Canon Lenses: The Year in Review, 2018


It has been an eventful year for Canon’s lens department. Now catering to three separate systems, Canon spent 2018 building the foundation of a brand-new lens mount, filling in an important gap in its existing mirrorless system, and updating some of the most popular and prized lenses for the standby Canon SLR system.

Canon RF Lenses

Canon’s big surprise at the 2018 edition of photokina was the introduction of its full-frame EOS R mirrorless camera. Of course, with a new camera come new lenses, and Canon didn’t disappoint with the initial four offerings for the promising EOS R.

Canon EOS R Mirrorless Digital

The RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM is effectively the kit lens of the system, and is the equivalent of the EF 24-105mm f/4L that could be seen glued to the front of so many EOS 5D-series cameras over the years. This popular standard zoom covers a helpful wide-angle to short telephoto range and has a constant f/4 maximum aperture to strike a balance between brightness and a compact form factor. The lens is also characterized by a five stop-effective Image Stabilizer system and a Nano USM autofocus system, which uses a ring type USM and STM stepping motor for quick, accurate autofocus and full-time manual focus override. Additionally, all new RF lenses also feature a configurable Control Ring, which can be programmed to adjust a variety of exposure settings.

Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens

If the 24-105mm f/4 isn’t fast enough for you, Canon also announced the impressive RF 28-70mm f/2L USM; a unique take on the standard zoom and featuring a truly bright f/2 maximum aperture. Besides the faster design, this wide to portrait-length lens also ups the optics with the inclusion of Ultra-Low Dispersion glass to reduce color fringing and chromatic aberrations greatly throughout the zoom range.

Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L USM Lens

Besides the zooms, Canon also announced a pair of primes for its EOS R. Beginning with the normal-length option, the RF 50mm f/1.2L USM promises to be a stunner, and is a clear nod to the highly regarded EF variant of the 50mm f/1.2. This RF version features both Ultra-Low Dispersion and aspherical elements, along with a ring-type USM for quick focusing and a rounded 10-blade diaphragm to please all the bokeh fanatics out there. Smaller, lighter, and wider, Canon also introduced the RF 35mm f/1.8 IS Macro STM. While it has the title of macro lens, with its 1:2 maximum magnification and 6.7" minimum focusing distance, the sleekness of this lens and inviting wide-angle focal length will make it a popular and versatile lens for most shooters. Also, this lens has an STM stepping motor for quick and quiet AF, and offers a five stop-effective Image Stabilizer for sharper handheld shooting.

Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L USM Lens
Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 IS Macro STM Lens

Canon EF-M Lenses

Not forgetting about its existing EOS M-series of cameras, and its EF-M lens mount, Canon released a premium prime for the APS-C system this year, as well. The EF-M 32mm f/1.4 STM is a 51.2mm equivalent lens characterized by its fast f/1.4 maximum aperture for controlling depth of field and working in low light. Additionally, the lens also features an aspherical element in its optical design to control distortion and spherical aberrations, and an STM motor helps to realize fast AF performance for photo and video applications.

Canon EF-M 32mm f/1.4 STM Lens

Canon EF Lenses

Finally, Canon is still, of course, catering to its loyal SLR shooters and released a quartet of updated versions of some of its most popular telephoto options. The first announcement saw the unveiling of the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM and the EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II USM. Regarding the prized f/2.8L version, the III upgrade is a modest bump to the already stellar feature set, with the addition of the newer Air Sphere Coating for improved flare resistance. On the other hand, the f/4L version received more dramatic improvements with an enhanced optical design that now includes fluorite and UD elements, along with an improved 5-stop Image Stabilizer.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II USM Lens

At the even longer end of Canon’s spectrum, third-generation upgrades were announced for two super telephotos, the EF 400mm f/2.8L IS III USM and the EF 600mm f/4L IS III USM. Sadly overshadowed by the simultaneous EOS R announcement, the pair of new white lens upgrades saw both lenses shedding quite a bit of weight; the 400mm is now 25% lighter and the 600mm is now 20% lighter. Both lenses retain a similar optical design with fluorite and Super UD elements, both also now sport the new and improved Air Sphere Coating, and the Image Stabilizer in both has been tuned to compensate for up to five stops of camera shake.

Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens
Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS III USM Lens

As a Canon shooter, are you pleased with the new lenses the company brought to the table in 2018? What would you like to see for 2019? Let us know!


I would like to see the long-overdue replacement for the EF 50mm f/1.2L lens - either as a Mk II, or (one can only dream) as a f/1.1 or even as a f/1.0   With the current single-minded focus on mirrorless cameras and RF lenses, there is a perception that Canon is abandoning (or at best neglecting) DSLR/EF customers.   Canon needs to remember the old axiom of retail: If you don't look after the customer, someone else will.   I am looking very closely at what is coming out from Zeiss and, yes, even from Sigma.

Would like to see Canon 300-600 or 400-600 F5.6 at a reasonable price

Dream on Canon super-Teles are all L series high end high acuity professional; unlike Nikon Canon tries not to degrade their lens line.