Canon RF 24mm f/1.8 macro IS STM is a relatively new lens in the brand’s mirrorless lineup. And it perfectly illustrates the emerging trend: Canon is actively experimenting with optics, focusing on the unique demands of photographers. It used to be possible to release just a couple of fixes – with high and low aperture – for pros and amateurs. Today, optics should be as versatile and versatile as possible.
The hero of this test is a fast compact wide-angle stabilized macro lens! We took the lens for the test from the Binar company and express our gratitude to them for the provided equipment.
However, let’s dot the i’s: the maximum shooting scale of the Canon RF 24mm f/1.8 IS STM Macro is not that great, only 1:2 when focusing from a distance of 14 cm. So it’s too early to write it into a full-fledged macro lens.
But in combination with a wide viewing angle, this is quite enough to get exciting shots with a huge background coverage and a small main object inscribed in the surrounding atmosphere.
And this is just one of the many talents of the RF 24mm f/1.8 IS STM Macro. The rest of the time it is a full-fledged full-frame wide-angle while being very light and compact.
The body is made mainly of plastic, so the weight of the lens turned out to be modest: 270 grams. The design is not monolithic: the front lens unit extends more than a centimeter in the process of focusing at short distances. And this is one of the few modern lenses for which protection against dust and moisture is not officially declared.
On the body, there was a place for the manual focus ring and the control ring, which can be assigned, for example, the aperture control function. The manual focus ring is fully electronic. It has a non-linear course, but the non-linearity is felt only at a very slow rotation. If you shoot a video with manual focus, then the non-linearity of the course may not be felt. Problems can only arise with the follow focus: it is impossible to strictly limit the range of the ring travel.
The STM stepper drive is responsible for moving the focusing group. It works very quietly, but not completely silent. Autofocus speed is medium-fast. It is enough for shooting dynamic, but not extreme scenes.
The Canon RF 24mm f/1.8 IS STM Macro is also equipped with a built-in image stabilizer. It can work both independently on cameras without its own stabilizer, and in conjunction with an in-camera stabilizer, as is the case with the Canon EOS R6 Mark II. The effectiveness of the stabilizer in the lens is declared at the level of 5 shutter speeds, and paired with an in-camera stabilizer – 6.5 steps.
It is known that at short focusing distances, stabilization in the lens is more effective than matrix stabilization. And the Canon RF 24mm f/1.8 IS STM Macro illustrates this well. I was able to get sharp 1:2 shots at ⅙ seconds while handheld. For the macro range, this is just a huge shutter speed!
The optical design of the Canon RF 24mm f/1.8 IS STM Macro uses 11 elements arranged in 9 groups. Among them, one lens is ultra-low dispersion (UD) and one with the mysterious designation PMO Aspherical. This is what Canon calls molded plastic lenses. The presence of plastic in the optical scheme can alert many photographers, so let’s quickly move on to the image quality tests!
Sharpening and Vignetting
Already at an open aperture, the Canon RF 24mm f/1.8 IS STM Macro is able to dispel all skepticism about sharpness. Despite the use of an aspherical plastic element in the optical design, the sharpness in the center of the frame at f / 1.8 does not cause serious complaints – it is high. Sharpness decreases towards the edge of the frame, but not significantly. A sad picture is only in the corners, primarily due to spherical aberration – halos around bright areas.
It is not noticeable in all plots, so we will not exaggerate.
But vignetting is present and very noticeable. It can be corrected programmatically, but we are interested in how the lens shoots, and not how the camera electronics work.
Close the aperture down to f/2. Vignetting noticeably weakens, and micro-contrast in the center of the frame increases. Stopping down to f/2.8 adds sharpness across the frame. Further aperture only affects the edges, because the maximum has already been reached in the center. At f/4, the sharpness in the corners can safely be called high, but it is still lower than in the center. Also at f/4, vignetting becomes low and spherical aberration disappears completely.
The image quality at f/5.6 and f/8 is unquestionable. After f/11, detail is reduced due to diffraction.
With geometric distortions, things are ambiguous. On the one hand, you won’t find them in JPEG. You cannot turn off software distortion correction for this lens. But in RAW, distortion is visible. And this is one of the explanations for not perfectly sharp corners: this is the result of a very serious software correction of geometry. Indeed, without it, the lens demonstrates strong barrel-shaped distortion, which practically excludes the possibility of shooting scenes with straight lines.
In general, the glare protection of the Canon RF 24mm f/1.8 IS STM Macro can be described as effective. The lens holds contrast well and works well in backlight.
To provoke him to the appearance of glare is not so simple. To do this, you need the bright sun to look directly into the frame. Then a bright green flare appears in the photo, which is accompanied by several colored halos as it is apertured.
The low level of chromatic aberrations of the Canon RF 24mm f/1.8 IS STM Macro is at least indicated by the possibility of disabling their software correction in the camera. Without it, individual traces of frankly provocative scenes can be found in the corners of the frame at an open aperture.
The aperture gradually removes that small chromaticity that an attentive photographer can find. After f/4, the level of chromatic aberration can be said to have no effect on image quality.
Getting the Canon RF 24mm f/1.8 IS STM Macro to blur the background is a lot of work! The short focal length of the lens affects.
And yet, bokeh is present in close-up and macro shots. There are no intrusive doubling and artifacts in the bokeh, the picture is calm. Its character can be called neutral, which is a positive characteristic of a wide-angle lens.
The Canon RF 24mm f/1.8 IS STM Macro turned out to be truly versatile and interesting. The focal length is convenient for travel shots, and video shooting. At the same time, the RF 24mm f / 1.8 IS STM Macro compares favorably with zooms, including whale ones, with a higher aperture ratio, the possibility of macro photography with a scale of up to 1: 2, and significantly smaller dimensions and weight.
The lens is really very compact and light. At the same time, ergonomics did not fall victim to miniaturization. Separate switches for autofocus and stabilizer have been preserved on the case; in addition to the manual focus ring, there is a control ring for changing shooting parameters.
And the built-in stabilizer will be especially relevant for cameras that do not have stabilization based on sensor shift. Of the minuses of the design, we note the front lens block that retracts when focusing, which indirectly affects the lack of declared dust and moisture protection.
There were no complaints about the sharpness of the Canon RF 24mm f/1.8 IS STM Macro during the test. Everything is in order with him and with chromatic aberrations – they are almost not noticeable. But the image still has flaws. In some cases, when working with a wide-open aperture, spherical aberration may appear in the form of light halos around contrasting objects in the corners of the frame. There is noticeable vignetting. And strong barrel distortion requires software correction, which is forced into action when shooting in JPEG and when recording video.
Of course, for an inexpensive fix (and by modern standards, the Canon RF 24mm f / 1.8 IS STM Macro costs moderately), some compromise solutions are typical. And in this lens we just see them. However, all compromises look quite justified and even successful.
- good sharpness from an open aperture;
- the possibility of close-up shooting up to a scale of 1: 2;
- built-in image stabilizer;
- low level of chromatic aberration;
- effective glare protection;
- neutral bokeh;
- relatively small size and weight;
- separate control ring on the body.
- there is a spherical aberration on some plots;
- strong vignetting at an open aperture;
- in RAW, strong barrel distortion is noticeable;
- dust and moisture protection is not declared.