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RF16mm f/2.8 STM: It’s Ultra-Wide-Angle Prime Time!

On 14 September 2021, Canon announced the RF16mm f/2.8 STM. The first ultra-wide-angle prime lens for the RF mount is the latest in a string of unique lenses made possible by the mount’s short back focus and large diameter, and adds to the native mount options available to EOS R system users. Small and lightweight with a wallet-friendly price, the lens is a great addition to your kit not just for capturing grand landscapes, but also for vlogging, travel, wefies, and other scenes that you may encounter on casual walkarounds.

1) Expand your lens arsenal, expand your view
2) Size and weight
3) Scenario 1: High-quality group shots
4) Scenario 2: Vlogging and livestreaming
5) Scenario 3: Unique ultra-wide-angle portraits—bokeh included
6) Scenario 4: Wide-angle macro shots with closest focusing distance 13cm
7) Hybrid lens aberration correction
8) Key specifications
9) Sample images

 

Expand your lens arsenal, expand your view

All RF mount standard zoom kit lenses start at 24mm, which offers wide enough coverage for most scenes. But there are situations where you would want to capture a wider area or achieve a stronger wide-angle perspective, and that calls for an even wider lens.

Canon has two ultra-wide-angle constant aperture zoom lenses designed for professional users on the RF mount: The RF14-35mm f/4L IS USM and the RF15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM. But if you’re on a smaller budget or if portability is your priority, the RF16mm f/2.8 STM is a very appealing choice.


Add impact to your shots: the 16mm ultra-wide-angle perspective

The RF16mm f/2.8 STM is an ultra-wide-angle prime lens that offers a 16mm fixed focal length. At short focal lengths such as this, perspective is more exaggerated: objects near the lens appear even bigger, whereas those that are far away appear even smaller compared to a longer focal length. This effect can be used to create images with a unique look.

EOS R6/ RF16mm f/2.8 STM/ FL: 16mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/8, 1/400 sec, EV +0.3)/ ISO 200/ WB: Auto

 

Versatility through portability

Around the same size as the RF50mm f/1.8 STM

Conventionally, a 16mm ultra-wide-angle prime lens would be bigger and heavier than a 50mm prime lens in the same class. However, the RF16mm f/2.8 STM is around the same size and weight as the RF50mm f/1.8 STM. 

The smaller, lighter body size was possible because of the short back focus distance and large diameter of the RF mount.

The lens mount is made from metal, which is not only durable but also makes the lens look sleek and sophisticated.



Attaching the RF16mm f/2.8 STM to the EOS R6 forms a lightweight combination that weighs only 845g including batteries and memory cards: you will barely feel the load when walking around with it. Besides using it for grand landscapes, why not try out its ultra-wide perspective in other scenes? Travel and street photography are other genres where an ultra-wide-angle lens easily shows its worth, but if you try it on less conventional subjects like portraiture, flowers, or pets, you will also be rewarded with fascinating results.

 

High-quality group shots

Need a good photo of your team? Regardless of whether you are shooting a wefie with an outstretched arm or a large group in a small, tight location, an ultra-wide-angle lens like the RF16mm f/2.8 STM gets everyone in the picture with little effort.

EOS R6/ RF16mm f/2.8 STM/ FL: 16mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/11, 1/200 sec)/ ISO 200/ WB: Auto

 

Nothing commemorates a fun day out together better than a spontaneous wefie on the spot, that’s where an ultra-wide-angle lens like the RF16mm f/2.8 STM comes in handy. It should get everyone in the frame even if the camera is just an arm’s length away.

Using a gimbal or selfie stick is also easy, thanks to the compact, lightweight combination that the RF16mm f/2.8 STM makes with EOS R series camera. Now, you can have high quality images or video without leaving anyone out of the picture.

 

An excellent lens for vlogging and livestreaming

Using your camera to vlog or livestream? You will probably need to film not just yourself but also your surrounding context as well as any items you are trying to showcase—and that's exactly what the RF16mm f/2.8 STM is made to achieve.

It has:
- A short closest focusing distance, so it can focus on things even when they are near the camera
- An ultra-wide angle that captures a large field of view

These two features work together perfectly when you are shooting in a small room. Another plus: you can keep your camera close enough so that adjusting settings or pressing the Record/Stop button is just a short reach away—convenient for one-person operation.

 

At focal length 24mm, only the person is in the frame.

Shooting from the same position, focal length 16mm captures all that is necessary for a product demonstration or e-commerce livestream, from the products on the table, to the person demonstrating, all the way to the background décor.

 

Unique ultra-wide-angle portraits—bokeh included

EOS R6/ RF16mm f/2.8 STM/ FL: 16mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/2.8, 1/40 sec, EV +0.3)/ ISO 200/ WB: Auto

The depth of field is naturally larger at shorter focal lengths, which usually makes it harder to create background bokeh with them. However, the RF16mm f/2.8 STM is a unique fast ultra-wide-angle lens with a large maximum aperture of f/2.8. This not only enables it to create natural-looking background bokeh that makes subjects pop, but also makes faster shutter speeds possible—great for low light situations and preventing camera shake during handheld shooting. Image stabilisation is possible with cameras that support In-Body Image Stabilisation (In-Body IS).

 

Wide-angle macro effect with closest focusing distance 13cm

The RF16mm f/2.8 STM utilises a front-focusing system as well as a design that places the aperture diaphragm closer to the front. This makes it possible to use a smaller front lens element compared to conventional ultra-wide-angle lenses, hence achieving a closest focusing distance of 13cm, capturing subjects at a 0.26x maximum magnification.

When combined with the ultra-wide angle of view, the result is a wide-angle macro effect, where closeups of tiny objects like plants and small creatures are shown together with a large area of the surrounding context.

EOS R6/ RF16mm f/2.8 STM/ FL: 16mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/2.8, 1/2500 sec, EV +1)/ ISO 200/ WB: Auto

The nearer the subject to the lens, the shallower the depth of field. In this sense, a shorter closest focusing distance also makes it easier to create strong bokeh in front and behind the focal point when shooting close-ups.

 

Hybrid lens aberration correction

A: Aspherical lens element

The large mount diameter and short back focus distance of the RF mount made it possible to place a large lens element close to the image sensor. This not only improves image quality at the image edges, but also makes the compact size of the RF16mm f/2.8 STM possible.

Various forms of lens aberrations are corrected using one aspherical lens element, which also works in tandem with the camera’s digital Lens Aberration Correction function to correct the distortions that happen more frequently on wide-angle lenses.

 

EOS R6/ RF16mm f/2.8 STM/ FL: 16mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/5.6, 1/1000 sec, EV -0.3)/ ISO 100/ WB: 4800K

 

Close-up of the area indicated above

Ultra-wide-angle lenses are prone to distortions and astigmatism caused by aberrations, which cannot be completely corrected through optical design alone. The powerful image processing capabilities of the EOS R system cameras enable a high level of digital lens aberration correction to supplement optical correction efforts. Working together, they ensure that even the more “budget” RF lenses like the RF16mm f/2.8 STM can achieve high quality images.

Notes:
- When using the EOS R/ Ra/RP, the camera firmware needs to be updated to the latest version.
- The Multiple exposures function is not supported on this lens.
- To display RAW files shot on this lens, make sure that your post-processing/image viewing software is updated to a version that supports this lens.

 

RF16mm f/2.8 STM

Key specifications

Lens construction: 9 elements in 7 groups
Closest focusing distance: 0.13m
Maximum magnification: 0.26x
No. of aperture blades: 7 (circular blades)
Filter diameter: 43mm
Size: φ69.2 x 40.2mm (retracted)
Weight: approx. 165g


Lens Hood EW-65C (sold separately)

 

Sample images

EOS R6/ RF16mm f/2.8 STM/ FL: 16mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/11, 1/400 sec)/ ISO 200/ WB: Cloudy


EOS R6/ RF16mm f/2.8 STM/ FL: 16mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/8, 1/60 sec, EV +0.7)/ ISO 400/ WB: Auto


EOS R6/ RF16mm f/2.8 STM/ FL: 16mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/9, 1/500 sec)/ ISO 400/ WB: 4900K

 

Find out more about what you can achieve at 16mm in:
Ultra Wide-angle Lens Technique: Light Trails from a New Perspective
Exploring Wide Angle Lenses Part 2: Composition Techniques for Wide-Angle Lenses
Astrophotography Techniques to Try with the EOS R

 


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