Canon announces RF35mm F1.4 L VCM lens

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Canon has announced the RF35mm F1.4 L VCM prime lens which will retail for $2,699 and will be available in July 2024.

I can't recall any other product that I've waited for so long for.
I actually sold my excellent EF35mm f/1.4 Mark II shortly after the Canon R5 came out thinking 'it won't be long'. How wrong I was... four years later, it has finally arrived.

And the strange thing is that Canon kept on delivering all these other great, yet niche lenses such as the RF5.2 F2.8 L Dual Fisheye; the super heavy yet excellent 28-70mm F2.0; and even a $30,000 RF1200mm F8.0 super-telephoto. 


So what's new?

Canon says the RF35mm F1.4 L VCM lens is the first in a series of hybrid, fixed focal length lenses.

Apart from the RF mount, the most interesting new technological inclusion is in the 'VCM' – which stands for high thrust 'voice coil motor'. No – this is not some weird voice powered motor like the name suggests, and actually no one can really explain this properly (as yet), though the VCM actually emits a low-level magnetic field.

But basically this VCM motor drives the heavy focussing lens group inside the lens, while a more traditional Nano USM motor actuates the lightweight floating lens.

This combination delivers (apparently) fast, reliable, precise and quiet autofocus. Early first-impression reviews mention that the lens is perfectly weighted, with the lens's centre of gravity being more towards the lens mount, which leads to better handling.

Overall, this lens arrangement also helps cuts down on 'focus breathing' – meaning that the image doesn't zoom-in when focusing.

Internally it has 11 aperture blades for 'beautiful' bokeh, and Canon's Super Spectra Coating, Air Sphere Coating and fluorine coating to cut down on flare and ghosting.

There's also a custom button that's been integrated on the barrel, which was previously the AF Stop button.


Suited for stills and Cinema EOS cameras

In a step towards the seemingly inevitable transition of photographers into videographers, the lens features an iris/aperture ring specifically designed for manual aperture control during video shooting.

This feature operates exclusively for video capture. It's engineered to operate quietly, enabling smooth adjustments in dynamic shooting environments.

For instance, you can seamlessly transition from indoor to outdoor settings by rapidly and quietly adjusting exposure, perhaps by four or more stops, to accommodate daylight conditions. There is no option to make the ring 'clickable' between stops.

Additionally, the lens includes an 'iris lock' button on its side to deactivate this function, as well as what appears to be a programmable button.

Who needs IS anyway?

The lens may lack image stabilisation (IS), but with IBIS and an exceptionally wide aperture, IS becomes less of a necessity, particularly considering the potential tradeoff in bulk and weight.

All this leads to a fairly lightweight lens which is 27% lighter than the EF 35mm F1.4 II USM (weighing 760g versus 555g), with dimensions of 99.3mm in length and 76.5mm in diameter.

The lens will be available from July 2024 with a RRP of $2,699.

The accompanying EW-73F lens hood is available separately for the price of RRP $65.

The lens hasn't appeared as yet on any Canon websites, though we'll add this when it comes to light.

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