Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens Review

Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens
Verdict

The Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Superzoom Lens's headlining feature is its focal length range. The 8.3x zoom range makes this lens an ideal single-lens solution to a wide range of photography needs, its the compact size makes it especially appealing for travel photography.

Pros
  • Outstanding zoom range
  • Affordable
  • Quiet optical image stabilization
  • 0.44x maximum magnification
  • Compact
  • Lightweight
Cons
  • Narrow apertures
  • Mediocre image quality
  • Strong lateral CA at wide and long extents
  • No switches
  • Shared focus and control ring
In-Depth Review

The Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens, along with the simultaneously announced Canon RF-S 18-45mm F4.5-6.3 IS STM Lens, represent the beginning of Canon's RF-S lineup. These lenses were introduced beside Canon's first APS-C imaging sensor format camera models with an RF lens mount, the Canon EOS R7 and Canon EOS R10.

While RF-S lenses function normally on all Canon EOS R-series cameras, they provide an APS-C-sized image circle. Full-frame imaging sensor camera models automatically adjust to the 1.6x narrower angle of view availed by this image circle, and this lens has merit for use on full-frame camera models.

If it seems that you've seen this lens before, in part, you have. The Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens shares the optical formula and much of the physical design of the Canon EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens, a well-loved model.

When you want to cover all of your photo needs for a trip, an event, an outing, etc., with a single lens, you may want a super-zoom lens. The Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens is compact, lightweight, and affordable, but its huge 8.3x focal length range (angle of view equivalent to a full-frame 28.8-240mm lens) covering a vast range of needs in a single lens, is the best reason for selecting this lens.

My standard reaction to a lens featuring an exceptionally long focal length range is to question the image quality it delivers, as compromises are usually involved. While not the 8.3x range is not the longest available, it is still long.

As always, we'll discuss image quality in depth in this review, and while most of us place a high value on image quality, image quality is not everything. Sometimes having the right focal length immediately available gets a shot that an optically better quality lens not mounted completely misses.

Fun is another factor that plays into this discussion. Most of us define photography as fun. However, few of us find it fun to change lenses (some of us even cringe about the potential for imaging sensor dust acquisition during this task), and few of us find it fun to physically carry lenses we're not using. Most of us find it fun to go out with a single lens that can photograph many scenarios.

Like the other superzoom lenses, this lens has a lot of convenience and fun built into it. This lens is a superb choice for travel. This lens is great for less-serious photographers such as a spouse or child, and there are many additional reasons to own and carry this lens.

Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens Angle View

Focal Length Range

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At the top of the lens selection funnel is the focal length range needed for the photographic scenario at hand. Focal length drives subject distance choices, which determine perspective.

This lens's huge 8.3x superzoom focal length range, covering a range otherwise requiring at least two zoom lenses, does not narrow this selection funnel much. This lens is suitable for an extremely long list of photography needs, with ideal perspectives covered in a large percentage of encountered scenarios.

Creating the useful-for list for this lens is an overwhelming task, and it seems easier to list what uses these focal lengths are not optimal for.

With the ultra-wide-angles missing, interior architecture and some landscape uses may require a panorama technique when using APS-C 18mm. This lens will likely be found short for large field sports, with significant cropping needed from APS-C 150mm captures. The 240mm full-frame equivalent angle of view is only marginally useful for wildlife photography, though large or close animals are fair game for this range. Your pets likely qualify.

For a walkabout zoom range, 18-150mm is an outstanding choice; for many, this lens will remain continuously mounted to the camera.

Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens Waterfall Sample Picture

During the review, the Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens and I hiked the falls trails in Ricketts Glen State Park. This zoom range provided a comfortably wide angle of view for entire falls in the frame and the long end was ideal for tightly framed falling water.

Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens Waterfall Closeup Sample Picture

The long end was especially useful for capturing details.

Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens Rock Sample Picture

Are people on your to-photograph list? This lens covers all of the most-used portrait focal lengths.

Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens Man Sample Picture

The following images illustrate the APS-C 18-150mm focal length range:

Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens Focal Length Range Example

18 | 24 | 35 | 50 | 70 | 100 | 130 | 150

APS-C sensor format cameras utilize a smaller portion of the image circle than full-frame models. That means a scene is framed tighter relative to the focal length, with 1.6x being the angle of view multiplier for Canon's lineup.

For those of us that think in full-frame angle of view equivalency, 28.8-240mm are the numbers.

It is hard to emphasize enough the value of having this range mounted to the camera.

Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens Front View on Camera

Max Aperture

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The f/3.5-6.3 in the name refers to the maximum aperture, the ratio of the focal length to the entrance pupil diameter, available in this lens. The lower the aperture number, the wider the opening, and the more light the lens can deliver to the imaging sensor. Each "stop" in aperture change (full stop examples: f/2.8, f/4.0, f/5.6) increases or decreases the amount of light by a factor of 2x (a substantial amount).

The additional light provided by wider aperture lenses permits sharp images of subjects in motion and with the camera handheld in lower light levels and lower (less noisy) ISO settings. In addition, increasing the aperture opening provides a shallower DOF (Depth of Field) that creates a stronger, better subject-isolating background blur (at equivalent focal lengths). Often critical is the improved low light AF performance availed by a wide-aperture lens.

A narrow aperture's advantages are related to (often significantly) reduced lens element size, including smaller overall size, lighter weight, and lower cost. Right, everyone loves those factors, and this lens has them.

Want a long focal length range that includes a telephoto range in a zoom lens without a large size, heavy weight, and high price? Expect that lens to have a variable max aperture (the aperture opening does not enlarge enough to maintain the same focal length to entrance pupil diameter as the focal length is increased) and for those apertures to be relatively narrow throughout the entire focal length range. That is what we have in the Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens.

While the aperture change is continuous, narrowing as the focal length increases, the camera rounds the EXIF reported aperture to the nearest 1/3 or 1/2 stop. Here are the ranges for the reported 1/3 stop apertures.

18-18mm = f/3.5
18-27mm = f/4.0
28-34mm = f/4.5
35-44mm = f/5.0
45-61mm = f/5.6
62-150mm = f/6.3

At 18mm, the f/3.5 aperture is not too wide, and the camera is still reporting 18mm when the max aperture changes to f/4. While the focal length has changed a modest amount by then, the zoom range availed at f/3.5 is short.

By 62mm, and throughout most the focal length range, a slow f/6.3 is reported.

With these narrow max apertures, this lens is not a good choice for photographing low-light motion, such as indoor sports or outdoor sports on cloudy days. Setting the ISO to a high number is the narrow aperture option for sharp low light, in-motion images, and noise is an image quality factor.

Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens Couple Sample Picture

For example, the camera settings for the sample picture above were: 54mm, 1/125, f/5.6, and ISO 6400. The couple was just under a porch on a cloudy day. ISO 6400 on an APS-C imaging sensor is noisy.

A downside to the variable max aperture is that, by definition, the same max aperture cannot be used over the entire focal length selected. The camera automatically accounts for the changes in auto exposure modes (including M mode with Auto ISO), but using the widest-available aperture in manual exposure mode is somewhat complicated by the changing setting (an in-camera function may also accommodate the changes).

When recording video, 1/60 second shutter speeds (twice the framerate) are typically needed (assuming you're not capturing high framerate slow-motion video), and wide apertures are not often required for 1/60 second rates in normally encountered ambient lighting.

An advantage held by wide apertures is their ability to blur the background strongly. This lens does not have those but has the other background blur advantage — long focal lengths. Following are examples of the maximum background blur this lens can produce:

Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens Maximum Blur Example

Thanks to the short minimum focus distance, even this lens's 18mm focal length can create a nice background blur. At 150mm, the background can be blurred into obscurity.

Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens on Tripod

Image Stabilization

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When the subject is not moving or not moving much, this lens's image stabilization system, rated for 4.5 stops of assistance, can make a huge difference in handheld image quality. Use this lens on an EOS R-series camera featuring In-Body Image Stabilization (IBIS), and that rating jumps to a high 6.5 stops. The 4.5 or 6.5 stop ISO noise difference referenced by these ratings is dramatic, offsetting much of the narrow aperture disadvantage (with motionless subjects).

IS is useful for stabilizing the viewfinder, aiding in optimal composition. IS is also useful for video recording.

The image stabilization system in the RF-S 18-150 performs superbly. IS makes a faint "hmmm" (even when switched off), though it is audible only from about an inch or two from the lens. Canon's IS systems have long been well behaved, meaning that the viewfinder image does not jump and I do not find myself fighting against IS while recomposing or recording video. I see the image framing drifting only slightly while IS is active and the camera is motionless for a bit.

As mentioned, this highly refined image stabilization system gets a high 4.5-stops of assistance rating and 6.5 stops with IBIS. For comparison, the EF-M 18-150 was rated at 4 stops. Improved communications between the lens and the camera via the new RF mount accounts for the improved lens-only rating, and IBIS was not available in the EOS M lineup.

This lens does not have an IS switch, and enabling or disabling IS requires accessing a second level menu option.

As usual for Canon image-stabilized lenses, the RF-S 18-150mm has an impressively high-performing IS system.

Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens Top View with Hood

Image Quality

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As the focal length range increases, so does the lens designer's challenge to produce high image quality. Requiring the lens to be compact, lightweight, and affordable further increases this challenge. The bottom line is that lenses with an extreme focal length ranges rarely produce outstanding image quality over their entire range. Let's find out what this one delivers.

With the ultra-high resolution Canon EOS R7 behind it, the RF-S 18-150 produces decent sharpness in the center of the frame at 18mm with a wide-open aperture. However, the wide-open results are noticeably softer at 35mm through the end of the focal length range.

In general, lenses are not as sharp at their wide-open apertures as they are when stopped down one or two stops. Stopping down 1/3 of a stop increases 18mm sharpness slightly, 35mm sharpness substantially, and 70mm and 150mm sharpness modestly.

Working against the narrower aperture sharpness improvement is the R7's magnification of diffraction effects that begin to show at only f/5.2, and in the wider half of the range, stopping down to f/8 reduces sharpness slightly. F/8 brings on a slight improvement over the wide-open f/6.3 results in the longer half of the range.

Often, subjects are not placed in the center of a composition. In the periphery of the image circle, where light rays are refracted to a stronger angle than in the center, lenses typically show decreased sharpness, and this one shows a modest decline, especially at 150mm.

We should not expect the RF-S 18-150 to perform like a high-end prime lens. Still, it is interesting to look at such a comparison to understand how a lens performs. That specific comparison features the RF-S lens's best image quality. Compare other focal lengths for a broader understanding.

The resolution chart is merciless on image quality, so let's take the testing outdoors, next looking at a series of center-of-the-frame 100% resolution crop examples.

These images were captured using an ultra-high resolution Canon EOS R7 with RAW files processed in Canon's Digital Photo Professional (DPP) using the Standard Picture Style with sharpness set to 1 on a 0-10 scale. Note that images from most cameras require some level of sharpening, but too-high sharpness settings are destructive to image details and hide the deficiencies of a lens.

Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens Sharpness Comparison Example

18mm: f/3.5 | f/4.0 | f/5.6   f/3.5 | f/4.0 | f/5.6
35mm: f/5.0 | f/5.6 | f/8.0   f/5.0 | f/5.6 | f/8.0
70mm: f/6.3 | f/8.0   f/6.3 | f/8.0
150mm: f/6.3 | f/8.0   f/6.3 | f/8.0

Especially the stopped down 1/3 stop examples appear nice.

Next, we'll look at a series of comparisons showing 100% resolution extreme top left corner crops captured and processed identically to the above center-of-the-frame images. The lens was manually focused in the corner of the frame to capture these images.

Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens Corner Sharpness Comparison Example

18mm: f/3.5 | f/4.0 | f/5.6 | f/8.0   f/3.5 | f/4.0 | f/5.6 | f/8.0
35mm: f/5.0 | f/5.6 | f/8.0   f/5.0 | f/5.6 | f/8.0
70mm: f/6.3 | f/8.0 | f/11.0   f/6.3 | f/8.0 | f/11.0
150mm: f/6.3 | f/8.0 | f/11.0   f/6.3 | f/8.0 | f/11.0

Samples taken from the outer extreme of the image circle, full-frame corners, can be counted on to show a lens's weakest performance. These outdoor results appear especially better than those from the test chart. At 18mm, the f/5.6 corners are reasonably sharp, and the mid focal lengths produce decent corner image quality at f/8. The 150mm corners are soft at all aperture settings.

Does corner sharpness matter? Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. Landscape and architecture photography are two photographic disciplines that have frequent scenarios requiring sharp corners. However, those scenarios often require a narrow aperture. When shooting at the widest apertures, the depth of field is often shallow, and the plane of sharp focus less frequently includes details showing in a corner, making corner sharpness less important. I always prefer my lenses to be razor sharp in the corners in case that feature is needed, but each of us must consider our applications to answer this paragraph's initial question, and if no better alternative exists, any limitations present must be accepted.

This lens does not exhibit focus shift, the plane of sharp focus moving forward or backward as the aperture is narrowed (residual spherical aberration or RSA).

A lens can be expected to create peripheral shading at the widest aperture settings when used on a camera that utilizes its entire image circle. At 18mm f/3.5, about 2.5 stops of shading is present in the corners. At 35mm and 70mm, the wide-open shading drops to well under a stop, and shading increases to about 1.5 stops in the 150mm corners. While the 2.5 stop number will be noticeable, the other numbers are good.

At f/5.6, just over a stop of 18mm shading remains. At f/8, about a stop of shading is present deep in the corners at the focal length extents and under half a stop remains in the mid-range.

One-stop of shading is often used as the visibility number, though subject details provide a widely varying amount of vignetting discernibility. Vignetting is correctable during post-processing with increased noise in the brightened areas the penalty, or it can be embraced, using the effect to draw the viewer's eye to the center of the frame. Study the pattern shown in our vignetting test tool to determine how your images will be affected.

Lateral (or transverse) CA (Chromatic Aberration) refers to the unequal magnification of all colors in the spectrum. Lateral CA shows as color fringing along lines of strong contrast running tangential (meridional, right angles to radii) with the mid and especially the periphery of the image circle showing the most significant amount as this is where the most significant difference in the magnification of wavelengths typically exists.

With the right lens profile and software, lateral CA is often easily correctable (often in the camera) by radially shifting the colors to coincide. However, it is always better to avoid this aberration in the first place.

Color misalignment can be seen in the site's image quality tool, but let's also look at a set of worst-case examples. The images below are 100% crops from the extreme top left corner of R7 frames showing diagonal black and white lines.

Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens Lateral Chromatic Aberration Example

18mm | 24mm | 35mm | 50mm | 70mm | 100mm | 150mm

Only black and white colors should appear in these images, with the additional colors indicating the presence of lateral CA. The color separation is strong at the wide end, slowly decreases to negligible at 70mm and 100mm, and increases slightly to modest at 150mm as the separated colors align and then reverse.

A relatively common lens aberration is axial (longitudinal, bokeh) CA, which causes non-coinciding focal planes of the various wavelengths of light. More simply, different colors of light are focused to different depths. Spherical aberration, along with spherochromatism, or a change in the amount of spherical aberration with respect to color (looks quite similar to axial chromatic aberration but is hazier) are other common lens aberrations to observe. Axial CA remains somewhat persistent when stopping down, with the color misalignment effect increasing with defocusing. The spherical aberration color halo shows little size change as the lens is defocused, and stopping down one to two stops generally removes this aberration.

In the real world, lens defects do not exist in isolation, with spherical aberration and spherochromatism generally found, at least to some degree, along with axial CA. These combine to create a less sharp, hazy-appearing image quality at the widest apertures.

The examples below look at the defocused specular highlights' fringing colors in the foreground vs. the background. The lens has introduced any fringing color differences from the neutrally-colored subjects.

Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens Spherical and Axial Aberration Example

Narrow aperture lenses generally perform well in this test, and overall, the RF-S 18-150 results look good, though modest color separation is showing at the long end.

Bright light reflecting off lens elements' surfaces may cause flare and ghosting, resulting in reduced contrast and sometimes interesting, usually destructive visual artifacts. The shape, intensity, and position of the flare effects in an image are variable, dependent on the position and nature of the light source (or sources), selected aperture, shape of the aperture blades, and quantity and quality of the lens elements and their coatings. Additionally, flare and ghosting can impact AF performance.

On this lens, Canon utilizes Canon SSC (Super Spectra Coating) to combat flare. However, the high 17-element count increases the challenge in this regard.

With a wide-open aperture, this lens produced practically no flare effects in our standard sun in the corner of the frame flare test. However, the narrow aperture tests did not fare as well, with plenty of character showing at 18mm f/16.

Flare effects can be embraced or avoided, or removal can be attempted. Unfortunately, removal is sometimes challenging, and in some cases, flare effects can destroy image quality.

Two lens aberrations are particularly evident in images of stars, mainly because bright points of light against a dark background make them easier to see. Coma occurs when light rays from a point of light spread out from that point instead of being refocused as a point on the sensor. Coma is absent in the center of the frame, gets worse toward the edges/corners, and generally appears as a comet-like or triangular tail of light which can be oriented either away from the center of the frame (external coma) or toward the center of the frame (internal coma). Coma clears as the aperture is narrowed. Astigmatism is seen as points of light spreading into a line, either sagittal (radiating from the center of the image) or meridional (tangential, perpendicular to sagittal). This aberration can produce stars appearing to have wings. Remember that Lateral CA is another aberration apparent in the corners.

The images below are 100% crops taken from the top-left corner of EOS R7 images captured at the widest available aperture.

Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens Coma Example

The stars in these images appear smeared, not rendered as points.

The standard zoom lens geometric distortion description holds for this lens. This lens has barrel distortion at the wide end, transitioning into pincushion distortion by 35mm and through the long end. The barrel distortion at 18mm is moderate, and the pincushion distortion is modest. These distortion amounts are normal for this class of lens and are great relative to some of the latest lens designs that rely on software correction.

Most modern lenses have correction profiles available (including in-camera), and distortion can easily be removed using these. Still, geometric distortion correction requires stretching which is detrimental to image quality.

As seen earlier in the review, it is easy to illustrate the strongest blur a lens can create, and telephoto lenses are inherently advantaged in this regard. Due to the infinite number of variables present among all available scenes, assessing the bokeh quality is considerably more challenging. Here are some f/11 (for diaphragm blade interaction) examples.

Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens Bokeh Example

The first example shows defocused highlights smoothly filled and nicely rounded. That said, creating round defocused highlights is not especially challenging for a narrow max aperture lens with rounded blades.

The second set of examples shows full images reduced in size (the 18mm sample is a 100% crop) and looking nice.

Except for a small number of specialty lenses, the wide aperture bokeh in the frame's corner does not produce round defocused highlights, with these effects taking on a cat's eye shape due to a form of mechanical vignetting. If you look through a tube at an angle, similar to the light reaching the frame's corner, the shape is not round. That is the shape we're looking at here.

Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens Cat's Eye Bokeh Example

The focal length extremities produce some shape truncation deep in the corners, but overall, these results are good. As the aperture narrows, the entrance pupil size is reduced, and the mechanical vignetting absolves, making the shapes rounder.

A 7-blade count diaphragm will create 14-point sunstars (diffraction spikes) from point light sources captured with a narrow aperture. In general, the more a lens diaphragm is stopped down, the larger and better-shaped the sunstars tend to be. Unfortunately, a narrow max aperture lens does not afford much stopping down before reaching apertures where diffraction causes noticeable softening of details, and these lenses typically do not produce the biggest or best-shaped sunstars.

Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens Sunstar Effect Example

The f/16 results shown above feature offset rays.

Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens Design

The design of this lens, featuring two aspheric elements and one Ultra-low Dispersion (UD) glass element, is illustrated above.

Most photographers view image sharpness, a combination of resolution and contrast, as their most important image quality factor. While not outstanding in this regard, the Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens performs reasonably well in relation to the other advantages it offers.

Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens Extended Side View with Hood

Focusing

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The Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens drives AF with a stepping motor.

Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens AF Motor

"Canon's stepping motor (STM) technology is especially effective at producing smooth, quiet autofocus during video recording. This lens is a perfect choice for multi-media content creation, with its zoom range and quiet autofocus. And, STM focus drive provides responsive, quick — and exceptionally quiet — AF during still-image shooting, as well." [Canon]

This lens indeed focuses with decent speed, and only a light whirring with some clicks is audible with an ear near the lens in a quiet environment.

While the narrow apertures available on this lens do not create extremely shallow, AF system challenging depth of field, accurate focusing remains imperative. This lens provides that.

With DSLR cameras, low light AF with narrow aperture lenses was a challenge. While this lens does not focus in light levels as low as most wider aperture lenses, EOS R series cameras still lock focus with this lens in dark environments (assuming the required contrast is available). Also, despite the long focal length range, this lens's diameter is narrow enough for the LED focus assist lamp to light up a subject in complete darkness.

As usual, low-light AF is slow.

As illustrated in the 100% crops below, like most non-cinema interchangeable lenses, the RF 18-150mm lens does not exhibit parfocal-like behavior. When focused at 150mm, zooming to wider focal lengths results in focus blur.

Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens Parfocal Example

150mm | 100mm | 70mm | 50mm | 35mm | 24mm | 18mm

If you adjust the focal length, re-establish focus. This rule usually applies.

This lens provides 100% x 100% of the frame AF coverage for the EOS R7 and R10 and 80% x 80% of the frame AF coverage for the EOS R and EOS R5.

Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens Side View

As we've seen in other Canon RF lenses, this lens's control ring serves dual purposes, acting also as a manual focus ring with the Focus/control ring menu option toggling the functionality. From a focus ring perspective, this knurled plastic ring is small and positioned immediately in front of the zoom ring. I prefer the forward-positioned focus ring, but the small size indicates that this functionality was not a priority for this lens design, and inadvertently changing the focal length while manually focusing is a potential.

STM utilizes a focus-by-wire or electrical manual focus design (vs. a direct gear-driven system), with the manual focus ring electronically controlling the focus of the lens.

Electronically driven MF enables a variable rate of focus change based on the ring's rotation speed. With the R-series cameras, a linear adjustment speed can be configured, disabling a variable rate when such is available. That option is usually my preference. In this mode, the RF-S 18-150's focus is manually adjusted slowly, with approximately 530-400° (18mm to 150mm) of ring rotation from MFD to infinity, enabling precise manual focusing precision. Switch to the variable adjustment mode for 270° slow or 40° fast rotation at 18mm and 270° slow, 100° fast rotation at 150mm.

The manual focus ring has a light resistance, and focus adjustments are smooth and solidly centered with no unusual framing shift.

Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens Extended Side View

FTM (Full Time Manual) focusing is supported in AF mode with the camera in One Shot Drive Mode, but the shutter release must be half-pressed for the focus ring to become active (Lens electronic MF after One Shot focusing must be enabled in the menu). With no AF/MF switch provided on the lens, the camera's AF/MF switch (or AF/MF menu option) must be in the "MF" setting and the camera meter must be on/awake for conventional manual focusing to be available.

Normal is for the scene to change size in the frame (sometimes significantly) as the focus is pulled from one extent to the other. This is focus breathing, a change in focal length resulting from a change in focus distance. Focus breathing impacts photographers intending to use focus stacking techniques, videographers pulling focus (without movement to camouflage the effect), and anyone critically framing while adjusting focus. This lens produces a minimal change in subject size through a full extent focus distance adjustment.

Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens Focus Magnification Example

18mm: Far | Close   150mm: Far | Close

With a minimum focus distance of 6.7" (170mm), this lens has an impressive 0.44x maximum magnification spec.

ModelMin Focus Distance "(mm)Max Magnification
Canon RF 14-35mm F4 L IS USM Lens7.9(200)0.38x
Canon RF 15-30mm F4.5-6.3 IS STM Lens5.1(130)0.52x
Canon RF-S 18-45mm F4.5-6.3 IS STM Lens7.9(200)0.26x
Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Lens15.4(390)0.28x
Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens6.7(170)0.44x
Canon EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens9.8(250)0.31x
Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens5.2(131)0.50x
Canon RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM Lens19.7(500)0.26x

At 18mm a subject measuring approximately 1.9 x 1.3" (48 x 32mm) fills the frame at this lens's manually focused minimum focus distance (shorter than the autofocus minimum focus distance). At 150mm, a subject measuring approximately 2.8 x 1.9" (71 x 47mm) does the same.

The minimum focus distance is measured from the imaging sensor plane with the balance of the camera, lens, and, optionally, lens hood length taking their space out of the number to create the working distance. At 18mm, the plane of sharp focus is only just under 0.5" (13mm) in front of the lens without the hood installed. Lighting a subject within this space is nearly impossible.

Obviously, the 150mm focal length provides a much longer working distance at maximum magnification — but not the same perspective.

This lens reaches its maximum magnification at around 30-50mm, where a 1.8 x 1.2" (46 x 31mm) subject fills the frame at this lens's manually focused minimum focus distance, generating a huge 0.59x maximum magnification.

Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens Focus Magnification Example

The USPS love stamps shared above have an image area that measures 1.05 x 0.77" (26.67 x 19.558mm), and the overall individual stamp size is 1.19 x 0.91" (30.226 x 23.114mm).

A strongly curved plane of sharp focus means that image corners are blurred at minimum focus distance, especially at the wide focal lengths and wide apertures.

Need a shorter minimum focus distance and higher magnification? While this lens cannot focus much closer at 18mm, an extension tube will enable significantly decreased and increased respective numbers at the longer focal lengths. Extension tubes are hollow lens barrels that shift a lens farther from the camera, allowing shorter focusing distances at the expense of long-distance focusing. Electronic connections in extension tubes permit the lens and camera to communicate and otherwise function normally. As of review time, Canon does not offer RF mount-compatible extension tubes, but third-party options are available.

This lens is not compatible with Canon extenders.

Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens Angle View with Hood

Build Quality & Features

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As mentioned at the beginning of the review, the Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens shared the optical design of the Canon EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens. With the same optics inside, it makes sense that the exterior would be similar.

Canon RF-S Compared to EF-M 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens

The unmistakable difference between the two lenses is the large RF mount. Additionally, the RF-S lens gets a straight ribbed zoom ring (the ribs are plastic), more knurled area on the control ring, and a lenses nearly identical black finish.

Overall, the RF-S 18-150's design is nice.

Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens Product Images

MFD |    MFD |    w/ Hood:  MFD |    MFD |    Rotated   Compare »

This lens extends 1.89"(48.1mm) by 150mm. With the barrel extended and gently pressured from the side, the lens exhibits a slight flex primarily originating behind the zoom ring.

Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens Angle Extended View

The zoom ring is large and turns smoothly, though the plastic ribs do not provide the utmost traction.

Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens Extended Top View

Also plastic (high-quality plastic) is the lens mount.

Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens Mount

As mentioned earlier in the review, this lens does not have an AF/MF switch — or any other switch or button. While omitting switches and buttons simplifies the lens design, I typically want AF/MF and the IS switches.

Canon resolves the first omission by providing an AF/MF switch on, minimally, the first two APS-C imaging sensor format R series cameras, the R7 and R10. Those using this lens on other cameras, such as the EOS RP, must rely on a menu option for this functionality. All must rely on a menu option (second level, nonetheless) to check, enable, or disable image stabilization.

Weather sealing is not a specified feature of this lens, and the mount is not gasketed. Hydrophobic coatings such as fluorine are also not mentioned.

This lens is tiny and ultra-light, able to be carried for long periods with little effort. Of course, these features are easier to accomplish with the smaller elements required to create an image circle covering only an APS-C imaging sensor.

ModelWeight oz(g)Dimensions w/o Hood "(mm)FilterYear 
Canon RF 14-35mm F4 L IS USM Lens19.1(540)3.3 x 3.9(84.1 x 99.8)772021
Canon RF 15-30mm F4.5-6.3 IS STM Lens13.8(390)3.0 x 3.5(76.6 x 88.4)672022
Canon RF-S 18-45mm F4.5-6.3 IS STM Lens4.6(130)2.7 x 1.7(68.9 x 44.3)492022
Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Lens18.2(515)3.0 x 3.8(77.4 x 96.0)672016
Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens10.9(310)2.7 x 3.3(69.0 x 84.5)552022
Canon EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens10.6(300)2.4 x 3.4(60.9 x 86.5)552016
Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens13.9(395)3.0 x 3.5(76.6 x 88.8)672020
Canon RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM Lens26.5(750)3.2 x 4.8(80.4 x 122.5)722019

For many more comparisons, review the complete Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens Specifications using the site's lens specifications tool.

While the RF-S 18-150 specs shows a 2.7" (67mm) diameter, it is only the RF mount that extends to that width. Most of the lens is only 2.5" (62.7mm) wide, and my fingers easily clear the barrel of this lens when tightly gripping the compact EOS R10.

Here is a visual comparison. Notice the size difference required to create the two full-frame lenses on the right.

Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens Compared to Similar Lenses

Positioned above from left to right are the following lenses:

Canon RF-S 18-45mm F4.5-6.3 IS STM Lens
Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens
Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens
Canon RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM Lens

The same lenses are shown below with their hoods in place.

Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens Compared to Similar Lenses with Hoods

Use the site's product image comparison tool to visually compare the Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens to other lenses.

This lens has 55mm filter threads. While 55mm filters are small and relatively inexpensive, they are not so common. The only Canon lenses sharing this filter size are this lens's EF-M counterpart and the EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM Lens.

Using a standard thickness circular polarizer filter has little effect on peripheral shading. Still, a slim model such as the Breakthrough Photography X4 is highly recommended.

Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens Side View with Hood

The Canon EW-60F Lens Hood is not included in the box. While not inexpensive, I recommend getting and using (reversed does not count) the hood for front element protection from impact and flare-inducing bright light.

Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens Angle View Extended with Hood

The plastic EW-60F's petal shape is optimized to block as much light outside the utilized image circle as possible. As zoom lens hoods must be tuned for the wide end of the zoom range, less than optimal protection is afforded at the long end. Still, this hood offers reasonable front element protection.

The petal shape also looks cool, and an advantage of this hood shape is easier installation alignment (simply align the small petal to the top), though a round-shaped hood enables the lens to better stand on its hood. The matte interior avoids internal reflections. A release button is not featured on this hood.

Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens Cap

The Canon LP816 Lens Case is also optional. Consider a Lowepro Lens Case or Think Tank Photo Lens Case Duo for a quality, affordable single-lens storage, transport, and carry solution.

Price, Value, Wrap Up

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Designing for a smaller image circle results in a lower cost that directly translates into a lower price. The low price combined with the utility of this lens makes it a good value.

As an "RF-S" lens, the Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens is compatible with all Canon EOS R-series cameras. Full-frame imaging sensor models will automatically switch into APS-C mode when an RF-S lens is mounted. Canon USA provides a 1-year limited warranty.

The reviewed Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens came in a kit with an EOS R7 on short-term loan from Canon USA.

Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens Top View

Alternatives

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With a good EF-M lens design already available, migrating it to the RF-S mount seems like a good idea. Certainly, there are economic efficiencies for doing so. While the Canon EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens is not compatible with the R series cameras, it is interesting to compare the two lenses.

In the image quality comparison, the two lenses appear to be identically sharp (visualizing between different resolution test cameras).

The Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens vs. Canon EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens comparison also shows the two lenses are nearly identical aside from the RF mount increasing the RF-S lens's diameter. The RF-S lens has a 0.5 stop image stabilization assistance advantage. The two lenses share the same price.

The 18-45mm F4.5-6.3 IS STM is another Canon RF-S general-purpose lens.

In the image quality comparison, the two lenses are similarly sharp at 18mm, and the 18-45 has a slight advantage at 35mm. The 18-45 has dramatically more barrel distortion at 18mm and noticeably less pincushion distortion at 35mm and 45mm. With 10 less lens elements in its design, the 18-45 better resists flare and ghosting, but it has stronger peripheral shading.

The Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens vs. Canon RF-S 18-45mm F4.5-6.3 IS STM Lens comparison shows the 18-45 dramatically smaller and lighter than the already small and light 18-150. Also smaller are the 18-55's filter threads, 49mm vs. 55mm. The 18-150 has a higher maximum magnification, 0.44x vs. 0.26x, and a higher IS assistance rating, 4.5 vs. 4.0. The 18-45 is considerably lower priced, but the 18-150 provides a considerably longer focal length range and features wider max apertures at all equivalent focal lengths, a mostly 2/3 stop advantage.

How does the full-frame equivalent lens compare? That lens would be the Canon RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM Lens.

The image quality comparison shows the full-frame camera and lens combination easily outperforming the APS-C camera (with a denser imaging sensor) and lens combination over most of the focal length range. The 24-240 has strong lateral CA at the focal length extents, dramatically stronger barrel distortion at the wide end, and stronger peripheral shading, including at f/11.

The Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens vs. Canon RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM Lens comparison shows the 24-240 about 2.5x heavier and considerably larger. The larger lens uses 72mm filters vs. 55mm and has a 0.5 stops higher IS assistance rating, 5.0 vs. 4.5. The full-frame lens costs considerably more.

An interesting APS-C lens to compare the RF-S 18-150 to is the Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Lens.

These two lenses produce similar image quality overall, and the resolution chart comparison (visualize the camera resolution difference) shows the two lenses performing similarly. The EF-S lens is slightly sharper at the long end. The EF-S lens has wide-open vignetting at the long end and less stopped down vignetting at 18mm.

The Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens vs. Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Lens comparison shows the EF-S lens noticeably larger and heavier – but still not heavy. The EF-S lens has 67mm filter threads vs. 55mm, Nano USM vs. a stepping motor driving AF, and a 1/3 stop wider reported aperture from 50-135mm. The RF-S lens has a higher maximum magnification, 0.44x vs. 0.28x, a 0.5 stop higher IS assistance rating, 4.5 vs. 4.0, and a longer focal length range (the 130mm example in the focal length range illustration closely approximates this difference). The EF-S lens is moderately more expensive and requires a Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R for use on an R series camera, adding modestly to the size, weight, and possibly cost.

Let's consider one more alternative, the Canon EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Lens. Obviously, this lens shifts the focal length range toward the wide end, which could be an advantage or disadvantage depending on a photographer's needs.

In the resolution chart comparison (visualize the camera resolution difference), the 15-85 appears slightly sharper, especially in the mid and long focal length comparisons. The 15-85 shows modestly stronger peripheral shading, and it has less pincushion distortion at the mid and long focal lengths.

The Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens vs. Canon EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Lens comparison shows the EF-S lens weighing twice as much. While the EF-S lens is not much longer, it consumes considerably more volume. The EF-S lens has 72mm filter threads vs. 55mm, has Ring USM vs. a stepping motor powering AF, and has a 1/3 stop wider reported aperture from 45-85mm. The RF-S lens has a higher maximum magnification, 0.44x vs. 0.21x, a 1.5 stop higher IS assistance rating, 4.5 vs. 3.0. The EF-S lens is more expensive and requires a Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R for use on an R series camera, adding modestly to the size, weight, and possibly cost.

Use the site's tools to create additional comparisons.

Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens Extended Top View with Hood

Summary

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When you want to cover all of your photo needs for a trip, an event, an outing, etc. with a single lens, you may want a superzoom lens. When that one lens needs to be light, compact, and affordable, the Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens is even more likely be the right choice, including for a full-frame EOS R series camera.

When a lens features an exceptionally long focal length range, I always question the image quality it will deliver as compromises are usually involved. While this lens does not provide outstanding image sharpness, it does produce good images, and image quality is not everything. Sometimes having the right focal length immediately available gets a shot that an optically superior lens not mounted completely misses.

Don't forget the fun of photography. A small, light superzoom lens, always convenient for whatever subject shows up, aids in that fun.

When a single lens needs to handle a wide range of needs, the Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens is a good choice. This lens is a good choice for travel and for less-serious photographers, perhaps a spouse or child. There are a lot of additional reasons to own and carry this lens.

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