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The Best RF Lenses for Your Photography Budget

two different RF lensesIf you’re thinking about investing in a Canon R series camera, you probably know that the RF lenses made for them, with their 12-pin electronic mounts, will give you some of the fastest possible data transmission between camera and lens. This faster transmission increases the precision of image stabilization and the larger RF lens mount allows for a larger aperture diameter. Combine these RF lens features with the shorter back focus distance of the camera’s full-frame mirrorless design and you get truly outstanding image quality.

Knowing that an RF lens will give you sharp, stable, and responsive performance, how do you choose between the many buying options, especially when these lenses have such a wide price range?

Here’s a question to start your decision-making process—what type of photographs do you want the creative tools to capture?

With so many genres of photography, it’s useful to start by thinking about the subjects you want to photograph, which can be placed into three broad categories:

  • People: Genres that have people as subjects include portrait, fashion, event, street, and sports photography.
  • Nature: This category includes landscape, underwater, and wildlife genres, as well as astrophotography.
  • Objects: Product, food, architecture, and still life photography fall into this category.

It’s also useful to consider whether you want subjects that are in motion or at rest in your photographs and whether you will be far away from your subject, up close, or very close. Whether you will photograph in bright or low light conditions is also important.

Choose the Best Lens for Your Photo Type

The type of subject and conditions are considerations that impact these lens features you need:

  • Aperture: Aperture numbers can be written at f/2.8, F2.8, 1:2.8, or f/2.8-f/22 (the first number is the maximum aperture and the second number is the minimum). A smaller aperture lets in more light through the lens. It also gives you less background blur, which is important in photographs where you want a sharp image from foreground to background, like a landscape or architecture photo.
  • Focal Length: Focal length is written in millimeters, and a higher number means the lens has a larger zoom; a lower number means that the lens can be used for wider shots.
  • Image Stabilization: Image stabilization in the lens eliminates camera shake. The abbreviation “IS” indicates that the lens has stabilization.
  • Minimum Focus Distance: Inside the minimum focus distance, the lens will not be able to focus on your subject. If you want close shots, especially for macro photography, choose a lens with a lower minimum focus distance.
  • Fixed or Zoom: For most situations, a zoom lens is most appropriate, but a fixed lens can give you brighter images and options to correct lens errors.

These RF lenses have features that will give you great results for typical subjects and conditions without breaking your bank account.

Best Overall: Canon RF 35 mm F1.8 IS Macro RF Lens

black Canon RF lens

This compact and lightweight RF lens by Canon mixes the versatility of a general wide lens with macro capability, offering you a minimum focus distance of 0.56 feet. A super spectra coating helps to control flare and ghosting when working in bright or backlit conditions. Capture it all with this high-quality lens.

Best Overall

Canon RF35mm F1.8 is Macro STM Lens, Black

This compact and lightweight 35-mm F1.8 RF lens mixes the versatility of a general wide lens with macro capability.

Best for Landscapes: Meike 50 mm F1.7 Full Frame RF Lens

black Meike RF lens

This Meike 50-mm F1.7 RF lens is a manual lens that gives you great edge-to-edge sharpness, with good color and saturation. The lens has a manual focus with a minimum focus distance of 1.6 feet. It’s lightweight so it can be easily packed and taken with you to shoot in your favorite nature spots.

Best for Landscapes

Best for Portraits: Lensbaby Velvet 56 RF Lens

black Lensbaby RF lens

This is a unique lens inspired by classic portrait lenses from the mid-20th century, giving you a soft-focus look at wide apertures and sharper image centers as you stop down. It has an all-metal body and a manual focus. It has a focus distance of 5 inches for detailed pictures of your up-close subjects.

Best for Portraits

Lensbaby Velvet 56 for Canon RF

This lens gives you a soft-focus look with greater apertures, great for portrait shots.

Best for Action Shots: Rokinon 14 mm F2.8 RF Lens

black Rokinon RF lens

This Rokinon manual focus 14-mm F2.8 RF gives you a frame-filling, ultra-wide rectilinear 115-degree view and also has an 11-inch minimum focal distance. Its weather sealing and built-in petal-shaped hood make it great for outdoor shooting. It works well to produce quality images in dark settings as well.

Best for Action Shots

ROKINON 14mm F2.8 Ultra Wide Angle Weather Sealed Lens for Canon R Mirrorless Cameras

This RF lens gives you a frame-filling view great for capturing movement.

Lisa Walenceus Lisa Walenceus
Lisa Walenceus has 20 years of research and writing experience as an educator, news reporter, and freelancer. She writes to learn and digs deep to find how things work. Read Full Bio »
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