Right from the start, the Canon RF lens roadmap was ambitious. However, when the new RF-mount mirrorless system was announced back in 2018, we had no idea how quickly, comprehensively and aggressively Canon would mature its new ecosystem.
Fast-forward to 2020 and the Canon RF lens roadmap features almost all of the lenses that an amateur or professional photographer could want, from wide-angle 15-35mm f/2 pro zooms to 800mm f/11 budget mega-telephotos. And with the in-body image stabilization of the Canon EOS R5 and Canon EOS R6, they all benefit from super-stability on the latest bodies even if they don't possess lens IS.
While Canon still fully supports the EF mount, which was introduced in 1987, the manufacturer has made clear that "for now, our focus is on RF.” So 2020 marks Canon's true shift away from its 30-year-old EF system to the cutting-edge RF mount that will see the company through the next 30 years.
The Canon RF mount has the same 54mm diameter, but boasts a flange focal distance (the space between the lens and the sensor) of 20mm (24mm shorter than that of the EF/EF-S mount, thanks to the lack of mirror) and 12 electrical contacts (4 more than EF/EF-S, providing faster communication).
Most of the first generations of RF lenses were geared towards taking full advantage of the new mount, resulting in premium-performing but premium-priced optics. Now, however, the range includes affordable primes, zooms and super-telephotos, meaning that there's something for photographers of all levels and budgets.
Current Canon RF prime lenses
The lightest, and currently only non L-series, lens in the RF mount lineup, this super compact lens is perfect for street and travel photography – and, thanks to its tiny size and weight, it pairs perfectly with the svelte Canon EOS RP.
Launched along with the EOS R, the first prime for the system is a truly lustworthy lens. Sharp enough to cut glass and with bokeh to die for, it's a great showcase for what the RF mount is capable of.
This super-fast lens went on sale in June, and will be the lens that professional portrait photographers, top wedding shooters and bokeh lovers will want to get their hands on. Half a stop faster than the usual 85mm f/1.4 lenses used by these photographers love, this is likely to become an instant classic. But its credentials will come with a price to match...
See our Canon RF 85mm f/1.2L USM review
One of our favorite lenses for the RF mount, or indeed any camera system, the RF 85mm Defocus Smoothing optic is almost a Lensbaby lens in the special effect it delivers. Thanks to a special DS Coating on two lens elements it produces the creamiest, dreamiest, silky smoothest bokeh you'll ever see – albeit at the cost of about 1⅓ stops of light (giving this f/1.2 lens an effective T-stop of T2.2). Check out our review for comparison shots with the standard RF 85mm f/1.2L lens.
Current Canon RF zoom lenses
Filling the wide-angle gap for landscape shooters, this is the first of the all-important 'trinity lenses' (which also comprise the 24-70mm and 70-200mm optics) and it's a truly fantastic lens for stills and video alike.
The second of the trinity optics – all of which are image stabilized, with a fast f/2.8 aperture – this is the all-purpose lens that everyone from average Joes to working pros want in their kit bag.
The Canon EOS R was bundled with this lens at launch, but that 'kit lens' designation belies how good this optic really is. The first zoom, and the first stabilized lens, for the RF mount, it's a great all-round performer.
With the RF lens lineup being so premium priced, we're very excited to have another affordable optic for the system. This is a non-L optic with 0.5x macro capabilities, and is an excellent everyday enthusiast lens. It isn't the premium performer that the f/4L version is, but the results are still impressive – and the f/7.1 aperture isn't as limiting as you might expect.
One of only two non L-series lenses currently available, like the 35mm f/1.8 – both of which seem tailor-made for the Canon EOS RP. An ultra-compact 10x optical zoom with stabilization, it's a brilliant everyday and travel lens.
Arriving at the tail end of 2018, this is a great example of the kind of optic that simply wasn't possible on the EF mount. Though a formidable tool for professionals, this bulky, heavy lens feels a little mismatched with the current R system bodies.
Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM
The third pillar of the holy trinity, this telephoto zoom gives the EOS R and RP a native option for wildlife, birding and sports photography. It's remarkably small at around two-thirds the size of the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM, only coming up to the focus ring of its EF counterpart when stood side by side.
Canon RF lenses coming this year
Unlike the two f/1.2 monsters, this new RF 85mm f/2 lens will retail for just $599 – and in addition to the still-fast f/2 aperture, it also boasts a macro shooting option with 0.5x magnification, making it perfect for all your close-up needs. Its similar in many respects to the RF 35mm f/1.8, and that's a good thing!
Availability: October 2020
Price: $599 / £649 (AU$1,173)
Making the R system even more viable for professionals is the new RF 100-500mm lens, which will be music to the ears of sports and wildlife shooters. It will pair with the two new RF Extenders (but only from 300-500mm, due to physical limitations), delivering up to 1,000mm range.
Availability: September 2020
Price: $2,699 / £2,899 / AU$4,999.95
Canon is changing the game with its mega-telephoto tag team of lenses, designed to be incredibly light, compact and affordable. Both feature a fixed f/11 aperture and image stabilization, with the 600mm optic offering 5 stops of IS – and it weighs just 930g and measures 199.5mm collapsed or 269.5mm at full extension (compared to the 3,050g and 448mm of the Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS III USM).
Availability: 30 July
Price: $699.99 / £749 (AU$1,352)
An 800mm lens for under a grand is exciting enough, but one that weighs just 1,260g and is only 281.1mm collapsed and 352mm when fully extended (compared to the 4,500g and 461mm of the Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM) is even more amazing. Throw in 4-stop image stabilization to sweeten the deal, and you can mount it to the RF Extender 2x (below) to shoot at 1600mm f/22. This lens is crashing through all kinds of shooting frontiers!
Availability: 30 July
Price: $899.99 / £979 (AU$1,767)
Adding further reach to specific long-range optics, Canon has announced a pair of RF teleconverters. Bear in mind that they will multiply the focal length accordingly, but will also affect the aperture; the 1.4x will bring a one-stop reduction in maximum aperture, with the 2x bringing a two-stop reduction. They are fully compatible with the 600mm f/11 and 800mm f/11 lenses, and partly compatible with the 100-500mm lens (from 300-500mm), but due to physical limitations they are incompatible with the 70-200mm lens.
Price – Extender 1.4x: $499.99 / £559 (AU$1,010)
Price – Extender 2x: $599.99 / £699 (AU$1,263)
Third-party Canon RF lenses
Obviously there are plenty of other manufacturers making lenses for the Canon EOS R and RP as well. Here are some of the highlights of other, non-Canon, optics available for the RF mount.
Lensbaby Optics, such as the new Lensbaby Edge 35, aren't lenses in their own right, but are add-ons for the Lensbaby Composer Pro II housing – which is now available for the RF mount. In addition, the company's dedicated standalone lenses – including the Lensbaby Velvet 56, Lensbaby Velvet 85 and Lensbaby Trio – are also available for Canon's full-frame mirrorless system.
A mirrorless-fit version of Samyang's best selling ultra-wide angle prime lens. It is constructed from fourteen elements in ten groups, with one H-ASP element, one ASP element and two ED elements in its build, along with six aperture blades. Measuring 87 x 120mm, and weighing 800g, it does not have a front filter ring due to the bulbous nature of the front element.
The Laowa 15mm f/2 Zero-D is a fantastic optic, offering an ultra wide-angle lens with a fast f/2 aperture and an affordable price – making it a bit of a unicorn lens for architectural and landscape photographers. And for videographers, the ability to de-click the aperture by sliding a switch makes this an essential lens for shooting wide. It's all-manual, but the image quality and distortion control are both impressive.
An update of a well-respected lens available in other mounts, known for its bokeh characteristics. The fast telephoto prime has a total of nine elements in seven groups, with eight diaphragm blades. An H-ASP lens minimizes various aberrations and maximizes the image quality and contrast from corner to corner, even wide open. Ultra-multi-coating promises low reflectivity and excellent contrast, and is claimed to offer high transmittance of light while minimizing flare and ghosting. The lens measures 78 x 98.7mm, weighs in at 730g, has a minimum focusing distance of 1m and has a front filter ring measuring 72mm.