Products >> All Products In Focus: RF Lenses Review- Part17

Lens Impressions: RF35mm f/1.8 Macro IS STM in Street Photography

The RF35mm f/1.8 Macro IS STM is the only non-L lens out of the four pioneering RF lenses. In terms of specifications and image quality, the L lenses look more attractive, but the special optical technologies come at a premium and the RF35mm f/1.8 Macro IS STM has the advantage in terms of affordability. Its compact size provides outstanding balance when mounted on the EOS R and EOS RP. Street photographer Ikuko Tsurumaki shares her shots and impressions. (Reported by: Ikuko Tsurumaki, Digital Camera Magazine)


The image quality true to a prime lens

The 35mm focal length on the RF35mm f/1.8 Macro IS STM provides a standard angle-of-view that is close to that of human vision and easy on the eye—perfect for street and everyday photography.

Prime lenses are known for their excellent image quality, and the RF35mm f/1.8 Macro IS STM lives up to this aspect, providing sharpness and beautifully-resolved images throughout the entire aperture range.

Beautiful bokeh thanks to the 9-blade circular aperture

I usually feel that the streets of Hong Kong, where the shots for this article were taken, are more suitable for deep focusing. However, for this article, I shot with a wide aperture whenever I could, aiming to blur the colourful scenes so that only the main subject would pop. I was quite happy that even at maximum aperture, the resulting shots managed to preserve the lively hustle and bustle of Hong Kong. The 9-blade circular aperture creates beautiful bokeh.  

I assigned the control ring to control the ISO speed settings, and it was a great help especially with night shots. I found the 5-stop image stabilisation reliable and reassuring when shooting handheld.

Macro photography at 0.5x magnification allowed me to get creative with various scenes

We usually feel that it is necessary to use a tripod for macro photography. However, this lens is equipped with Hybrid IS, which corrects both angular and shift camera shake to a high degree. This allows you to shoot macro by hand, any time. I had a lot of fun taking close-ups of food and items displayed in shops using the lens’ 0.5x magnification ratio. 


Sample images

Shot at f/1.8

Night view of Hong Kong apartments

EOS R/ RF35mm f/1.8 Macro IS STM/ FL: 35mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/1.8, 1/60 sec, EV-1.0)/ ISO 1600/ WB: Daylight

I assigned the control ring to control ISO speed. This allowed me to quickly capture sharp, blur-free images of night scenes without having to change my aperture or exposure compensation settings.

Shot at f/2.5

Cat in blanket

EOS R/ RF35mm f/1.8 Macro IS STM / FL: 35mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/2.5, 1/60 sec, EV+0.3)/ ISO 200/ WB: Auto

I shot at f/2.5 so that the cat’s entire face would be captured with the same depth-of-field. Notice how sharply the cat’s eyes and whiskers are depicted?
Tip: No matter how well-behaved animals are, it’s hard to predict their actions. Use the Touch Shutter for a convenient way to get the shot.

For more tips on photography cats, check out:
Cat Photography: Catchlights and Other Tips for Lively, Adorable Kitten Portraits
3 Ideas for Cute Cat Photos

Shot at f/1.8

Hong Kong vintage coffee shop

EOS R/ RF35mm f/1.8 Macro IS STM / FL: 35mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/1.8, 1/60 sec, EV+1.0)/ ISO 250/ WB: Auto

An old-style coffee shop at breakfast time. With the lens, I managed to capture the warm, friendly atmosphere of the gently-lit coffee shop the way it was. The 35mm angle-of-view results compelling point-of-view shot where the viewer can imagine themselves relaxing and people-watching.

Shot at f/4.5

Apartment facade with aircon units

EOS R/ RF35mm f/1.8 Macro IS STM / FL: 35mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/4.5, 1/125 sec, EV-0.7)/ ISO 100/ WB: Daylight

A building with many air conditioning units on its façade. Even the finest details are depicted clearly, which reflects the high resolving power of this lens.


Usage tip: Shoot macro from the closest focusing distance

One of the most appealing features of this lens is its semi-macro capabilities, which you can use to create rather impactful close-up shots. Combine this with the large bokeh that you get at maximum aperture f/1.8 to make the in-focus areas stand out even further.

Macro shot of lemon in coffee

EOS R/ RF35mm f/1.8 Macro IS STM / FL: 35mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/1.8 1/100 sec, EV+0.3)/ ISO 100/ WB: Auto

This close-up of a lemon slice floating in my coffee was shot from the lens’ closest focusing distance of 17cm, taking full advantage of its 0.5x maximum magnification. The image is so detailed that whenever I look at it, I taste the lemon’s sour tanginess on my tongue.

Normal shot of lemon in coffee

In comparison, the ordinary shot that I took from where I was seated shows the entire scene and lacks the same impact.

Shooting flowers at closest focusing distance

A 17cm closest focusing distance means a distance of 5 to 9cm between the subject and the tip of the lens.


EOS R with RF35mm f/1.8 Macro IS STM attached

EOS R with RF35mm f/1.8 Macro IS STM attached


Lens Hood EW-52

Lens Hood EW-52



RF35mm f/1.8 IS STM lens diagram

A: Aspherical lens elements

Lens construction: 11 elements in 9 groups
Closest focusing distance: 0.17m
Maximum magnification: 0.5x
No. of aperture blades: 9 (circular blade)
Filter diameter: 52mm
Size: φ74.4 x 62.8mm
Weight: approx. 305g


Find out more about RF lenses in:
Expand Your Range of Shooting Possibilities with the All-New RF Lenses
6 Significant Features of RF Lenses
RF Lenses: Which One Suits Me?


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Digital Camera Magazine

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

Ikuko Tsurumaki

Ikuko Tsurumaki

Born in Tokyo in 1972, Tsurumaki started learning photography while working with an advertising agency, and became a photographer after her career as an assistant. She is currently engaged in activities including photo shoots for magazines, writing articles, and conducting photography lectures and seminars.