Conclusion

What we like What we don't
  • Very good sharpness at medium apertures
  • Pleasant bokeh
  • Control Ring is a useful touch
  • Highly effective image stabilization system
  • Closer focusing distance than most 35mm lenses
  • Some barrel distortion visible with architectural subjects
  • Lateral and longitudinal CA noticeable at wide / medium apertures
  • Focus-by-wire focusing won't be to everyone’s taste
  • No claims of weather resistance
  • AF motor not particularly discreet

This will no doubt be an obvious walk-around lens for many EOS R-series users, at least for the time being while the RF lens range is still growing. With a classically popular focal length, a respectably wide maximum aperture, image stabilization and close-focusing capabilities, it clearly has broad ambitions and many useful applications.

Very good central sharpness and pleasant bokeh make the Canon RF 35mm F1.8 Macro a great lens for shooting at moderately wide apertures. The relatively small size of the lens + camera pairing make it an ideal carry-around option on Canon's current EOS R system cameras.

ISO 100 | 1/125 sec | F2.2

It might sound reductive to call this lens a 'jack-of-all-trades', but that's just another way of saying that it's highly versatile, without being suited exclusively to any particular type of task. That's great, but it pays to understand the lens' limitations so you can work around them where possible.

The lens has been put together well and handles nicely, and you soon start to appreciate the presence of the Control Ring as you use it to make small tweaks while shooting. The focusing system isn’t the most discreet but it is fast, and it works very well during video shooting.

This is very much an all-purpose lens rather than one that’s optimized for any specific task.

The lens is certainly capable of delivering nicely sharp images too, and while vignetting, curvilinear distortion and lateral chromatic aberration are all visible to some extent, the worst of these can be banished quite easily through the camera-based corrections. LoCA is present at wider apertures and can be visible in out-of-focus areas, but it’s most prominent in out-of-focus high contrast regions, where you may see purple and green fringing. That, and the 'catseye' bokeh that can result when shooting at wider apertures might be a concern for those who intend to use the lens frequently in this way. Heavily defocused areas and more natural backgrounds, however, are generally rendered very pleasingly.

Overall the RF 35mm F1.8 is a perfectly sound option for current EOS R-series users and while it’s not perfect, the average user should come to appreciate that its handling and versatility makes up for its minor deficiencies.


Scoring

Canon RF 35mm F1.8 IS STM Macro
Category: Wideangle Lens
Optical Quality
Build Quality
Autofocus
Image Stabilization
Ergonomics and Handling
Value
PoorExcellent
Conclusion
Canon RF 35mm F1.8 IS STM Macro is a versatile carry-around lens for Canon's new EOS R system. The only non-'L' lens in the initial RF lineup, the 35mm F1.8 provides a lightweight, compact and relatively affordable solution for EOS R and RP shooters. Optical quality is high, and effective optical stabilization makes this lens useful in a wide range of shooting conditions.
Good for
Canon EOS R shooters that want a compact, sharp lens for everyday shooting and closeup work.
Not so good for
Architectural photographers, or anyone that shoots in poor weather, or regularly needs to capture video (autofocus noise can be an issue).
86%
Overall score

Sample Gallery

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