Canon Lenses: The Year in Review, 2019


In 2019, Canon had one clear objective for lens development: strengthen and add to the RF system. Following up on an exciting 2018, which saw the release of the EOS R, and the early 2019 release of the EOS RP, this year Canon announced six RF lenses, ranging from a wide zoom to a specialized portrait prime. Straying from competitors, Canon has started its new full-frame mirrorless system with a bang. Rather than entering with modest primes and more compact zooms, Canon has been on full tilt, flexing its optical strengths from the beginning with a full-fledged series of f/2.8 zooms and f/1.2 primes, as well as an impressive f/2 zoom. This trend continued in 2019, too, with all but one new lens being a part of Canon’s esteemed L Series of lenses.

Canon EOS R Mirrorless Digital Camera

The first lens of the year is the RF rendition of a classic EF lens; the RF 85mm f/1.2L USM is an ultra-fast portrait-length prime, perfectly poised for portraiture. But more than just a short telephoto focal length and a fast design, this updated 85mm features a good handful of some of Canon’s newer optical technologies, including a Blue Spectrum Refractive Optics element (to eliminate chromatic aberrations) and an Air Sphere Coating (to eliminate flare). Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this lens is embodied in one of the more recent releases by Canon—the RF 85mm f/1.2L USM DS. Virtually identical, the DS version of the fast 85 distinguishes itself with its Defocus Smoothing coating that promises softer, smoother bokeh quality, making it even more desirable for headshots and shallow-depth-of-field imagery. Regardless of which one you favor, these 85mm f/1.2 lenses are sure to be classics found in many working shooters’ bags for years to come.

Canon RF 85mm f/1.2L USM Lens

Straying from the bright and big design for one lens, Canon did take some time out of the L Series onslaught to introduce the RF 24-240mm f/4-6.3 IS USM all-in-one zoom. Decidedly more versatile than specialized, this 10x zoom is perfect for the one-lens traveler who favors convenience in their workflow. Complementing the wide-angle to super-telephoto range is a five-stop-effective Optical Image Stabilizer and a Nano USM delivers smooth and quiet autofocus.

Canon RF 24-240mm f/4-6.3 IS USM Lens

Finally, in a unique move, Canon went ahead and brought out its entire “holy trinity” within the span of just about one month. Comprising the RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM, the RF 24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM, and the RF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM, Canon has made a statement by covering 15mm to 200mm at f/2.8 in just three lenses at such an early point in the RF mount’s life. The 15-35mm is the unique lens of the bunch, with a slightly different focal length than usual, while the 24-70 and 70-200mm f/2.8s are workhorse staples for working photographers and amateurs alike. Each of the lenses include their fair share of specialized elements and coatings, make use of Nano USM AF systems, and have flexible IS systems, and, since each is an L-series lens, they are all weather-resistant, too.

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

What are your thoughts on the Canon’s impressive lineup of lenses from 2019? What lenses are you hoping to see from them for 2020? Let us know in the Comments section, below.


Too bad the Canon RF 24-240 lens does not work with all the functions of the EOS R camera. The lens will not operate to do multiple exposures or HDR.

Nice RF lenses, but too bad Canon seems to have forgotten about all the Canon users using the EF lenses.  Seems like RF is all that is being released in lenses lately.

I drought I will ever purchase an "RF" lens or a "R" series body.  My 5D and EF lenses work just fine.