Comparison Guide: Canon EF Vs RF Lenses

Last Updated on: 27th January 2023, 10:35 am

After Canon announced the release of their RF mount lenses, photographers worldwide began to wonder what the differences are between the older EF mount lenses and the new RF mount lenses. EF lenses and RF lenses have very different mounts, and you may wonder what these differences are.

This article will answer all your confusion regarding EF vs RF lens questions. We’ll cover everything from autofocus to image stabilization, so you know exactly what you’re getting.

This article will help you understand what you need to know before choosing the right lens for your needs. We’ll also discuss the pros and cons of Canon EF and RF lenses so that you can make an informed decision about buying.

What are the Canon EF & RF mounting characteristics?

The following are the characteristics of mounted lenses:

Canon EF Mount lens:

The Canon EF mount is a camera lens mount developed by Canon Inc. in 1987. The EF in the name stands for “Electro-Focus”: automatic focusing on EF lenses is handled by a dedicated electric motor built into the lens. The mount replaces the earlier Canon FD mount, a screw-mount design.

The EF mount has the widest range of lens options of any SLR camera system, with over 70 lenses manufactured by Canon and third-party companies such as Sigma, Tokina, and Tamron. Most of these lenses are compatible with all Canon EOS cameras; however, some older models are not compatible with EF-S lenses.

The EF mount is also used on Canon’s line of mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras, launched in 2012 with the EOS M. These cameras are equipped with an adapter that allows them to use EF and EF-S lenses.

Canon EF mounting characteristics:

Given are the characteristics of EF lenses:

 Lens release button: This button releases the lens from its bayonet mount to remove it from the camera body.

Lens information contacts: 24 gold-plated contacts on the back of each EF lens carries electronic information about the lens to the camera body. This information includes data such as focal length and maximum aperture.

Focal plane mark: This white dot or square marks the spot on the image sensor where light is from the camera’s centre, making the image more visible.

Pros

  • Excellent image quality
  • Fast and accurate autofocus
  • Wide selection of EF mount lenses
  •  Lenses tend to be very sharp
  • Generally good build quality
  • Compatible with a wide range of Canon cameras
  • Good value for money

Cons

  • Not all Canon cameras are compatible with EF-mount lenses
  • Some Canon cameras have a crop sensor, which means that the field of view is reduced when using EF lenses
  • Some people find Canon’s lens selection confusing

Canon RF Mount lens:

The Canon RF mount is a camera lens mount developed by Canon. It was introduced in 2018 with the release of the Canon EOS R, a full-frame mirrorless camera. The RF mount has a larger diameter than the company’s existing EF and EF-S mounts, allowing for larger lenses and faster data communication between the lens and camera body.

As of 2021, there are over 70 lenses available for the RF mount, ranging from ultra-wide angle to telephoto. It is a short flange distance mount, similar to the Sony E-mount, which allows for smaller and lighter lenses to be designed, allowing for more light to reach the sensor and thus improving low-light performance.

In addition, the RF mount uses a 12-pin connection system instead of the standard 8-pin system found on Canon DSLRs, which allows for faster data transfer between the camera and lens.

Canon RF mounting characteristics:

Given are the characteristics of RF lenses:

Larger diameter: One key characteristic of the Canon RF mount is its large diameter. This allows for the use of larger lenses and results in faster data communication between the lens and camera body.

Short flange focal distance: Another key characteristic is the short flange focal distance. This allows for more compact lenses and cameras and greater flexibility when designing lenses.

Image stabilization: The Canon RF mount supports in-lens image stabilization, which can help reduce shake and blur in photos and videos.

Pros

  • Excellent image quality
  • Fast and accurate autofocus
  • Good low-light performance
  • Robust and weather-resistant construction
  • A wide variety of native and third-party lenses are available
  • The lens is very versatile
  • It is very light and compact

Cons

  • Requires an adapter to use with Canon EF mount cameras
  • A limited selection of native lenses
  • More expensive than some other lens adapters

What camera models can use EF & RF lenses?

The EOS R mirrorless cameras, which include the Canon EOS RP, EOS R, and EOS Ra, will only be compatible with RF lenses if Canon makes them. You may also use RF lenses on any camera equipped with an EF or EF-S mount having to use any adapters if you have one of these cameras.

EF lenses cannot be used for RF mounts since they are not physically or electrically compatible. The design of the flange on a lens differs from that of other mounts, which prevents the lens from being attached directly to another camera body. In addition, the number of electrical pins required to connect a lens and camera body differs.

However, you will need to attach RF lenses if you have a DSLR camera (like the Canon EOS Rebel T100/4000D). The good news is that since Canon produces its adapters, there shouldn’t be any compatibility issues.

Which one is worth buying, EF or RF lenses?

When buying lenses for your camera, you have a few different options. You can buy RF lenses, which are designed specifically for Canon’s new line of mirrorless cameras. You can also buy EF lenses designed for Canon’s DSLR cameras. So, RF lenses are worth buying as they are more advanced other than EF lenses.

RF lenses are generally more expensive than EF lenses but offer a few advantages. For one, they’re typically lighter and smaller, making them more portable. They also tend to have shorter minimum focusing distances, meaning you can get closer to your subject. Finally, RF lenses tend to be faster, with wider apertures that let in more light.

So, if you’re looking for the best possible performance and are okay with spending a bit more money, RF lenses are the way to go. However, if you’re on a budget or don’t need the absolute best performance, EF lenses are still a great option.

The Benefits of RF lenses over EF lenses

Now that we understand their physical differences let’s take a look at some of the benefits of using an RF lens over EF lenses:

Compact size and Weight:

The first thing you’ll notice about RF lenses is their smaller, lighter size than EF lenses. The new mirrorless technology from Canon makes it possible to do away with the bulky mirror box found in DSLRs. RF lenses make cameras a great option for travel photography and anyone seeking a lightweight, portable camera.

Autofocus motors:

The main advantage of RF lenses over EF lenses is that they use more recent, quieter autofocus motors.  Having a quiet autofocus motor will ensure that your audio won’t be picked up by the microphone and ruin your video footage if you’re recording video with your camera.

 Additionally, if you plan to take discreet pictures (for example, street photography), a quiet autofocus motor will allow you to avoid attracting attention to yourself. EF lenses tend to have loud autofocus motors, which can be a major drawback.

Superior Image Stabilization:

Canon’s in-body image stabilization (IBIS) system, which is built into all RF-mount cameras, offers superior image stabilization, one of the biggest advantages of RF lenses. In IBIS, the sensor is moved around to counteract camera shake, and it is much more effective than the lens-based image stabilization in EF lenses.

Because of this, you can get much sharper images when shooting handheld with an RF lens, especially in low light. You can also use slower shutter speeds without worrying about camera shake to capture video and action shots without a tripod.

Digital Lens Optimizer:

Canon’s Digital Lens Optimizer (DLO) technology is one of the key advantages of RF lenses, which can utilize digital lens optimization.

This is one of the many features that Canon’s EOS R mirrorless cameras are equipped with to correct various optical aberrations that are common when using certain types of lenses.

Better Image quality:

There is also another benefit to using RF lenses, as they produce better pictures than EF lenses. This is because they have a larger diameter and a shorter back focus, both of which allow for a larger sensor and more light to be collected. Therefore, photographs taken with an RF lens will have a much higher dynamic range and less noise.

Come With a Control Ring:

A key advantage of RF lenses over EF lenses is that they come with a control ring. Using this ring, you can adjust various parameters, including aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.

With this control ring, you can make changes from the viewfinder without taking your hand out of the camera body or your eye off the viewfinder.

Fast Lens-to-camera communication:

It has been shown that RF lenses allow you to communicate with yourself more quickly than EF lenses since RF lenses have more electrical pins than EF lenses.

On the other hand, the RF versions are equipped with 12 pins, while the EF versions have only eight pins. As a result, information can be transmitted back and forth significantly faster between the lens and the camera than EF.

Larger Apertures:

The ability to offer larger apertures is one of the most important advantages of RF lenses. This means you’ll be able to achieve shallow depths of field and enhanced low-light performance.

 As a result of the lens’s improved light-gathering ability, the footage you get from the camera will be smoother in video shooting.

A future-proof strategy:

Future-proofing of RF lenses is another important aspect. With the improvement of technology, Canon will release firmware updates for its lenses to take advantage of the new features in its latest cameras. Contrary to EF lenses, which will never be able to take advantage of any future camera upgrades.

You can rest assured that your RF lens will still work with any new Canon camera body released in the future. In contrast, buying an EF lens today will become obsolete if a more recent camera model releases a feature that the EF lens cannot handle, and Canon stops producing them together.

By investing in RF lenses for your future camera releases, you’re future-proofing your lens purchase. Canon understands these benefits, so they’re switching to RF lenses for their future cameras. In case you require a new lens, be sure to check out Canon’s RF lineup of lenses if you are in the market for one!

Similarities between EF vs RF Lenses:

There are a few similarities between RF and EF lenses, but there are also some important differences. Both types of lenses are designed to work with specific camera systems, and both offer a variety of features and benefits. Given are the similarities between the two mounts:

  • Firstly, both lenses are attached to the camera body with a bayonet mount, making it much easier to attach and remove them from the camera.
  • The RF and EF lenses provide the user with various focusing options available on both lenses, including manual, auto, and continuous focusing.
  • Finally, both lens types are available in a wide range of focal lengths, meaning there’s likely an RF or EF lens to suit your specific needs.

Conclusion

EF and RF Canon lenses offer different advantages and disadvantages. While EF lenses have a long history, are easy to use, and are widely available at a lower price, RF lenses offer superior image quality and performance due to their large sensor size. Therefore, consider the RF series lenses if you need high-quality images for professional purposes or are looking for future-proof lens options that will stand up to new camera technology. In the end, however, you can only decide which is ideal!

FAQs

Can I use an RF lens on a DSLR?

The answer is no; you cannot attach an RF lens to a DSLR. RF lenses can only be connected to Canon mirrorless cameras, so if you try to attach an RF lens to a DSLR, it will not be able to focus properly, and you may damage the camera or the lens.

Can I use an EF lens on EOS R?

The standard Mount Adapter for EOS R allows EF-S or EF lenses to be used seamlessly with EOS R cameras. Photojournalists who own a collection of EF-S or EF optics can now confidently invest in the EOS R System, knowing that their existing lenses will also work on the new system.

Are Canon EF and RF lenses interchangeable?

Canon EF lenses cannot be used with Canon RF cameras and vice versa. However, you can use Canon EF to RF adapters to attach Canon EF lenses to Canon RF cameras to use Canon EF lenses with Canon RF cameras.

David Wanson
David Wanson

I have professional photography experience of about 18 years and I would to share my experience with lenses built by different brands. As a professional photographer from the USA, I have used a number of photography lenses during that time. As a result of my experience with these programs, I would like to share my experiences with you on this website. I wish for this website to serve as the final destination for people seeking the best lenses to suit their needs. Our unbiased reviews can be found on cameraslens.

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