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Canon RF 15-35mm F/2.8L IS USM Lens Review

For fans of travel and street photography, could the Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM be the perfect lens? Let's take a look at the sample photos John Riley has captured to find out.

| Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM in Interchangeable Lenses
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Canon RF 15-35mm F/2.8L IS USM Lens Review: Canon RF 15 35mm F2,8L On Canon R6II Floating View | 0.5 sec | f/16.0 | 40.0 mm | ISO 100

From a sweeping ultra-wide 15mm to a "wide-standard" 35mm, the Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM lens could be the perfect travel/architecture/street companion, especially with its fast f/2.8 maximum aperture. We teamed the lens up with the full-frame 24.2MP Canon R6 II mirrorless body to see how it performs and how this admittedly quite bulky lens handles out in the field.  


Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM Handling and Features

Canon RF 15-35mm F/2.8L IS USM Lens Review: Canon RF 15 35mm F2,8L On Canon R6II Top View | 0.3 sec | f/16.0 | 31.0 mm | ISO 100

The Canon R6 II is a reasonably chunky mirrorless camera, so the equally quite chunky lens balances up rather well. It weighs in at a solid 840g and measures up at 88.5mm in diameter and 126.8mm in length. It is dust and water-resistant, but of course, that does not mean waterproof. Construction quality seems excellent, as we would expect from any Canon L lens.

However, the supplied petal lens hood proved to be something of a disappointment. It is possible that a faulty sample has been received, but the hood did not click properly into place and the locking catch never engaged. This means that the hood can be easily rotated out of position, which means that at wider angles vignetting may occur. As this was constantly checked in use only one of the sample shots falls foul of this, but in this one image the cut-off can be clearly seen. It is hard to believe that this would be a design fault, so some damage in transit would seem to be most likely. Within the bayonet mount for the hood is a standard 82mm filter thread.

Starting our tour of the lens first up is the lightly click-stopped control ring. As standard, this controls exposure compensation, the ring being activated by the half press of the shutter release. This is an efficient system that avoids accidentally operating the ring and ending up with excess compensation that is not required. In the camera menus, alternative functions can be assigned to the ring.

Canon RF 15-35mm F/2.8L IS USM Lens Review: Canon RF 15 35mm F2,8L Front Oblique View | 0.4 sec | f/16.0 | 88.0 mm | ISO 100

The manual focus ring is electronic and ultra-smooth, with just the right amount of resistance. This can be set up to operate whilst AF is switched in, or not as the user prefers. AF is driven by a nano USM motor and is accurate, fast and virtually silent. To my ears, it is totally silent. Focusing is down to 0.28m, or 11 inches, giving a maximum magnification of 0.21x or 1:4.8 at 35mm. This is usefully close and adds to the versatility of the lens. Extenders are not compatible.

Optical construction is 16 elements in 12 groups, including 3 Aspherical and 2 UD (Ultra Low Dispersion). UD elements are special optical glasses that approach the low dispersion performance of fluorite. As elements manufactured using fluorite would be very expensive, the UD glass enables a lower-cost alternative that is almost as good but can be included in a wide range of more affordable lenses. Not to be confused with this is the special fluorine coating on the front and rear elements that impart resistance to dust, grease and moisture, thus making it easier to keep the lens clean. The diaphragm comprises 9 blades, aiming to improve bokeh.

Canon RF 15-35mm F/2.8L IS USM Lens Review: Canon RF 15 35mm F2,8L Rear Element View | 0.4 sec | f/16.0 | 68.0 mm | ISO 100

The tapered zoom ring affords an excellent grip and is clearly and accurately marked at 15mm, 20mm, 24mm, 28mm and 35mm. A confirmation of the focal length is displayed on the monitor and in the camera viewfinder. Finally, there are two switches. The AF/MF switch is self-explanatory. The Stabilizer switch activates IS, and the advantage is around 5 stops. Stabilization operates in movie mode, resulting in very stable hand-held movies.

The handling of the lens in the field is spot on, and its operation is as smooth as silk. There are no vices. However, the proof of the lens will be in its performance, so let's see how it fared.


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