Canon RF 15-30mm F4.5-6.3 IS STM Review
At around a third of the cost of the Canon RF 14-35mm F4L IS USM, which itself is a smaller, lighter and cheaper alternative to the flagship RF 15-35mm F2.8L IS USM zoom, the new RF 15-30mm F4.5-6.3 IS STM makes a lot of economic sense for a lot of people.
Thankfully, it's not just a cheap and cheerful lens, offering more than enough features and perfomance to more than justify its modest £669.99 / $549 price-tag.
Put simply, this is the best all-round ultra-wide-angle zoom lens for the majority of Canon full-frame mirrorless users when you factor in the cost of all three options.
It's not all good news, though, with the lens suffering from similar image quality issues to some of the other more affordable RF lenses that we've recently reviewed, most notably huge amounts of distortion and vignetting that are particularly evident in RAW files.
When shooting JPEGs and video, there's some obvious vignetting which requires you to stop down by at least 2 f-stops to prevent it completely, but there's little evidence of chromatic aberrations. Distortion is also well controlled as the camera body automatically applies corrections to the image.
Shooting in the RAW format, however, is another matter entirely, because the lens relies so heavily on Canon's digital corrections which are applied automatically in-camera.
These corrections aren't automatically applied to RAW files, though, with the RF 15-30mm lens clearly exhibiting huge amounts of barrel distortion and vignetting at the wider focal lengths that some users may find objectionable.
Currently you'll have to use Canon's Digital Photo Professional 4 software to post-process the RAW files and make them usable, at least until Adobe, Capture One et al release their own profiles for this lens.
On a more positive note, this lens is pleasingly sharp almost from the get-go in the centre even when shooting wide open. The edge performance isn't as good, though, requiring you to stop down to get acceptably sharp results.
Despite the very slow maximum apertures available, it's still capable of producing some quite nice bokeh effects for wide-angle lens, helped by the ability to focus as close as 28cm / 11" away from your subject in tandem with the excellent half life-size macro capability.
The build quality of this small, light and relatively affordable ultra-wide-angle zoom lensis very good, certainly on a par with similar lenses like the RF 24mm and 35mm primes and the RF 24-105mm kit zoom.
We did miss having built-in weather-proofing, though, which would offer some peace of mind in the more inclement conditions that this lens is likely to be subjected to, and it would have been nice to see the optional and rather pricey lens hood included in the box.
Auto-focusing proved to be quick, quiet and reliable on the Canon EOS R5 camera body that we tested the lens with thanks to the STM motor, while manual focus over-ride at any time is a great feature, although we did miss having a dedicated AF/MF button on the lens barrel.
The very effective 5-stop optical image stabilisation system makes this lens more versatile in low-light situations, allowing you to hand-hold the camera in situations where you can't use a tripod or similar support.
The Lens Control Ring is now a defacto feature on virtually every RF lens and although it takes a little getting used to if you haven't encountered it before, especially as it's shared with the manual focus on this particular lens, it soon becomes quite a handy feature to have.
Overall, unless you strongly object to its rather heavy reliance on in-camera image quality corrections and/or you really need your wide-angle zoom to be weather-proof, there's an awful lot to like about the new RF 15-30mm F4.5-6.3 IS STM - you can't really go wrong given how cheap and how very cheerful it is...
|Ratings (out of 5)|
|Value for money||4.5|