Hands-on Canon RF 35mm f/1.4 L VCM review: the wait is finally over

The Canon RF 35mm f/1.4 L VCM, one of the most anticipated RF lenses, is finally here. Can it live up to expectations?

Canon RF 35mm f/1.4L VCM lens attached to a Canon EOS R5 camera on a white surface in front of a window
(Image: © Gareth Bevan / Digital Camera World)

Early Verdict

Expectations were incredibly high for the Canon RF 35mm f/1.4 L VCM, given that the EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM is regarded by many Canon photographers as their favorite prime lens. Thankfully, it seems Canon has risen to the occasion. The RF 35mm f/1.4 L VCM is smaller and lighter than its EF brother while managing to add an aperture ring and, on initial testing, keeping its optical quality on par. Its just a shame that the iris ring is for video only.


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    Image quality looks superb

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    Smaller and lighter than EF mount version

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    Custom button and control ring

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    Iris aperture ring control


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    Iris ring doesn't work for stills

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I've written quite a few times over the past couple of years about the lenses I'd most like to see for the Canon RF mount, and consistently the one lens that features right up the top of that list is an update to Canon's immensely popular EF 35 mm f/1.4 USM II lens. 

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MountCanon RF
Aperture range f/1.4 - f/16
AutofocusNano USM + VCM
Image stabilizationNo OIS, up to 7-stops with IBIS
Magnificationx 0.18
Close focus distance0.28 m
Lens construction14 elements / 11 groups with 2 UD + 2 Aspheric elements
CoatingsASC coating and Super Spectra
Aperture blades11
Size (DxL)76.5 x 99.3mm
Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 IS Macro STM

Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 IS Macro STM
This lens might be a lot lower in cost, but it offers quality above its price tag. The f/1.8 version of the lens also has the benefits of image stabilization and half-sized macro.

Canon RF 50mm f/1.2 USM

Canon RF 50mm f/1.2 USM
One of the most famous of focal lengths, the f/1.2 aperture provides the crème de la crème of background blur for bokeh lovers.

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Gareth Bevan
Reviews Editor

Gareth is a photographer based in London, working as a freelance photographer and videographer for the past several years, having the privilege to shoot for some household names. With work focusing on fashion, portrait and lifestyle content creation, he has developed a range of skills covering everything from editorial shoots to social media videos. Outside of work, he has a personal passion for travel and nature photography, with a devotion to sustainability and environmental causes.