Our first post delt with some of the most popular L series lenses on RF and EF mount. In this post we’ll take a look at some of the more budget options and see how those compare between the two systems.
Canon RF 24-240mm f/4-6.3 IS USM Vs. Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS
The new Canon RF 24-240mm f/4-6.3 is one that I have owned for a couple of years and it’s surprisingly good. It has some drawbacks and some people can live with those drawbacks and some people can’t. Whether it works for you will depend on how picky you are as a photographer. I never used the old EF-S 18-200mm lens but I have read some reviews about it.
Since the new RF 24-240mm is full frame it kind of wins by default if you have a full frame camera. The 18-200mm lens does have a wider range, but it is only for APS-C crop sensor cameras. It can be used on all RF cameras but when it is used on a full frame RF mount camera using the RF-EF adapter, the camera will automatically switch to cropped mode.
If you have a crop sensor RF camera the old 18-200mm might be worth looking into for those extra 6mm on the wide end. The EF 18-200mm is also about half the price of the RF 24-240mm new. If you have a full frame RF camera you really have to get the RF 24-240mm. Having said that, Canon has made RF-S versions of similar lenses (such as the RF-S 18-150mm) and those might be better options at a lower price point than either of these if you have a crop sensor RF camera.
Canon RF 50mm f/1.8 STM Vs. Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM
A popular lens was always the 50mm f/1.8 due to it’s low price and small size. Affordable 50mm lenses are nothing new, but it’s still nice that Canon continued to make this lens for RF mount. I do have the RF 50mm f/1.8 and had the EF 50mm f/1.8 and I think the EF version is still slightly better. The new lens has good center sharpness at f/1.8 but poor corner sharpness at f/1.8. By about f/2.8 the new “nifty fifty” is sharp enough in the corners and it does continue to improve down to f/5.6.
It’s a slightly tough call, there’s no doubt that the RF 50mm can take nice pictures, but the lens flares and corner softness are problems. I think many people decided the original was slightly preferable to the new one, mainly because the corners are better wide open. The thing to keep in mind is that if it is used in situations where the corner sharpness doesn’t matter, such as for portraits, there’s not a lot wrong with the new RF 50mm f/1.8. I think the old lens might be slightly preferable overall, but the new one is still good for the money.
Canon RF 85mm f/2 STM Macro 2:1 Vs. Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM
The new RF 85mm f/2 has not been warmly received. It is a sharp lens but has issues with slow focusing speed and closeup performance. The old EF 85mm f/1.8 is highly regarded. It is a sharp lens that does all the things a photographer would want from an 85mm lens. The only downside of the old lens is that it does have CA in high contrast areas when used wide open. As a portrait lens the old EF 85mm is perfectly fine and renders very nice images of people. This is one of the rare instances where the RF lens has worse focusing performance. Because of the focusing issues the old EF 85mm f/1.8 is the better option. It is a sharp optic with only one flaw, some CA wide open. By f/2.8 the EF 85mm is very good across the frame with much less visible CA. The new RF lens is a macro but only a 2:1, not a 1:1. Given the RF 85’s characteristics it’s my opinion that it is probably a product photography lens. The 2:1 macro and slow AF would make it usable as a jewelry catalog photos or something of that nature. For people photography some users are complaining about the AF being too slow to keep up with movement.
Canon RF 24-105mm f/4-7.1 IS STM Vs. Canon EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 STM
In this case you don’t really have a choice because the EF version was discontinued in October of 2021. Both these lenses are bottom of the barrel but the EF is a little less so than the RF version. The RF 24-105mm f/4-7.1 is one nasty little lens with reportedly low build quality to boot. It is a kit lens of the “left it in the box” variety. It has a closeup capability but is extremely ugly when used closeup. At normal distances the lens is usable and is moderately sharp in the example photos I have seen. However, it isn’t going to win any awards.
On the upside, the new lens has solid optical image stabilization included and is reportedly a pretty good lens for video work. The RF wins by default since it’s available to purchase. The EF version can be purchased used on a variety of websites but the RF is usually cheaper when purchased alone and almost free when purchased in a kit.
RF 24mm f/1.8 MACRO IS STM vs EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USM
24mm lenses are often favored by landscape photographers. The new RF lens performs well and has a large f/1.8 maximum aperture. That is more than 1 stop extra light compared to the old EF 24mm. Both lenses have OIS built in but only the RF lens has 2:1 MACRO capability or .5x magnification. The old lens only manages .23x magnification. The addition of macro capability means the new 24mm can be used closeup to deliver some really impressive background blur.
Another difference here is that the new RF lens has an STM motor. STM motors are not generally used in Canon’s higher end lenses as USM are supposed to be better. However, STM motors are not bad, and STM motors are also pretty good for video.
I think the addition of .5x magnification makes the RF 24mm f/1.8 a better and more interesting lens compared to the old 24mm f/2.8. The faster aperture will also improve lowlight and night photography.
In terms of image quality the two lenses are virtually identical wide open with similar sharpness and corner shading. The fact that the RF 24mm manages that sharpness at f/1.8 vs f/2.8 for the old EF lens is an impressive upgrade in itself. When the RF 24mm is stopped down to match the f/2.8 aperture of the old lens the RF lens beats it easily. The RF lens is near its top performance level already at f/2.8, and even though the old EF lens is very sharp at f/4, the RF lenses matches it at f/4 and beyond.
The only downside of the new lens is the increased price, about $70 more than the old lens at $549. Some may scoff at paying that much for this lens when the old lens currently retails for $479. I understand how those people feel. The fact is this lens delivers the goods at a relatively low price point. It’s an f/1.8 lens which is a fast aperture for a full frame camera.
All this makes the new lens an impressive upgrade over the old one. If you’re in the market for a 24mm lens on RF mount it’s hard to find fault with the new RF 24mm f/1.8.
RF 35mm f/1.8 MACRO IS STM vs EF 35mm f/2 IS USM
Between these two lenses it’s a similar story again. But this time the two lenses are more evenly matched with their maximum aperture and in their optical performance.
Just looking at the titles of each lens we see that the RF now has MACRO capability. It actually has the same .5x maximum magnification that the RF 24mm has. This compares favorably to the EF 35mm f/2 which only has .24x maximum magnification.
Both lenses have built in optical image stabilization which is always a nice thing to have. And the new RF lens has an STM motor. While STM isn’t supposed to be as good as USM, especially Canon’s newer USM motors, many of these new RF lenses have decent AF even when they use STM motors.
Optically the two are pretty similar in how they perform. They’re both about the same wide open and improve as they’re stopped down. Anyone would be hard pressed to see a difference and any difference that is there could be due to focus error or even copy variation. They’re that close.
When the EF 35mm f/2 came out in 2012 it had an MSRP of $599 and retains that pricing to this day. The new lens is priced at an MSRP of $499. I do think the new lens is nice and performs well, but the old lens is a beauty. It certainly is a more nicely built and high quality looking lens. The new lens is great and it has that RF magic, but the old lens has some old school magic going for it as well. For some reason I don’t find the RF 35mm particularly interesting, but the old lens still seems like something I’d be happy to shoot with if I owned it.
Learn more about EF vs RF lenses:
EF L series Primes vs RF L series Primes