The unexpected 35mm F1.4L for RF mount cameras
Canon,  News

Canon RF 35mm F1.4 L VCM specs compared with predecessor, Canon EF 35mm F1.4L USM II

Canon has introduced the mirrorless successor to the much-vaunted EF 35mm F1.4L USM II, only it’s not quite what we were expecting.

Like the recently announced Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8L, this new lens is a hybrid model, appealing to filmmakers and stills photographers.

As such, it features a new voice-coil motor (VCM) for AF, a type of linear motor noted for its smooth focusing, supplemented with a second Nano USM to control the ‘floating’ (independently moved) element used in close-range correction. It also relies quite heavily on digital correction, though it’s not alone these days.

A new step-less manual aperture ring is included but only for video; apparently it’s not intended for stills use at the time of release. New cameras released afterwards will be able to take advantage of it (Canon EOS R1, maybe?), and I suspect some models might likely see backwards compatibility with a firmware update, though that’s not clear at this time.

I also think this and the RF 24-105mm L2.8 zoom show the direction Canon is taking and we’re unlikely to see a 35mm F1.2L that was rumoured, at least until the RF lens range is fully fleshed out. 

Interestingly, the new lens is smaller, lighter and less expensive than its predecessor. Note the unusual (for Canon) 67mm filter thread.

Overall, the new lens looks like an exciting addition and it will be interesting to see how it compares with other models. I’m particularly keen to see how this new lens ‘draws’ or renders.

As for the MTFs that have been published, they’re complete fantasy. As the new lens relies heavily on digital correction, we must assume that they’re computer-generated based on corrections made within Canon’s proprietary DPP (Digital Photo Pro) software. If you use Lightroom or Capture One, the results will likely be different, as they’re usually an interpretation of the corrections. I expect the centre to be sharp with most correction and corresponding pixel stretching to be made in the outer zones. What that looks like I wait to see for myself.

Note that Canon hasn’t used the Blue Spectrum Refractive Optics (BSRO) in the new lens, which was a newly introduced feature with its EF predecessor. 

That said, the potential is there and it’s an exciting addition to the range.  


Technical Data Comparison

Manufacturer Canon Canon 
Model RF 35mm F1.4L VCM EF 35mm F1.4L USM II
Elements/construction 14 elements in 11 groups  14 elements in 11 groups  
Special glass types 2x UD, 2x Asph 1x UD, 2x Asph, 1x BSRO
Aperture blades 11 rounded 9 rounded
Angle of view 63° (diagonal) 63° (diagonal)
Max aperture F1.4 F1.4
Min aperture F16 F22
Min focus distance 0.28 m (11.02 in) 0.28 m (11.02 in)
Mount RF mount EF mount
Filter size 67mm  72mm
Length 99.3mm (3.9 in.) 105.5mm ( 4.15 in.)
Diameter 76.5mm (3 in.) 80.4mm (3.17  in.)
Weight 555g (1.2 lb) 760g (1.67 lb)
Price £1819 inc VAT ($1,499) £1829 inc VAT ($1,999)


Check stock and prices of the Canon RF 35mm F1.4L VCM at the following retailers:

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