The Canon RF 24mm f/1.8 Macro is a wide-angle, wide-aperture prime lens capable of 1:2 close focus photography. It’s small and lightweight, and the price of $599 is pretty reasonable. Should you add the Canon RF 24mm f/1.8 Macro to your bag? Read on to find out!
If you saw my recent article on my favorite landscape photography focal lengths, you may be aware that I’m a fan of the 24mm focal length. It just feels right for a lot of photos, especially for genres like landscape and travel photography. Add in the close-focus capabilities of the RF 24mm f/1.8 Macro, and you can see why I was very excited to test this lens – it promises to be a very versatile optic.
Ultimately, I found that the Canon RF 24mm f/1.8 Macro to be a lens with extreme personality shifts. It’s excellent in some ways and disappointing in others. This review will help you figure out whether the positives outweigh the negatives for your needs, or vice versa.
Canon RF 24mm f/1.8 Macro Specifications
- Full Name: Canon RF 24mm f/1.8 Macro IS STM
- Mount Type: Canon RF Mount
- Focal Length: 24mm prime
- Angle of View (Full Frame): 84°
- Maximum Aperture: f/2.8
- Minimum Aperture: f/22
- Aperture Blades: 9, rounded
- Filter Size: 52mm
- Lens Elements: 11
- Lens Groups: 9
- Special Elements: 1 aspherical, 1 ultra-low dispersion (UD) glass elements
- Anti-Reflection Coatings: Super Spectra
- Fluorine Coated Front Element: No
- Image Stabilization: Yes
- Internal Focusing: No
- Control Rings: Focus and custom ring
- Function Button: No
- Switches: AF/MF and image stabilization on/off
- Focus Motor: STM
- Minimum Focus Distance: 14 cm (5.5 inches)
- Maximum Magnification: 0.5× (1:2)
- Working Distance at Maximum Magnification: 4.0 cm / 1.6 inches
- Mount Material: Metal
- Weather/Dust Sealing: No
- Dimensions (Length × Diameter): 63 × 74mm (2.5 × 2.9 inches)
- Weight: 270 g (0.60 lbs)
- MSRP: $599 (check current price)
These are so-so specs for a $599 lens. On the bright side, the inclusion of image stabilization and extensive manual controls are more advanced than expected. However, the external-focusing design and lack of weather sealing indicate a relatively cheap construction.
One of the best parts about the lens is the weight – just 270 grams (0.60 pounds). This makes the RF 24mm f/1.8 Macro extremely portable and easy to carry along with you. It’s not quite a pancake lens, but you can throw it in your bag and easily forget that it’s there.
If you read my review of the Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 Macro, a lot of this is going to sound familiar, because the two lenses have essentially the same build quality.
To be specific, even though the Canon RF 24mm f/1.8 Macro is a relatively inexpensive lens, the quality of the plastic itself feels the same as expensive lenses like the Canon 15-35mm f/2.8 L side-by-side. I have no issue with the lens’s use of high-quality plastics for the main barrel.
The bigger issue with the build quality of this lens is that it’s an externally-focusing lens without weather sealing. One or the other would be fine, but combined, they make the 24mm f/1.8 a relatively poor choice in bad weather. The type of plastic used in the extending barrel also feels distinctly cheaper than the high-quality main barrel of the lens, and there’s a tiny bit of wobble when you extend it (not enough to harm image quality, but enough to allow dust/grit to more easily enter the lens).
The Canon RF 24mm f/1.8 Macro does not have a fluorine-coated front element, which is a useful technology for repelling dust and water in adverse conditions. Also, when you turn on the camera, the lens will initialize by racking in and out – just like point-and-shoot cameras of yore. All of this adds to the impression of a kit-lens-level build quality.
Having said that, I still tested the lens some in rainy and dusty conditions in the field. I didn’t run into any malfunctions in my time with it, although I also took a lot of care to keep it clean and dry. My real concern would be for long-term usage, especially if you shoot a lot in bad weather.
Now let’s cover the lens’s handling features.
The Canon RF 24mm f/1.8 has an impressive set of handling controls considering how inexpensive it is. There are dedicated switches both for autofocus/manual focus and for image stabilization on/off. There’s also the usual focus ring as well as a custom control ring.
The extent of these features is something found more often on expensive lenses, and it’s nice to see that Canon didn’t cut corners here. Even so, I would have liked to see a focus limiter switch as well, considering that this is a near-macro lens.
Image stabilization works great on the Canon RF 24mm f/1.8 Macro, allowing you to shoot handheld with the lens in low-light environments even with cameras like the EOS R8, R10, or R50 that don’t have in-body image stabilization.
I was comfortable working handheld with a shutter speed of about 1/8th second, and I occasionally pushed it further by taking more photos and selecting the sharpest one later. It’s a great system, and the Canon RF 24mm f/1.8 is one of very few 24mm primes to have image stabilization these days.
That said, something worth noting about the Canon RF 24mm f/1.8 is that it does not ship with a lens hood. This is just cheap on Canon’s part. The official Canon EW-65B for the 24mm f/1.8 costs an outrageous $75, which is way too high for a small piece of plastic that should have been included in the first place. There are knock-off lens hoods available for roughly $15, which I’d get instead.
The next page of this review covers the optical characteristics of the Canon RF 24mm f/1.8 Macro, including focusing performance and sharpness tests in the lab. So, click the menu below to go to “Optical Features”:
Table of Contents