New Portable Close-Up Weapon Canon RF85mm F2 MACRO IS STM Review

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  • 9 min read
Canon RF85mm f2 IS STM

I just got Canon RF85mm F2 MACRO IS STM lens recently. It is one of the new products released with R5/R6 in July, 2020. Looking at the current RF system, the number of fixed-focus lenses is seven, and the 85mm focal length accounts for three. Compared with the other two advanced F1.2, this lens is obviously more grounded, and the price has been greatly reduced. Moreover, the volume and weight are also greatly reduced, and it is a medium-telephoto product that is more oriented to mass users.

Canon RF85mm f2 IS STM
Canon RF85mm F/2 IS STM

Main Feature

  • Compact size, and has a constant maximum F2 aperture.
  • Equipped with 1:2 magnification macro photography function.
  • With EOS R5/R6, the highest anti-shake can reach 8 levels.
Official Specifications
Official Specifications

Exterior Design

Judging from its appearance, it is indeed much smaller in size. The length is only 90.5mm and the weight is only 500 gram. It is very compatible with the R system body. However, the hood is not included in the random package and needs to be purchased separately, which is a little regrettable.

Exterior Design
Exterior Design

The lens housing is made of engineering plastic, which feels good. The front end of the lens barrel has a Canon-specific function control ring and a wide focusing ring.

The lens side is equipped with 3 commonly used function buttons, namely the focus distance limiter, AF/MF switch and anti-shake switch.

Its front set of filters has a diameter of 67mm, which is convenient for users to install circular filters for shooting. Installed on the EOS R6 body, the overall volume is very compact, and there is no top-heavy situation.

Optical Structure

The RF85mm F2 MACRO IS STM uses an optical design structure of 12 elements in 11 groups, which includes a UD ultra-low dispersion lens to control dispersion and improve image quality.

Lens Diagram
Lens Diagram

MTF Curve

From the official MTF curve, the center imaging sharpness of the RF85mm F2 MACRO IS STM is relatively good, which can exceed 0.8. But the downward trend from the center to the edge is obvious, especially the sharpness of the edge of the picture is relatively average. Of course, for 85mm fixed focus, the center imaging performance is more important.

MTF Curve
MTF Curve

Imaging Performance Test

Imaging Performance Test
Imaging Performance Test

The following is a detailed test of the sharpness, dispersion, vignetting, distortion, and blurring of the RF85mm F2 MACRO IS STM through real shots. (All tests use EOS R6 body, turn off all lens correction functions).

1. Sharpness Test

I used this lens to shoot at a long distance for sharpness test, RAW post-stage conversion to JPG for 100% enlargement (the left side of the picture is the center part, and the right side is the edge part).

F16
F16
F29
F29
F11
F11
F4
F4
Sharpness-Test
Sharpness-Test
F5.6
F5.6
F2
F2

From the test chart, the real shot performance of RF85mm F2 MACRO IS STM is basically consistent with the MTF curve. The sharpness of the center of the maximum aperture F2 is acceptable, but the sharpness of the edges is poor. When the aperture is reduced by one stop, the edge sharpness begins to increase. When the aperture is reduced to F4, the center and edge sharpness begin to improve. Aperture F5.6-F11, the sharpness of the center and edge can basically maintain a relatively stable performance, which belongs to the best imaging aperture of the lens. The sharpness decreases from F16, and the minimum aperture F29 loses sharpness at both the center and the edges.

2. Glare Test

The glare of RF 85mm F2 MACRO IS STM is relatively obvious at aperture F2, and there will be a circle of light spots around the sun. However, when the aperture is reduced to F11, the large light spots disappear, and the lens can have a starburst effect.

F11
F11
F2
F11

3. Dispersion Test

It can be seen that when the maximum aperture is F2, there are visible purple fringes on the branches around the strong light source, but it is not serious. When the aperture is contracted, the purple fringing is further reduced, the aperture is very slight at F2.8, and it basically disappears after the aperture is F4. Although the RF85mm F2 MACRO IS STM is equipped with only one UD special lens, the overall dispersion control is qualified.

F4
F4
F2
F2

4. Distortion Test

When the distortion correction inside the camera is turned off, the lens will appear slightly pincushion distortion. The deformation basically disappears after opening.

5. Vignetting Test

Due to the limitation of the caliber of the RF85mm F2 MACRO IS STM, the vignetting angle is more obvious at the maximum aperture of F2, and the vignetting angle begins to weaken after the aperture is reduced by one stop, and the vignetting angle basically disappears when the aperture reaches F5.6 or so.

6. Anti Shake Test

This lens is equipped with an anti-shake image stabilization system, which can effectively improve the success rate of photographers’ handheld shooting in many situations where it is inconvenient to use a tripod. When matched with EOS R, it can achieve up to 5 levels of anti-shake effect. When matched with the latest EOS R5/R6, dual anti-shake can be activated, and it can reach up to 8 levels of anti-shake effect.

The author conducted a real shot test with EOS R6: (The left side of the picture shows the anti-shake off, and the right side shows the anti-shake on).

Anti Shake Effect
Anti Shake Effect

It can be seen that when the anti-shake is turned off, the picture shakes seriously, but the overall clarity has been significantly improved after the anti-shake is turned on.

7. Blur Test

When using the maximum aperture of F2, the blur effect of the lens is very strong, but the out-of-focus background transition is slightly stiff. As the aperture shrinks, the blur effect gradually weakens. When shooting portraits with a large aperture, you can highlight the subject and effectively remove distracting objects.

F4
F4
F2.8
F2.8
F2
F2

8. Macro Shooting Tool

This lens is also equipped with a macro close-up function of 1:2 magnification, and the closest focusing distance is 0.35 meters. It is a good choice for shooting flowers, sketches and models. In order to get a greater depth of field, the aperture can be reduced appropriately when shooting, and relatively good image quality can be guaranteed before F16.

Macro Photography
Macro Photography

In addition, using the flip screen + anti-shake handheld to take low-angle photos like models can also perform well. One lens can be used in multiple ways, which fully reflects its compactness and good mobility.

You may also like to read: Best Lenses for Your Canon Camera.

Image Gallery

You may also like to read: Top Lenses for Canon: Comparison and Review of the Best Models.

Conclusion

The release of the RF 85mm F2 MACRO IS STM provides Canon mirrorless users with a more affordable and portable medium and long fixed focus option. In real shots, its image quality is good, especially the center sharpness is satisfactory. With a macro function, in addition to shooting portraits and sweeping the street, it can also take close-up photography. Although there is a gap with the other two RF85mm F1.2 lenses in terms of workmanship and imaging, it is still worth recommending considering its price of $699 (check latest price on amazon) and portability considerations.

Advantage

  • The lens is small in size and moderate in weight.
  • The lens has a 1:2 macro function.
  • Satisfactory center sharpness.

Disadvantage

  • The focusing speed is relatively average.
  • The out-of-focus transition is slightly stiff.
  • Lens hood not included.
Canon RF85mm F2 MACRO IS STM

Canon RF85mm F2 MACRO IS STM provides Canon mirrorless users with a more affordable and portable medium and long fixed focus option. In real shots, its image quality is good, especially the center sharpness is satisfactory.

Product SKU: 4234C005

Product Brand: Canon

Product Currency: USD

Product Price: 699

Price Valid Until: 2021-12-07

Product In-Stock: InStock

Editor's Rating:
4.5