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4 RF Prime Lenses to Use with Your APS-C Camera

2023-03-29
11
15.61 k

No lens arsenal is complete without at least one prime lens. Their large maximum apertures create beautiful bokeh, they provide more flexibility when shooting in low light, and they are suitable for training composition skills!

Here are four compact, lightweight lenses that will balance well with your APS-C EOS R camera. Bonus: they make a great long-term investment--you can continue to use them even when you upgrade to a full-frame camera. (Reported by HARUKI, Kaoru Kobayashi, Digital Camera Magazine)

In this article:

1. RF16mm f/2.8 STM (26mm equivalent)

1. RF16mm f/2.8 STM

Wide-angle shots that make use of bokeh

EOS R7/ RF16mm f/2.8 STM/ FL: 16mm (26mm equivalent)/ Aperture-priority AE (f/2.8, 1/4000 sec)/ ISO 100/ WB: Auto

The bokeh created by the large f/2.8 aperture of the RF16mm f/2.8 STM adds to the sense of depth, complementing the wide-angle perspective. Together, they put a different spin on a mundane seaside scene.

With the EOS R7

Angle-of-view on APS-C camera (full-frame equivalent): 26mm
Weight: approx. 165g
Closest focusing distance: 0.13m
Maximum magnification: approx. 0.26x
Filter size: 43mm
Dimensions (maximum diameter × length): approx. 69.2×40.2mm
Ideal for: Landscapes, casual photography, sports, indoor shooting


A portable, versatile wide-angle prime lens

Have you ever encountered situations where you wished you could go just a little wider? The RF16mm f/2.8 STM is the perfect solution to have on hand. It’s extremely small and lightweight for a wide-angle lens with such a large aperture. When attached to a camera like the EOS R7, it doesn’t protrude much beyond the grip; on its own, it won’t take up much space in your camera bag, and even fits easily into a pocket.

The wide f/2.8 maximum aperture lets you shoot indoors or at night without raising the ISO speed. This also makes it good for photographing interiors or indoor sports.

Tip: How to take full advantage of the wide-angle perspective and bokeh
Shoot close to foreground objects at f/2.8 to maximise both perspective and bokeh! This not only makes the wide-angle perspective exaggeration effect more visible, but it also enhances the bokeh in the out-of-focus areas, increasing the sense of depth. The 13cm closest focusing distance on the RF16mm f/2.8 STM means that even nearby subjects can be placed in focus. You can also use the f/2.8 bokeh to blur out foreground subjects and use them as framing elements or to give the composition more layers without drawing attention away from the main subject.

Also see:
Composition Techniques for Wide-Angle Lenses

2. RF24mm f/1.8 Macro IS STM (38mm equivalent)

2. RF24mm f/1.8 Macro IS STM

Semi-macro photography with beautiful f/1.8 bokeh

EOS R7/ RF24mm f/1.8 Macro IS STM/ FL: 24mm (38mm equivalent)/ Aperture-priority AE (f/1.8, 1/1250 sec, EV -0.3)/ ISO 250/ WB: Auto

I wanted to try a creative composition with only the sunflower seeds in focus, so I set the aperture at f/1.8 and moved close enough to fill half the frame with the sunflower—possible because of the lens’ short closest focusing distance. The RF24mm f/1.8 Macro IS STM created beautiful bokeh in both the foreground and background, making the in-focus section “pop”. I hardly experienced any blurring from camera shake in my close-up shots due to the built-in Optical Image Stabilizer (Optical IS), which corrects the shift blur that often happens during close-up shooting.

With the EOS R7

Angle-of-view on APS-C camera (full-frame equivalent): 38mm
Weight: approx. 270g
Closest focusing distance: 0.14m
Maximum magnification: approx. 0.5x
Filter size: 52mm
Dimensions (maximum diameter × length): approx. 74.4×63.1mm
Ideal for: Nature, food, street, documentary, everyday scenes


A lens with a classic, easy-to-use focal length that lets you shoot super close-up

A 35mm prime lens is a classic for street, documentary, and casual photography. When attached to an APS-C camera, the RF24mm f/1.8 IS STM provides a similar angle-of-view in a small, walkaround-friendly body that weighs only around 270g. The large f/1.8 aperture creates beautiful, creamy bokeh that achieves excellent background separation, whereas the 0.5x maximum magnification lets you fill the frame with subjects when you shoot close-ups.

With its easy-to-use angle-of-view, lovely bokeh, and macro capabilities, this is a versatile lens that you would probably keep on your camera for longer than expected!

Know this: Built-in Optical IS
Blurring from camera shake tends to become more visible during close-up shooting, but the built-in optical image stabilisation (Optical IS) will help to keep your images sharp. For best results, use the lens with a camera with In-Body IS, which achieves up to 6.5 stops’ equivalent image stabilisation* through Coordinated Control IS.

*With a compatible camera model.

Also see:
Lens FAQ: What Images Can I Get with 0.25x or 0.5x Magnification?
My Top 5 Lenses, My 35mm Style: Documentary Photographer Kentaro Kumon

3. RF35mm f/1.8 Macro IS STM (56mm equivalent)

3. RF35mm f/1.8 Macro IS STM

An all-rounder prime lens

EOS R7/ RF35mm f/1.8 Macro IS STM/ FL: 35mm (56mm equivalent)/ Aperture-priority AE (f/1.8, 1/80 sec, EV +2.0)/ ISO 250/ WB: Auto

Befitting the “Macro” in its name, the RF35mm f/1.8 Macro IS STM delivers excellent close-up images. Check out the high-quality bokeh and gradual, refined white tones in this shot! It is a good choice for taking snapshots and intimate pictures of objects and scenes around you.

With the EOS R7

Angle-of-view on APS-C camera (full-frame equivalent): 56mm
Weight: approx. 305g
Closest focusing distance: 0.17m
Maximum magnification: approx. 0.5x
Filter size: 52mm
Dimensions (maximum diameter × length): approx. 74.4×62.8mm
Ideal for: Nature, food, everyday scenes, portraiture


The lens that transforms your intent into reality

Like its 24mm counterpart, the RF35mm f/1.8 IS STM offers a large f/1.8 maximum aperture and half-macro shooting capabilities, but with a narrower 56mm-equivalent standard angle-of-view. You might prefer this if you like to frame your images tighter.

Besides its compact size, the lens offers fast, seamless autofocusing driven by stepping motors (STM), providing the responsiveness necessary for run-and-gun situations. In addition to the normal Optical IS, it is also equipped with Hybrid IS, which corrects angular blurring and shift blurring to achieve sharper close-up images. The image stabilisation effect is up to 7 stops’ equivalent through Coordinated Control IS on compatible cameras with In-Body IS.

With these features, the RF35mm f/1.8 IS USM has the flexibility to cater to a wide range of shooting intents, from snapshots to food, to portraits or even night scenery.

Tip: The “chameleon” lens
56mm offers a neutral perspective ideal for faithful depictions of shapes and lines. But if you play with distances, camera angles, and depth-of-field, you can recreate the perspective offered by wide-angle or telephoto lenses.

More tips on shooting with standard lenses in:
Standard Lens Techniques: Using the Point of View to Draw the Viewer In
50mm Portraits, My Style: Creating A Picture of a Memory
Lens Technique for Landscapes: Imitating the Wide-Angle Feel at 67mm
Lens Review: RF50mm f/1.8 STM in Street Photography 
(Remember: the angle-of-view on the RF35mm f/1.8 Macro IS STM on an APS-C camera is similar to the RF50mm f/1.8 STM on a full-frame camera)

4. RF50mm f/1.8 STM (80mm equivalent)

4. RF50mm f/1.8 STM

Unique medium telephoto bokeh and compression

EOS R7/ RF50mm f/1.8 STM/ FL: 50mm (80mm equivalent)/ Aperture-priority AE (f/1.8, 1/320 sec, EV +1.0)/ ISO 200/ WB: Auto

I composed this image so that the viewer’s line of sight follows the body of the tuk-tuk towards the back of the scene. The compression effect that makes objects appear closer and the visual depth created by just the right amount of bokeh are all characteristics unique to a medium telephoto lens—which is what the popular RF50mm f/1.8 STM becomes when combined with an APS-C camera.

With the EOS R7

Angle-of-view on APS-C camera (full-frame equivalent): 80mm
Weight: approx. 160g
Closest focusing distance: 0.3m
Maximum magnification: approx. 0.25x
Filter size: 43mm
Dimensions (maximum diameter × length): approx. 69.2×40.5mm
Ideal for: Portraiture, food, everyday scenes


Compression and depth with excellent cost-effectiveness

50mm f/1.8 “nifty fifty” lenses are a classic favourite among photographers of all levels. The RF50mm f/1.8 STM is the RF mount version, providing native compatibility with EOS R system cameras.

On APS-C cameras, it functions as a medium telephoto lens, offering an 80mm-equivalent angle-of-view that is ideal for portraiture. However, its relatively short 30cm closest focusing distance also makes it suitable for photographing food, objects, and snapshots of everyday scenes from a comfortable distance away.

The relatively small size of the lens makes it more discreet and less intimidating to subjects on the other side of the camera. It is also easy to operate, with a focus mode switch that enables quick switching between autofocus and manual focus modes, and a focus/control ring that can be assigned custom functions.

Tip: Play with aperture and distances and see what you get
The 80mm-equivalent angle-of-view provides a mildly compressed perspective. You can either utilise it to “flatten” the image and showcase shapes and patterns, or compensate for it by using other techniques such as bokeh to create more depth and dimensionality. Experiment by varying your aperture and distance from the subject, and observe how your image changes!

You might also be interested in:
4 Lens Concepts to Revolutionise Your Photos
Prime Lens or Zoom Lens: Which Should I Buy?
In Focus: Lens Basics

About the Author

Digital Camera Magazine

A monthly magazine that believes that enjoyment of photography will increase the more one learns about camera functions. It delivers news on the latest cameras and features and regularly introduces various photography techniques.
Published by Impress Corporation

Haruki

Born in 1959 in Hiroshima, Haruki is a photographer and visual director. He graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Kyushu Sangyo University, and is mainly engaged in activities related to portrait works for media including advertisements, magazines and music.

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