Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 STM IS macro - Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews - Canon EOS (Full Format)

Review by Klaus Schroiff, published December 2019

Introduction

The Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 STM IS macro was one of the first RF-mount lenses released back in 2018. You may argue that it is not among the most exciting lenses out there but it has a rare quality in today's mirrorless world - it is affordable at around 500USD/550EUR and we have even seen special sales quite a bit below that. Of course, a low price tag alone doesn't cut it yet. However, it is also very fast, provides macro capabilities down to an object magnification of 1:2 plus image stabilization. So is it the steal that it appears to be?

The build quality is pretty good albeit the use of plastics is quite obvious. The inner lens tube moves slightly with the longest extension, about 2cm, at the minimum focus distance. The focus ring operates smoothly. Typical for most Canon RF lenses, it features an additional control ring that can be configured to serve various functions. Weather-sealing is not provided - probably a cost-cutting measure. The lens hood is an optional accessory that will set you short by another 50USD/EUR. It's probably not worth it because it's tiny really.

The Canon lens uses a stepping motor (STM) for auto-focusing. On the EOS R, the AF speed is Ok but we won't describe it as quick. Unlike Canon's USM, the STM is also not noiseless but emits a high pitch sound during AF operations. Surprisingly, we had a few issues with AF accuracy which is usually a no-brainer on mirrorless cameras. Manual focusing works "by wire" thus you actually drive the AF motor when turning the focus ring. Full-time manual focusing remains, of course, possible.
The image stabilizer is rated at an efficiency of 5 f-stops. A bold claim but the system does come close.

Specifications
Optical construction11 elements in 9 groups inc. 1xaspherical element
Number of aperture blades9 (rounded)
min. focus distance0.17m (max. magnification 1:2)
Dimensions74.4x62.8mm
Weight305g
Filter size52mm
Hoodbarrel-shaped (bayonet mount, optional)
Other featuresConfigurable control ring
MountCanon RF