Using the best Canon RF lenses is the surefire way to get the most out of your Canon mirrorless camera. But which is the best Canon RF lens? That depends on your photography needs.
You need to decide between a prime and a zoom lens. You need to choose a lens with a focal length that suits your photography style. And you need to know the RF lens has optics and features to help you flourish as a photographer.
The Canon RF 50mm f/1.8 STM is our best Canon RF prime lens choice. It’s a versatile lens with crisp optical quality. It has a fast f/1.8 maximum aperture that gives you excellent exposure control. And it’s one of the best-value RF lenses on the market.
What Are the Best Canon RF Lenses?
The best Canon RF lenses help you get the results you want. RF lenses are compatible with the Canon RF lens mount on the R-range mirrorless cameras. And you want one that suits your style of photography.
You first need to choose if you want a prime or zoom lens for your RF mount. Zoom lenses are more versatile, giving you more shot options. But prime lenses have sharper optics and are often more affordable.
The lens’s focal length is the next consideration. The focal length is measured in millimeters and determines the lens’s use.
A short focal length gives you a wider angle of view and little-to-no magnification. A long focal length gives you more magnification and a more cropped framing.
A lens’s autofocus motor is always important. Thankfully, Canon’s STM and USM systems work well.
The STM is the older system and is mainly found on prime lenses. It’s reliable and quiet. But the USM AF system is superior. That’s why Canon uses it for its zoom lenses.
Many Canon RF lenses use image stabilization (IS). This counteracts camera shake, reducing blur and letting you use slower shutter speeds.
IS gives you sharper images and more exposure control. And it’s a lifesaver if you have a slow maximum aperture.
The types of elements within a lens are also important. Some lenses have Extra-low Dispersion (ED) or aspherical elements to improve quality. And for the maximum aperture, the faster, the better.
We’ve split our list into two sections. The first looks at the best Canon RF prime lenses. And the second section looks at the best Canon RF zoom lenses.
Plus, we have a FAQ section to help you find the best RF lens. You can check out our quick list below. Or navigate to sections with more detail using these links:
6 Best Canon RF Prime Lenses
This section looks at the best Canon RF prime lenses. The catalog of RF lenses might not be as long as Canon’s EF collection. But the RF range is growing all the time.
We’ve selected the creme de la creme of their RF lenses. So there’s an RF prime lens for everyone.
- Creative control with wide f/1.8 aperture
- Specialist elements reduce ghosting and flare
- Smooth, quiet focusing works well for stills and video
- Ultra-compact design for easy portability
- Custom control ring for personalized usability
- Uses the STM instead of USM focus motor
- AF is less reliable in low light
- No optical stabilization
- Only compatible with Canon R series cameras
Every photographer needs a good 50mm lens. And if you have a Canon mirrorless, you need the Canon RF 50mm f/1.8 STM.
It’s compact enough for any camera backpack. And the sharp optics and fast aperture make it a versatile choice for many photographers.
The build quality is excellent. It has an aspherical element that reduces distortion.
And the outer element has a special coating that eliminates lens flare and ghosting. So you get clean images even in direct light.
The fast f/1.8 aperture gives you excellent exposure control. It gives you great results in low light. And it helps you achieve a shallow depth of field. That’s fantastic news for portrait photographers.
It uses Canon’s STM system to drive the autofocus. So it’s responsive and near silent in operation.
And you can customize the front control ring to adjust the aperture, focus, or ISO. This gives you even more control when shooting.
The RF 50mm f/1.8 STM is the perfect nifty-fifty lens. It’s a fantastic choice if you love street and travel photography.
And the sharp optics make it a great lens for portrait and landscape photography. It’s a versatile prime lens with a more-than-reasonable price tag.
- Ultra-wide angle is ideal for landscapes and property interiors
- Bright f/2.8 aperture gives excellent exposure control
- Smooth and quiet AF motor
- Compact and lightweight for easy storage and travel
- Some distortion at the very edges in intense lighting
- No built-in stabilization
- Uses inferior STM AF system
- AF is less responsive in low light
The Canon RF 16mm f/2.8 STM is the best wide-angle lens for Canon R cameras. The 16mm focal length gives you a lovely wide field of view.
It’s perfect for landscape and real estate photography. And the compact size makes it the perfect fit for your travel camera bag.
The f/2.8 maximum aperture gives you good exposure control. This is another reason it’s a fantastic lens for real estate photography. It can make cramped and dim rooms look airy and spacious.
It has a minimum focus distance of 5.1 inches (13 cm). This allows you to snap detailed close-ups. And the seven-blade circular aperture helps you achieve a smooth bokeh effect in the background.
It uses the STM AF system, which uses a stepping or gear-type motor. It’s smooth and quiet, making it a good option for video recording.
Plus, you can customize the control ring to adjust focus or an exposure setting. And there’s a switch on the barrel for a quick change between focus or exposure control.
The RF 16mm f/2.8 STM is a compact, affordable, sharp, wide-angle lens. Every Canon mirrorless owner should have this lens.
- Fast f/1.8 aperture for better low light performance
- Uses 12-pin connection for faster communication with camera
- Built-in optical stabilization
- 6.7 inch / 17 cm minimum focus distance
- Custom control ring for personalized use
- Not a true macro lens
- Limited camera compatibility
- AF is slow and less reliable with moving subjects
The Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 IS STM is a versatile lens with excellent build quality. And it has other advanced features that help improve your photography results.
The 35mm focal length is perfect for travel and street photography. And the field of view is also wide enough for landscape and architecture photography.
The optics are precise, giving you perfect image quality. And the f/1.8 aperture gives you fantastic control over your exposure settings.
It also has a 6.7-inch (17 cm) minimum focus distance. It isn’t technically a macro lens. But you can shoot intense close-ups.
The lens gives you even more help with the built-in optical stabilization. So you can shoot with even slower shutter speeds with a reduced risk of blur.
And this prime lens uses a 12-pin connection. I won’t get too technical here. But it streamlines communication between the lens and the camera.
This gives you faster focusing and exposure adjustments. And it allows for lens information to be displayed in the camera’s viewfinder.
The RF 35mm f/1.8 IS STM is packed with advanced features. But it remains compact enough for any messenger bag. And best of all, it’s an affordable option for many photographers.
- Fast f/2 aperture for fantastic exposure control
- Hybrid image stabilization system
- Smooth STM AF tracking
- Maximum magnification of 0.5x
- 9-blade circular aperture for smooth bokeh
- Plastic body
- Chromatic aberration sometimes visible at f/2
- Lens barrel extends and retracts when focusing
- No weather sealing for outdoor use
The Canon RF 85mm f/2 IS STM is a superb telephoto prime lens. The build quality is excellent. It has top-of-the-range features for quality photos. And it’s one of the most affordable lenses of its type.
The 85mm focal length makes it a mid-telephoto lens. It’s perfect for high-level portrait photography, giving you a tightly framed picture.
It isn’t strictly a macro lens. But you can use it for macro photography.
And the 15.7-inch (40 cm) minimum focus distance allows for artistic close-ups. So it’s one of the best lenses for food and product photography.
The optical image stabilization system gives you sharper images in lower light. And the hybrid stabilization compensates for angular and shift camera shake when shooting macro.
The f/2 max aperture is perfect for achieving a background bokeh. It gives you a super-shallow depth of field to help your subject stand out in the photo. This works for portrait, food, and product shots.
The RF 85mm f/2 IS STM lens communicates with the camera using the 12-pin system. So it gives you improved autofocus performance. And it allows lens information to be displayed in the viewfinder.
- Crisp and clear image quality
- 1.4x magnification makes macro images larger than life
- Industry-leading image stabilization
- Pin-point bokeh control
- Weather-sealed for outdoor use
- Very expensive
- Spherical Aberration (SA) control can negatively effect overall image quality
- AF is slow if system misses the subject on the first attempt
- Only compatible with Canon R series cameras
The Canon RF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM is the best RF lens for macro photography. With a 1.4x maximum magnification, it’s a true macro lens.
The optical quality is stunning, which is ideal for capturing fine details. It’s perfect for capturing professional jewelry or artwork photos for example. And the focal length also makes it a great option for product and portrait photography.
The optical image stabilizer gives you five stops of shake correction. This works with any genre of photography.
But you also have a hybrid stabilization system for macro photography. So it gives you angular and shift compensation.
This lens has Canon’s first Spherical Aberration (SA) control ring. This gives you unique control over the foreground and background bokeh.
It allows you to change from a smooth to a bubble-type bokeh effect. And you do this by turning the control ring. The custom control ring also gives you more control when taking pictures.
The glass quality is excellent. There’s practically no distortion.
And the outer element has a fluorine coating that protects against scratching and smudging. The entire lens is dustproof and weather-sealed for outdoor photography.
The RF 100mm f/2.8L IS uses Canon’s superior USM AF system. In fact, it has two Ultra Sonic Motors (USM) for faster focusing. It’s incredibly accurate. And it’s near-silent when focusing.
- Diffractive Optics reduce chromatic aberration
- 12-pin connection improve communication between camera and lens
- Optical image stabilization with 5 stops of correction
- Lightweight for a super-telephoto lens
- Custom control ring
- Needs to be extended for full magnification
- Extremely slow f/11 max aperture
- Slow focus speeds with moving subjects
- No weather sealing
The Canon RF 600mm f/11 IS STM gives you incredible magnification. It’s the perfect prime lens for wildlife photography. And you can use it for sports photography, too.
The unique, extendable, retractable design makes it a compact telephoto lens that’ll fit in your camera bag.
The 600mm focal length gives you a high level of magnification. It gets you close to distant subjects but also keeps you at a safe distance.
The lens also has gapless double-layer diffractive optical elements. These reduce chromatic aberration, giving you clean image quality.
The f/11 max aperture is limited. But the built-in image stabilization gives you more exposure flexibility. You get five stops of compensation, allowing for better shots in low light.
The STM AF system is accurate with moving subjects. And it makes very little noise. That means the lens won’t blow your cover or startle wildlife.
The RF 600mm f/11 IS STM also uses Canon’s 12-pin communication system. And it has a custom control ring for personalized performance.
6 Best Canon RF Zoom Lenses
This section looks at the best RF zoom lenses for Canon cameras. We have everything from wide-angle to super-telephoto zoom lenses.
There’s a lens for any photographer type. And there’s a lens for any budget. So here’s a quick look at all the best RF zoom lenses. Then we look at each one in more detail.
- Wide and versatile focal length range
- Digital lens optimizer reduces aberrations
- 12-pin connection with information display
- Built-in image stabilization for five stops of correction
- Nano Ultra Sonic Motor (USM) for fast and smooth autofocus (AF)
- Slow f/6.3 max aperture at full telephoto range
- Some vignetting in the corners at the widest angle
- Flare and ghosting can be an issue in direct light
- No weather sealing
The Canon RF 24-240mm f/4-6.3 IS USM is one of the most versatile lenses for Canon mirrorless cameras.
It has a wide zoom range that gives you fantastic shot variety. The built quality is exceptional. And it’s reasonably priced for such a versatile lens.
The focal length range goes from wide-angle to long telephoto. The wider angles are perfect for street and architectural photography.
The mid-section is ideal for portrait and product photography. And the telephoto magnification allows you to shoot sports and wildlife photography.
You have an f/4 max aperture at the 24mm end. And this is reduced to f/6.3 when fully zoomed in. That isn’t too limiting. And you have optical stabilization to give you more exposure compensation.
The RF 24-240mm f/4-6.3 IS USM also has dynamic image stabilization. This form of stabilization is only available in movie mode.
It reduces camera shake when shooting by hand. So you can shoot handheld without a video tripod or camera gimbal.
The USM AF system is fast yet quiet. And the 12-pin connection system improves focusing time and accuracy.
Lens information can be displayed in the camera’s viewfinder. And you can customize the front control ring to adjust focus or exposure settings.
- Lovely ultra-wide field of view at 14mm focal length
- Structure and Air Sphere coatings improve image quality
- Built-in image stabilization gives you 5.5 stops of correction
- 7.9 inch / 20 cm minimum focus distance
- Canon's superior USM AF system
- Large and heavy for a wide-angle lens
- No filter thread on the front element
- Max f/4 aperture limited shallow depth of field control
The Canon RF 14-35mm f/4L IS USM is a versatile wide-angle zoom lens. You can shoot anything from landscape to real estate photography.
The compact size makes it a good choice for travel photographers. And the optical quality gives you professional results.
Zoom lenses have a bigger risk of distortion. But it’s no concern for this lens. Each glass element has been made with precision. And Canon used a series of glass coatings for optimized picture quality.
The glass has a sub-wave-length structure and an air sphere coating. These reduce lens flare and ghosting.
And the outer element has a protective fluorine coating. This protects against smudges and scratches and maintains optical quality.
The f/4 max aperture is constant throughout the zoom range. This gives you great consistency in changing conditions.
And the optical stabilization gives you an extra 5.5 stops of compensation. You can even get up to 7.5 stops of compensation when paired with a camera that has five-axis stabilization.
You get fast, quiet, and smooth focusing from the Nano USM AF. And you can customize the front control ring for faster adjustments.
This is a top lens for travel and landscape photographers. And it’s one of the best lenses for vlogging.
- Constant f/2.8 maximum aperture
- Nano Ultra Sonic Motor (USM) for fast, quiet, smooth focus
- Smooth bokeh effect when using fast apertures
- Image stabilization provides five stops of compensation
- Weather sealing for all conditions
- Some mild vignetting at wider angles
- Inconsistent AF performance in low light
- No on-off switch for image stabilization
- Heavy for a standard-angle zoom lens
The Canon RF 24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM is the best standard-angle zoom for Canon mirrorless cameras. It’s another lens that features Nano USM AF for excellent focusing.
It’s a professional-standard lens. And the zoom range makes it a top choice for anyone from landscape to street photographers.
The lens contains three aspherical elements and three Ultra-low Dispersion (UD) elements. These reduce aberration to a minimum. And the Air Sphere coating prevents glare and ghosting.
The f/2.8 aperture is excellent. It gives you excellent exposure control, even in low light. And this is enhanced by the built-in optical stabilization.
It also has “combination image stabilization” that improves shake correction. This utilizes communication between the lens and in-camera stabilizers.
Plus, the 12-pin connection improves focusing and adjustment times. And the custom control ring on the barrel gives you more settings control.
The RF 24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM is also a rugged lens with weather sealing for outdoor use. It’s yet another reason why it’s such a high-performance lens.
- Constant f/2.8 throughout the zoom range
- Corner-to-corner sharpness at any focal length
- Super-fast and reliable AF with USM
- Weather sealing for outdoor shooting
- Expensive lens
- Slight focus breathing when recording video
- No filter thread on the front element
- Front-heavy design
A 70-200mm is one of the most versatile lenses. And the RF 70-200mm f/2.8 IS USM is a must-have if you use a Canon mirrorless camera. You can use it for anything from portraits to sports photography.
Lenses with a large zoom range can be prone to distortion. But that’s not the case with this lens.
Canon has combined aspherical and Ultra-low Dispersion elements. These keep chromatic aberration at bay. And that’s why you get edge-to-edge clarity throughout the zoom range.
The lens uses a dual motor system for the AF. It has two USMs, reducing focusing times even more. And it makes the lens more accurate when shooting moving subjects.
The f/2.8 max aperture is fantastic. And it’s constant throughout the range. So you get excellent low-light performance at full magnification.
The optical stabilization gives you even more exposure control. And you can shoot high-quality photography at dusk or dawn.
It’s weather-sealed and dustproof for outdoor use. And a fluorine coating helps to keep scratches and smudges at bay.
The Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8 IS USM is professional-grade equipment. And it’s a fine example of Canon’s best lens engineering.
- Wide focal length range with powerful magnification
- Ultra-low Dispersion (UD) elements reduce chromatic aberration
- Optical image stabilization gives you 5 stops of compensation
- Nano USM gives you fast and smooth AF
- 9-blade rounded aperture for a rich bokeh effect
- Majority plastic barrel
- Slow max aperture of f/5.6 at widest angle
- Loss of edge-to-edge sharpness at max aperture
- No weather sealing
The 100-400mm focal length range gives you fantastic magnification. It gets you up close and personal with your subject without actually getting too close.
So you don’t put yourself in danger. And you won’t scare your subjects away!
The optical quality has to be good with a telephoto of this size. And thankfully, this camera has great optics.
It uses Ultra-low Dispersion elements to reduce aberrations. And this means you get corner-to-corner sharpness even at full zoom.
The max aperture is limited to f/8 at full magnification. But the built-in stabilization gives you an extra five stops of exposure compensation. That helps when shooting distant subjects in low light.
The lens has a nine-blade circular aperture to help you achieve a smooth background bokeh. It makes your subject stand out. And it adds a new artistic element to your photography.
The RF 100-400mm f/5.6-8 IS USM is one of the best-value telephoto lenses. It lacks weather sealing. So you need to take care outdoors. But it’s an absolute bargain for sports and wildlife photographers.
- Versatile 100-500mm focal length range
- Built-in 5-stop optical image stabilization (IS)
- Standard, panning, and during-exposure IS modes
- Dual Nano USM autofocus system
- Expensive lens
- Slow f/7.1 max aperture at full magnification
- Slight chromatic aberration in the corners at full extension
- Heavy lens with many glass elements
The Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1 IS USM is a monster telephoto lens. The level and quality of magnification are incredible. It’s strong and robust. And it has the features to help you nail each shot.
It’s more expensive than the 100-400mm lens. But there’s also a big jump in performance.
The 500mm magnification is truly powerful. It’s strong enough for high-level wildlife photography in any environment. It even has the magnification to make it one of the best lenses for bird photography.
Canon’s optical technology delivers stunning results. The lens houses one Super Ultra-low Dispersion (UD) lens and six UD elements.
These keep aberrations to a minimum. And that means you get crystal-clear images throughout the zoom range.
It’s a big lens. That’s why it has two Ultra Sonic Motors (USM) driving the autofocus.
The result is super-fast focusing at any point in the zoom range. But it’s also ultra-quiet. So you don’t disturb your surroundings.
The f/7.1 max aperture at 500mm isn’t too bad. But the optical stabilization system gives you more exposure control. It gives you five stops of shutter compensation (without any in-camera stabilization).
The catalog of Canon RF lenses doesn’t yet match the EF selection. But there are some outstanding RF lenses already available. You have your pick of some of the finest prime and zoom lenses. And there are RF lenses for everything from street to wildlife photography.
The Canon RF 24-240mm f/4-6.3 IS USM is the best RF zoom lens. The wide zoom range and 10x magnification are two main selling points. But the optical quality is brilliant. And it has a fast AF motor and image stabilization. It’s a bargain Canon users won’t want to miss!
Best Canon RF Lenses FAQs
We’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions on Canon RF lenses. The extra information could help you find the best Canon RF lens to take your photography to the next level.
Which Canon RF Lens Is the Most Versatile?
A wide zoom range gives you excellent versatility. That’s why we recommend the Canon RF 24-240mm f/4-6.3 IS USM. You can shoot everything from real estate interiors to sports photography.
But every photographer needs a 50mm prime in their bag. While primes aren’t renowned for their versatility, a “nifty fifty” gives you great shooting options.
It’s the most popular lens with street photographers. But you can also shoot landscapes, group photos, and product shots. That’s why Canon users need the Canon RF 50mm f/1.8 STM.
The 70-200mm lens also is one of photography’s most popular lens types. And the Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8 IS USM is the best option for Canon mirrorless cameras.
It delivers as well for portraits as it does for sports photography.
Which RF Lens Is Best for Portrait Photography?
The Canon RF 85mm f/2 IS STM is our top RF lens for portrait photography. The focal length gives you the perfect framing for intimate portraiture. And the optical quality gives you professional results.
You can also use the RF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM. It’s a dedicated Canon macro lens. But it still doubles as a fantastic portrait photography lens.
The Canon RF 24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM is another great portrait option. The zoom range gives you plenty of shot options.
The wide angles allow you to shoot group and environmental portraits. And the telephoto end gives you a tighter view for single portraits.
Which Is the Best RF Lens for Vlogging?
The zoom range gives you good shooting options. And you can get wide, airy shots even if the camera is close to you.
Vloggers can also try the Canon RF 24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM. The zoom range gives you good composition options. And the AF is perfect. But it is one of the pricier lenses.
Can You Use EF Lenses with a Canon R Camera?
It is possible to use Canon EF lenses with a Canon R Camera. But you need to buy an EF-EOS R lens mount adapter.
They’re handy if you’ve recently switched from Canon DSLR to mirrorless cameras. It means you can still put your EF lenses to good use.