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Products >> All Products In Focus: RF Lenses Review- Part8

RF85mm f/2 Macro IS STM: A Closer Look at Nature

A light, compact medium telephoto lens with creamy bokeh, 0.5x magnification, and in-lens image stabilisation for easier handheld shots—that’s the RF85mm f/2 Macro IS STM. Landscape photographer Chikako Yagi explores nature closer-up than ever with it. (Reported by: Chikako Yagi, Digital Camera Magazine)


A versatile medium telephoto lens with semi-macro capability

What appeals to me about the RF85mm f/2 Macro IS STM is its 85mm medium telephoto focal length, its close-up shooting ability with 0.5x magnification, and the intense bokeh that you can achieve with it.

Large aperture lenses tend to be huge, but this lens is relatively compact even with its f/2 aperture and in-lens image stabilisation system (Optical IS), making it suitable for shooting handheld.

The beauty in the lens’ rendering is not just in the bokeh—you still get excellent image quality even at narrower apertures. Versatile and reliable, I found it a great companion for landscape photography.


f/2 at closest focusing distance: Smooth, creamy bokeh; crisp in-focus areas

Dew on flower close-up

EOS R6/ FL: 85mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/2, 1/250 sec, EV +1.0)/ ISO 200/ WB: Daylight

You get the most intense bokeh a lens is capable of when you shoot at maximum aperture from around its closest focusing distance. On the RF85mm f/2 Macro IS STM, not only is the bokeh soft and pleasant, the in-focus area is sharp and crisp. There are lenses where you use the maximum aperture only if you have to. This is not one of them—I would enthusiastically shoot at f/2 on this.

Tip: Can’t establish focus? Shift slightly to the front or back

The very shallow depth of field that results at f/2 can make focusing very challenging. If you can’t establish focus, shifting your position slightly to the front or back might be more effective than turning the focusing ring.

Useful feature!: If you are using manual focus, use the Focus Guide to help you see how much you need to adjust your focus.


Also see:
Professional Composition Techniques (4): Using Special Lenses


f/4.5: Making subjects look more three dimensional

Green frog surrounded by green leaves

EOS R6/ FL: 85mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/4.5, 1/100 sec)/ ISO 320/ WB: Daylight

Creating bokeh is an effective way to make subjects look more three dimensional, as blurring the background and foreground elements creates the illusion of more distance between the front and back of the image.

In this shot, I narrowed the aperture a little so that the frog’s expressions are captured more clearly, but kept it wide enough so that the bokeh was still sufficiently creamy to achieve good subject separation. The soft, diffused lighting from the cloudy sky worked together with the beautiful bokeh to make the frog “pop” from among the similar-coloured leaves.

Here’s another way you can use bokeh when shooting portraits:
How to Create Dreamy, Colourful Portraits with Foreground Bokeh

Tip: Try Spot AF when photographing tiny animals

Using Spot AF lets you achieve precise focus on an animal’s eyes. If the animal is facing diagonal to the camera like the frog here, focus on the front eye.

Also see: Touch & Drag AF Customisations for Better EVF Shooting

You might also be interested in:
Effective Composition: Drawing Attention to a Tiny Frog in a Flower


About the RF85mm f/2 Macro IS STM

Mounted on the EOS R6


RF85mm f/2 Macro IS STM

RF85mm f/2 Macro IS STM

Key specifications
Lens construction: 12 elements in 11 groups
Image stabilisation: up to 5 stops (Optical IS); up to 8 stops (when combined with In-Body IS on compatible cameras)
Closest focusing distance: 0.35m
Maximum magnification: 0.5x
No. of aperture blades: 9 (circular blade)
Filter diameter: 67mm
Size (approx.): φ78.0 x 90.5mm
Weight (approx.): 500g


Learn more about the RF lenses in:
RF Lens: A New Era Of Imaging
6 Significant Features of RF Lenses


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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

Chikako Yagi

Chikako Yagi

Chikako Yagi was twenty when she started teaching herself photography using a film SLR camera. She left regular employment to become a full-time landscape photographer in 2016. An apprentice of renown photographers such as Kiyoshi Tatsuno and Tomotaro Ema, she is a member of the Shizensou Club, which was founded by the former and is one of Japan’s most famous landscape photographers’ clubs. In 2013, she was selected as one of the Top 10 Photographers of Tokyo Camera Club.

Instagram: @chikako_yagi