Although we're billing these as the best Canon RF lenses, the fact of the matter is that almost every RF lens is pretty darned good – particularly the first-party optics from Canon, which are uniformly stunning.
Thankfully it's no longer the case that the very best Canon RF lenses come with eye-watering price tags, as a number of budget options have been released in the past year that makes the Canon EOS R (opens in new tab) ecosystem appealing to every pocket.
So whether you're looking for the highest image quality when shooting with the high-res Canon EOS R5 (opens in new tab), tele and super tele lenses to capture action with the Canon EOS R6 (opens in new tab), something sleek and street-worthy for the svelte Canon EOS RP (opens in new tab), something suitable for astro on the Canon EOS Ra (opens in new tab), or you're looking ahead to pro-quality performance on the Canon EOS R3 (opens in new tab), there's something here for you.
The RF mount has rapidly matured, and the last few gaps have been plugged; Canon has finally given us a native macro lens in the form of the Canon RF 100mm f/2.8 Macro IS USM (opens in new tab) (with up to 8 stops of stabilization, 1.4x magnification and bokeh control). And on top of the brilliant 600mm f/11, we're also getting the Canon RF 600mm f/4L IS USM (opens in new tab) and Canon RF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM (opens in new tab) to satisfy our pro telephoto requirements.
So without further ado, here are the best Canon RF lenses on the market right now, and for convenience we've split these into zoom lenses and primes, with the shortest focal lengths first and working up to the longest.
Best Canon RF lenses
Canon RF zoom lenses
Canon’s most important RF mount trinity lens is here to proselytize the benefits of the EOS R system – and it will have most users singing 'Hallelujah' all the way to the nearest camera store. It’s snappy, it’s sharp, it’s stabilized and it even suppresses focus breathing… but it's a little rough around the edges, literally, and at this price point that's enough to stop it short of greatness.
Depending on your usage, the issue of middling edge sharpness may not be a factor. Portrait photographers will likely have no problem with unrefined corners, but those intending to put this to general-purpose use for things like landscapes may be a little less forgiving. That's really more a reflection of the price than the performance, though. In all other respects, this is a lens that anyone – on any system – would be proud to have in their kit bag. It feels snappier and more responsive than its EF predecessor, and the addition of image stabilization is a real game-changer for non-stabilized EOS R bodies.(opens in new tab)
If you're after a native RF zoom lens that is wider than a standard 24-70mm, you're only option is the Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8. It's perfect for landscape, architectural and travel photography as well as close-up sporting action thanks to its super-fast Nanon USM autofocus system. You can really exaggerate the perspective between background and foreground areas when shooting at the wide end of the zoom range though it's worth noting corner sharpness does drop off a bit.
The f/2.8 aperture, which remains constant throughout the zoom range, combines with a 5-stop image stabilizer to enable great handheld performance under low-lighting conditions. Unlike with some ultra-wide-angle lenses, another bonus is that the hood is removable, so filters can be easily fitted via the 82mm attachment ring.
• Read more: Our comprehensive review of the Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
Not only an ideal ‘kit’ lens to buy with an R-series camera body, this is an excellent optic in its own right. Typical RF attractions include a customizable control ring, in addition to the zoom and focus rings, which can be ‘de-clicked’ for step-less control. That’s preferable when shooting video, but you’ll have to send the lens away to a service centre to have the work carried out. L-series attractions include comprehensive weather-seals and up-market build quality.
The Nano USM autofocus system is super-fast for stills, while also delivering smooth, near-silent focus transitions for movie capture. Typical of RF-mount ‘IS’ lenses, the stabilizer has 5-stop effectiveness. Physically, it’s slightly smaller and lighter than the equivalent EF 24-105mm L-series lens for SLRs but still feels a bit chunky, especially when mounted on an EOS RP body. Money no object, Canon’s fully pro-spec RF 24-70mm F2.8L IS USM and RF 28-70mm F2L USM are the most exotic options but this f/4 lens is the sensible buy.(opens in new tab)
Especially well suited to the EOS RP, Canon’s latest RF 24-105mm takes downsizing to the extreme and makes a perfect travel companion. It’s little more than half the weight of its sibling RF 24-105mm f/4 L-series lens and much more compact.
Unlike some ‘compact’ standard zooms, it achieves its diminutive size without having a retractable design, so it’s always ready for duty. Handling is refined although, to help keep the size to a minimum, there aren’t separate control and focus rings, rather one ring with a switch for swapping the function.
A novel extra is the ‘centre focus macro’ facility, which enables focusing down to a distance of just 13cm at the centre of the image frame, with 0.5x magnification.
• Read more: Canon RF 24-105mm f/4-7.1 IS STM review(opens in new tab)
This small and lightweight 'superzoom' is perfect for capturing things right up close or really far away thanks to its massive zoom range. For anyone who likes to shoot with minimal kit, this lens is incredibly versatile and could be used to shoot portraits, landscapes, interiors, architecture or even wildlife.
It benefits from the same build quality and features as the other RF lenses including fast and accurate autofocus and 4-stops of lens stabilization. Like with all superzoom lenses, there is some compromise on image quality but the 24-240mm still delivers impressive images with little aberrations thanks to in-camera corrections. For anyone who doesn't want the fuss of carrying multiple lenses or changing them frequently, this lens is perfect and it weighs just 750g so it won't weigh you down too much.
• Read more: The full Canon RF 24-240mm f/4-6.3 IS USM review (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
Canon’s RF lenses are often criticized for feeling big and heavy on mirrorless bodies, but this one remains reasonably slim and svelte. Compared with the latest EF 70-200mm f/2.8 IS lens for SLRs, it’s significantly smaller and only about two-thirds of the weight.
Unlike the EF lens, the RF edition has an extending inner barrel rather than a fixed physical length. Autofocus is amazingly rapid, based on dual Nano USM actuators, and it beats the EF lens for stabilization, with 5-stop rather than 3.5-stop effectiveness. Three switchable modes are on offer static and panning shots, plus a third option which applies stabilization only during exposures. This makes it easier to track erratically moving objects in the viewfinder, or via the camera’s rear screen.
• Read more: Our hands-on review of the Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
Canon's RF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM is easily the shortest and lightest 70-200mm f/4 in the world. Side-by-side it's only slightly larger than a soda can when the lens is fully collapsed, while it's shorter and lighter than the f/2.8 variant above. It doesn't compromise on performance though, delivering an impressive 7.5 stops of stabilization (on an EOS R6 or R5 at least), making it incredibly versatile for a range of shooting situations. Optically and center sharpness is fantastic as well, even at 200mm, though corner sharpness can be a little disappointing. Somewhat frustratingly though the lens is not compatible with teleconverters, while it's very pricey compared to the EF version, which admittedly isn't quite as advanced. Though issues aside, this is a cracking lens for R-series shooters.(opens in new tab)
The Canon RF 100-500mm is a superb addition to the rapidly expanding range of RF-mount lenses for Canon's EOS R-series cameras. It combines Canon's legendary L-series build quality with premium optical performance that's up there with the very best Canon zoom lenses we've tested.
There is, however, a catch: to really get the most from the autofocus system, especially for accurate action shots, you’ll need to pair it with the amazing AF and IBIS on the R5 or R6. Shoot with this lens on the older EOS R or RP and you can expect AF to be noticeably more sluggish, which is somewhat disappointing when you've just dropped big money on a lens like this.
Canon RF prime lenses(opens in new tab)
Most of us use a standard zoom lens for most of our shooting. To go wider than a focal length of 24mm, one (very expensive) option is to go for the RF 15-35MM f/2.8L IS USM (opens in new tab), which stretches to 15mm while giving a fair bit overlap in zoom range. However, many photographers end up only using ultra-wide-angle zooms at or near their shortest focal length.
This manual prime lens for RF mount cameras gives a similarly wide viewing angle as the Canon lens at its shortest zoom setting, but for only about a seventh of the cost.
It’s a fully manual lens, so requires manual focusing and you need to set the aperture with the lens’ ring rather than from the camera body. Other downsides are that it has a built-in hood, and therefore no filter attachment thread, and barrel distortion is clearly noticeable with no in-camera corrections being available. Other aspects of image quality are impressive, however, and it’s a fun lens to use.(opens in new tab)
Though not quite as wide as the Rokinon/Samyang MF 14mm f/2.8 RF (above), Canon's 16mm wide prime is just as affordable, and packs the added bonus of autofocus. It's equally fast, too, yet at a mere 40mm long and 165g light, it's considerably more portable. In fact, like the RF 35mm, 50mm and 85mm primes before it, this 16mm makes a convincing case for leaving a standard zoom lens out of the shooting equation and sticking to prime numbers. And even if you do generally shoot with a standard zoom, the RF 16mm is an excellent addition, delivering an ultra-wide viewing angle with convincing image quality and all-round performance. If ever a lens was a no-brainer, it’s this one.(opens in new tab)
The Canon RF 50mm f/1.8 STM is everything you want a nifty fifty to be. It's cheap, compact and capable, delivering great image quality (on par in some areas with the RF 50mm f/1.2L, which costs over ten times as much!) in a truly pocket-sized lens. The smallest optic for the EOS R system, it's a fantastic everyday lens that pairs well with any RF body – and is particularly perfect with the Canon EOS RP if you want a sleek, street-friendly setup.
• Read more: Canon RF 50mm f/1.8 STM review (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
If you’re only going to buy one own-brand prime lens for your Canon R-series camera, this is the one to go for. It’s wonderfully compact and lightweight, as well as only costing about a fifth of the price of Canon’s bulky f/1.2 lenses. Indeed, the relatively small and inexpensive build enabled by the more modest aperture rating makes you wonder why Canon hasn’t made more f/1.8 RF primes yet.
The 35mm focal length is perfect for street photography and gives an entirely natural viewing perspective that works well for landscape and architectural photography, as well as for environmental portraits where you want to include a person’s surroundings. The versatility doesn’t end there, as the lens has a short 0.17m minimum focus distance that enables 0.5x macro shooting, complete with a hybrid 5-stop stabilizer that corrects for x-y shift in addition to the more usual angular vibrations.
• Read more: Our in-depth Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 IS Macro STM lens review (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
Right now this is as close as it gets to the classic Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro USM (opens in new tab), at least in terms of a Canon macro lens with autofocus (the Laowa 100mm f/2.8 2x Ultra Macro APO (opens in new tab) actually offers a 1:2 reproduction ratio if you don't mind manual focus).
Beyond its 2:1 macro, however, the RF 85mm f/2's primary party trick is as a portrait lens – and it's a very, very good one, offering sharpness that actually outclasses the powerhouse Canon RF 85mm f/1.2L USM (opens in new tab) (which costs a couple of grand more). The f/2 aperture isn't quite as bokehlicious as an f/1.2 or even f/1.8 optic, but it still delivers sublime subject separation – and used on the R5 or R6 it offers a whopping 8 stops of stabilization!(opens in new tab)
This enormously expensive lens would appear much higher up in our list were it not for the cost. It's the pièce de résistance of the Canon RF lenses and possibly one of the finest portrait lenses we've ever used. It's fiercely sharp, even when shooting at f/1.2 and when shooting wide open, it delivers sublime subject separation and a beautifully blurred background.
However, it's a beast of a lens weighing almost 1.2kg with dimensions of 103.2x117.3mm. As it's so heavy it's best suited to the Canon EOS R5 or R6 as they have in0body stabilization which will help to steady the setup while you're shooting. It's also probably not the best lens to invest in if you plan on taking it traveling or hiking as it's bound to weigh you down.
Chances are if you're a pro you could justify the cost of this lens but if not, the 85mm f/2 will still deliver beautiful images only at a fraction of the weight and price.(opens in new tab)
The Canon RF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM takes everything that was great about the EF version of this lens and makes it even better. Magnification? Boosted to 1.4x. Stabilization? Upped to 8 stops (on the EOS R5 and R6). Bokeh? Even more beautiful, thanks to a control ring that shifts the lens elements. Focus and breathing? Faster and more controlled than ever. It's a superb standalone portrait lens as well, with pin-sharp rendering and a flattering focal length. If you want to photograph close-ups of small things and large things alike, you've just found your next purchase! Start saving...(opens in new tab)
While the RF mount has carved a reputation as the home for Canon's suped-up lenses with premium price tags, it's also home to one of the most unconventional and affordable megzooms on the market. The RF 800mm lens is a fixed aperture f/11 optic that has a collapsible barrel – both of which make it an incredibly cheap, compact and lightweight lens.
Most photographers using DSLRs wouldn’t find a 600mm f/11 remotely attractive, but it works very well on R system cameras thanks to their live view focusing assists, cutting-edge AF performance and high ISO tolerances. With its impressive image quality, fast and accurate autofocus, and high-performance stabilization, it’s certainly not short on performance – and if you want something longer on reach, the Canon RF 800mm f/11 IS STM (opens in new tab) is just as good.
• Read more: Canon RF 600mm f/11 IS STM review (opens in new tab)
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• The best Canon standard zoom lenses for EOS DSLRs (opens in new tab)
• The best macro lenses: (opens in new tab) get closer to your subjects than ever before!
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• Looking to turn pro? We check out the best cameras for professionals (opens in new tab)
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