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The $599 Canon RF 85mm f/2 Macro IS STM is a pocket-friendly portrait prime

The £649 Canon RF 85mm f/2 Macro IS STM is a pocket-friendly portrait prime
(Image credit: Canon)

The newly announced Canon RF 85mm f/2 Macro IS STM is a very interesting and welcome development from Canon. It’s an affordable 85mm prime with a wide maximum aperture of f/2, but as it’s an IS STM lens (with a stepper motor, rather than the ultrasonic motor of pricier USM lenses) the manufacturer has kept the price right down. 

Canon RF 85mm f/2 Macro IS STM review

The Canon RF 85mm F2 Macro IS STM features similar build quality to another affordable R-system lens, the Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 Macro IS STM. This stands the new lens in stark contrast to the existing L-series portrait RF lenses, the Canon RF 85mm f/1.2L USM and Canon RF 85mm f/1.2L USM DS

Aimed at enthusiast portrait photographers, with its classic 85mm focal length the lightweight RF 85mm f/2 is great for capturing stunning portraiture with an attractive perspective. While not as fast as its f/1.2 siblings, the still-quick f/2 aperture on the full-frame R-system sensors renders shallow depth of field for beautiful blurred background and subject separation – even in low light conditions.

In addition to its portrait specialism, the RF 85mm f/2 also offers light macro capabilities. While it only offers a 1:2 reproduction ratio (rather than a ‘true’ macro ratio of 1:1 life-size), the 50% magnification and 350mm minimum focusing distance (or 210mm working distance) still enables you to capture fine details and small subjects.

The lens is compact, at just 78 x 91mm (with a filter size of 67mm), and weighs a mere 500g. It features a focus limiter for its macro functions, and like all RF lenses has a customizable control ring.

While image stabilization is useful in all lenses, here it’s doubly valuable as it covers both portrait and macro photography. It delivers 5 stops of IS as standard but, when used with the Canon EOS R5 and Canon EOS R6, can achieve a whopping 8 stops of stabilization.

The Canon RF 85mm f/2 Macro IS STM goes on sale in October for £649 / $599 (AU$1,173).

Read more: 

Hands on: Canon EOS R5 review
Hands on: Canon EOS R6 review
Best Canon RF lenses: the best lens for Canon EOS R5, R6, R and RP