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Lead image

Best Canon RF Series mirrorless lenses for 2022

Learn which lens to use for portraits, sports, and more

In this article: The best RF lenses for your Canon EOS R Series mirrorless camera...

  1. Best value — RF 50mm f/1.8 STM
  2. Best for portraits — RF 85mm f/2 Macro IS STM
  3. Best for landscapes — RF 14-35mm f/4 L IS USM
  4. Best for details — RF 100mm f/2.8 L MACRO IS USM
  5. Best for sports — RF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM
  6. Best for events — RF 24-70mm f/2.8 L IS USM
  7. Best overall — RF 50mm f/1.2 L USM

There are few things that I enjoy shopping for more than a new camera lens. Imagining the fresh, creative perspectives that a new lens provides gets me jazzed up to get outside and explore our extraordinary world.

I also love helping folks find the right photography gear for their creative pursuits. Which Canon RF lens is right for your mirrorless camera? Let's find out! Before we jump in, let's make sure you're in the right place...

Is a Canon RF lens right for you?

The lenses shown here are from Canon's RF lineup, designed specifically for their full-frame mirrorless camera bodies. You'll need one of these cameras to use an RF lens (they aren't compatible with other brands or camera types).

Do you shoot with a different brand of mirrorless camera (or a DSLR)? I recommend reading our comprehensive lens buying guide for tips on finding your next lens.

Best Canon RF lenses for 2022

Canon RF 50mm f/1.8 STM

Best value — Canon RF 50mm f/1.8 STM

A 50mm prime lens, or "nifty fifty," is often the first non-zoom lens that photographers purchase. Canon's RF 50mm f/1.8 STM is the most affordable lens in the RF lineup, and I believe it to be one of the best values anywhere in photography.

Its wide f/1.8 maximum aperture lets in lots of light — perfect for taking photos indoors, or for capturing portraits with beautifully blurred backgrounds. This prime lens is also a great choice for videographers on the go thanks to its compact, lightweight design.

Details

  • 50mm standard prime lens
  • ideal for portraiture, events, pets, vlogging, and travel
  • maximum aperture: f/1.8
  • stepping motor (STM) for smooth and quiet autofocus
  • compact, lightweight design
RF 85mm f/2 Macro IS STM

Best for portraits — Canon RF 85mm f/2 Macro IS STM

The 85mm focal length is my preferred choice for taking portraits. It lets me get close enough to my subject so that we can communicate naturally, but lets me stay far enough back so that they don't get camera shy.

Canon's RF 85mm f/2 Macro IS STM is a fantastic choice for capturing blurred backgrounds with senior photos or headshots while keeping your subject in sharp focus. It has a fast f/2 aperture, image stabilization, and macro capability — a potent combo for photography hobbyists and enthusiasts alike.

Details

  • 85mm medium telephoto prime lens
  • ideal for portrait, event, sports, and macro photography
  • maximum aperture: f/2
  • 1:2 magnification (half life-size) for capturing detailed shots of up-close subjects
  • stepping motor (STM) for smooth and quiet autofocus
  • built-in image stabilization for smooth, steady shots
RF 14-35mm f/4 L IS USM

Best for landscapes — Canon RF 14-35mm f/4 L IS USM

Ultra-wide-angle lenses let you "see more" than you can with just your eyes alone. Their compressed view makes them ideal for photographing expansive landscapes, city skylines, and room interiors.

I use an ultra-wide-angle zoom like the RF 14-35mm f/4 L IS USM to take in sweeping perspectives that my other lenses can't offer. It's my go-to choice when I want to take sunrise photos at my local university, or long-exposure shots on a tripod.

Long-exposure photo of the Rotunda

I took this long-exposure shot in front of UVA's Rotunda during the blue hour with a Canon wide-angle zoom lens.

Is this the right ultra-wide lens for you?

Canon makes two RF ultra-wide zooms: this one, and the RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM. Both are part of Canon's esteemed L Series — their lineup of premium lenses with the red ring on the end of the barrel.

The big difference is in their maximum apertures, or how much light they can let in. This f/4 lens is "one stop" slower than the f/2.8 version, meaning when it's used wide open at f/4 it lets in half the amount of light as its faster f/2.8 counterpart.

That extra stop of light is quite useful in low-light environments, like wedding receptions or indoor birthday parties. But if you primarily shoot during the day, on a tripod, or "stopped down," that extra stop of light won't matter much — you can safely go with the RF 14-35mm f/4 L IS USM and save the extra cash.

Details

  • 14-35mm ultra-wide-angle zoom lens
  • ideal for landscape, cityscape, architectural, and event photography
  • maximum aperture: f/4 throughout the zoom range
  • Nano USM (Ultrasonic Motor Technology) focus motor for fast, silent autofocus
  • dust- and water-resistant for shooting in adverse weather conditions
  • built-in image stabilization for smooth, steady shots
RF 100mm f/2.8 L MACRO IS USM

Best for details — Canon RF 100mm f/2.8 L MACRO IS USM

Interested in exploring the fascinating world of macro photography? Canon's RF 100mm f/2.8 L MACRO IS USM is the best RF macro lens for the job.

Use this powerful L Series lens to take detailed shots of the bride and groom's wedding rings. Or look for interesting, intimate perspectives of everyday objects like water droplets on fruit, an ice cube melting in the sun, or your pet's soulful eyes.

The RF 100mm f/2.8 L MACRO IS USM is an exceptional portrait lens, too. Built-in image stabilization makes it a particularly good match with non-stabilized bodies, like the EOS R or RP.

Details

  • 100mm medium telephoto prime lens
  • ideal for portrait, event, sports, and macro photography
  • maximum aperture: f/2.8
  • up to 1.4X magnification for capturing detailed shots of up-close subjects
  • Nano USM (Ultrasonic Motor Technology) focus motors for fast, silent autofocus
  • dust- and water-resistant for shooting in adverse weather conditions
  • built-in image stabilization for smooth, steady shots
RF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM

Best for sports — Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM

If I could own only one zoom lens it would be an image-stabilized 70-200mm. I use mine for all sorts of things, including nature photography, sports, weddings, and portraits. The Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM excels with each of these, yielding bright, colorful images with superb detail.

This lens features a large maximum aperture of f/2.8 that lets in lots of light. That makes it ideal for shooting fast-moving subjects at an indoor basketball game or evening soccer match where you may not have much light to work with. You'll enjoy razor-sharp focus, vibrant colors, and beautiful out-of-focus elements.

Outstanding focus and image stabilization

One of the big improvements this lens offers over previous 70-200mm models is a new type of ultrasonic motor technology called Nano USM, which uses two independent but highly synchronized focusing motors — a first for Canon autofocus lenses.

That means you'll enjoy lightning-fast focusing on your subject, along with quiet, buttery smooth focus transition when shooting video. This is also the first Canon 70-200mm lens to offer three different image stabilization modes, which are selectable with a barrel-mounted switch.

Photo of a parrot eating a leaf

Animals offer unlimited photographic possibilities! I took this shot at a Montreal nature preserve using a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS L telephoto zoom lens.

Details

  • 70-200mm telephoto zoom lens
  • ideal for sports, wedding, event, wildlife, and portrait photography
  • maximum aperture: f/2.8 throughout the zoom range
  • "zoomable" lens barrel extends outward at longer focal lengths
  • dual independent Nano USM focus motors for fast, silent autofocus
  • three selectable image stabilization modes (single-shot, panning-optimized, and exposure-activated)
  • dust- and water-resistant construction for shooting in adverse weather conditions
  • removable, rotating tripod collar for use with a tripod or monopod
RF 24-70mm f/2.8 L IS USM

Best for events — Canon RF 24-70mm f/2.8 L IS USM

I love photographing special events — banquets, parties, festivals, you name it. I bring my 24-70mm lens to these occasions because I can quickly change my perspective without moving my feet.

Canon's RF 24-70mm f/2.8 L IS USM is a fantastic choice for landscape, street, event, portrait, and travel photography. The wide field-of-view also makes it ideal for video recording, including vlogging.

I consider this a "storytelling" lens. The large f/2.8 maximum aperture makes it a terrific option for low-light environments like church interiors and school gymnasiums. Get low and close with a wide 24mm view to accentuate unique details of your subject, like the Ferrari wheel below. Or zoom to 70mm and capture the shy smile of the flower girl as she winds her way down the aisle.

Wide-angle car example

Wide-angle lenses let you get close to your subject for unique perspectives and compositions. I took this photo with my Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 L Series zoom lens.

Details

  • 24-70mm zoom lens
  • ideal for events, landscapes, vlogging, portraits, products, and travel
  • maximum aperture: f/2.8
  • Nano USM focus motor for fast, silent autofocus
  • built-in image stabilization for smooth, steady shots
  • dust- and water-resistant construction for shooting in adverse weather conditions
Canon RF 50mm f/1.2 L USM

Best overall — Canon RF 50mm f/1.2 L USM

We opened this article by looking at Canon's most affordable 50mm lens. I'd now like to introduce you to the RF 50mm f/1.2 L USM — the finest 50mm option in the RF lineup.

This lens can create marvelous images across most types of photography, including event, portrait, nature, sports, wedding, and travel. I use it to take my daughter's school pictures, for action shots of my dog leaping up to catch a ball, and to capture creative candids at parties with spectacular background blur.

I first used this lens with the EOS RP when I auditioned them both in 2019. At the time my portrait clients were thrilled with the unique character and eye-catching vibrancy that it delivered. That top-notch performance still holds true today. I bought the RF 50mm f/1.2 L USM for myself in the summer of '21, and use it with my EOS R5 every chance I get.

Canon R5 and 50mm f/1.4 lens

My Canon RF 50mm f/1.2 L USM alongside the EOS R5 (with optional battery grip installed). This combo offers potent low-light performance, and is an absolute joy to own and use.

Details

  • 50mm prime lens
  • ideal for portraiture, events, weddings, astrophotography, and sports
  • maximum aperture: f/1.2
  • Nano USM focus motor for fast, silent autofocus
  • dust- and water-resistant construction for shooting in adverse weather conditions

Print your photos!

My last recommendation is to make prints out of your photos. Hanging bright, colorful photos on your wall that you created adds an instant glow and vibrancy to your home. Framed photos make excellent gifts, too!

Canon photo printer and wall art

Printing your photos lets you fill your walls with bright, colorful art that you created!

Crutchfield can help

Ready to start your new photographic adventure? Our friendly Advisors can help you find the right Canon lens. Give us a shout today for free, personalized help.

Your Crutchfield order comes with free lifetime tech support — even on the weekends.

Last updated 11/10/2021