Latest "crazy" Canon EOS R lens is an ultra-fast zoom: Canon RF 50-80mm f/1.1

Latest "crazy" Canon EOS R lens is an ultra-fast zoom: Canon RF 50-80mm f/1.1
(Image credit: Future)

Canon has designed an ultra-fast portrait zoom lens for its full-frame mirrorless R system: the Canon RF 50-80mm f/1.1.

Much has been made of the "crazy" lenses that can potentially be produced for Canon's RF mount system, which accommodates optical formulas only possible with its 54mm diameter, 20mm flange back distance and 12-point electrical contacts. 

The Canon RF 50-80mm f/1.1, however, takes that crazy to a whole new level. It would be the manufacturer's fastest ever lens for the Canon EOS R – and close to its fastest ever lens period, behind only the legendary Canon EF 50mm f/1.0L USM

• Read more: Canon RF lens roadmap

However, that was a prime lens; for a zoom lens to have a constant f/1.1 aperture is truly remarkable – and is exactly the kind of showcase lens that would demonstrate what a uniquely capable tool the EOS R can be… especially in the form of the rumored hi-res Canon EOS R, which could boast 70-100 megapixels.

The Canon RF 50-80mm f/1.1 formula has a crazy amount of lens elements

The Canon RF 50-80mm f/1.1 formula has a crazy amount of lens elements (Image credit: USPO / Canon)

Canon's American patent for the lens (USPO#20190243111) was first spotted by Northlight Images. The full filing actually describes formulas for four different speed variations of the same lens: an RF 50-80mm f/1.1, f/1.2, f/1.4 and f/1.8.

Clearly the company wouldn't release all four variants – if, indeed, it produces this lens in any variant – so Canon is simply getting its ducks in a row for such as time as it's ready to pull the trigger on this design. 

And, while the f/1.1 would be a genuine show-stopper, the truth is that an RF 50-80mm lens even as 'slow' as f/1.8 would still be an incredible optic for the EOS R. Indeed, that might be the likeliest outcome; looking at the sheer number of elements in the f/1.1 design, it may well be too exotic and too expensive to produce. 

Then again, given that the Canon 85mm f/1.2L DS is as boutique as they come, with an anticipated $3,000 price, maybe nothing is too exotic or expensive any more.

Read more: 

Canon RF lens roadmap: everything we know so far
Ultra-fast Canon RF 35mm f/1.2L pro lens – coming to the Canon EOS R in 2020?
New Canon RF lenses scheduled for 2019 release – but will one be pushed to 2020?

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James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients like Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photo and lighting tutorials, as well as industry news, rumors and analysis for publications like Digital Camera MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon MagazineN-Photo: The Nikon MagazineDigital Photographer and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and talks at The Photography Show. He also serves as a judge for the Red Bull Illume Photo Contest. An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.