The Canon RF 35mm F1.4 L Has to Address a Big Problem

Word on the street is that the Canon RF 35mm f1.4 L lens will be coming this year.

“That’s a camera I bring out when I need to work, not just for fun,” is what a buddy told me the other night at dinner. We were discussing camera systems. He owns the Canon EOS R5 and the Canon RF 50mm f1.2 L USM. It’s an excellent combo and probably one of the best on the market today. But like me, he complained about the weight and size. I think we can all agree that Canon is one of the most innovative lens manufacturers around. That’s not even a question. But there is a huge problem with just how big and heavy their lenses are. So if the Canon RF 35mm f1.4 L is coming this year as reported, Canon needs to fix this.

“Why do I have to feel like I’m working out when photographing birds?” is what another friend told me about Sigma lenses. And I agreed with them. Sigma has always been another company that just hasn’t known how to make small, weather-sealed lenses. Like their 40mm f1.4 and the 35mm f1.2, some of their lenses are very innovative. But they’re not lenses you want to bring with you everywhere. I’d know: I wrote about it. When Sony released their 35mm f1.4 G Master, we fell for it pretty hard. Granted, it’s not an f1.2. But it’s the smallest 35mm f1.4 lens we’ve seen in a while. They gave it weather sealing, a bit of lens character, fast autofocus, etc. What’s not to love?

I think that if the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that life is too short to do things you don’t like. So why shoot with a big, heavy lens that you don’t like? And why spend so much time in front of computer screens to get an image that you could’ve gotten without post-production? 

Essentially, the Canon RF 35mm f1.4 L needs to do something better. In their last version for the Canon EF mount, they put in a blue light refractive element that cuts down on how blue light hits the image. That showed us a bit of innovation. But now, we’re really wondering about what they’ll do differently. Here are some theories. 

The Aberration Control Ring

The new Canon RF 100mm f2.8 L Macro has a really cool aberration control ring. This can make you have soap bubble-style bokeh if you wish. Or it can be used as just a normal lens. I’d be a bit shocked if Canon did this for the Canon RF 35mm f1.4 L, but I can’t say I’d be let down. The Canon RF 35mm f1.4 L is high on my list of the next RF lens I’d buy. With this and the 50mm f1.2 L, I’d be set to shoot nearly anything.

Some Other Sort of Image Quality Control

I’ve been asking the photo industry to give us more image control for years. I think it’s a great time to do things like polarizing control, so we can cut down on reflections. But more specifically, I look to folks like Lensbaby to make something different. Maybe controlling how the bokeh is shaped? Flare control? I don’t know, honestly. But I’d just prefer something different. I’m incredibly sick of the clinically perfect scenes that we can get from cameras these days. And I don’t want to have to spend extra money in post-production to get the looks I want.

The fact is that the photo industry has spent the past two decades telling software and camera companies to make images super clean. Now, we’re at a point where everything can be sterilized in post-production easily and cheaply. But to get that lens character back is a whole other issue.

I recently used a Contax 35mm f2 adapted to Leica M., And the flare I got is unlike anything else I’ve seen.

Finally Making the Canon RF 35mm f1.4 L Small

Maybe the Canon RF 35mm f1.4 L will be super small? I really wonder if they can make it smaller than what Sony can do. If there is a brand that can do it, I think Canon could. The only other brand that might be able to is Tamron. 

Image Stabilization

Could we see a Canon RF 35mm f1.4 L IS USM lens? Image stabilization is surely needed for all the newer passionate photographers picking up cameras. It could help even more for video.

What do you want in the new Canon RF 35mm f1.4 L? Let us know in the comments below.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.