This is my first RF lens, purchased alongside the Canon EOS R6 Mark II camera in January, 2023.
This was the first of two RF zoom lenses introduced (2018), the first image stabilized RF lens, and the first L-series lens to feature Nano-USM. When introduced, it’s 5-stops of image stabilization was the most ever achieved by any Canon lens.
I chose this lens because I never owned a L-series standard zoom and I felt that it would be a versatile range on full-frame (standard zooms always felt too long on APS-C sensor cameras and so I gravitated more towards the 16-35mm wide-angle zoom range).
I planned to use the R6 Mark II for both stills and video and felt a compact, straight-aperture, image-stabilized lens would be a good place to start. I wasn’t wrong.
On 24 megapixels, the RF 24-105mm ƒ/4 L IS USM is quite sharp across the entire frame. No complaints so far. I have had zero issues with flare or chromatic aberration.
The ƒ/4 aperture is a little slow for video work in low light (dusk, indoors) but has been perfectly adequate for stills photography. In fact I have only ever seen the slightest amount of motion blur even in photos taken at shutter speeds of ¼ second or longer. Really, with lens IS, IBIS (in-body image stabilization), a 24 megapixel sensor, and high ISO capabilities all combined, I just don’t know when I would need to shoot stills on a tripod, except to compose with filters.
RF L-series lenses look nice and feel very good in the hand. The zoom and focus rings are more refined than the older EF designs, but are still easy to locate and turn. I do find that the control ring is quite hard to feel, especially with gloves on.
The RF 24-105mm has been a good complement to my EF 16-35mm ƒ/4 L IS USM, and I expect will serve me many years as a professional “kit” lens.
Canon’s RF lens mount (2018) used on EOS R cameras and associated RF lenses is an interesting evolution and amalgamation of the previous EF (1987) and EF-M (2012) technologies. The mirrorless specific RF mount has the same 54mm diameter as the EF mount, but has a flange to sensor distance of only 20mm versus 44mm for the SLR EF mount (and 18mm for the EF-M mount). This shorter flange distance allows for more compact wide angle lens designs. It also means that EF mount lenses can be used on EOS R cameras with an adaptor.
The RF mount features 12 twelve electronic contacts compared to the 8 contacts on EF/EF-S and 9 contacts on EF-M. The increased contact count allows for more bandwidth and faster communication between the lens and the camera body.
Like EF-M lenses, Canon RF lenses contain factory-calibrated correction data which is passed to the camera when mounted.
The RF mount was initially only available on full-frame R-series cameras. However, in late 2022, Canon introduced the R1O and R7 bodies with an APS-C sensor. Concurrent with these new bodies, Canon released the first RF-S lenses designed to work with the smaller sensor. RF-S lenses can also be mounted on full-frame R-series bodies, but with an automatic 1.6x sensor crop.
Along-side the zoom and focus rings, many RF mount lenses feature an additional control ring. In some lower end primes and zooms, a switch toggles a single ring between focus and control functions. A control ring is also available on the Control Ring Mount Adapter EF-EOS R. The control ring can be configured in camera to adjust many camera functions, such as aperture, ISO, focus area, exposure compensation, flash exposure compensation, etc.
While Canon never released a professional L series lens for the EF-M mount, the RF mount and R-series bodies were, from the onset, targeted more towards professionals and enthusiasts than amateurs and beginners. In the first two years, Canon released 8 L series lenses and only 2 non-L lenses (a 35mm prime and 10x super-zoom).
As of writing, all RF lenses feature the slower, but virtually silent, STM (stepper-motor) or the faster, and still mostly silent, linear Nano-USM (ultra-sonic motor)1. Because of these two technologies, all RF lenses to date are focus-by-wire and work equally well for either stills or video.
Canon has chosen to prioritize compactness for RF L-series zoom lenses which feature extending lens barrels, compared to most EF L-series lenses which were of a bulkier internal-zoom design.
To date, all L-series zoom lenses also feature IS (image stabilization), except for the fast and already very large RF 28-70mm F2 L USM.
Adapted EF lenses (Canon or third-party) work seamlessly via the EF-EOS R adaptors.
Canon have chosen to keep the RF mount closed to third-party autofocus lenses.
The new Lens Dust Cap RF is compatible with EF lenses, but not the other way around.
In fact, my biggest complaint about the RF mount is the dust cap design. Because the bayonet tabs on the EF mount were arranged symmetrically, the older EF dust caps could be mounted at any of three angles (0°, 120°, 240°). Without looking you could quickly get the dust cap on just by feel. The bayonet tabs on the RF mount are not symmetrical. The new dust cap will attach in only one orientation and the alignment marker is quite hard to see. I plan to highlight all of my RF dust cap alignment markers with silver marker or vinyl strips so they are easier to see and still look classy.
I’ve always wanted, but could never justify, a full-frame (ILC) interchangeable-lens camera. For many years, I also prioritized compactness and portability over camera speed and marginal image quality gains.
When Canon introduced the EOS R-series in 2018, I looked on with interest. I waited patiently for the R-series to mature to the point were an enthusiast grade body would have the right balance of features and price for me.
The EOS R6 Mark II is that camera. I think it is the perfect Swiss Army knife of a body and a class leader at this price point.
Subject detection (people, eyes, animals, vehicles) and tracking borrowed from the flagship EOS R31
In 2020 I started shooting video seriously for the first time (though the subject, RC cars, is not that serious). Thus I was keen to have a full-frame MILC hybrid camera that would last me for years to come.
I purchased the EOS R6 Mark II with a RF 24-105mm ƒ/4 L IS USM lens and BG-R10 Battery Grip. I also kitted it out with a SmallRig cage, top handle, external microphone, tabletop/low-angle tripod, and other accessories for shooting video.
I have been shooting with the camera as much as possible, but of course it is still mid-winter, so I haven’t done as much video work as I would like. I plan to purchase a few faster prime lenses to make handheld video easier (the RF 24-105mm is a bit chunky) and may invest in a gimbal and external monitor/recorder eventually.
Some of my favourite minor refinements that just make shooting with the the EOS R6 Mark II almost a joy:
The ability to assign different AF (auto-focus) configurations to different buttons. I have the AF-ON button configured as my main back AF button. I have the * button configured to switch to Single AF Point focus area, enable Auto Subject Detection if it is not already on, and to start Whole Area Servo AF Tracking. I have other buttons configured to start/stop Whole Area Tracking and to cycle through the available focus areas.
Though the camera does not have built-in GPS, it is continuously connected to my iPhone via Bluetooth LE and receives location information in real-time from the Camera Connect app, in the background. The camera does lose the phone connection if I use the stand-alone Bluetooth remote, but that is okay. If I really need GPS data and a remote I can just use the Camera Connect app remote function. Alternatively, the camera still works with the ageing GP-E2 hot-shoe-mounted GPS receiver, or I can use a GPS track from my watch to tag photos in post-production. (The camera can also be continuously connected to Wifi, which would be great in a studio situation).
There are two auto–white-balance modes: AWB and AWB-W (white priority). I always find that AWB (Canon’s and Apple’s) under-compensates when shooting under warm lighting conditions, probably because people prefer a warmer image. I don’t mind a slightly warm image, but have never used AWB because I find it too warm. Now, with AWB-W, the camera is much more aggressive about removing warm casts, resulting in a much more accurate colour rendition.
When switching to Custom WB in the Quick Settings screen, I can press the trash button and then take a quick WB reading with the shutter button (no file is created of the WB scene). This is so much faster than the old EOS M-series method of taking an actual photo (which would be saved on the card), navigating to the Custom WB menu item, and then loading the saved photo to get a WB reading. Since I have been shooting around snow lately, I have been finding myself taking regular readings as lighting conditions change, despite the fact that I shoot RAW and can always adjust the WB in post. I generally use the ETTR (expose-to-the-right) exposure methodology and an RGB histogram, so having accurate WB in-camera actually helps me to better determine exposure.
At this point, any enthusiast grade or better camera is capable of taking amazing photos, but it’s these little things that making shooting easier, more flexible, and thus pleasant.
Another neat feature is the OVF (optical viewfinder) simulation mode. This turns off Exposure Simulation and the Histogram, but really does make the viewfinder more DSLR-like. I haven’t used it much, but would likely use it in walk-around street photography situations for a change of pace. I’d have to get used to setting exposure with the over/under indicator, something that is very foreign to me at this point.
So far I am happy with this camera, though I struggled to get inspired with it at first. I do miss the compactness of my EOS M5. When/if we ever travel again it will be a challenge to decide which camera to bring along.
Some year, when I have a little extra money, I might buy a small APS-C censored EOS R-series body to replace my M5 (which is still perfectly adequate for everything except video). On the other hand, I might save up some money and invest in a EOS R5 Mark II (I assume the R3’s BSI — back-side illuminated — stacked sensor technology will soon trickle down to other full-frame bodies).
In fact the R6 Mark II is more similar to the R3 than to the R5. The main things the R6 Mark II lacks are Eye Control, the BSI stacked sensor, the faster internal recording of the CF Express Type B card slot, ethernet, and built-in GPS. The R3 with built-in grip and larger battery is actually 28 grams lighter than the R6 Mark II with grip attached and two LP-E6NH batteries! This is amazing considering that the R3 also is a robust alloy body.
The Canon EF-M 28mm ƒ/3.5 Macro IS STM lens is a compact macro lens with several interesting features. The collapsible design has two selectable focus ranges: infinity to 0.7x, and Super Macro which goes from 0.7x to 1.2x. To counteract the issue of lighting with such a short working distance, the lens has a built-in camera-powered selectable ring light. A screw on “lens hood” covers the ring light in storage. With the hood removed, the front element has chamfered outer edges to allow as much light as possible to reach a close subject.
For a dedicated macro lens, I generally prefer a short telephoto focal length as this gives more working distance. On the other hand I do like the look of wide-angle extreme close-ups.
As is usual with macros, this lens is quite sharp shooting at the minimum focusing distance all the way thru to infinity. That makes it a decent general purpose walk-around prime, though it has a relatively small maximum aperture. For general use I prefer the compact EF-M 22mm ƒ/2 STM or the very fast EF-M 32mm ƒ/1.4 STM, though neither of these are image stabilized.
This lens was released in June, 2016, but I didn’t buy my copy until January, 2020.
I haven’t used this lens as much as I would like, but I have been pleased with the images I have captured with it.
The first image below, Sugar Crystals, is a focus stack of 12 shots. The second image is one of ten frames from a focus stack set—the third image, Salt Crystals, which shows how depth of focus can be increased by stacking multiple focus-bracketed exposures.
The Canon EF-M 55-200mm ƒ/4.5-6.3 IS STM (released in 2014) is Canon’s only telephoto lens (as of 2020) for the M-series of compact mirrorless cameras.
It is a fine lens, especially for its size. I wouldn’t say that I love this lens, but with a maximum equivalent focal length of 320mm it has impressive reach in a very small package. It is probably sharper than, but not as versatile as, the EF-M 18-150mm ƒ/3.5-6.3 IS STM (which might be a better compact travel lens).
With a zoom range factor of 8.3x, the Canon EF-M 18-150mm ƒ/3.5-6.3 IS STM (released 2016), is the only “high-power zoom”1 in my collection. Typically, beyond 4x zoom, compromises in lens design must be made resulting in a lens with less than stellar optical performance. With the Canon EF-M 18-150mm ƒ/3.5-6.3 IS STM these compromises have largely been avoided and the lens is sharp, with well behaved aberrations, across it’s zoom range.
A good lens for travel or hiking, I reach for this lens in general shooting situations where I might want both wide-angle and telephoto focal lengths and want to avoid changing lenses. In more specialized situations I will usually choose a more specialized lens (for speed, sharpness, specific focal lengths, etc.).
This is how Canon characterizes this lens, which is fair as true superzooms have a zoom range of 10x or higher.
The 18-55mm covers a very useful if conventional focal range on APS-C, equivalent to 28-88mm on full-frame. It’s a range I find useful if I have no specific plan when going out with my camera. I also have the Canon EF-M 18-150mm ƒ/3.5-6.3 IS STM at my disposal and I will take the lens if I think I will want more reach. If I am prioritizing sharpness I will go with the 18-55mm which has excellent resolving power at 25 megapixels.
In every review I have seen the EF-M 18-55mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 IS STM is much sharper than the replacement EF-M 15-45mm ƒ/3.5-6.3 IS STM. The 15-45mm is tiny when collapsed, but I have never found the 18-55mm bulky in my bag and thus have also never had the desire to add the 15-45mm to my kit.
Surprisingly, the EF-M mount’s short back flange distance shows little advantage over the DSLR EF APS-C mount when it comes to the design of this focal range. Indeed, the Canon EF-S 18-55mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 IS STM kit zoom lens, released in 2013, is practically identical in optical design, dimensions, and price.
The Canon EF-M 11-22mm ƒ/4-5.6 IS STM, released in 2013, is the third lens for Canon’s EOS M series of compact MILC cameras, and quickly became one of my favourite lenses of all-time (particularly for landscape work).
This is the first lens I owned with a collapsible design. For transportation the lens is very small. It is a sharp lens and I have never had any complaints about corner sharpness or other lens aberrations. Expect moderate vignetting at maximum aperture, but this is easily corrected in post-production if shooting RAW or via in-camera peripheral illumination correction if shooting JPEG.
It works well for expansive landscapes or for working in tight spaces (canyons or interiors), but it is a bit too wide for people photos—expect unflattering results if you try to use it for portraits.
This lens highlights one of the main advantages of short back flange distance (the distance from the lens mount interface to the sensor) for ultra-wide angle lens design. It also exemplifies the benefits of the EF-M mount on an APS-C camera. To get the similar focal range in EF mount for APS-C you would look at the EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM1 which is 55% longer, 75% heavier, and you will probably not see any difference in real-world image quality. To get the similar focal range on EF full-frame, you still need to step up to the EF 16-35mm ƒ/4L IS USM2 which, again, is twice as long, three times as heavy, and three times the price of the EF-M lens.
Admittedly, the EF-S lens is slightly wider and offers 1/3 faster and 2/3 faster apertures at the minimum and maximum focal lengths respectively. On the other hand, the EF-M lens offers 3 stops of optical image stabilization.
This is a tough comparison, because Canon has never made a non-professional ultra-wide zoom lens for full-frame and the EF 16-35mm ƒ/4L IS USM is a professional lens with internal zoom, constant aperture, weather sealing, and four stops of optical image stabilization. The Tamron 17-35mm F/2.8-4 Di OSD would be a cheaper third-party alternative.
Released in 2012 along with the original EOS M camera, the Canon EF-M 22mm ƒ/2 STM, at only 23.7mm long, is the shortest lens in the EF-M range1. It is also the only pancake lens for the EF-M mount.
I bought this lens on day one alongside my original EOS M camera body. It and the much newer Canon EF-M 32mm ƒ/1.4 STM are the only EF-M lenses that forego optical image stabilization. In the case of the 22mm this is not surprising as the designers obviously prioritized size/weight over stabilization. The fast ƒ/2 aperture also obviates the need for stabilization for stills photography.
While I have always enjoyed the 22mm focal length (35mm full-frame equivalent) and the pocketable size, I have often wanted slightly better image quality (sharpness mostly) and focusing speed from this lens. Its absolutely perfect as an unobtrusive carry-around street photography lens and that is mostly how I use it.
I initially scoffed at the tiny 43mm filter thread diameter, but now it and the other two Canon EF-M prime lenses (i.e., the 32mm ƒ/1.8 and 28mm ƒ/3.5 macro) all share that same size. I have added a 43mm Hoya Fusion Anti-static circular polarizer to my kit and have enjoyed using it on these primes.
The one downside of this lens is the inability to mount a tradition lens hood. I am a big fan of lens hoods. Canon’s EF-S 24mm ƒ/2.8 STM pancake also has this design limitation. In actuality I would always prioritize compactness over the ability to mount a hood on this type of lens.
Since the introduction of the Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM, online commentators often question the need for the 22mm ƒ/2 lens? There are many reasons why I would say the 22mm is still very useful:
focal length—there is a big difference between 35mm and 45mm equivalent focal length;
size—the 22mm remains jacket-pocketable on any EOS M body (I’m Canadian and we have big jackets and big pockets);
speed—the 22mm lacks image stabilization, but ƒ/2 is 1 1/3 stop faster than ƒ/3.5, allowing not only faster shutters speeds when shooting moving subjects but also a much shallower depth of field effect;
sharpness—I have not fully tested this, but macro lenses typically sacrifice some infinity focus sharpness for the ability to focus closely.
focus speed—there is a danger of increased focus hunting with high magnification lenses as they move through a much wider range of focus distances.
To that end, I always—repeat, always—carry the Canon EF-M 22mm ƒ/2 STM when I go shooting—it takes up almost no room in by bag.
As of 2020, Canon has adhered to a strict design standard for the EOS M system and all eight EF-M mount Canon lenses share the identical 60.9mm barrel diameter.
I bought the Tamron 150-600mm ƒ/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 SP (what a mouthful) the same day I bought my EOS M5 (2016). I admit it is an odd combination. The EOS M5 features the first built-in EVF in the EOS M-series and also has a more substantial grip compared to previous models. We had been living for several years in our new house, next to a large natural park, and I wanted try my hand at bird photography.
Well built, optically good, attractively priced. Absolutely love the Arca-compatible tripod foot (all long lenses should have this feature). The the clutch mechanism on the zoom ring is great. Zoom creep is not a problem, but still it is reassuring to be able to lock the lens in any position. I will never get used to the fact that Tamron zoom and focus rings rotate the opposite direction of Canon (one of the reasons I have hesitated to add the Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Lens to my collection).
Bulky when mounted on the EOS M5, but almost manageable. When zoomed to 600mm, the lens is physically long and the weight very far forward so that the EOS M5 is hard to balance. It is okay for a few minutes of handheld shooting then my arms need a rest.
After purchasing this lens it wasn’t too long before I also added a high quality carbon monopod to my kit.
I am very pleased with this lens for general landscape work as well. The ability to zoom into distant scenes and to isolate compositions is handy and rewarding.
I have not become a hardcore bird photographer, but I have learned a lot more about the birds that frequent my area.
Canon have made very few super-telephoto zoom lenses, and none with this focal range. The excellent and popular Canon EF 100-400mm is the only realistic first-party alternative. An un-realistic alternative is the Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM (aka, “Unicorn”) with built-in 1.4x extender (for a total focal range of 200-560mm and the price of a used car).