A Closer Look at the Upcoming RF Lenses

In an unusual move earlier this year, Canon showed (some of) their cards in a development announcement. Mock-ups of these new lenses were on display at a press event held just before that announcement and sharing some pictures from that event has been on my to-do list since. Note that all of the images shared in this article can be clicked on to see a significantly larger version.
 
The lead image shows all of the 2019 RF lenses and R-series cameras. From left to right in this image (new lens quotes are from Canon Europe) are the:
 
Not surprising is that the RF lenses show many similarities to each other. The black L-zooms all feature an ideally-positioned (toward the rear of the lens, though not as far back as their EF counterparts) zoom ring and all but the RF 24-240mm lens feature a forward-positioned control ring. The two or three rings on each lens have a differing tactile surface and the feel for each ring purpose is similar throughout the lineup with the control ring being knurled. Notice that the RF 24-240 does not have a dedicated focus ring. It is expected that the control ring will optionally be able to serve that function.
 
I was told to expect RF lens image quality to be as good or better than that of the nearest equivalent EF lens with reduced size being another benefit in some cases.
 
Note that the lenses shown on display boxes are lens mount-deep in their holders. Still, we can discern some of the sizes. I'll start with the RF 70-200 as I added a sizing prop next to it. Canon USA was very protective of the new lens mockups the Canon Inc. engineers brought with them (we could not touch them and they used white gloves to move them), but with reluctance, I was permitted to place a phone next to the tiny 70-200.
 
Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens Size Comparison
 
The iPhone 7 measures 5.44" (138mm) in length. If the phone were completely upright, it would about match the lens in length. What if your 70-200 f/2.8 was nearly as small as your EF 16-35 f/2.8L III? That is about the size difference we are looking at and here is a visual comparison. I haven't seen a lens that wow'd me as much as the Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens in a long time. Where is the rest of the lens? The size is so dramatically smaller that it will have an impact on the case or backpack this lens is carried in.
 
Interesting is that a tripod ring (hinge-removable) remains included. Is this an indication that weight will be moving forward, justifying the ring for proper balance? Or is the ring included because we expect a lens with these specs to have one, essentially checking the requirements box?
 
When the dust settles, I'll not likely care for the forward-positioned zoom ring and that this lens extends is not ideal. But, the considerably smaller size (the smallest Canon white L lens ever) should easily make up for those downsides. Note that this lens also has a rear-positioned control ring.
 
Here is a closer look at the new lenses.
 
Canon RF Lenses New for 2019
 
Along with the RF 70-200, the RF 15-35 and RF 24-70 complete the RF f/2.8 lens "trifecta". These two similar-sized lenses appear to be slightly longer than the RF 24-105 (the spec will likely land at around 4.5" or 114mm) and will have a width very similar to the RF 24-105. Here is a current visual comparison with the RF 24-105. The wide-angle lens gets a very-welcomed extra 1mm of focal length on the wide end, making 15mm available with filter threads. It also adds image stabilization, a Canon first for full frame f/2.8 in this range. Additionally welcomed is that this lens appears to be slightly reduced in length and perhaps even more reduced in width.
 
The standard professional zoom lens does not get a focal length adjustment and the size appears not dramatially reduced, but the long-awaited image stabilization feature has arrived (woo hoo!).
 
With the RF 85 announced, we can directly compare the Canon RF 85mm to the Canon RF 50mm and see that the 85 is, as expected, a bit larger and heavier.
 
Only the second RF lens to be missing the red ring, the RF 24-240 relatively-affordably covers a huge range of focal length needs in a single lens, making it ideal for times when lens changes cannot be made, cannot be made quickly enough, or are simply not wanted to be made.
 
Still glaringly missing in the RF lineup is a value-priced general-purpose zoom lens. The RF 24-240 is positioned to be a great lower-budget option for all-around use, but although thin, it has a length similar to the RF 15-35 and RF 24-70 which does not completely align with the compactness of the EOS RP. Watch for at least one shorter-range option to arrive soon. It makes sense.
 
Lenses are a critical component of a camera system and the right lens can make a huge difference in the results and also in the ease in which those results are captured. Canon's new RF lens mount has obviously opened up new possibilities for lens designers and they are rolling out some of the best lenses ever. It's a great time to be a photographer.
 
 
A great set of rebates (up to $500) makes now an ideal time to add an R-series camera to the kit. The included Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R makes integration into an existing Canon kit easy. While I have access to evaluation cameras, I decided that I wanted my own R and recently added one to the kit.
 
The Canon EOS R is in stock at B&H | Adorama | Amazon USA | WEX
 
The Canon EOS RP is in stock at B&H | Adorama | Amazon USA | WEX
Posted: 5/10/2019 7:00:31 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
Posted to: Canon News
Share on Facebook! Share on Twitter! Share on Pinterest! Email this page to a friend!
comments powered by Disqus
Help  |  © 2019 Rectangular Media, LLC  |  Bryan CarnathanPowered By Christ!