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Canon RF 16mm F/2.8 STM Lens Review

John Riley has been putting the Canon RF 16mm f/2.8 STM lens to the test with the help of the Canon R6 mirrorless camera.

| Canon RF 16mm F2.8 STM in Interchangeable Lenses

Canon RF 16mm F/2.8 STM Lens Review: Canon RF 16mm F2,8 STM Vertical View | 1/6 sec | f/16.0 | 135.0 mm | ISO 100

No longer the exotic, the unreachable or the unaffordable, the ultra-wide lens is firmly with us and has been for some time. This goes along with cinematic trends as well, with widescreen and sweeping vistas becoming the stuff that our eyes and senses relate to. As our photographic tastes widen, the 16mm lens is something that can be relished and is capable of producing stunning results in the right hands. Canon has introduced this compact and light 16mm f/2.8 lens for their full-frame R series cameras, so let's boldly go and see how we get on with the lens, coupled up with the 20.1MP Canon R6 mirrorless body.


Canon RF 16mm f/2.8 STM Handling and Features

Canon RF 16mm F/2.8 STM Lens Review: Canon RF 16mm F2,8 STM On Canon R6 Cross View | 1/5 sec | f/16.0 | 68.0 mm | ISO 100

This is a compact, unassuming lens, almost totally black in appearance, that weighs in at just 165g, thanks to a largely plastic construction. The black overall finish makes the lens very discrete and, for example, in street photography, this could well help the photographer to blend in. There is no supplied lens hood, always a pity, although a dedicated hood EW-65C is available as an optional accessory. Switching the camera on, the lens buzzes momentarily and the central section moves forwards into its working position. This section carries the lens components and also the conventional 43mm filter thread. There is no weather sealing.

There are only two controls on the lens barrel. The control ring has two settings selected by a small switch. Focus selects focusing and the ring acts accordingly, with a smooth but fairly firm electronic action. A half-press on the shutter release button activates the ring and brings up a distance scale on the camera screen. Control selects a second function, by default exposure compensation, There is a wide selection of options that can be set in the camera menu. As with the focusing, the ring is active when there is a half-press on the shutter release button.

Focusing is down to 0.13m, for a maximum magnification of 0.26x. This is usefully close, especially important if the lens is to be used for vlogging. In any event, to avoid empty looking foregrounds we need to get close to our subject. The AF is fast and very quiet, driven by an STM motor.

Optical construction is 9 elements in 7 groups, including one aspherical. There are 7 diaphragm blades.


Canon RF 16mm F/2.8 STM Lens Review: Canon RF 16mm F2.8 STM

There is no IS (Image Stabilisation) although there may well be in the camera body, depending upon the particular model. However, a 16mm lens is not so demanding in this respect, so this is not too much of a problem. The lens is not compatible with extension tubes and extenders, but likewise, this may not be too much of a problem as such uses are not really what it was designed for.

The main areas of use are likely to be vlogging, landscape, architecture, street and astrophotography, although as always any lens can be used for any subject, even if such uses are sometimes unconventional. So even portraiture is possible, with some care as shooting from very close distances can heavily distort the model's features.

This may be an inexpensive optic, but Canon still provide a well-engineered metal lens mount and overall the standard of construction seems to be high. Let's see how all this relates to technical performance.


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