Canon RF 85mm f/2 STM IS macro - Review / Test Report - Sample Images & Verdict
Lens Reviews - Canon EOS (Full Format)

Sample Images

Click on an image for downloading the full-size variant.

MakeCanon
ModelCanon EOS R5
ISO Speed100
Focal Length85.0mm
Aperture:f/2.0
Exposure1/400s

MakeCanon
ModelCanon EOS R5
ISO Speed125
Focal Length85.0mm
Aperture:f/5.6
Exposure1/100s

MakeCanon
ModelCanon EOS R5
ISO Speed160
Focal Length85.0mm
Aperture:f/4.0
Exposure1/100s

MakeCanon
ModelCanon EOS R5
ISO Speed100
Focal Length85.0mm
Aperture:f/4.0
Exposure1/2000s

MakeCanon
ModelCanon EOS R5
ISO Speed100
Focal Length85.0mm
Aperture:f/2.0
Exposure1/3200s

MakeCanon
ModelCanon EOS R5
ISO Speed100
Focal Length85.0mm
Aperture:f/2.0
Exposure1/160s

MakeCanon
ModelCanon EOS R5
ISO Speed500
Focal Length85.0mm
Aperture:f/2.0
Exposure1/125s

MakeCanon
ModelCanon EOS R5
ISO Speed640
Focal Length85.0mm
Aperture:f/2.0
Exposure1/125s

MakeCanon
ModelCanon EOS R5
ISO Speed100
Focal Length85.0mm
Aperture:f/2.0
Exposure1/400s

MakeCanon
ModelCanon EOS R5
ISO Speed100
Focal Length85.0mm
Aperture:f/5.6
Exposure1/640s

MakeCanon
ModelCanon EOS R5
ISO Speed100
Focal Length85.0mm
Aperture:f/2.0
Exposure1/5000s

MakeCanon
ModelCanon EOS R5
ISO Speed640
Focal Length85.0mm
Aperture:f/4.0
Exposure1/125s

MakeCanon
ModelCanon EOS R5
ISO Speed800
Focal Length85.0mm
Aperture:f/2.0
Exposure1/60s

MakeCanon
ModelCanon EOS R5
ISO Speed100
Focal Length85.0mm
Aperture:f/9.0
Exposure1/320s

MakeCanon
ModelCanon EOS R5
ISO Speed100
Focal Length85.0mm
Aperture:f/8.0
Exposure1/400s

MakeCanon
ModelCanon EOS R5
ISO Speed100
Focal Length85.0mm
Aperture:f/2.0
Exposure1/1250s

MakeCanon
ModelCanon EOS R5
ISO Speed100
Focal Length85.0mm
Aperture:f/5.6
Exposure1/800s

MakeCanon
ModelCanon EOS R5
ISO Speed100
Focal Length85.0mm
Aperture:f/2.0
Exposure1/3200s

MakeCanon
ModelCanon EOS R5
ISO Speed100
Focal Length85.0mm
Aperture:f/4.5
Exposure1/800s

MakeCanon
ModelCanon EOS R5
ISO Speed100
Focal Length85.0mm
Aperture:f/4.5
Exposure1/500s

Competition

As of the time of this article, Canon hasn't licensed their mount to other manufacturers and the third-party gang is still busy with reverse-engineering the protocol. Samyang is the only other manufacturer offering AF lenses in R mount. The only really realistic competitor for the Canon RF 85mm f/2 STM IS macro (shown to the left below) is the Samyang AF 85mm f/1.4 RF (center). In terms of sheer performance, it can't really reach the Canon lens but it's a full stop faster thus if you are on a budget and need the extra depth-of-field potential, it's worth a thought - and it's available for the same price. Beyond the Samyang, we are entering the realm of more exotic options. There is, of course, the Canon RF 85mm f/1.2 USM L (DS). An awesome lens at an insane price so it's out of reach for most mortals. Another option would be to go for an adapted lens - but we aren't really fans of non-native lenses for various reasons.

Visual comparison courtesy of camerasize.com.

Verdict

Just like basically all fast, medium-tele prime lenses, the Canon RF 85mm f/2 STM IS macro is capable of delivering an outstanding image quality. It's already very sharp at f/2 - even on a high megapixel body - and it's about as sharp as it gets at f/4. Lateral CAs are negligible. There's a slight degree of pincushion distortion but image auto-correction can eliminate the traces without significant side effects. A vignetting of 2 f-stops at f/2 is in line with other lenses in this class so an activated auto-correction is a good idea here. The quality of the bokeh is a bit of a mixed back. Out-of-focus highlights are nicely rendered in the image center but suffer from the usual cat-eye effect in the corners. While the foreground rendering is very smooth, the more critical background blur can be a bit busy. There's also a visible amount of LoCAs (bokeh fringing) at large-aperture settings which just can't be easily corrected.

The build quality is generally good but it doesn't truly impress. An extending and quite wobbly inner lens tube feels like belonging to a past era really. Conversely, the truly ancient Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 and EF 100mm f/2.8 USM macro offer internal focusing. There is also no weather-sealing and the AF, while quite fast, isn't noiseless. So there are some aspects where you can feel that Canon had to cut corners. The quality of used materials is quite Ok but you don't get the impression that the lens body has been cut from rock either. A highlight is certainly the image stabilization system with a claimed efficiency of 5 f-stops (8 f-stops when combined with the camera IS). While we won't sign this figure with blood the results are impressive nonetheless.

However, despite a few downsides, the Canon RF 85mm f/2 STM IS macro remains a very desirable and versatile lens with a fairly attractive price point. As such - highly recommended!

Optical Quality:    
★★★★★
Mechanical Quality:
★★★★★
Price/Performance:
★★★★★