focusing points. It helps me being more caught up in the creative process. And of course, you can get the 5D bodies at a very affordable price.

Edit: I just found out I was wrong regarding the CCD. It has a CMOS sensor...
 
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Photorex

EOS RP
Nov 19, 2016
218
22
Back in September I made the decision to purchase a 35mm prime to finally round out my primes which already consisted of a 24, 50, 85, 100, and 135. I got my hands on the EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM lens as a rental and it was pretty easy to fall in love with that big guy. While I make a living using my gear, I am also realistic when it comes to priority of spending money. As a 50mm shooter through and through, I didn't think too keenly about the price tag for a lens that I already knew wouldn't see the level of action I get from my 50mm and 85mm on a weekly basis. The new RF 35mm f/1.8 IS Macro seemed like it might be a good idea for keeping the costs down and the macro capability might be really useful when I shoot food for local restaurants I work with. I rented the lens in early December and started messing around with it - bringing it with me to NYC on my vacation last week. My findings were...disappointing to say the least.

Results:
Before I left for NYC I was already messing around with the RF 35mm around the house and was really shocked how ugly I thought the photos were looking. The bokeh falloff was honestly very sloppy and was distracting in some shots. It was very clear that this lens is designed with shorter focus distances in mind, so images taken of closer subjects honestly look really nice. It isn't until about mid-range and general walk-around photography subjects are captured that you see what this lens does...and that is create some really harsh bokeh. Sadly, this performance has me shying away from buying the lens at this time, as I don't think I would personally have much use for it beyond food photography - which I'm sure this lens will excel at greatly. If you want a beautiful walk-around lens for portraits, events, weddings, and travel, I don't think this is a very good lens for that because of the bokeh quality. It's honestly some of the worst I've ever seen and it makes me sad. It's a pretty darn sharp lens great for grabbing details and shorter range subjects...but it can really create some dud shots.

Samples all shot wide open at f/1.8 on EOS R.
View attachment 182094
After taking this image walking my dog, I instantly knew I wasn't going to like this lens. The subject isolation is extremely poor and the backgrounds preserve a LOT of detail and have too much busyness going on.

View attachment 182095
100% crop shows that the lens performs very well in terms of sharpness and aberration control, but WOW...this is really ugly falloff for an f/1.8 prime.


View attachment 182096
When grabbing detail shots, this lens really does an excellent job creating a beautiful and sharp image. THIS is where the lens shines.

View attachment 182097
100% crop shows how nice the background is rendered and how sharp it is at shorter focusing distances.

View attachment 182098
Globally, to my eye, this image doesn't look very good at all. There is a nerviousness to the transition areas out of the depth of field and it doesn't look horrible, but it doesn't look smooth either. Look toward the top of the frame how the buildings and tree branches look in spite of being much further away from the chair I focused on.

View attachment 182099
100% crop shows the sharpness once again. It's a pretty sharp lens - no surprise - but at f/1.8 and this distance to focus on the subject I would have expected a smoother background.

View attachment 182100
This photo was the nail in the coffin for me with this lens as I think it tuns in an absolutely ugly performance. I'm focused on the sign and the falloff is not only poorly defined, but it doesn't look like an f/1.8 shot and the background is incredibly busy and messy looking. It honestly looks like a "portrait" mode shot from a cell phone.

View attachment 182101
I don't think bokeh performance can get much worse than this. THIS IS f/1.8!!! Instead of creating a nice blur we have image doubling. Everything looks hazy and distracting no matter how far away from the subject things in this shot get. Move your eyes from the ropes on the right, to the garbage ca, to the two people next to the parking meter. There is a solid 10-15 feet distance in depth between each of them and they are all roughly represented.
Maybe the electronic first curtain shutter ist the problem with the bokeh together with certain shutter speeds.

There are already some articles to find about these issue:
https://petapixel.com/2018/12/07/psa-electronic-front-curtain-shutter-may-be-quietly-hurting-your-bokeh/
 
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LSXPhotog

EOS RP
Apr 2, 2015
294
104
www.diossiphotography.com
Maybe the electronic first curtain shutter ist the problem with the bokeh together with certain shutter speeds.

There are already some articles to find about these issue:
https://petapixel.com/2018/12/07/psa-electronic-front-curtain-shutter-may-be-quietly-hurting-your-bokeh/
I have had electronic shutter disabled on my camera since I discovered its impact on using high-speed sync.

https://www.canonrumors.com/forum/index.php?threads/eos-r-banding-with-strobes-how-to-fix.36348/

The lens is entirely the problem, unfortunately.
 

rosw

EOS M50
Sep 13, 2012
25
8
Hi Guys,

this was posted and shared in another post, do check out his pics and see if it is noisy as well

https://delightphoto.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/12/food-work-and-travel-china-november-2018-with-the-rf-35mm-f1-8

Personally i think the best pic taken is "This image off pretty tasty silk worms had blown me away, not because of the food but because of bokeh.... Using macro distances the bokeh is pretty pleasant and creamy..."

i think this lens really shines with excellent bokeh with extreme close up ....

as for general street photography, i let you be the judge, happy to hear your views ....
 
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rosw

EOS M50
Sep 13, 2012
25
8
found these few youtube videos -

do check them out and see if you think they are sharp or have noisy background

1)

2)

3)

4)
 

rosw

EOS M50
Sep 13, 2012
25
8
unfortunately, i cant do the korean-english translation, but do check out the night club video from time 8.41-9.47

hand-hold :)



this video is in english though

 
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rosw

EOS M50
Sep 13, 2012
25
8
Bokeh Distance
The best looking bokeh often takes place in a distance sweet spot, especially with 35mm lenses. When you get past 10 feet with this lens you start to see some issues with bokeh in the corners. You almost get this split image that happens and it can give a very distracting nervous feel. So at f1.8 you’ll want to stay within 10 feet (3 meters) for the best looking bokeh.
This is pretty standard though. I include this in my reviews now because people will often complain about nervous bokeh, or this bokeh or that bokeh, but the quality of bokeh varies massively with distance on most lenses so this lens will be suited well for head shots, but for full body portraits you will get a distracting boke
 

londonxt

I'm New Here
Dec 3, 2018
13
6
Helmsdale-2018 (89 of 174).jpg


Busy Background RF 35 @ f4

I was really enjoying this lens when I first bought it in Japan for travelling and pictures were nice and sharp. But in UK recently I had quite a lot of shockers, not very sharp at f8 etc noticed the shutter speed was often down to 1/60 and I had image stabiliser turned on which I didnt in Japan, plus it was sunnier there at the time. Might try again with IS turned off.