Canon Reviews

Review: Canon RF 85mm f/2 Macro IS STM

The Canon RF 85mm f/2 Macro IS STM recently began shipping to much fanfare. This brand new short telephoto is going to find its way into many camera bags as quickly as Canon can build them. The lens is very affordable at $599 USD.

Gordan Laing from CameraLabs has completed his full review of the RF 85mm f/2 Macro IS STM. You can watch the video above, or hit the article link after the break.

Gordon’s summary:

……Throw in optical stabilisation that benefits bodies with or without IBIS and you have a very compelling lens for the money. The biggest issue is the wealth of alternative 85s to choose from, including a bunch from Canon, but the RF 85mm f2 represents a step-up in overall quality, close focusing and potential burst speed over the old EF 85 1.8 and is a lot more affordable than the faster 85s in Canon’s range. If you’re desperate for an 85 1.4 at a more affordable price, look to Samyang or Sigma, but the combination of great quality optics even wide-open, attractive rendering, useful close-ups and optical IS make the RF 85mm f2 a no-brainer for EOS R owners. Read the full review

navastronia

EOS RP + 5D Classic
Aug 31, 2018
629
720
Anyone else feel like this lens is destined to become the sleeper hit of the RF mount so far? For the price, the features and quality are terrific.
 
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SteveC

R5
CR Pro
Sep 3, 2019
1,861
1,722
Instant classic like EF 85mm f1.8 USM. Canon will produce this for the next 20 years :)
I just wish this one were 1.8 as well. Of course that's probably what we lost in exchange for macro. My EF lens is probably my favorite prime (after the 100mm non-L macro).

And I suppose they had to do something "different" just to differentiate it from the EF version, so people would have a reason to buy it. It being an RF version alone wouldn't do it for a significant number of people.
 

koenkooi

EOS R
CR Pro
Feb 25, 2015
1,446
1,237
I just wish this one were 1.8 as well. Of course that's probably what we lost in exchange for macro. My EF lens is probably my favorite prime (after the 100mm non-L macro).

And I suppose they had to do something "different" just to differentiate it from the EF version, so people would have a reason to buy it. It being an RF version alone wouldn't do it for a significant number of people.
It’s better in almost every way compared to my copy of the EF version, except for AF speed and f/1.8 vs f/2.
The AF does feel more certain of itself, but slightly slower.

I haven’t formed an opinion on the difference in bokeh yet, that will need a lot more test pictures :)
 

SteveC

R5
CR Pro
Sep 3, 2019
1,861
1,722
It’s better in almost every way compared to my copy of the EF version, except for AF speed and f/1.8 vs f/2.
The AF does feel more certain of itself, but slightly slower.

I haven’t formed an opinion on the difference in bokeh yet, that will need a lot more test pictures :)
Thanks for that perspective.

I have other reasons for wanting to keep my EF lens (the fact that it can be adapted to my M cameras as well as my Rs being among them) even if this one is a tad better, but I *know* my circumstances (and tastes) are different from everyone else's. I'm not "anti" this lens.
 

Daner

AE-1 Program
Aug 15, 2017
103
101
Stockholm
danethomasphotography.com
I have shot with my EF 85 for several years now. When I upgraded to a 5D4 the additional resolution made me re-evaluate the balance between bokeh and sharpness, so I ended up getting more reliable results shooting portraits at f/2 instead of f/1.8. Switching to the EOS R (with the firmware upgrade) made eye-focus more reliable, but on balance, my lens still gave better results at f/2.

With that in mind, switching to the RF 85 has essentially no downside for my use case. The improved sharpness edge-to-edge and IS are very much appreciated. The 0.5 macro functionality doesn't make me forget what I used to enjoy with my EF 100mm macro, but it is better and more useful than any of the other lenses in my current quiver.

Gordon's review is directly reflective of my own experience with both lenses. Very much looking forward to my next portrait shoot!
 

Frodo

EOS RP
Nov 3, 2012
393
70
It’s better in almost every way compared to my copy of the EF version, except for AF speed and f/1.8 vs f/2.
The T number of the EF 85mm/1.8 is 2.0. The T numbers of the latest EF 24, 28 and 35mm lenses are very close to their stated f numbers. My RF 24-105/4L is a good one-third stop brighter than my EF 24-105/4L. It could well be that the RF 85mm/2 is actually as bright as the EF lens.
 

Joules

EOS R
CR Pro
Jul 16, 2017
1,218
1,375
Hamburg, Germany
It could well be that the RF 85mm/2 is actually as bright as the EF lens.
If you watch Gordon Laings review though, you'll see that the RF 85 mm 2.0 definitively has a lesser blur to its backgrounds, which is more relevant when talking about aperture, than such minute differences in light gathering capability usually.
 
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Frodo

EOS RP
Nov 3, 2012
393
70
If you watch Gordon Laings review though, you'll see that the RF 85 mm 2.0 definitively has a lesser blur to its backgrounds, which is more relevant when talking about aperture, than such minute differences in light gathering capability usually.
I agree about the limited difference in light gathering. I wonder though if the less than clinical correction of the EF lens (e.g. longitidinal chromatic aberration) also produces softer bokeh, and that this has a greater impact on boken than f/1.8 vs f/2.0. I'm reasonably happy with the EF lens, apart from purple fringing, but it would nice to have one lens to replace my 85/1.8, 100/2.8 macro and 50/2.5 macro. The 85/1.8 produces much softer backgrounds than the 100/2.8.
 

Sporgon

5% of gear used 95% of the time
CR Pro
If you watch Gordon Laings review though, you'll see that the RF 85 mm 2.0 definitively has a lesser blur to its backgrounds, which is more relevant when talking about aperture, than such minute differences in light gathering capability usually.
Yes as Frodo said, that difference probably isn’t to do with the aperture difference, more likely the optical design. To day, lenses that make sharp charts are king.