The Best Lens for the Canon EOS R

Canon EOS R with EF Lens

Are you searching for the best lens for the Canon EOS R?

Before you open your wallet and take the leap in investing, research is key.

We’ll break down some of the popular RF lenses and their counterparts out there to help you make the right decision for your needs. While the choice may not be easy, there is no doubt you’ll invest wisely whatever the choice may be since there are a variety of these optical quality lenses available.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. Please read full disclosure for more information.

The Canon EOS R

Before we get into the discussion of lenses, let’s examine a brief summary of the Canon EOS R.

Front of Canon EOS R Mirrorless Camera

Personally, I LOVE this camera. Yes, there are features that need improvement but for the price and purpose for which I use it in being a back-up camera for photoshoots, wedding films, and my go-to for traveling, it is fantastic.

When I was looking to add a smaller run-and-go camera to my arsenal, the Canon EOS R5 had just become available for purchase. Because it was new and I wanted to await user reviews, my research focused mainly on the Canon EOS R6 and Canon EOS R.

I previously had a Canon 5D Mark IV and loved the camera.

Canon DSLR Camera

What attracted me to the Canon EOS R family was the promise of a smaller, compact body. I admit I was a little skeptical of the mirrorless cameras at first, but after making the purchase and using it, they’ve won me over the Canon DSLR cameras.

The EOS R camera is a little thing of beauty. Some of its flagship features include its full frame 30.3 Megapixal Dual Pixel CMOS AF sensor over the APS-C sensor, the Dual Pixel RAW function and DIGIC 8 processor. In fact, the 30.3 Megapixal sensor is one of the reasons why I chose this over the R6 which has 20.1 megapixels.

Front of Canon EOS R vs. 5DM4

The Dual Pixel RAW function was first in the EOS 5D Mark IV, which is what the EOS R has been compared to in many reviews. Coupled with Canon’s Digital Photo Professional software, this allows the user to modify sharpness, viewpoint and foreground bokeh to a user’s preference. If you’re wanting complete creative control of your images, this is a great benefit of the EOS R.

Canon Mirrorless R vs 5D Mark IV

The DIGIC 8 processor allows the camera’ autofocusing feature to process up to 40 times more data than the EOS 5D Mark IV during live view shooting. This is the brain of the Canon EOS R and has helped to raise the standard of the Canon R cameras compared to the DSLR cameras.

There are various other features of the EOS R that are attractive to photographers and videographers alike, including the smaller size, compatibility with interchangeable lenses, silent shooting capabilities, increased 5655 selectable AF positions, 4K 30fps video quality and vari-angle LCD monitor.

Canon EOS R Mirrorless camera

But… I digress.

So for those who have the Canon EOS R or any of the cameras in the Canon EOS R system, and looking to purchase a lens, let’s breakdown the best lenses as options to invest in. Do note that these have been compiled from my own personal experience and other’s user reviews on Adorama, B&H Photo and Amazon.

RF Lenses

Keep in mind that the RF lenses are specifically created for the R System cameras.

The Canon technologies represented in all the RF lenses possess qualities that are new in design to the Canon lenses but with ridiculous results that give it a competitive edge.

They have a unique 12-pin connection that has drastically improved the communication between the camera body and the lens itself, making adjustments quicker to utilize than ever before. The RF and RF-S lens mount itself is known for being designed to allow the lens closer proximity to the sensor resulting in high quality images.

Here's an example of a photo taken with Canon EOS R mirrorless camera.

They also utilize Nano USM technology to achieve amazing focus results through linear rather than rotational movement within the lens. You can read more about the Nano USM technology Canon utilizes to enhance the user experience and quality of images.

Even the “small” features such as the control ring on the lens barrel allows a wide range of manipulation of settings right at the fingertips such as the shutter speed, aperture, and exposure. The quick access, if not immediate access, to such settings is an easy point of adjustment that has impressed both non-Canon and Canon users alike.

Additionally, these lenses discussed here are all full frame lens format and Canon EOS RF lens mount.

To summarize, those who have RF and RF-S lenses, LOVE them.

BUT, they can cost a pretty penny.

We will start with 6 of the best canon RF lenses that are considered the most popular to purchase.

  • A. Canon RF 24-104 mm f/4L IS USM Lens
  • B. Canon RF 35 mm f/1.8 Macro IS STM Lens
  • C. Canon RF 50 mm f/1.2L USM Lens
  • D. Canon RF 15-35MM F2.8L IS USM
  • E. Canon RF 24-70MM F2.8L IS USM
  • F. Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM

Here is a further breakdown of these canon RF lenses. 

A. Canon RF 24-105 mm f/4 L IS USM Lens

If you’re looking for great telephoto lenses, you can start with this one.

*Of note, click the images of the lenses and adapters to directly purchase or see more information.

Due to its wide-angle to zoom capability, it can be used in diverse ways from inside to outside and portraits to landscape photography. The max aperture is 4 but it is capable of performing well in low light settings, maintaining sharp images which Canon has been known to struggle with.

Pros and Cons of RF 24-105mm Canon Lens

B. Canon RF 35 mm f/1.8 Macro IS STM Lens

This wide-angle lens is also a high-quality RF lens.

This prime lens is excellent for street, travel and detail photography. Its image stabilization is considered a particular advantage for videography. What many love about it is its affordable price without sacrificing the quality. And low light sharpness made feasible due to its low aperture, unbeatable.

Pros and Cons of RF 35mm Canon Lens

C. Canon RF 50 mm f/1.2L USM Lens

Who doesn’t love the prime lenses from Canon?!

Make it an RF lens for the Canon EOS R and the possibilities are endless for portrait, street and fine art photography.

Particularly because of its ability to capture unbelievable detail giving a superb image quality. The RF 50 mm f/1.2 by Canon is known for its ridiculous clarity features. Canon describes it as having a new kind of “optical performance” that makes it stand out in full-frame photography. It’s build quality is in the L-Series lens family providing it greater weather protection against the elements so many of its users rave about this one.

Pros and Cons of RF 50mm Canon Lens

The TRINITY of RF Lenses

Commonly known as the 3 essential lenses to have for almost any, if not most, situations are these 3 RF lenses. All of these full frame lenses boast fast aperture, image stabilization and high performance for excellent image quality.

D. Canon RF 15-35MM F2.8L IS USM

The RF 15-35 mm is a telephoto lens that boasts the ability for wide angle but sharp images.

Users have found this to provide quality shots even at night and especially for landscape photography, the sharpness of the images are unmatched. This lens is ideal for street, landscape and architectural or real estate photography.

Pros and Cons of RF 15-35mm Canon Lens

E. Canon RF 24-70MM F2.8L IS USM

The RF 24-70mm is a telephoto lens that is easily a staple for any professional photographer or videographer.

This lens is great for landscape to portrait photography. And because of its range of focal length at a relatively compact size, it also has the edge over the other 2 lenses when it comes to traveling. Those who’ve used this in comparison with the EF counterpart have found it to be heavier but with the fast autofocus and exceptional IS, find the tradeoff more than compensated.

Pros and Cons of RF 24-70mm Canon Lens

F. Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM

This… this lens is a staple for professional photographers and videographers for sports, wildlife, weddings and other events.

 

Compared to its ES counterpart, it’s also compact and lighter in weight at 2.35 pounds compared to 3.26 pounds (specifically the Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS III USM Lens).

In addition, some feel the sharpness in images is even better than its counterpart, even at f2.8. The quick autofocus is fantastic as well. This makes it ideal for traveling if you need its wide range capabilities on the road.

Pros and Cons of RF 70-200mm Canon Lens

The Counterpart Lenses:
EF-S lenses vs. EF lenses

Let’s briefly discuss the counterpart to the RF lenses.

These lenses were originally created for the Canon DSLR cameras.

The EF-S lenses are considered to be lightweight lenses for DSLR cameras with APS-C sensors like the Canon EOS Rebel SL3, Rebel T7 or EOS 90D.

The EF lenses boast fixed focal lengths at a compact size and wide apertures. From prime to zoom to macro options, they are proof of Canon’s commitment to excellence in image quality, reliability in use and durability in setting.

For many, like myself, who have started their filmmaking or photography career with a Canon DSLR camera, the transition to the mirrorless camera world can be daunting at first. One of the most important points to consider is your collection of EF lenses.

With the Canon EOS R family, you don’t have to be worried.

ADAPTERS

Canon has kept this in mind with the creation of the EOS R adapters that allow you to experience the technological advances of the EOS R cameras with the use of EF and EF-S lenses.

By using these adapters, the creator is able to experience a seamless transfer of images without affecting the quality from the different lens to the body.

There are 3 EF-EOS R adapters available. The adapters are a subsequent step up from the other.

Chart comparing Canon EF-EOS R adapters

The first is the Mount Adapter.

MOUNT ADAPTER

The Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R adapter is the basic, standard adapter to allow the EF and EF-S lenses to work with the EOS R cameras.

CONTROL RING MOUNT ADAPTER

The Control Ring Mount Adapter EF-EOS R is the same as the Mount Adapter but with the additional Lens Control Ring.

For those with these established lenses but the new lens mount with the EOS R, this adapter is worth the investment.

DROP-IN FILTER MOUNT ADAPTER

The last adapter gives the user the ability to accessorize with neutral density (V-ND), circular polarizing (C-PL), or clear (CL) filters without fitting it to the front of the lens.

 

This gives the adapter an additional protection feature to using a filter.

You can look here to directly compare features of the trinity of lenses from the RF to the EF lens family.

Chart comparing 15-35 RF to EF Lenses
Chart comparing 24-70 RF to EF Lenses
Chart comparing 70-200 RF to EF Lenses

There are multiple options for the best lens for the Canon EOS R.

The best lens for the Canon EOS R is impossible to reduce to just one.

The options are multiple and if you’re looking at the unrivaled performance of the RF family of lenses, even the EF lenses, can be considered some of the best when it comes to professional image quality in comparison to other brands.

The ability for diverse user preferences to be used with this high-quality class of RF lenses has enhanced the blend of excellent image quality with first-class user experience.

From photography to videography and all the various settings to use them in, users of these lenses have a consistent high quality experience and very little to complain about, if any complaints at all.

Additionally, no matter the extreme situations they may be used in, the shoot options for the Canon EOS R and the accompanying lenses that are available set the standard in implementation.

And, remember that you can still experience the visual impact of the proficiencies of the EOS R by purchasing used lenses. Reputable sites like Adorama and B&H Photo are known for setting the standard for used equipment and will not disappoint.

I know that I personally have been impressed with the compact body of the Canon EOS R. But its faultless if not perfect harmony with my EF lenses through the use of the control ring mount adapter has made me a believer.

My next upgrade is the Canon EOS R5 and I can’t wait to share my thoughts with you in the near future.

For now, make a wise choice and experience the better quality of the Canon EOS R and its variable lenses available!

Cheers!

~Ruth Elaine

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