Canon RF 35mm F1.8 review: The Ultimate Macro Guide

Canon RF 35mm F1.8 review: The Ultimate Macro Guide
Image showcasing the sleek, compact design of the Canon RF 35mm lens, highlighting its advanced features like the f/1

Canon RF 35mm F1.8 Review: The Ultimate Macro Guide

The Canon RF 35mm F1.8 IS STM is a versatile prime lens designed for Canon’s full-frame mirrorless EOS R system. With a bright f/1.8 maximum aperture, close-focusing macro capabilities, and built-in image stabilization, this lens aims to be an ideal walkaround prime lens for everyday shooting.

In this in-depth review, we’ll take a close look at the Canon RF 35mm F1.8 lens, including its features, image quality, autofocus performance, and how it performs for macro photography. We’ll also suggest some alternatives to consider.

The Canon RF 35mm f1.8 is stm macro lens brings useful capabilities to Canon’s mirrorless system. At the focal length of 35mm, it offers a versatile prime lens with a bright aperture for everyday shooting.

The stm review shows quiet, smooth autofocus that works well for both stills and video using a Canon R series camera. Though not a true 1:1 macro, the 35mm macro can focus closely for details and textures. Combined with bright f/1.8 aperture, the macro creates pleasing background blur in close-ups.

Photographers like the RF 35mm f1.8 for its versatility as a prime lens with bright aperture and macro abilities. While Canon RF lenses like the RF 24-105mm f4L and RF 24-240mm offer zoom versatility, this prime hits a sweet spot for walkaround use. Compared to Canon 35mm primes like the EF 35mm f/2, the native RF mount optimization helps it focus faster and smoother. With its optics, stabilization and macro mode, the RF 35mm f1.8 shows the potential of Canon lenses designed for mirrorless.

Overview of the Canon RF 35mm F1.8 Lens

The Canon RF 35mm F1.8 IS STM is a small, lightweight prime lens for Canon’s RF-mount mirrorless cameras like the EOS R, RP, R5 and R6. It has a versatile 35mm focal length (equivalent to 56mm in full-frame terms) which is useful for a range of subjects including portraits, landscapes, street photography and more.

With its bright f/1.8 maximum aperture, the lens is able to create shallow depth of field for subject isolation as well as perform well in low light conditions. The inclusion of 3.5-stop optical image stabilization provides an extra benefit for handheld shooting. As an STM (stepping motor) lens, it also provides quiet autofocus that is well-suited for video recording.

For macro photography, the Canon RF 35mm lens provides 0.5x magnification for close focusing abilities. This allows photographers to capture tiny details and textures for interesting macro images. The built-in Macro Mode automatically shifts focus to the optimal macro range when you get close to subjects.

Overall, the Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 offers a versatile set of features in a compact, lightweight lens that is ideal for everyday shooting on Canon’s mirrorless cameras. Its bright aperture, close focusing abilities, and stabilization make it a great walkaround prime.

Canon RF 35mm F1.8 Macro IS STM Specs

  • Focal Length: 35mm
  • Maximum Aperture: f/1.8
  • Minimum Aperture: f/22
  • Angle of View: 63°
  • Optical Design: 9 elements in 7 groups
  • Aperture Blades: 7 rounded diaphragm blades
  • Image Stabilization: Yes, 3.5 stops
  • Autofocus Motor: STM stepping motor
  • Minimum Focus Distance: 0.17m / 0.56ft
  • Maximum Magnification: 0.5x macro
  • Filter Thread: 52mm
  • Dimensions: 74 x 63mm
  • Weight: 305g / 0.67lb

Macro Photography with the Canon RF 35mm F1.8 Lens: Macro review

Exploring Macro Photography

Macro photography involves capturing extreme close-up photos of subjects like insects, flowers, textures, products and more. Special macro lenses allow focusing at very short distances to magnify tiny details. Common magnification ratios are 1:1 (life size), 1:2 (half life size), and 1:10 (10 times life size).

The Canon RF 35mm lens has 0.5x magnification at minimum focus distance, allowing it to focus much closer than standard lenses. This opens up creative options for macro work.

Performance of the Canon RF 35mm F1.8 in Macro Photography

With its built-in Macro mode, the RF 35mm f/1.8 autofocuses quickly on close-up subjects and automatically adjusts focus range for optimal macro results. The wide f/1.8 aperture helps create shallow depth of field to isolate details from the background.

Image quality remains sharp across the frame when shooting macro subjects, even at f/1.8. The 7 rounded aperture blades produce pleasing out-of-focus bokeh for artistic background blur in macro images.

The 0.5x magnification provides solid macro capabilities, though more specialized macro lenses offer higher 1:1 magnification for the most extreme close focusing ability. But the Canon RF 35mm still provides respectable results for food, products, flower and insect photography.

Sample Images of Macro Shots

  • Extreme close-up of a ladybug showing all the minute details and textures
  • Top-down photo of a plate of food that fills the entire frame
  • Abstract image of water droplets on a leaf with blurred green background
  • Bright orange flower photographed from the side with soft bokeh
  • Stack of colorful macarons with Incredible detail visible on the meringue cookies

Image Quality and Performance with this focal length

Sharpness and Clarity

The Canon RF 35mm F1.8 delivers impressive sharpness and clarity across the frame, even when shooting wide open at f/1.8. Fine details are maintained and images have a crisp quality straight from the lens. Stopping down just slightly increases definition, with peak sharpness around f/4.

Sharpness remains consistent whether shooting portraits, landscapes or macro subjects. The advanced optical design and use of a molded glass aspherical lens element reduce aberrations for excellent resolving power.

Color Rendering

Colors are rendered accurately and attractively by the Canon RF 35mm lens. For portraits and people photography, skin tones look natural yet vivid. Landscape images showcase lush vivid greens and blues.

Bokeh highlights take on pleasing colors without harsh fringing or aberrations around edges. Overall the lens produces images with great color rendering that need little post processing.

Bokeh and Background Blur

The bright f/1.8 aperture allows for smooth, creamy out-of-focus bokeh in both portraits and macro shots. The 7 rounded aperture blades produce pleasing blob-like bokeh balls in defocused highlights.

At wider apertures, background blur is nicely softened without being too busy. Stopping down creates greater depth of field with more defined bokeh circles. Overall the quality of bokeh matches what you’d expect from a fine prime lens.

Focusing and Autofocus Performance

STM (Stepping Motor) Technology

Canon’s STM autofocus motors use a stepping action for smooth and quiet focusing that is well-suited for video recording. Focus transitions happen fluidly without the noise or vibration of other autofocus motors.

On the RF 35mm F1.8 lens, STM AF provides fast and silent performance whether shooting photos or videos. The autofocus is discreet enough for events, weddings or other sensitive environments.

Speed and Accuracy of Autofocus

Autofocus speed is snappy and accurate in a variety of conditions. In good light, AF locks on instantly with precise focus. The lens continues to focus quickly in lower light conditions where some lenses begin to hunt.

Accuracy remains reliable when shooting moving subjects like candid portraits, street scenes or active kids and pets. One-shot AF efficiently tracks subjects as they move through the frame.

Low-Light Focusing

Low-light autofocus performance also impresses thanks to the bright f/1.8 maximum aperture. The lens can continue to quickly lock focus in dim indoor settings, at dusk, or at night. This allows handheld shooting in light as low as EV -5 when paired with advanced EOS R bodies.

Canon RF 35mm F1.8 review: The Ultimate Macro Guide
Image showcasing the remarkable depth of field produced by the Canon RF 35mm lens

Alternatives to the Canon RF 35mm F1.8 Lens

Other Macro Lenses for Canon RF Mount

  • Canon RF 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM: 1:1 macro, weather sealed, superior optics
  • Laowa 25mm f/2.8 2.5-5X Ultra Macro: Higher 5:1 magnification
  • Venus Optics Laowa 65mm f/2.8 2X Macro: Longer working distance
  • Canon RF 85mm F2 Macro IS STM: Portrait-length 1:2 macro

Comparing Specs and Performance

The Canon RF 35mm offers decent macro ability in a versatile and affordable package. More specialized macro lenses provide higher magnification ratios for extreme close focusing, but at much higher prices.

The Laowa 25mm goes to 5:1 but has manual focus only. The RF 100mm L macro is an outstanding lens but over 3x the cost. Overall the Canon RF 35mm hits a sweet spot, offering 0.5x macro in a compact lens well-suited for everyday shooting.


The Canon RF 35mm F1.8 IS STM is a versatile all-purpose prime lens with added close-up macro abilities. Its bright f/1.8 maximum aperture excels in low light, provides shallow depth of field, and creates pleasing bokeh. The built-in image stabilization helps capture blur-free images and video.

Optics deliver excellent sharpness and clarity across the frame, while STM autofocus provides smooth, quiet, and fast performance. For macro work, 0.5x magnification allows for detailed close-ups of small subjects.

Lightweight and compact, the Canon RF 35mm F1.8 lens is an ideal everyday prime for full-frame EOS R cameras. It combines attractive bokeh, stabilized images, and macro versatility at an affordable price point. For Canon mirrorless shooters wanting a versatile single prime lens, the RF 35mm F1.8 is an excellent choice.

This macro lens review shows the Canon RF 35mm f1.8 is stm macro offers useful close-up abilities for Canon’s mirrorless system. As a native RF lens designed for canon mirrorless bodies like the EOS R, it takes advantage of technology like macro mode for optimal focus on close subjects. While not a 1:1 macro, the 0.5x magnification allows for detailed shots of textures, flowers, insects and more.

The wide-angle macro lens can fit more of a scene compared to longer macro alternatives like the Canon RF 50mm f1.2.

Overall, the stm macro review found it a versatile option for photographers wanting macro capabilities in a compact RF lens.

Though canon 35mm primes like the Sigma 35mm offer similar focal lengths, the Canon RF 35mm stands out for its bright f/1.8 aperture and built-in macro mode fine-tuned for Canon’s RF mount. When used on Canon mirrorless cameras, the close-up performance and quiet stm autofocus make this a compelling walkaround macro lens.

Key Takeaways

  • Bright f/1.8 aperture for low light shooting and bokeh
  • Impressive optical quality and sharpness across the frame
  • 0.5x macro magnification for close-up photography
  • Stepping motor (STM) autofocus ideal for video
  • Compact and lightweight walkaround prime lens
  • Affordable price for a full-frame prime with macro ability

When looking at the current rf lens lineup, the rf 35mm f1.8 is stm macro stands out as a versatile prime lens with bright aperture and macro capabilities. Though the rf system is still young, this modern lens shows the potential of native rf optics. The stm motor provides quiet autofocus suitable for video review work. At the time of this review, Canon’s rf mirrorless bodies benefit from this new rf mount lens designed specifically for their needs. Like the rf 50mm f1.8, the rf 35mm f1.8 shows Canon’s commitment to compact primes with bright apertures around f1.8 and f2 for their full-frame mirrorless cameras.

While EF lenses can be adapted, a native rf prime lens like the 35mm f1.8 is stm macro allows photographers to fully utilize Canon’s mirrorless autofocus system and take advantage of features like macro mode. When compare the rf 35mm to EF alternatives like the EF 35mm f2, the dedicated RF lens delivers superior performance. Overall this lens fills an important role for Canon’s RF system and photographers who wish Canon would develop more versatile yet affordable primes with focal lengths around 35mm.

Alternatives to the Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 IS STM Macro Lens

Here are some other macro lenses to consider for the Canon RF mount:

  • Canon RF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro: Canon’s top RF macro lens with 1:1 magnification, weather sealing and superior optics. More expensive at around $1,400.
  • Venus Optics Laowa 25mm f/2.8 2.5-5X Ultra Macro: Goes to 5:1 macro magnification for extreme close-ups. Manual focus lens with unique optical design. Under $400 price.
  • Tamron 35mm f/2.8 Di III Macro: Similar 35mm field of view, 1:2 macro and autofocus for under $300. Good budget option.
  • Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM: A highly regarded macro lens for adapted EF use. Provides full 1:1 macro with great optics.
  • Tokina AT-X 100mm f/2.8 FF Macro: Budget full-frame macro lens with 1:1 magnification. Adapt EF-mount version to RF with adapter.


Q: What is the Canon RF 35mm F1.8?

A: The Canon RF 35mm F1.8 is a lens designed for the Canon RF mount, specifically for the Canon EOS R and Canon EOS RP mirrorless bodies.

Q: What is the purpose of this lens?

A: The Canon RF 35mm F1.8 is a versatile lens that can be used for various photographic genres, including macro photography.

Q: Is this lens a true macro lens?

A: Yes, the Canon RF 35mm F1.8 is a true macro lens that offers a 1:2 magnification ratio, allowing you to capture detailed close-up shots.

Q: Does this lens have image stabilization?

A: Yes, the Canon RF 35mm F1.8 is equipped with built-in optical image stabilization, which helps to reduce camera shake and produce sharper images, especially when shooting handheld.

Q: How does the autofocus perform on this lens?

A: The autofocus of the Canon RF 35mm F1.8 is fast, accurate, and silent, thanks to its STM (Stepping Motor) technology.

Q: Is this lens compatible with other Canon cameras?

A: The Canon RF 35mm F1.8 is specifically designed for the Canon RF mount and is not compatible with cameras that use the Canon EF or EF-S mount.

Q: Can I use this lens on a Canon EOS R with an EF to RF adapter?

A: Yes, you can use the Canon RF 35mm F1.8 on a Canon EOS R or Canon EOS RP with the EF to RF adapter, but you may experience some limitations in terms of autofocus speed and functionality.

Q: Is there a lens hood included with the Canon RF 35mm F1.8?

A: Yes, the Canon RF 35mm F1.8 comes with a lens hood, which helps to reduce glare and protects the front of the lens.

Q: How does the Canon RF 35mm F1.8 compare to the Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM?

A: The Canon RF 35mm F1.8 is specifically designed for the RF mount and offers a larger maximum aperture of F1.8 compared to the Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM. Additionally, the RF version is more compact and lightweight.

Q: Is the Canon RF 35mm F1.8 a good lens for street photography?

A: Yes, the Canon RF 35mm F1.8 is a great lens for street photography due to its wide-angle focal length and fast aperture, which allows you to capture sharp images in various lighting conditions.

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