Canon RF 28mm f/2.8 STM - Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews - Canon EOS (Full Format)

Review by Klaus Schroiff, published July 2023


Canon may not have a Pentaxian-level love affair with pancake lenses, but they still have a history here. During the EF mount era, they had an EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM as well as an EF 40mm f/2.8 STM. And they continued their journey with the (sort-of pancake) RF 16mm f/2.8 STM in 2022. Fortunately, they didn't stop here, so let's welcome the new Canon RF 28mm f/2.8 STM.

There are probably two kinds of people on the planet - those who hate them because they tend to be fairly slow by modern prime lens standards, and those who love them because they provide a low profile for street photography and tend to be quite good optically (the RF 16mm f/2.8 STM proves the opposite though). Canon also states that the RF 28mm f/2.8 STM is good for vlogging, but you have to have quite long arms for this scenario. There is one aspect that is universally welcoming, though - the price tag of just $300USD/370EUR - especially for a Canon lens.

The RF 28mm f/2.8 STM is quite simple being. The tiny lens barrel is made of good quality plastics based on a metal mount - with a weight of just 120g. Canon doesn't state anything about weather sealing, so there's probably none. There is an inner lens tube that extends a tiny bit from its transport position. It is a bit annoying that this inner tube retracts when trying to attach the lens cap while the camera is in "on" position (Single AF mode) - it's a bit strange that it does so. However, it means that you basically have to switch off the camera to attach the lens cap. The lens has a switch for AF/MF and Control Ring mode. The configurable Control Ring can be used to adjust a variety of exposure settings, including aperture, ISO, and exposure compensation. A curious aspect is the glass, or to be precise, the plastic used in the lens. The front element is tiny, whereas the rear element is not only big but also highly unusual in shape - see the rear view of the lens below. Canon used 3 so-called PMo (plastic molded) aspherical elements in the design. PMo aspherical lens elements are formed by injecting resin into an aspherical surface mold.

The STM (Stepping-Motor) is the consumer-grade AF solution by Canon. It produces a humming noise during AF operations, but it's not all that fast (still "fast enough" though). Manual focusing works, of course, by-wire, thus you are driving the AF motor when turning the focus ring. Optical image stabilization is not provided, as you may have guessed already.

Optical construction8 elements in 6 groups including 3x PMo aspherical element
Number of aperture blades7
min. focus distance0.23m (max. magnification ratio 1:5.9)
Filter size55mm
Hoodbarrel-shaped (bayonet mount, optional)
Other featuresCombined Focus/Control ring

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