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Canon RF35mm f/1.4 L VCM first look

Posted on Jun 5, 2024

Canon has announced the RF35mm f/1.4 hybrid lens and we were lucky enough to get an advanced first first look  

RF35mm f/1.4 features

The headline here is undoubtedly a very clear push towards hybrid shooters. This new addition most notably features a dedicated aperture ring with smooth action to give videographers easier access and better control.

There is also a separate control ring which can be programmed to adjust a variety of other settings along with a customisable function button.

On the inside, the lens promises minimal focus breathing and an 11-blade aperture for smooth bokeh. The autofocus uses Canon’s speedy Nano USM and a new Voice Coil Motor (VCM).

There are 14 elements in 11 groups with two UD and two aspherical lenses to deliver maximum sharpness, while lens coatings are said to minimise flare and ghosting.

The lens is also weather resistant and elements enjoy a fluorine coating to repel dirt.

Canon RF35mm f/1.4 L VCM attached to camera on table
Canon RF35mm f/1.4 L VCM

Using the RF35mm f/1.4

On first impressions, this lens doesn’t bring any surprises when it comes to design, being visually reminiscent of other RF L-series lenses, however, there is one obvious difference: the aperture ring.

Its smooth action is great for videographers and content creators and I’m a big fan of the intuitive on-lens control and visible scale, so it’s something I hope to see more of in the RF range.

The only puzzling aspect is that it only controls aperture in stills mode on cameras released after May 2024. For any cameras before that (currently every Canon camera), it’s a luxury only videographers can enjoy.

Of course, you have the customisable control ring, but having to change aperture controls when switching between modes seems to go against the lens’ aim to provide a seamless photo/video tool for hybrid creators.

However, let’s not get too hung up on that. After all, it is an addition, so let’s treat it as such. The reason why I’m happy to forgive and forget is that this lens was an absolute joy to use.

Canon RF35mm f/1.4 L VCM attached to camera on wooden table
Canon RF35mm f/1.4 L VCM

It weighs in at 555g and measures 76.5mm in diameter and 99.3mm in length, so it was comfortable in hand and felt well balanced.

During my time with the lens, the autofocus was remarkable. Extremely fast, on point and very quiet. Combined with the wide aperture, it delivered the goods in the ambient low-light conditions and the fall off from the focal point into lovely smooth bokeh was very pleasing.

Sharpness looked excellent and there was no visible distortion, but of course I only had the lens in hand for a relatively short period of time, so watch this space for a more in-depth test when we can get a bit longer with a test unit.

Until then, rest assured that this lens is very capable indeed. Its predecessor, the EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM left big shoes to fill, but so far it seems the RF35mm f/1.4 L VCM certainly has big enough feet.

Learn more at the Canon website.

Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM and Canon RF35mm f/1.4 L VCM side-by-side on table
EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM (left) vs. RF35mm f/1.4 L VCM (right)
Canon RF35mm f/1.4 L VCM on wooden table
Canon RF35mm f/1.4 L VCM

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