Which Canon RF Lenses Should I Upgrade to First?

I was recently asked which EF lenses should be replaced first in the DSLR to MILC (Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera) migration. Fortunately, Canon has made the Mount Adapter EF-EOS R available to significantly ease that transition. With this adapter, EF lenses continue to perform at least as well on an RF mount as they do on an EF mount. Still, many of us will be upgrading our kits to RF lens models.
Here is a list of the available (or announced) RF lenses in priority* order.

  1. Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens
  2. Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens
  3. Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens
  4. Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM Lens
  5. Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens
  6. Canon RF 50mm f/1.2 L USM Lens
  7. Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM Lens
  8. Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM DS Lens
  9. Canon RF 85mm F2 Macro IS STM Lens
  10. Canon RF 35mm f/1.8mm f/1.8 IS STM Macro Lens
  11. Canon RF 600mm F11 IS STM Lens
  12. Canon RF 800mm F11 IS STM Lens
  13. Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L USM Lens
  14. Canon RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM Lens
  15. Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens
  16. Canon RF 1.4x Extender
  17. Canon RF 2x Extender

* Disclaimer: photographers have greatly varying needs, and therefore, the priority number for each of us may vary greatly, and my numbers may have little meaning for you.
The easy answer to the "Which RF lenses should I upgrade to first?" question is "Replace your most-used lens." All of the RF lenses have advantages over their EF counterparts, and replacing the most-used lens makes a lot of sense, providing the most value.
Also making sense is upgrading to an RF lens that has a desired capability, such as the image stabilization feature in the RF 24-70, much better image quality such as found in the RF 50 L or RF 85 L, or a super-telephoto length at an affordable price.
Why The Above Order?
The trinity of professional-grade f/2.8 L lenses are listed first, and they are listed in order of use frequency for many photographers. These are the lenses this site's audience considers most important overall.
I dropped the RF 100-500 into the 4th slot on this list. This focal length range is extremely useful, includes very long focal lengths, and has professional-grade build and optics without reaching an extreme price level.
For some, the RF 24-105 f/4 L could have a top position on this list. This lens is great for travel and has great general purpose utility. The professional-grade 24-105 L is less expensive and lighter than the RF 24-70 f/2.8 L.
Bring in the primes. The RF 50 L is the 50mm full-frame lens that many of us have long awaited. It is the first Canon 50mm lens I've personally purchased in (probably) over a decade. Both RF 85 f/1.2 models are phenomenal portrait lenses, and people are the most important photo subject. With stock photos unavailable for most people, portrait photography remains a revenue-generating pursuit. The RF 85 f/2 IS promises solid performance at a lower price, and this lens's close-focusing capabilities will be very welcomed in a kit.
The RF 35 is small, light, bright, close-focusing, inexpensive, and fun. Just get one.
An f/11 fixed aperture lens? Sounds like a crazy idea to many of us. However, getting these extreme focal lengths into the size, weight, and price point Canon achieved is remarkable. The image quality is not bad, especially from the lower resolution imaging sensors.
Having an f/2 aperture available over an entire general-purpose focal length range is awesome. The RF 28-70 is large, heavy, and expensive, but for the niche that needs this lens' advantages (think wedding and event photographers), this lens is priceless.
There are times when only a single lens can be chosen for multi-purpose needs. The RF 24-240mm lens's 10x zoom range covers those needs much of the time.
When small, light, and inexpensive are critical lens attributes, the RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 raises its hand to fill the need.
I listed the RF extenders last. At this time, only the RF 100-500, RF 600, and RF 800 are compatible with the RF extenders. The cost of the extenders is approaching the cost of these two low-priced prime lenses that already have very long focal lengths, and the narrow max apertures of these lenses reduces the benefits an extender can provide. Using the 1.4x on the not-yet-available RF 100-500 is going to make a lot of sense, but I'm less sure about the 2x. I expect the extenders to have significantly greater value when high-end RF telephoto prime L lenses become available.
I plan to migrate all of my Canon lenses from EF to RF where similar models exist (except for those required for testing purposes). If your budget enables upgrading, I recommend doing so.
What is your RF lens plan?

Posted: 8/13/2020 9:31:40 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
Posted to: Canon News    Category: Camera Gear Review News
Share on Facebook! Share on Twitter! Share on Pinterest! Email this page to a friend!
comments powered by Disqus
Help  |  TOU  |  © 2020 Rectangular Media, LLC  |  Bryan CarnathanPowered By Christ!