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A review of the Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM

Cameraland Sandton

One of the reasons I waited for over a year to get a Canon EOS R is because there weren’t many lens options to start with, let alone professional-grade lenses.

But that’s changed…

The Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM lens is some big, bad glass that absolutely knocks it out of the park.

Yeah, it’s expensive, but that shouldn’t be a shock given that it’s a L-series lens with a constant f/2.8 aperture.

So, how does this incredible lens work with the EOS R? Let’s find out!

Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L Specs

canon rf 15 35 price image

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of this hands-on review, let’s take a sec to review the essential specifications of this lens:

  • Full frame RF mount
  • 15-35mm effective focal Length
  • Hybrid image stabilization with 5 stops
  • Maximum magnification factor of 0.22x
  • Minimum focusing distance of 0.28m
  • Weather sealed
  • Electronic manual focus override
  • 82mm filter size
  • 4.99 inches in length

So, this lens is stuffed with all kinds of goodies, which is why it’s such a hefty lens at nearly five inches long with a weight of 1.86 pounds.

That’s a big lens for any camera, let alone a small mirrorless body like the EOS R.

However, if you ask me, the size and weight are worth it to have features like 5-stop image stabilization and full weather sealing.

Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L Build Quality & Handling

canon rf 15 35mm specs image

Even though this lens is a beast, it handles extremely well.

The f/2.8 aperture is overkill for most of what I do, but it’s nice to have that option if I get a wild hair and want to take some portraits.

The motor in this thing – a Nano USM – is hugely powerful, which is a good thing because it needs to move around the enormous glass elements inside the lens.

It does this beautifully, too – and nearly silently as well, which is a bonus for shooting video.

canon 15 35mm build image

When you pick up this lens, it is unmistakably a Canon L-series. It feels weighty and robust, and though I haven’t had a chance to use it in poor weather, I’m willing to bet that the weather sealing works like a charm!

Of course, as an L-series lens, the optics are outstanding, providing clear, sharp, beautiful results.

This lens has a customizable control ring that can be used for just about any functionality you need – aperture, ISO, white balance, and so forth.

There isn’t a focus distance scale on the lens, but one is displayed in the viewfinder and on the rear LCD when shooting in live view in manual focus mode.

Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L Image Quality

The reason I picked up this lens is because as a landscape photographer, the focal range is perfect.

I can go ultra-wide at 15mm and capture tons of detail or narrow the field of view and capture simpler compositions that draw attention to a specific landscape feature.

Of course, this focal range is great for many other pursuits, too, like travel photography, event photography, and even wedding photography when a wide-angle lens is needed for small venue spaces.

I’ve got a review of this lens upcoming, but in the meantime, see what Matti Haapoja thinks of it in the video above.

canon rf 15 35mm image

In terms of image quality, this lens definitely delivers.

There’s excellent sharpness from edge to edge throughout the focal range, though the edges aren’t as sharp as the center, as you’d expect.

Distortion is actually minimal even at 15mm. In fact, it’s hard to detect any distortion at all, which is quite the feat. This is all done optically, too – there’s no digital shenanigans going on to correct distortion.

The five-stop image stabilization is great, though you can’t really rely on it to actually provide that much leeway.

Nevertheless, I was able to handhold the camera at exposures of up to one second and still get beautifully sharp results.

Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L Price

canon rf 15 35mm performance image

At the time of this writing, the Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L is R35,899.99, so it’s not a cheap lens by any means.

At this price point, I don’t see many shooters other than professionals picking one of these lenses up.

However, if you’re an enthusiast shooter and you have the money, this is a great lens to have in your bag.

The fact that there is so little distortion, good sharpness, and a large f/2.8 aperture, along with L-series optics, impeccable build quality, and image stabilization make this a must-have for pro EOS R shooters.

Yes, it’s a big lens and sharpness diminishes at the edges, but Canon really knocked it out of the park with this lens, if you ask me.

As Canon expands the EOS R lineup and higher-resolution cameras become available, I think this lens will prove to be even more valuable – the EOS R with its low-pass filter and 30.3-megapixel sensor just can’t reap all the benefits that I think this lens can offer. We’ll have to wait and see what the next EOS R cameras and this lens can do!

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