OpticalLimits reviews the Canon EOS RF 16mm F2.8 STM

Del Paso

M3 Singlestroke
CR Pro
Aug 9, 2018
1,694
1,940
It was a joke response, but based on fact. These are not the crap feedback reports you get on the internet based on random reporting. The Consumer Association in the UK "Which" has a proper ratings procedure based on their members reporting how often their cars went back for for repairs etc etc. Mercedes did badly in that too. I have had 3 Mercedes, including an upmarket cabriolet, and my own personal experience is that they are unreliable. Mercedes went down the reliability drain when they had their ill-fated merger with Chrysler, and decided their earlier legendary reliable models were over-engineered. My current Toyota is in a different league. "Which" is highly reliable and the reports are available in detail only to paid up subscribers, one of which I am, and I wouldn't pay for them and then pay more for a pinch of salt.
I understood it was a joke.
Besides, I fully agree with you...I also drive a Japanese car, (but no Coyota- sorry for that ;)) and I am fully satisfied. Often it comes down to innovation vs. reliability!
 

AJ

EOS R
Sep 11, 2010
805
226
My copy of the RF16mm is better in the corners (after correction) than my copy of the EF17-40mm. And it's much sharper in the center. But I do miss the ability to zoom, 16mm is too wide for most of the things I use it for, but 45MP gives me more than enough pixels to crop in post :)

I don't know how your copy of the 17-40 compares to mine and how important corner performance is for your work, so take the above with a grain of salt.
Hopefully the rumored 24/1.8 STM macro will be announced soon, and hopefully it'll be another compact and inexpensive lens.
That should make for a nice combo with the 16/2.8. For most uses one doesn't really need anything in between.
 

Shellbo6901

EOS M50
Jan 16, 2015
47
10
My copy of the RF16mm is better in the corners (after correction) than my copy of the EF17-40mm. And it's much sharper in the center. But I do miss the ability to zoom, 16mm is too wide for most of the things I use it for, but 45MP gives me more than enough pixels to crop in post :)

I don't know how your copy of the 17-40 compares to mine and how important corner performance is for your work, so take the above with a grain of salt.
thanks. The 17 works fine for 85% of the rooms in a house I have to shoot, but if the 16mm isn't any worse that for $199 it would be a no brainer but not if cropping is needed bc then it'd be pointless. I may just have to try it and return it bc i have yet to see a review of it from the real estate aspect.
 

gbc

EOS M6 Mark II
Oct 19, 2018
79
96
Ultra-wides are typically used for:

Landscapes, which usually require sharpness right into the edges and corners.
Architecture, which requires high sharpness across most of the field, and freedom from aberrations.
Astro, which requires very high sharpness and freedom from distortion and aberrations.

Even at the more forgiving 20MP resolution of an R6, it would seem highly unsuitable for any of the above.

I see this as a lens for experimenters - people who want to "play" with ultra-wide just to see how they get on with it, but who aren't remotely interested in forking out the kind of dosh needed for an L optic. The cost is so low that it will tempt many people who would otherwise have steered clear of such short a focal length.

It will sell extremely well, and those who find that they enjoy ultra-wide shooting, will end up upgrading to an L of similar focal length, so yet again it's a win-win for clever old Canon!
I've been using this lens for concert photography, and it has been a fantastic replacement to my Tokina 11-16mm, which I could only use as a 15-16mm anyway since it's an EF-S lens. But this 16mm is so small that I never have to think twice about bringing it, and it's fantastic at getting close-up shots of an entire band, spread across a big stage. Yes, the edges look... not the best, but combine the size, price, and overall image quality, and I don't think I'd use any other ultra wide lens. When I'm reaching in my bag, I have a tough time telling it apart from my RF-EF adapter.
I've also used it a bit for astrophotography, which is not really my forte, but this lens has been more than capable of getting some pretty good Milky Way shots or other shots where most of the attention is in the center of the frame.
 
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entoman

wildlife photography
May 8, 2015
1,012
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I've been using this lens for concert photography, and it has been a fantastic replacement to my Tokina 11-16mm, which I could only use as a 15-16mm anyway since it's an EF-S lens. But this 16mm is so small that I never have to think twice about bringing it, and it's fantastic at getting close-up shots of an entire band, spread across a big stage. Yes, the edges look... not the best, but combine the size, price, and overall image quality, and I don't think I'd use any other ultra wide lens. When I'm reaching in my bag, I have a tough time telling it apart from my RF-EF adapter.
I've also used it a bit for astrophotography, which is not really my forte, but this lens has been more than capable of getting some pretty good Milky Way shots or other shots where most of the attention is in the center of the frame.
Rock concerts is a good example of a situation where edge sharpness isn't critical, so I agree the RF 16mm is a good option, especially considering the price.

I'd be interested in hearing additional opinions from other astro shooters though, as it seems to be an application where sharpness and freedom from aberrations are absolutely paramount.
 
Nov 9, 2020
7
7
I'm very sorry to see that canon has only focused on a professional line and a very cheap one. There is a middle lens class missing, of compact prime lens not necessarily ultra-bright but of quality and with weather sealing. From this point of view, it must be admitted, at the moment, in the choice of lens the competition really offers much more.
 
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Oct 31, 2020
288
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I'm very sorry to see that canon has only focused on a professional line and a very cheap one. There is a middle lens class missing, of compact prime lens not necessarily ultra-bright but of quality and with weather sealing.
I agree with you. But I honestly believe Canon will address this issue. There are several patents out there for F1.4 primes for example. Building up a new line-up is very challenging and they probably chose 2 out 3 to go first. Plus, there are great middle class EF lenses which can be used with an adapter. So it does make sense...

From this point of view, it must be admitted, at the moment, in the choice of lens the competition really offers much more.
Admittingly, yes Sonys lineup does sound intriguing due to Tamron/ Sigma lenses but I figure in two years we'll have them for RF as well.
 
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ashmadux

Art Director, Visual Artist, Freelance Photography
Jul 28, 2011
491
75
New Yawk
photography.ashworld.com
In other words, don't buy this.

Having such a wide lens as the only option is ridiculous when they're all great zooms available for probably not much more money.

On top of that it was obvious that this is a cheapo lens like the nifty 50. But you don't want cheapo at these type of wide angles. The EFM 11-22 dance of circles around this little piece of crap.

Used to be that the mid-range and low end Canon lenses still had some merits. Are they only care about the most expensive lenses. What a great disservice to Canon customers.

And where is that 50 mm 1.4 update? Ohh.... It's only been like 20 years. Ridiculous.
 

ashmadux

Art Director, Visual Artist, Freelance Photography
Jul 28, 2011
491
75
New Yawk
photography.ashworld.com
I'm very sorry to see that canon has only focused on a professional line and a very cheap one. There is a middle lens class missing, of compact prime lens not necessarily ultra-bright but of quality and with weather sealing. From this point of view, it must be admitted, at the moment, in the choice of lens the competition really offers much more.
This nails it on the head. If you're not buying SUPER expensive lenses then you barely have any options except for ridiculously slow consumer junk.

Even the 24 to 105 didn't get any real optical upgrades and they are on the third version and for the RF mount.

Now RF has great lenses except now there's no mid-range at all
 

Blue Zurich

The artist formerly known as slclick
Jan 22, 2022
182
270
The Veruca Salt Syndrome, the ego and lens catalogs


I have no problem waiting for the 1.4, 1.8 and 2.8 RF primes from Canon. It'll happen as the entire EF catalog didn't happen overnight either. So Canon's priorities don't match mine,I know I'm not alone but there are people who are satisfied, what's the old adage about pleasing people?
 
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CJudge

EOS M6 Mark II
Mar 22, 2019
69
88
Ireland
www.colin-judge.com
In other words, don't buy this.

Having such a wide lens as the only option is ridiculous when they're all great zooms available for probably not much more money.

On top of that it was obvious that this is a cheapo lens like the nifty 50. But you don't want cheapo at these type of wide angles. The EFM 11-22 dance of circles around this little piece of crap.

Used to be that the mid-range and low end Canon lenses still had some merits. Are they only care about the most expensive lenses. What a great disservice to Canon customers.

And where is that 50 mm 1.4 update? Ohh.... It's only been like 20 years. Ridiculous.
But at it’s widest, the EF-M 11-22 has a full frame equivalence of a 17mm f/6.3. At 2 and a third stops less light, increased DOF, slightly narrower FOV, and a longer minimum focus distance… even though it doesn’t cost much more than the RF 16, it’s in a different category. It’s a compact zoom, not an ultra compact fast prime.

The most egregious aspect of the RF 16 is the really rather awful extreme corners. But as you move towards the centre it quickly becomes excellent. Cropping to a 17mm framing will actually get rid of the worst. And when used for video shooting, those extreme corners aren’t even captured. If you look closely at the corners of many of the most well regarded movies, you’ll see they often look rubbish, with smearing and an uneven focus plane. But the lenses that give this characteristic are still chosen again and again, because if anything, filmmakers tend to want to keep the audiences eyes away from the very edge of the frame.

Obviously, this does not apply to landscape and architectural photography, where detailed corners are very much appreciated. But my point is that for certain uses, this lens is a bargain. And for other uses, I’m more than happy to treat it as an 18mm-20mm f/3.2, by cropping the image. Still a great option to have in my kit, for €300.

Just my 2 cents.
 
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Frodo

EOS RP
Nov 3, 2012
446
134
In other words, don't buy this.

Having such a wide lens as the only option is ridiculous when they're all great zooms available for probably not much more money.

On top of that it was obvious that this is a cheapo lens like the nifty 50. But you don't want cheapo at these type of wide angles. The EFM 11-22 dance of circles around this little piece of crap.

Used to be that the mid-range and low end Canon lenses still had some merits. Are they only care about the most expensive lenses. What a great disservice to Canon customers.

And where is that 50 mm 1.4 update? Ohh.... It's only been like 20 years. Ridiculous.
I presume that this rather absolute comment is made after extensive use and comparison with other lenses.
I have made some comparisons and I find it to be an adequate lens to pair with my RF 24-105/4L for hiking. Stopped down to f/4 it makes an adequate astro lens when using the Lightroom profile and cropping slightly.

The Optical Limits review actually comments "the results are actually decent at medium aperture settings".

Gordon Laing compared the RF 16mm to the RF 14-35mm and commented:
- Judging from these magnified crops, their quality in the middle of the frame at their maximum apertures is actually pretty similar, and this is with the 16mm operating one stop brighter too.
- but when both lenses are closed to f5.6, I’d say the 14-35 is looking a little crisper if you have a high resolution body like the R5 to get the most out of it.
- Moving onto the corner crops from both lenses back at their maximum apertures actually shows a surprisingly similar result, when I’d expected the 14-35 to perform better; in fact if you pixel-peep, the 16 looks a tad better-resolved on the finest details.

Let me know if you have actually used this lens.
 
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LogicExtremist

Lux pictor
Sep 26, 2021
363
250
The RF 16mm f/2.8 is an ultra-wide angle lens that's built around two criteria, compact size and price, compromising quality. The choice with any lens is size, price or quality, pick any two only.

It's designed to fit into the plastic case of the RF nifty fifty, and is priced relatively cheaply for a lens of such a focal length. To achieve all this, and keep the price down, it uses an optical design that only half-corrects the image,, leaving extreme distortion which it relies on software to fix, and uses a plastic molded (PMo) aspherical lens element.

What it's really designed well for is as a vlogging and webcam lens in video applications, and as a compact, lightweight UWA travel lens for stills photography, or as a lens with "fun and unique distortion", whatever that means, according to Canon's website - "Whether you are capturing an awe-inspiring starscape, portraits with fun and unique distortion or simply a group selfie while on vacation, the combination of the open f/2.8 lens and ultra wide-angle 16mm field of view makes this a light weight and versatile lens to pack anywhere you go."

For other applications, it's not ideal, but passable depending on the needs of the photographer, their quality requirements, and how the final images will be used. The OpticalLimits review describing the corners as "pixel soup" is a fair assessment as this lens isn't the right lens to use for applications that require corner sharpness, unless budget is an issue, or the use is for casual photography.

Applications such as landscape, architecture and astrophotography (which are not my area) probably don't need autofocus, or compact size. If you do that kind of work, please correct me if I've misspoken here. I would assume that there are probably better quality third party manual focus primes for the money, if those are the intended applications.
 
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Frodo

EOS RP
Nov 3, 2012
446
134
Applications such as landscape, architecture and astrophotography (which are not my area) probably don't need autofocus, or compact size. If you do that kind of work, please correct me if I've misspoken here. I would assume that there are probably better quality third party manual focus primes for the money, if those are the intended applications.
I agree with many of your comments. I shoot quite a lot of landscapes and some landscape astrophotography (where landscape is an important part of the images). The example of the Samyang 14/2.8 I had was very sharp and reasonably well centred and it served me well for years. The fact that it was fully manual was not a problem, indeed, focusing at infinity was easier than with focus-by-wire lenses. It was significantly sharper at f/2.8 than the RF16mm, but stopped down to f/4, the RF16mm is close.

But the best lens is the one you've got with you, and I found I wasn't taking the heavier, bulkier Samyang with adapter on my hikes, and it was quite front heavy on the lightweight Sirui carbon tripod I take hiking. The RF16mm, in contrast, will accompany me on all my hikes.

Many of my astro photos involve vertical stitching of 3 landscape orientation photos . I have printed and sold these at A2 size with the Samyang. Will be interested to see how the RF16mm performs as this involves a little cropping.
 
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stevelee

FT-QL
CR Pro
Jul 6, 2017
2,301
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Davidson, NC
I would think that using a 16mm lens for vlogging would be great for folks with tiny noses and really giant ears.
 
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LogicExtremist

Lux pictor
Sep 26, 2021
363
250
I would think that using a 16mm lens for vlogging would be great for folks with tiny noses and really giant ears.
Agree, I've never understood that with vloggers who walk around with the camera at arms length. I suspect nobody explained the issue of UWA distorton!
The Youtubers also love this focal length because they can place the camera some distance from themselves, giving a very wide field of view, so the audience gets a good view of their blue and purple LED illuminated background, or shelves containing artistically arranged knick-knacks. :oops:
 
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Blue Zurich

The artist formerly known as slclick
Jan 22, 2022
182
270
Agree, I've never understood that with vloggers who walk around with the camera at arms length. I suspect nobody explained the issue of UWA distorton!
The Youtubers also love this focal length because they can place the camera some distance from themselves, giving a very wide field of view, so the audience gets a good view of their blue and purple LED illuminated background, or shelves containing artistically arranged knick-knacks. :oops:
never have truer words been typed
 

stevelee

FT-QL
CR Pro
Jul 6, 2017
2,301
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The closest thing I have done to vlogging was when churches were not having in-person services. The Episcopal church in my neighborhood had a multi-lingual reading of Acts 2 on Pentecost Sunday. I appeared in the Wally Cox square as I read the original Ancient Greek. For their 2020 Christmas Eve service, I sang tenor (badly, as usual) from the Peter Brady square of their virtual choir. To shoot the videos, I put my 6D2 on a tripod and used the 85mm f/1.8 lens. The flip-out screen worked great for centering myself in the image. The in-camera microphone picked up my voice just fine from that distance. The painful part was listening to my singing voice when editing the video (even worse than my struggles with tongue-twisting combinations of th, ph, and s sounds in a language I hadn't read aloud in decades).
 

Blue Zurich

The artist formerly known as slclick
Jan 22, 2022
182
270
I accidentally hit the record button once on my 5D3. Believe it or not, I didn't attend NYU.