Canon unveils its first full-frame RF-Mount cinema prime lenses

Sep 12, 2023

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Canon unveils its first full-frame RF-Mount cinema prime lenses

Sep 12, 2023

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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Now, here’s how you announce that you’re making cine primes. You don’t tease and drip-feed us every 6-12 months for a few years until the lineup’s complete. You announce the whole lot at once, and that’s what Canon’s just done.

The company has unveiled its new line of RF mount cinema primes (buy here). There are seven in the complete set ranging from 14mm up to 135mm, with all the common focal lengths in between.

YouTube video

You have to admit, it’s one heck of a way to make an entrance. Despite all seven lenses being announced today, however, they’re not all being released at once. There isn’t long to wait to complete your set, though.

There are seven lenses in the set, which will be released between January and April 2024. So, it’s only a 3-4 month window between the first and the last. Here’s the complete release table, including focal lengths, apertures and price.

ProductPricing*Availability*
CN-R14mm T3.1 L F$4,220.00Late February 2024
CN-R20mm T1.5 L F$4,220.00Late March 2024
CN-R24mm T1.5 L F$4,220.00Late January 2024
CN-R35mm T1.5 L F$3,950.00Late January 2024
CN-R50mm T1.3 L F$3,950.00Late January 2024
CN-R85mm T1.3 L F$3,950.00Late January 2024
CN-R135mm T2.2 L F$3,950.00Late April 2024

Pricing and availability are both subject to change between now and the release date, but these are the currently scheduled release dates and prices as of right now. And they’re available to pre-order at those prices.

It’s a very thorough-looking lineup with reasonable aperture specifications. Some might’ve liked to have seen the 14mm and 135mm ends of the range have a little wider apertures, but they’re certainly not unreasonable as they stand.

Sharpening the Focus: 4K and 8K Resolution

Canon says the new full-frame Canon RF mount cine primes are designed for shooting 8K resolution. As such, they’re compatible with Canon’s high-resolution 8K-capable EOS R5c (buy here) and EOS C70 (buy here) cinema cameras.

Naturally, they’ll work with all of Canon’s other mirrorless and cinema cameras, too. Obviously, they’ll out-resolve the sensors in those 6K and 4K resolution cameras, but it means that the lens won’t be your quality bottleneck.

Colour Me Consistent: Unified Cinema EOS Color

As one would hope, the seven lenses in Canon’s new RF cine lens lineup feature Canon’s unified Cinema EOS Color throughout the lineup. This means that when you swap from one lens to another, you shouldn’t see a colour shift.

This makes life much easier during editing, as you won’t have to create a bunch of different LUTs for each lens to make them match. They’ll just be consistent right out of the box, and you can apply your grade equally to all of them – in theory.

In reality, ensuring consistency from one shot to the next can sometimes be difficult – particularly on location in uncontrollable lighting. But, if you’re able to control the light on set and the conditions aren’t changing, you shouldn’t need to adjust differently between the lenses in post.

Full RF mount communication

The new Canon RF cine primes, naturally, include RF communication with the camera. They’re not autofocus lenses, but communication is still advantageous. Canon hasn’t been very specific on the complete list of features the protocol will support but they have mentioned one.

Lens Distortion correction. When the camera can detect what lens is actually mounted to it, it can apply lens distortion correction in-camera without you having to manually tweak and adjust things. You also don’t have to deal with it in post.

While we’re at that end of the lens, they all feature an 11-blade aperture, which should provide some consistency in the appearance of bokeh throughout the lineup.

Obviously, there are going to be some differences, as several of the lenses open up as wide as T1.3 and the slowest is T3.1. But, the shape of the bokeh should be pretty similar throughout the range, even if some lenses present a more mushy version of it than others.

Unified ring positions

All seven lenses feature unified rings for both aperture and focus. This means that if you’re setting them up on a gimbal with focus motors, or on a tripod or shoulder rig with a manual follow-focus, you don’t need to readjust each time you swap.

All you need to do is take off the old lens, put the new one on, and everything already lines up exactly where it should. You may (probably), of course, need to rebalance your gimbal if you’re using one and want to swap lenses, but you won’t have to move your focus motor around.

As well as offering the same size and positioning, the focus and aperture rings also feature a consistent throw throughout the range. So, turning one of the rings on one lens will work at the same pace as all of the others.

This is a great feature that can save a lot of time if you don’t need to recalibrate focus motors each time you swap out from one lens to another.

Price and Availability

It’s easier to figure out what’s coming when if you look at the table near the top of the article. But the 14mm, 20mm and 24mm lenses are available to pre-order now for $4,220 each. The 35mm, 50mm, 85mm and 135mm lenses are also available to pre-order now for $3,950 each.

They are expected to start shipping early next year, with the 24mm and 35mm T1.5 lenses and the 50mm and 85mm T1.3 lenses shipping in late January 2024. The 14mm T3.1 is expected to ship in late February. The 20mm T1.5 is expected to ship in late March 2024, and the 135mm T2.2 is expected to ship in April 2024.

Canon does state that prices and shipping dates are subject to change between now and then, though. So if you want to lock in the price, you’ll want to pre-order now.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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