Canon RF 100mm Review - Worth the EF Version Upgrade?


Pierce Codina

Feb 28, 2022

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Will the new Canon RF lenses replace the workhorse EF lenses? Let's take a look at the Canon RF 100mm f2.8 and see what benefits and improvements would make it worth it, to upgrade from the now over 12 years old EF version. The Canon RF 100mm lens does have some initial new features and specs compared to the previous EF version. 1.4x magnification and an adjustable Spherical Aberration Control ring are the main improvements and differences in these 2 lenses. This is the world's first AF macro lens with 1.4x magnification, made possible by the lens’ floating system and short back focusing. And accordingly, to my testing, there is no visible distortion at any tested distance. Well done Canon! Here is our Canon RF 100mm Review. Looking for a lens that can also double as an amazing portrait lens? The 100mm is your answer! I have been a huge fan of using the 100mm EF version for portraits over the years. Canon RF 100mm Review

Overall Canon RF 100mm Review The main improvement I enjoyed is the awesome Autofocus on the new RF 100mm f2.8. The older Canon 100mm 2.8 EF version often left new users feeling like they got a bad copy, because would get stuck if something was too far or close from the current focus distance. With the new RF version, the focus is fast and can rack from something an inch away, to something 20 feet away almost instantly with a press of the shutter. With the older version, I would find myself switching to manual focus to rack back to the distance you needed to focus at, when the differences were extreme.

Manual Focus

Manual focusing is entirely electronic; the manual focus ring isn't connected to anything other than a digital encoder. It works very well at all distances; I'm impressed. It's never "geared" too fast or too slow. Infinity to 1:1 comes up in about 180,º oddly moving faster if you turn the ring more slowly. By default, there is no always-responsive instant manual-focus override as we take for granted in our DSLRs. EOS R cameras need a menu setting changed for manual-focus override, otherwise, the focus ring is always ignored in AF. Find the "Lens electronic AF" option in your AF menu (AF 4 in EOS R5 and EOS R6 or CAMERA 8 in EOS RP), and set it to either "One‑Shot‑>enabled" or "One‑Shot‑>enabled (magnify)." Now manual focus override works if you turn the ring while continuing to hold the shutter halfway, but only after focus locks in ONE SHOT. The focus ring is ignored in SERVO.

FULL / 0.5m-∞ / 0.26m-0.5m Switch

Most of the time I suggest and simply leave it in the FULL position. I only recommend switching to the other 2 if it is trying to focus on subjects too far or close depending on what you are shooting. The 0.5m-∞ position prevents the lens from autofocusing closer than a half meter (1.6 feet). Use this setting only if you're having a problem with the lens attempting to focus on irrelevant close items, or if for some reason the lens is "hunting" from near to far looking for distant subjects. The 0.26m-0.5m position prevents the lens from autofocusing farther away than a half meter (1.6 feet). Use this setting only if you're having a problem with the lens attempting to focus on irrelevant distant items, or if for some reason the lens is "hunting" from near to far looking for near subjects.

1.4x Magnification

EF version is a 1.1 magnification vs the RF is a 1.4 Magnification. Now, this might not seem like much, but when combined with the 45MP of say an R5, it is quite amazing, and that's 40% larger than real life!

Which Version Should You Buy?

If you are on a budget, the EF version is simply the way to go. It has been a high-performing workhorse for many shooters over the past 10+ years. The subtle differences will simply not be noticed unless a specific feature like the 1.4 mag or the SA Control is really something you feel is worth twice the cost. That said, you simply can't beat that bokeh on the new RF 100mm 2.8 version! I mean it really doesn't get much better than that with any lens. Nice and round bokeh balls that are well balanced.

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