If you’re got a Canon EOS R camera, you need one of the best Canon RF mount lenses to go with it. With Canon rapidly expanding its range of lenses for the flagship mirrorless system, adopters have more choice than ever. We’ve been hard at work testing and reviewing RF-mount lenses in order to suss out which you should buy and which you should avoid – this guide represents your cheat sheet for RF lens shopping.
No matter whether you’re using the high-resolution EOS R5, the flagship EOS R3, or the beginner-friendly EOS R10, there are some great lenses available for you. We have picked out all the lenses that scored well with our reviewers in order to give you some idea of what to look for.
If you’re also still in the market for a camera, check out our guide to the best Canon mirrorless cameras. Otherwise, let’s crack on with Canon RF lenses.
How to choose a Canon RF Mount lens?
Do you want a zoom or a prime? Zoom lenses give you much more versatility, while prime lenses offer superior optical quality. You’ll also want to consider if you want to get close images of distant subjects, and so will need a telephoto, or you want to create expansive views of large-scale scenes, in which case a wide-angle is your friend. You may also want a naturalistic view for day-to-day shooting, which will mean opting for a standard lens, the most common of which tends to be a 50mm lens, also referred to as a “nifty fifty”.
If you’re looking for the premium lenses from Canon, where image quality and build quality are top priorities, then look for a lens from the L series – which will have L in the name. These are the top-of-the-line lenses in terms of image quality, but as they are tilted towards professionals, they come at a premium cost.
One thing to consider is the lens’s maximum aperture. The wider this is (so the smaller the F-number), the more light your lens can take in, and the shallower depth of field it can create. An f/1.2 lens is much more effective in low light than an f/1.8 lens, but will generally come at a higher price, and be bulkier too.
You’ll also want to keep an eye on whether the lens has optical image stabilisation, which Canon call simply “IS” and you’ll also find this in the name. This works in combination with the camera’s in-body image stabilisation (IBIS), which most Canon cameras feature.
So without further ado… here is our guide to the Best Canon RF Mount Lenses available:
Best RF macro: Canon RF 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM – 5 stars
Price: £1,479 / $1,399
The Canon RF 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM lens isn’t your standard everyday macro lens, with 1.4x magnification, and an innovative ‘SA Control’ ring, which is designed to let you adjust the spherical aberration, which gives your out-of-focus areas a different look to other lenses. In our review we found that build-quality and handling are both excellent, and as you’d expect for a premium RF lens, image quality is superb. With the SA Control, it can also give portrait shots a different look.
Best 70-200mm RF lens: Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM – 5 stars
Price: £2,599 / $2,799
The Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM (£2659) is Canon’s 70-200mm F2.8 lens for RF mount cameras. It seems to be the the rule, that every full-frame camera has to offer a 24-70mm F2.8 lens, then a 70-200mm F2.8 lens, and this is Canon’s version. What’s special about this one though, is that when released it was the smallest and lightest 70-200mm F2.8 lens for full-frame cameras – impressive! When we reviewed this lens we found that it also offers excellent image quality as well as the high-quality build you’d expect from an L series lens.
A more affordable option would be the RF 70-200mm F4L IS USM (£1699) if you don’t mind the slightly slower aperture.
Best budget lens: Canon RF 50mm F1.8 STM – 4.5 stars
Price: £219 / $199
The Canon RF 50mm F1.8 STM lens is an ultra-compact 50mm lens that is the cheapest Canon lens available for the RF Mount, being around £200. When we tested this lens, we found that it offers excellent sharpness in the centre of the frame when shooting wide-open, but corners are softer. Luckily this can be resolved by stopping down the lens if you want sharper corners. With a low price, and a compact design, this makes a great choice for anyone wanting to travel light, and could be a great option for the new Canon EOS R7 and R10.
Best telephoto zoom lens: Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM – 4.5 stars
Price: £3,119 / $2,899
The Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM lens offers a longer telephoto reach than your standard 100-400mm telephoto zoom lens. The lens has optical image stabilisation (IS) that works in combination with the camera body’s in-body image stabilisation (IBIS) on the EOS R5 and R6 cameras to help you get sharp shots even when using lots of zoom. Build quality is very good and includes weather sealing, and as expected, the lens gives excellent image quality. The lens weighs in at a respectable 1.37kg making it easier to take with you when needed.
Best all-round RF lens: Canon RF 24-240mm – 4 stars
Price: £959 / $899
The Canon RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM lens is designed to be an all-in-one super-zoom, going from 24mm to 240mm, meaning you can leave it on the camera and don’t have to think about changing your lens. This makes it a great option if you’re travelling and just want to have one lens with you, as long as you don’t expect the lens to deliver the same level of image quality as a prime lens. Another option is the 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM lens.
Best RF telephoto zoom lens: Canon RF 100-400mm f5.6-8 IS USM – 4 stars
Price: £669 / $649
The Canon RF 100-400mm F5.6-8 IS STM lens offers a useful telephoto zoom range, from 100mm to 400mm, whilst being competitively priced, for just £699. This makes it great value for money, and it’s also the smallest, and lightest 100-400mm lens currently available. In our review we found that the sharpness provided was good, even when the lens is used wide open, and the in-camera lens correction does a good job of correcting for any optical issues.
Best budget RF lens for vloggers: Canon RF 16mm F2.8 STM – 3 stars
Price: £319 / $299
The Canon RF 16mm F2.8 STM gets your attention for three reasons: its wide focal length, its slender 165g weight, and its reasonable price. Providing a generous angle-of-view, it’s a lens that suits vloggers as it will allow you to film yourself with a camera at arm’s length. For photographers, it may appeal to those shooting architectural interiors or landscapes – but you do have to know what you’re getting into. At this size and price, compromises are inevitable, and in our review we found that the RF 16mm F2.8 STM does produce significant distortion and vignetting. It’s correctable in software, and less of an issue for video users who will be shooting in the 16:9 aspect ratio, but is worth being aware of.
If you want to read more lens reviews, then have a look at our latest lens reviews. You can find more help and advice in our buyers guides. You’ll also find more information on Canon’s lenses on Canon’s website.