Canon RF 16mm f/2.8 STM - Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews - Canon EOS (Full Format)

Review by Klaus Schroiff, published February 2022

Introduction

When the first pictures of the Canon RF 16mm f/2.8 STM lens emerged, the Canon community was bursting with excitement - and a lot of questions. The world hadn't seen a tiny 16mm f/2.8 full format lens to date so some, including yours truly, expected it to be an APS-C format lens similar to the Sony E 16mm f/2.8. But it turned out that it is indeed a full format lens at a price tag that hasn't been seen in this lens class either. Priced at just $300/350EUR, Canon surprised all of us I reckon. However, what can we expect from such a bargain offer? Let's see.

In terms of construction, it is almost identical to the Canon RF 50mm f/1.8 STM. If it weren't for the focal length printed on the barrel and the inner lens tube, you wouldn't be able to tell them apart (see the comparison below). Even the filter size (43mm) is the same, baffling considering the immense front element that we have seen on other ultra-wide lenses in this speed class. However, the similarity also means that the build quality is more aligned with consumers than professionals. The lens body is made of plastics based on a metal mount. It's a retractable design so once you activate the camera, the inner lens tube moves a little out into its working position. There is a single control ring that is either assigned to manual focusing or a custom function - and there's a switch for selecting the desired mode. Weather-sealing is absent and you won't find a lens hood in the package.

The lens uses an STM (stepping motor) for focusing - both in AF and MF mode. While full-time-manual focusing in AF mode is supported, fully manual focusing has to be activated via a camera menu setting. Thanks to the minimal weight of the inner tube, the AF speed is pretty fast. It emits a high-pitched sound during operation, but it's on a low noise level. Another surprising aspect of the lens is its close-focus capability with a maximum magnification of 1:3.8. This isn't macro territory yet but it's closer than possible on most ultra-wide lenses in this respect. An image stabilizer has not been implemented.

Specifications
Optical construction9 elements in 7 groups including 1x aspherical element
Number of aperture blades7 (rounded)
min. focus distance0.13m (max. magnification ratio 1:3.8)
Dimensions69.2x40.5mm
Weight165g
Filter size43mm
Hoodpetal-shaped (bayonet mount, optional)
Other featuresCombined Focus/Control ring