Review: Canon RF 85mm f/2 IS STM by TDP

Canon Rumors Guy

EOS-1D X Mark III
CR Pro
Jul 20, 2010
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Bryan at The-Digital-Picture has completed his exhaustive review of the brand new Canon RF 85mm f/2 IS STM. Canon’s latest “affordable” fast prime.
As we’ve read and seen from other reviewers, this lens appears to be a big winner, especially once the price is considered. A lot of photographers will end up with this lens in their kit.
From TDP
The compact size and light weight make this lens comfortable to carry and use for long time periods. Image stabilization means the tripod can often be left behind, which also decreases the overall carry weight and setup time. While the RF 85mm f/2 IS STM does not get professional build quality or the ultimate image quality, it performs well with accurate AF performance ensuring this lens’s sharp image quality is fully realized, even with the very...
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AJ

EOS RP
Sep 11, 2010
668
75
Nice lens. I really like the bokeh and the close-focus capability is a real bonus. Way to go Canon!
 

Frodo

EOS RP
Nov 3, 2012
393
70
Yes, another detailed review by Brian. Potentially a very useful lens.
I was a little underwhelmed by the image quality, especially the longitudinal CA, which doesn't appear to be much better than my EF 85/1.8. And sharpness also doesn't seem to be a big jump after 28 years.
I was looking to this lens to replace my 85/1.8, 50/2.5 macro and possibly my 100/2.8 macro...
 

Bonich

EOS M50
Apr 29, 2019
27
29
Not too bad this lens with a reasonable price point.
I fear it will not replace a dedicated macro, longitudinal CA will kick in.
I would like to do some close focus focus bracketing experiments with this lens' open aperture.
 

CJudge

EOS M6 Mark II
Mar 22, 2019
66
81
Ireland
www.colin-judge.com
Not too bad this lens with a reasonable price point.
I fear it will not replace a dedicated macro, longitudinal CA will kick in.
I would like to do some close focus focus bracketing experiments with this lens' open aperture.
Yeah, I don't see this lens being a goer for jewellery photography. I can't imagine trying to successfully focus stack with that terrible CA performance. A dedicated macro like the 100 2.8L IS is so well corrected it's insane.
 

dominic_siu

EOS R5, RF2870, RF70200
Aug 31, 2018
61
60
I would like to have a RF 180/200 F4 1:1 macro lens as I need working distance more. I had a Micro-Nikkor 200/4 to adapt on EOS body before and it is superb with image quality. Downside are using adapter prone to mount misalignment and this lens is really heavy.
 
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koenkooi

EOS R
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Feb 25, 2015
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It's not a macro lens. It's a portrait lens (EF 85mm 1.8 replacement) with a closer MFD than the EF.

No-one sane is going to try real macro photography with this. There are great specialist lenses (EF 100mm f/2.8L IS etc) for that already.
For a previous non-1:1-macro lens someone made a snarky "Great for those food bloggers!" comment, which turns out to be actually true, now that I spend more time on preparing food and taking pictures of it. I skip the blogging part and just eat it :)
 

degos

EOS RP
Mar 20, 2015
343
269
I wish he'd cut the boilerplate out of his reviews, so many words repeated in every article

Beyond that though he seems to be damning the lens with faint praise. The Tamron 85mm 1.8 still looks like a better choice particularly when you see the awful longitudinal CA and coma of the Canon lens.
 

koenkooi

EOS R
CR Pro
Feb 25, 2015
1,441
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I wish he'd cut the boilerplate out of his reviews, so many words repeated in every article

Beyond that though he seems to be damning the lens with faint praise. [..]
TDP always grades on a curve, it takes some back and forth between reviews to figure out where a lens sits for performance. The underlying tests and resulting data are great, but it takes some effort and coffee fully understand.
 
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anden

EOS M50
Aug 31, 2012
26
2
The EF 1.8 USM predecessor is good at indoor sports. Is this new RF STM version worse at that?

Auto focus speed is, according to that review, “reasonably fast”, and “slow” at long focus distance changes.

Is Canon thinking that indoor sports is covered in RF world by 2.8 zooms, or will the RF STM actually keep up? Or is the segment too small to care about?
 
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koenkooi

EOS R
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Feb 25, 2015
1,441
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The EF 1.8 USM predecessor is good at indoor sports. Is this new RF STM version worse at that?

Auto focus speed is, according to that review, “reasonably fast”, and “slow” at long focus distance changes.

Is Canon thinking that indoor sports is covered in RF world by 2.8 zooms, or will the RF STM actually keep up? Or is the segment too small to care about?
From my test with my kids running around, AF is slower but better. I get about the same number of keepers and the quality of the keepers is better. But for actual sports I'm tempted to say the EF is currently a better choice. But you'd have to try it yourself, it might work a lot better for your usecase.
 
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anden

EOS M50
Aug 31, 2012
26
2
From my test with my kids running around, AF is slower but better. I get about the same number of keepers and the quality of the keepers is better. But for actual sports I'm tempted to say the EF is currently a better choice. But you'd have to try it yourself, it might work a lot better for your usecase.
Thanks for sharing that experience. Somewhat encouraging after all.
 
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jd7

EOS R
CR Pro
Feb 3, 2013
840
191
Yes, another detailed review by Brian. Potentially a very useful lens.
I was a little underwhelmed by the image quality, especially the longitudinal CA, which doesn't appear to be much better than my EF 85/1.8. And sharpness also doesn't seem to be a big jump after 28 years.
I was looking to this lens to replace my 85/1.8, 50/2.5 macro and possibly my 100/2.8 macro...
I have to agree, I am underwhelmed too. Looking at TDP's review, and a couple of YouTube videos (Gordon Lang and Alex Berrera), the sharpness doesn't seem much better than the EF 85/1.8, there is plenty of colour fringing (as with the EF) and from what I have seen so far I think I prefer the bokeh and overall rendering of the EF (and the Tamron 85 1.8 VC and Samyang RF 85 1.4 AF). I am interested to see more samples from the RF 85/2 IS though.
 

pj1974

80D, M5, 7D, & lots of glass and accessories!
Oct 18, 2011
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Frodo said:
Yes, another detailed review by Brian. Potentially a very useful lens.
I was a little underwhelmed by the image quality, especially the longitudinal CA, which doesn't appear to be much better than my EF 85/1.8. And sharpness also doesn't seem to be a big jump after 28 years.
I was looking to this lens to replace my 85/1.8, 50/2.5 macro and possibly my 100/2.8 macro...
I have to agree, I am underwhelmed too. Looking at TDP's review, and a couple of YouTube videos (Gordon Lang and Alex Berrera), the sharpness doesn't seem much better than the EF 85/1.8, there is plenty of colour fringing (as with the EF) and from what I have seen so far I think I prefer the bokeh and overall rendering of the EF (and the Tamron 85 1.8 VC and Samyang RF 85 1.4 AF). I am interested to see more samples from the RF 85/2 IS though.
I can definitely see extra sharpness in the RF 85mm f/2 lens wide open compared with the EF 85mm f/1.8 @ either f/1.8 or f/2. In every test image from TDP as well as Gordan Laing's comparisons.

In some scenes & tests the difference is more noticeable than others.
I also see a much higher CA in the EF 85mm f/1.8 than the RF 85mm f/2.


Here's the comparison page b/w the RF 85mm f/2 and the EF 85mm f/2 from The Digital Picture
https://www.the-digital-picture.com...6&Sample=0&CameraComp=979&FLIComp=0&APIComp=0
The addition sharpness of the RF over the EF is noticeable in the centre, mid-frame and corners.

And here's one of the most telling image comparisons (also comparing the huge RF 85mm f/1.2).

I have previously owned the EF 85mm f/1.8, but due to its CA it wasn't the lens for me.
(I know CA can be corrected in post - often automatically - but the EF 85mm f/1.8 is one of Canon's worst lenses in terms of CA wide open, and it does cause some colour bleeding and loss of sharpness at times).
I found that I used my EF 100mm f/2.8 L USM IS macro actually worked better for portraits than the EF 85mm f/1.8 for how I used each of these. (This may not be the case for everyone, of course).

However I can see me possibly buying the 85mm f/2 as one of my future RF lenses. I use that focal length for portraits regularly. That it can focus relatively close is a great bonus... and the AF speed and accuracy on e.g. a R5 is great for what I'll use it (I use other lenses for sports, birds, etc).

It's a GREAT time to be a photographer. (Maybe not so great for my bank balance.. lol)

PJ
 

Maximilian

The dark side - I've been there
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Nov 7, 2013
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If I'd go for R this will be one of my first RFs.
The lateral CA looks phantastic and was my main hassle with the EF together with color and contrast.
IS and 1:2 macro for detail or insect shots during a walk gives the icing and makes it a no-brainer for me.

...owned the EF 85mm f/1.8, but due to its CA it wasn't the lens for me.
(I know CA can be corrected in post - often automatically - but the EF 85mm f/1.8 is one of Canon's worst lenses in terms of CA wide open, and it does cause some colour bleeding and loss of sharpness at times). ...
Exactly my analysis of the EF85/1.8.