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Canon Launches First Two Lenses in RF Mount “Zoom Trinity”

On 28 August 2019, Canon officially unveiled two more new RF lenses: The RF15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM, and the RF24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM. With their release, there are now eight lenses in the RF lens lineup. We take a closer look at the two new lenses in this article.

RF15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM and RF24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM

 

If there are three good zoom lenses that you must own…

There are three lenses that many serious photographers, professional or amateur, cannot do without: A good constant aperture wide-angle zoom lens, standard zoom lens and telephoto zoom lens. The focal length ranges of these lenses equip the photographer for the vast majority of photography work, including natural landscapes, portraits, weddings and sports, which is why they are called the “Holy Trinity” of zoom lenses.

Canon’s EF lineup has its own “Holy Trinity” of L-series zoom lenses that has become a staple in many photographers’ camera bags. Now, with the release of the RF15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM and the RF24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM, and the expected release of the RF70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM later this year, EOS R and EOS RP owners can look forward to a native RF mount zoom lens trinity that also offers the trademark high image quality of Canon’s L-lenses.

One particularly anticipated lens is the RF15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM, which is Canon’s first ultra-wide-angle RF zoom lens and offers a slightly wider wide end than its EF lens counterpart (15mm compared to 16mm).

All the lenses in the RF mount “Zoom Trinity” have a constant aperture of f/2.8, allowing you do what no existing superzoom lens is able to do: Shoot at the same wide maximum aperture regardless of focal length. This is a huge advantage for low light photography and when you want to create creamy bokeh.


Below, we take a closer look at the two latest releases.

1) What the lenses have in common
2) RF15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM: Amazing corner-to-corner image clarity
3) RF24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM: A versatile high performer
4) RF15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM sample images
5) RF24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM sample images

 

RF15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM and RF24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM: What they have in common

RF15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM, RF24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM and RF70-200 f/2.8L IS USM


Both the new lenses have:

- A constant aperture of f/2.8 across the entire zoom range
- A 9-bladed circular aperture that promises beautifully round bokeh
- An AF system driven by Nano USM, which is optimised for both still and video shooting
- Up to 5 stops’ image stabilisation (IS)
- Dust-proof, drip-proof design + smudge-resistant fluorine coating


Benefits shared by other RF lenses include:

- High, edge-to-edge image quality made possible by the RF mount (large mount diameter, short flange focal distance)
- Customisable control ring

The zoom ring features the same tapered design as the super telephoto L-lenses in the EF lineup. This allows users to change the position of their hands on the zoom ring and obtain an operational feel that suits their hand size or personal preference.

 

Constant f/2.8 maximum aperture + 9-bladed circular aperture diaphragm = Beautiful bokeh

Street portrait of lady

EOS R/ RF24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM/ FL: 48mm/ Manual exposure (f/2.8, 1/1000 sec)/ ISO 100/ WB: Auto

The images achieved with the standard to medium telephoto focal lengths on the RF24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM are so sharp with bokeh so creamy, they resemble what you usually get on a prime lens.


The f/2.8 maximum aperture, available throughout the entire zoom range on both lenses, provides amazing renderings of images. Even at narrower apertures, you can still obtain beautifully smooth and round bokeh due to the 9-bladed circular aperture diaphragm.

Cool fact: The latest simulation technology was used in the optical design of the RF24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM to control the visual appearance of bokeh in the defocus areas. The result: Cleaner, more beautiful bokeh.


Bride in chapel

EOS R/ RF15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM/ FL: 25mm/ Manual exposure (f/2.8, 1/100 sec)/ ISO 400/ WB: 5200K

People don’t usually associate wide-angle lenses with portraiture, but with its creamy f/2.8 bokeh, the RF15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM provides a viable option for environmental portraits. The usual wide-angle distortions are minimal—if the straight lines of the background pillars in this 25mm shot don’t convince, check out the 15mm image further down.

 

Nano USM: The tiny AF motor that works well for both stills and video

Cowboy chasing cow

EOS R/ RF24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM/ FL: 61mm/ Manual exposure (f/5.6, 1/3200 sec)/ ISO 800/ WB: Auto

On both lenses, the autofocus (AF) is driven by Nano USM, a tiny, microchip-shaped motor no bigger than a fingernail. The motor transforms ultrasonic waves into linear movements, which enable it to move the focusing mechanism not only quickly, but also with fine, controlled movements. As a result, the lenses are capable of not only the quick, accurate AF necessary for still shooting, but also the smooth, quiet subject tracking necessary for seamless video footage.

 

Up to 5 stops’ image stabilisation: Great for handheld creativity

Both lenses are Canon’s first f/2.8 zoom lenses for full-frame cameras to feature image stabilisation (IS).

Most photographers are familiar with the advantages of IS when shooting with long telephoto lenses. But as a well-known rule-of-thumb tells us that camera shake won’t be visible at shutter speeds faster than 1/(focal length) of a second, it’s not surprising that many people underestimate how useful IS can be on a shorter lens—at least until they attempt shooting night scenery or using a slow shutter to create motion blur effects by hand.

In other words, IS helps you get more creative.

IS Off

Night scene with blurring

IS On

Night scene with no blurring
Night scene with blurring
Night scene with no blurring

All images: EOS R/ RF15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM/ FL: 35mm/ Manual exposure (f/2.8, 1 sec)/ ISO 100/ WB: Auto

Fun fact: The RF15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM is one of only two Canon ultra-wide-angle zoom lenses to feature IS. The other is the EF16-35mm f/4L IS USM, which broke new ground when it was first released in 2014.

 

Supporting in-camera digital IS

The in-lens optical IS system on both lenses work in combination with the IS system in the camera bodies, not just for stills but also video.

During still shooting, both lenses are compatible with Dual Sensing IS, which analyses vibration information from the gyro sensors in the lens as well as the camera’s CMOS image sensor to perform highly precise image stabilisation.

During movie shooting, the lenses also support Combination IS, which leverages on both the in-lens optical IS and in-camera 5-axis digital IS to correct rotational camera shake, ensuring smoother footage.

 

RF15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM: Amazing corner-to-corner clarity

 

RF15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM

Key specifications
Lens construction: 16 elements in 12 groups
Closest focusing distance: 0.28m
Maximum magnification: 0.21x
No. of aperture blades: 9 (circular)
Filter diameter: 82mm
Size: φ88.5 × 126.8mm
Weight: approx. 840g

 

Bookshelves

Top left corner of image shot at 15mm

Top-left of image

Centre of image shot at 15mm

Image centre

EOS R/ RF15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM/ FL: 15mm/ Manual exposure (f/2.8, 1/5 sec)/ ISO 800/ WB: Auto


Corner-to-corner clarity

That’s what stands out on the RF15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM. Just take a look at the image above: The aberrations that usually plague the edges of ultra-wide-angle images are extremely well-controlled, and there is so little distortion that the images almost don’t look like they were shot at 15mm. The slight softness that you see in the corners is due to the maximum aperture setting, and should be easily solved with the use of a narrower aperture.


Yes, you read right: 15mm

At 15mm, the wide end of the RF15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM is 1mm shorter than that on its EF cousin, the EF16-35mm f/2.8L III USM. This results in an angle-of-view that is 4° wider, which is a significant difference when you are trying to capture more of a scene or emphasise perspectives.

Know this: Making the wide end of the lens shorter by 1mm might not seem much, but it makes correcting lens aberrations exponentially more difficult. The advantages of the RF mount made achieving this possible.

 

Lens construction: RF15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM

3 glass-moulded aspherical lenses and 2 UD lenses were used to reduce various aberrations.
Ghosting and flaring is reduced with the use of SWC (Subwavelength Structure Coating) and ASC (Air Sphere Coating).


Lens construction: RF15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM

A: Aspherical lens elements
B: UD lens elements
C: SWC
D: ASC
Smudge-resistant fluorine coating on the front and rear lens surfaces

 

Lens hood: EW-88F

 

RF24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM: A versatile high performer

 

RF24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM

Key specifications
Lens construction: 21 elements in 15 groups
Closest focusing distance: 0.21 – 0.38m
Maximum magnification: 0.3x (at 32mm)
No. of aperture blades: 9 (circular)
Filter diameter: 82mm
Size: φ88.5 x 125.7mm
Weight: approx. 900g

 

Portrait of lady in dim room

EOS R/ RF24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM/ FL: 36mm/ Manual exposure (f/2.8, 1/200 sec)/ ISO 400/ WB: Auto


Creamy bokeh, sharp in-focus areas

On the RF24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM, in-focus areas carry the corner-to-corner sharpness that have become a trademark of RF lenses. At wider apertures, this is combined with smooth, creamy bokeh in the out-of-focus areas. When combined with the usual optical characteristics of a standard focal length, the images that result are amazingly true to life.


Versatile focal range

The 24mm wide end is good for achieving sharp depictions of landscapes, whereas the standard to medium telephoto focal lengths are great for portraiture. The lens can also be used for street and sports photography—very versatile indeed.

 

Lens construction: RF24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM

3 glass-moulded aspherical lenses and 3 UD lenses were used to reduce various aberrations.
Ghosting and flaring is reduced with the use of ASC (Air Sphere Coating).


Lens construction: RF24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM

A: Aspherical lens elements
B: UD lens elements
C: ASC
Smudge-resistant fluorine coating on the front and rear lens surfaces

 

Close up of plant

EOS R/ RF24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM/ FL: 24mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/2.8, 1/2500 sec)/ ISO 100/ WB: Auto

At 0.21m, the closest focusing distance on the RF24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM is significantly shorter than its EF lens counterpart. This makes it capable of shooting close-ups of things such as flowers and food, achieving images similar to those taken by a wide-angle macro lens. The maximum magnification is 0.3x, achieved at 32mm.

 

Lens hood: EW-88E

Lens hood EW-88E

 

RF15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM sample images

Mountains and valley

EOS R/ RF15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM/ FL: 15mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/8, 1/250 sec, EV-0.3)/ ISO 100/ WB: Auto

 

Bride standing in chapel

EOS R/ RF15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM/ FL: 15mm/ Manual exposure (f/4, 1/60 sec)/ ISO 400/ WB: 5200K

 

Light trails in pebbled streets

EOS R/ RF15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM/ FL: 22mm/ Manual exposure (f/8, 2.5 sec)/ ISO 400/ WB: Auto

 

RF24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM sample images

RF24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM sample images

EOS R/ RF24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM/ FL: 70mm/ Manual exposure (f/2.8, 1/500 sec)/ ISO 100/ WB: Auto

 

Vintage car and neon signs

EOS R/ RF24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM/ FL: 70mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/5.6, 1/5 sec)/ ISO 400/ WB: Auto

 

Cloudy beach

EOS R/ RF24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM/ FL: 24mm/ Manual exposure (f/11, 6 sec)/ ISO 100/ WB: Auto

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Find out more about RF lens technology and the other RF lenses in:

In Focus: RF Lenses

Trying to decide whether to buy the EOS R or EOS RP? Check out:
EOS R vs EOS RP: Which to Choose?

 


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