Canon RF 85mm F2 Macro IS STM Review

October 29, 2020 | Mark Goldstein | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star Half rating star


The RF 85mm F2 Macro IS STM is one of the most affordable lenses in the still relatively new Canon full-frame mirrorless system, and thankfully it's also a great lens to boot.

It's a very versatile lens, doubling up as both a great 85mm prime for portraits and as a 1:2 magnification macro lens.

Subsequently we think it deserves to find a place in the camera bag of every Canon EOS R owner, especially given the eye-watering size and price of its main rival, the RF 85mm f/1.2L USM.

There's lots to like in terms of the RF 85mm F2 Macro IS STM's image quality, and very little to complain about.

This lens is sharp almost from the get-go, excellent in the centre and at the edges when shooting wide open at f/2 and outstanding between f/2.8 and f/16.

It's capable of producing some lovely bokeh effects for what is after all only an f/2 lens, helped by the ability to focus as close as 35cms away from your subject.

There is some vignetting at f/2, but this can easily be corrected in post-processing.

Chromatic aberrations are very well controlled and it even produces some nice sun-star effects at f/16-f/22.

The build quality is very good, certainly on a par with the RF STM lenses in the range, although we would have really liked built-in weather-proofing which would have offered some peace of mind in more inclement conditions.

Auto-focusing proved to be fairly quick and reliable on the Canon EOS R5 camera body that we tested the lens with thanks to the STM motor, although the focus mechanism is very audible, making the lens less well-suited to video use.

Manual focus over-ride at any time is a great feature, as is the 5-stop optical image stabilisation system (which is even more effective on the EOS R5/6).

If you're new to the Canon EOS R system, then the Lens Control Ring takes a little getting used to, but soon becomes quite a handy feature to have.

With a full retail price of £649.99 / €769.99 / $599.99, the Canon RF 85mm F2 Macro IS STM is something of a no-brainer in the value for money department.

It makes for a very nice kit when paired with the similar RF 35mm f/1.8 IS Macro STM lens.

If you don't need or can't afford the headline grabbing RF 85mm f/1.2L USM, then the new RF 85mm F2 Macro IS STM is a great alternative - it's much cheaper, smaller, lighter and has built-in image stabilisation.

On the flipside, you don't get the same L-series build quality, weather-sealing, stellar image quality or the creative possibilities of the F1.2 maximum aperture.

It certainly fits the bill, though, as a versatile, fast and affordable portrait prime lens, especially if you're using it with the Canon EOS R5 or R6 cameras.

4.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4.5
Features 4
Ease-of-use 4.5
Image quality 4.5
Value for money 5