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.
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
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.
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)
"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.
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."
Subjects change size moderately while focusing.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!!
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....
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...