Canon Reviews

Review: Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 IS STM Macro

The-Digital-Picture has completed their review of the brand new and affordable Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 IS STM Macro lens for the EOS R system.

As we should have expected, this $500 prime lens for the EOS R system is a great performer and provides great value. Especially if you want a native RF mount prime lens for your EOS R and don’t want to spend $2300 on the RF 50mm f/1.2L USM.

From The-Digital-Picture:

Many acquire a mirrorless camera for smaller size and lighter weight while retaining great image quality and the Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 IS STM Macro Lens follows through with that spirit. This lens is light enough to be carried all day and the 35mm focal length has the general purpose utility to make it a good choice for such extended duration use. Especially with its macro focusing capabilities aiding, this lens has a huge number of subjects available for it. Image quality is quite good and 5-stop-rated image stabilization contributes strongly in that regard. That the price is low wraps up a great little package. Read the full review

Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 IS STM Macro in stock

docsmith

EOS 6D MK II
Sep 17, 2010
817
159
Looks like a great little lens.

I had somewhat neglected considering it with the other lenses that were released. Ignoring the 0.5x "macro" part, this seems like an R version of the EF 35 f/2 IS, which is a great lens. Then throw in the 0.5x macro as a nice bonus.
 
Reactions: JoFT and Maximilian

Maximilian

The dark side - I've been there
Nov 7, 2013
2,319
177
Germany
Looks like a great little lens.
...
Ignoring the 0.5x "macro" part, this seems like an R version of the EF 35 f/2 IS, which is a great lens. Then throw in the 0.5x macro as a nice bonus.
Same opinion here.
If I was to go into EOS R, this little one, the 24-105 and the adapter had to be in my starter kit ;)
(although I already have the EF 35 f/2 IS, which I would sell then)
 
Last edited:
Reactions: jd7
Jul 12, 2013
209
35
An important paragraph (as far as image quality is concerned) from the review:

"The very popular Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM Lens, shown to the left above, seems to be the most relevant lens to compare. In the image quality comparison at f/2 (using discernment regarding the test camera resolution difference), these two lenses appear to be about the same. The RF lens shows slightly less flare and the EF lens shows slightly less distortion. Neither difference seems decision-making."

I wasn't sure what to make of the reviewer's opinion of the focusing characteristics of the RF lens.
 
Mar 14, 2012
2,224
122
An important paragraph (as far as image quality is concerned) from the review:

"The very popular Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM Lens, shown to the left above, seems to be the most relevant lens to compare. In the image quality comparison at f/2 (using discernment regarding the test camera resolution difference), these two lenses appear to be about the same. The RF lens shows slightly less flare and the EF lens shows slightly less distortion. Neither difference seems decision-making."

I wasn't sure what to make of the reviewer's opinion of the focusing characteristics of the RF lens.
For single shot, I find the R to focus more accurately than my 5D4 when using AF points outside the central bank and the AF points extend further outward -- and this is true for adapted fast primes (24L II, 50L [both now sold]) as well as native RF lenses. The RF 35 is no different -- it focuses accurately.

I actually swapped out the EF 35 f/2 IS for the RF 35 f/1.8 IS. Less expensive, similar IQ, higher max magnification, 1/3 stop faster and the overall package is smaller. I'm waiting for the R body that will replace my 5D4. The R is nice, but I still prefer the 5D4 for the larger lenses, higher frame rate while tracking, ergonomics.
 
Reactions: JoFT

SeanS

I'm New Here
Apr 1, 2014
23
5
I wasn't sure what to make of the reviewer's opinion of the focusing characteristics of the RF lens.
Bryan spent 14 paragraphs on focusing and magnification, but I think the critical point was made in the second sentence:
"The EOS R has been impressive in this regard, accurately focusing with everything I mount on it and the RF 35mm f/1.8mm f/1.8 IS STM Macro Lens is not an exception."

Other points:
  • The focus ring is sometimes difficult to distinguish from the control ring, especially with gloves on.
  • There's a framing shift that occurs when changing focus directions.
  • The variable focus ring and linear focus ring sensitivity settings seem to produce the same results.
    Subjects change size moderately while focusing.
  • Focusing sounds may be picked up in video recordings, but focusing changes are smooth.
If there was an aspect of focusing that needed more elaboration, please let us know.
 
Reactions: JoFT

countofmc95

I'm New Here
Jun 19, 2015
16
1
Interesting lens, like that it's small and cheap. I could basically shoot everything I want with just the 24-105 and this 35mm. Heck I could probably get by with just the 35mm. And then the adapter for if I want/need other focal lengths. That being said that package would be almost $4000, but would love to jump in if/when the price comes down.
 
Reactions: JoFT

Larsskv

Enthusiast with Canon related GAS
Jun 12, 2015
737
146
I've been using the RF 35 f1.8 during the weekend, and today I have done some comparisons to the 35LII, both mounted to the EOS R.

My overall impression of the RF 35 is that it is very good indeed, and every EOS R owner who likes shooting primes should consider it. The small size and light weight is very compelling.

After seeing the results I got this weekend, I did consider selling my 35LII, since I can see myself pick up the RF 35 much more often (due to size and weight). The images I got in indoors "family" situations, with kids playing around, was absolutely great. I think the rendering (depth perception) is very nice, and the bokeh is pleasing - I believe the bokeh of the RF 35 is significantly better than the 35 f2 IS I owned some years ago. Focusing was good, but considerably less fantastic than the RF 50L. I appreciate the close focusing abilities. It makes the lens more flexible in use. My real world impression after using this lens, was that I loved the pictures I got. They are plenty sharp, has a nice depth rendering, and bokeh is pleasing.

After comparing the RF 35 to the 35LII, I can say the following:

  • The bokeh of the 35LII is considerably softer. I did some test pictures with the camera on a tripod, focused on a subject close by, and compared the bokeh in the background. I´d say the 35LII has 2/3 stops advantage bokeh wise. By that I mean that the 35LII is as soft at f2.5 as the RF 35 is at f2, and the difference seem to apply to the whole f1.8 to f4 range (that I compared).
  • When pixel peeping, it is no doubt that the 35LII is sharper at f1.4 than the RF 35 is at f1.8. But the RF 35 is very good at f1.8, all the way to the edges. By f.2.8 it is hard to tell the lenses apart sharpness wise, over the entire frame. The corners are sharp.
  • The RF35 has pretty bad coma at f1.8, but it is for all practical purposes gone at f2.8. The 35LII is much better in that regard.
I didn´t really test for vignetting or chromatic aberration. I am not bothered much by either. The RF35 has noticeable vignetting at f1.8. I don't see much difference in vignetting between the f2.8 and f5.6 shots, so I guess it clears up pretty good by f2.8. I can't seem to find any chromatic aberration. If the RF35 has any, it shouldn't be a real world issue.

One thing I haven't been able to make an opinion on yet, is the colors you get from this lens. Usually I find L lenses to be far better with color and clarity, than non L lenses. It is dark and bad natural light in Norway at this time of year, so I cannot tell you how vibrant (or not) the colors this lens produces, but I have no issues with the clarity.

All things summarized. I think the RF35 is good enough that it might push me to sell of the 35LII. If it wasn't for the difference in bokeh performance, it would already be up for sale.
 

Maximilian

The dark side - I've been there
Nov 7, 2013
2,319
177
Germany
...
All things summarized. I think the RF35 is good enough that it might push me to sell of the 35LII. If it wasn't for the difference in bokeh performance, it would already be up for sale.
thanks, Lars, for sharing your impressions!

For you it's a hard decission as you already own the 35LII. But for others it shows how good the RF 35 already is.

For you I'd say wait some time until you decide if to sell the 35LII. Enjoy both lenses.
 
Reactions: navastronia

Larsskv

Enthusiast with Canon related GAS
Jun 12, 2015
737
146
thanks, Lars, for sharing your impressions!

For you it's a hard decission as you already own the 35LII. But for others it shows how good the RF 35 already is.

For you I'd say wait some time until you decide if to sell the 35LII. Enjoy both lenses.
Selling great lenses is always a bit painful, but it helps if they finance a new one.
 

jd7

EOS 7D MK II
Feb 3, 2013
690
78
I've been using the RF 35 f1.8 during the weekend, and today I have done some comparisons to the 35LII, both mounted to the EOS R.

My overall impression of the RF 35 is that it is very good indeed, and every EOS R owner who likes shooting primes should consider it. The small size and light weight is very compelling.

After seeing the results I got this weekend, I did consider selling my 35LII, since I can see myself pick up the RF 35 much more often (due to size and weight). The images I got in indoors "family" situations, with kids playing around, was absolutely great. I think the rendering (depth perception) is very nice, and the bokeh is pleasing - I believe the bokeh of the RF 35 is significantly better than the 35 f2 IS I owned some years ago. Focusing was good, but considerably less fantastic than the RF 50L. I appreciate the close focusing abilities. It makes the lens more flexible in use. My real world impression after using this lens, was that I loved the pictures I got. They are plenty sharp, has a nice depth rendering, and bokeh is pleasing.

After comparing the RF 35 to the 35LII, I can say the following:

  • The bokeh of the 35LII is considerably softer. I did some test pictures with the camera on a tripod, focused on a subject close by, and compared the bokeh in the background. I´d say the 35LII has 2/3 stops advantage bokeh wise. By that I mean that the 35LII is as soft at f2.5 as the RF 35 is at f2, and the difference seem to apply to the whole f1.8 to f4 range (that I compared).
  • When pixel peeping, it is no doubt that the 35LII is sharper at f1.4 than the RF 35 is at f1.8. But the RF 35 is very good at f1.8, all the way to the edges. By f.2.8 it is hard to tell the lenses apart sharpness wise, over the entire frame. The corners are sharp.
  • The RF35 has pretty bad coma at f1.8, but it is for all practical purposes gone at f2.8. The 35LII is much better in that regard.
I didn´t really test for vignetting or chromatic aberration. I am not bothered much by either. The RF35 has noticeable vignetting at f1.8. I don't see much difference in vignetting between the f2.8 and f5.6 shots, so I guess it clears up pretty good by f2.8. I can't seem to find any chromatic aberration. If the RF35 has any, it shouldn't be a real world issue.

One thing I haven't been able to make an opinion on yet, is the colors you get from this lens. Usually I find L lenses to be far better with color and clarity, than non L lenses. It is dark and bad natural light in Norway at this time of year, so I cannot tell you how vibrant (or not) the colors this lens produces, but I have no issues with the clarity.

All things summarized. I think the RF35 is good enough that it might push me to sell of the 35LII. If it wasn't for the difference in bokeh performance, it would already be up for sale.
Interesting little review! Much more positive about the RF 35 than I would have expected after reading the TDP review ... At this point I'm certainly not convinced I'd be willing to trade my 35 Art for the RF 35, but I do like the idea of a small, light 35mm - and having IS would have its uses too of course - so we will see (assuming I end up with an RF mount camera at some stage!)
 
Last edited:

Larsskv

Enthusiast with Canon related GAS
Jun 12, 2015
737
146
Interesting little review! Much more positive about the RF 35 than I would have expected after reading the TDP review ... At this point I'm certainly not convinced I'd be willing to trade my 35 Art for the RF 35, but I do like the idea of a small, light 35mm - and having IS would have it's uses too of course - so we will see (assuming I end up with an RF mount camera at some stage!)
Unless you need f1.4, or if you need good wide open coma performance, I don’t think you would miss the 35ART for a second if you got the RF35. As far as I could tell from the sharpness comparison at TDP, the 35ART and RF35 seem to perform equally good.
 

jd7

EOS 7D MK II
Feb 3, 2013
690
78
Unless you need f1.4, or if you need good wide open coma performance, I don’t think you would miss the 35ART for a second if you got the RF35. As far as I could tell from the sharpness comparison at TDP, the 35ART and RF35 seem to perform equally good.
Thanks Larsskv. I have to say I do like having f/1.4 at 35mm (and at 50mm), and I've recently tried a few nightscape shots (with my 35 Art, I mean) and the coma on RF 35 doesn't look good at all. Apart from that though, I just haven't seen any examples from the RF 35 (at least so far) which have blown me away, eg the bokeh hasn't impressed me (and I see bokeh is one of the reasons you are considering keeping your 35L II). While the RF 35 is clearly a very good lens, what I've seen so far makes me think it's very good in similar way to the EF 35 f/2 IS, ie very good for its size and weight, but the size and weight savings do cost something (apart from money!). Still, the fact you are considering letting go of the EF 35L II for the little RF 35 does make me think about it. I'll be keeping an eye on reviews and sample images as more become available.
 
Last edited:

Larsskv

Enthusiast with Canon related GAS
Jun 12, 2015
737
146
Thanks Larsskv. I have to say I do like having f/1.4 at 35mm (and at 50mm), and I've recently tried a few nightscape shots and the coma on RF 35 doesn't look good at all. Apart from that though, I just haven't seen any examples from the RF 35 (at least so far) which have blown me away, eg the bokeh hasn't impressed me (and I see bokeh is one of the reasons you are considering keeping your 35L II). While the RF 35 is clearly a very good lens, what I've seen so far makes me think it's very good in similar way to the EF 35 f/2 IS, ie very good for its size and weight, but the size and weight savings do cost something (beyond just costing more money!). Still, the fact you are considering letting go of the EF 35L II for the little RF 35 does make me think about it. I'll be keeping an eye on reviews and sample images as more become available.
I have to admit, the coma on this lens at f1.8 is among the worst I’ve seen. Probably on par with the 24LII. I don’t use it for astro, so it doesn’t really matter to me.

With regards to the bokeh, I think it is good, but it is far from as soft as the 35LII.

The problem I have with finding photos is that they rarely have a meaningful resolution. Further, especially with wide angle lenses, the subjects are often too far away, not filling the frame properly. This makes it hard to tell how the lens will do for your (my) own needs, as I always try to get fairly close when shooting wide angles.
 

jd7

EOS 7D MK II
Feb 3, 2013
690
78
The problem I have with finding photos is that they rarely have a meaningful resolution. Further, especially with wide angle lenses, the subjects are often too far away, not filling the frame properly. This makes it hard to tell how the lens will do for your (my) own needs, as I always try to get fairly close when shooting wide angles.
I agree it's hard to tell too much from images you find online - which is why I'm interested in the thoughts of someone like you who has access to the gear! :) And of course if I can possibly get some hands on time with a lens (or any piece of gear really) before buying, I would always take that opportunity.
 

LSXPhotog

EOS RP
Apr 2, 2015
291
98
www.diossiphotography.com

JoFT

I do love photography
Nov 9, 2014
209
25
59
Germany
delightphoto.zenfolio.com
I've been using the RF 35 f1.8 during the weekend, and today I have done some comparisons to the 35LII, both mounted to the EOS R.

My overall impression of the RF 35 is that it is very good indeed, and every EOS R owner who likes shooting primes should consider it. The small size and light weight is very compelling.

After seeing the results I got this weekend, I did consider selling my 35LII, since I can see myself pick up the RF 35 much more often (due to size and weight). The images I got in indoors "family" situations, with kids playing around, was absolutely great. I think the rendering (depth perception) is very nice, and the bokeh is pleasing - I believe the bokeh of the RF 35 is significantly better than the 35 f2 IS I owned some years ago. Focusing was good, but considerably less fantastic than the RF 50L. I appreciate the close focusing abilities. It makes the lens more flexible in use. My real world impression after using this lens, was that I loved the pictures I got. They are plenty sharp, has a nice depth rendering, and bokeh is pleasing.

After comparing the RF 35 to the 35LII, I can say the following:

  • The bokeh of the 35LII is considerably softer. I did some test pictures with the camera on a tripod, focused on a subject close by, and compared the bokeh in the background. I´d say the 35LII has 2/3 stops advantage bokeh wise. By that I mean that the 35LII is as soft at f2.5 as the RF 35 is at f2, and the difference seem to apply to the whole f1.8 to f4 range (that I compared).
  • When pixel peeping, it is no doubt that the 35LII is sharper at f1.4 than the RF 35 is at f1.8. But the RF 35 is very good at f1.8, all the way to the edges. By f.2.8 it is hard to tell the lenses apart sharpness wise, over the entire frame. The corners are sharp.
  • The RF35 has pretty bad coma at f1.8, but it is for all practical purposes gone at f2.8. The 35LII is much better in that regard.
I didn´t really test for vignetting or chromatic aberration. I am not bothered much by either. The RF35 has noticeable vignetting at f1.8. I don't see much difference in vignetting between the f2.8 and f5.6 shots, so I guess it clears up pretty good by f2.8. I can't seem to find any chromatic aberration. If the RF35 has any, it shouldn't be a real world issue.

One thing I haven't been able to make an opinion on yet, is the colors you get from this lens. Usually I find L lenses to be far better with color and clarity, than non L lenses. It is dark and bad natural light in Norway at this time of year, so I cannot tell you how vibrant (or not) the colors this lens produces, but I have no issues with the clarity.

All things summarized. I think the RF35 is good enough that it might push me to sell of the 35LII. If it wasn't for the difference in bokeh performance, it would already be up for sale.
And please compare color rendering... For me the colorendering of the 35LII is implessive....

If you have the R, the RF35 is a lens to have!!!
 

JoFT

I do love photography
Nov 9, 2014
209
25
59
Germany
delightphoto.zenfolio.com
I took mine on a trip to Asia. The < 1kg package is impressive. And the results as well.

I made only a few shots in comparison to the 35LII: You get what you pay for but do I want to carry it?

For traveling: definitely an amazing package. I do hope Canon comes up with a similar performing 85mm f1.8 in a similar form factor....
 

Larsskv

Enthusiast with Canon related GAS
Jun 12, 2015
737
146
And please compare color rendering... For me the colorendering of the 35LII is implessive....

If you have the R, the RF35 is a lens to have!!!
Quality light is lacking at this time of year, so I am afraid I wount be able to make a good comparison for quite some time...
 
Reactions: JoFT