Canon has announced a new general-purpose large aperture prime for its full-frame EOS R mirrorless cameras, the Canon RF 35mm F1.4L VCM. It’s designed to be a hybrid lens for both photography and videography, with a built-in aperture ring that provides smooth adjustments during video recording. This ring controls an 11-blade diaphragm that stops down to f/16, and includes a lock switch for its Auto position.   

Canon RF 35mm F1.4L VCM at a glance:

  • $1499 / £1819
  • Hybrid lens for both stills and video
  • Built-in aperture ring
  • Voice Coil Motor (VCM) autofocus
  • Canon RF mount
  • 67mm filter thread
  • 99.3mm length, 76.5mm diameter, 555g length

Optically the lens employs a 14 element / 11 group formula, including 2 ultra-low dispersion (UD) glass elements and 2 with aspheric surfaces. The UD elements are designed to minimise chromatic aberration, while the aspheric ones aim to achieve high image quality across the entire image frame. Canon’s Air Sphere Coating (ASC) and Super Spectra coating are employed to minimise flare and ghosting.  

Two optical groups are used for focusing, with the smaller one driven by a nano-type ultrasonic motor (USM), and the larger by a voice coil motor (VCM) – with the latter giving rise to the lens’s name. Canon says the lens has been designed to minimise focus breathing. The closest focus distance is 28cm, which equates to a maximum magnification of 0.18x.

The lens doesn’t include optical stabilisation, but when used in a camera with in-body image stabilisation (IBIS), Canon is promising 7 stops of correction.

Canon RF 35mm F1.4L VCM autofocus actuator

Physically, the lens measures 76.5mm in diameter and 99.3mm in length, making it fractionally smaller than its DSLR predecessor, the Canon EF 35mm F1.4L II USM. However, it’s substantially lighter in weight, at 555g. The filter thread is 67mm in diameter. As with all of Canon’s pro-level L-series lenses, the barrel boasts dust- and water-resistant construction.

Like Canon’s other RF lenses, a control ring on the barrel can be used to change various exposure settings, most obviously aperture when shooting stills. Oddly, like the Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z, the aperture ring itself only works for video shooting. A switch on the barrel selects between autofocus and manual, and there’s a lens function button on the side, too.

The Canon RF 35mm F1.4L VCM is due to go on sale in July 2024 for £1819.

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Canon RF 35mm F1.4L VCM in-hand
Canon RF 35mm F1.4L VCM in-hand. Credit: Canon

Canon RF 35mm F1.4L VCM: Full Specifications

Filter Diameter67mm
Lens Elements14
Diaphragm blades11
Aperturef/1.8 – f/16
Minimum focus28cm
Lens MountCanon RF
Included accessoriesCaps, hood

From Canon:

Canon RF 35mm F1.4L VCM with hood on Canon EOS R5
Canon RF 35mm F1.4L VCM with hood on Canon EOS R5, Credit: Canon

Introducing the RF 35mm F1.4L VCM

This hybrid lens empowers creatives with the flexibility needed to reach new levels of artistry and mixed media. Part of an expanding lineup, this single lens performs like two, and is the only RF prime lens with a dedicated iris control ring for video1. It also boasts an 11-blade aperture, enabling smooth out of focus areas to separate the subject from the background or foreground, and minimal focus breathing to help videographers avoid visual distractions when pulling focus from one subject to another. Whether capturing an event, such as a wedding, or shooting a street documentary, this hybrid lens provides a seamless experience across both stills and motion.

Whatever the setting or environment, no creative goal is off limits. For moments when a wide angle is needed – whether that’s capturing a group at an event or reportage-style shots on the street – the 35mm focal length offers a sweet spot in perspective. The f/1.4 aperture can be used to control depth of field, guaranteeing brilliant creative performance, even in those low-light moments, such as the golden hour or even a night skyline or dimly lit event. What’s more, the prime lens design of the RF 35mm F1.4L VCM includes the option for both front and rear filters, giving room for extra creative expression. 

Designed with the needs of photojournalists and content creators in mind, there is no need to worry about missing a fleeting moment. The fast Nano USM, combined with even faster Voice Coil Motor2 (VCM) technology, delivers quick and precise focusing for a rapid response as scenes unfold – helpful for shooting fast-paced stills of busy subjects like children or pets, or capturing the action smoothly on video. On top of this, the dedicated Lens Control Ring and customisable Lens Function Button allows photographers and videographers to stay fully immersed in the unfolding action when adjusting settings. 

Those looking to shoot in more challenging environments can rely on the L-series design housing. A fluorine coating repels dirt and sand from sticking to the front and the light design (lighter than the EF predecessor) makes for comfortable shooting for long periods in the field. In addition, thanks to aspheric and UD lens elements, with Super Spectra and ASC coatings, users can enjoy crystal clear images without the worry of flare and ghosting – even in the brightest of sunshine.

Through the versatility, flexibility and seamless functionality of both the RF 35mm F1.4L VCM and Speedlite EL-10, Canon continues to support content creators as they strive to push the boundaries of their creativity. Demonstrating a commitment to further expanding the professional RF lens range, Canon confirms it is developing additional L series zoom and prime lenses with iris rings and size uniformity that share the same hybrid stills/ video concept as the RF 35mm F1.4L VCM.