As photography has shifted to all things mirrorless, a few photographers have held out from making the transition away from their DSLR. I haven’t raced to buy the newest Canon R3 because my 5D III still performs well. Others have waited because of the upfront cost, plus smartphones have become really good. One of the things missing from mirrorless lens lineups is great affordable lenses. The Canon RF 15-30mm f4.5-6.3 IS STM lens aims to fill that gap.
The RF 15-30mm f4.5-6.3 IS STM is a versatile focal length that satisfies a variety of niches. The size and weight make it a compelling option to be taken with you everywhere. And it’s only $549, making it one of the more affordable mirrorless lenses Canon manufactures.
But is it worth it? Yes, it performs well. Keep reading to find out more.
Table of Contents
The Big Picture
The Canon RF 15-30mm f4.5-6.3 IS STM lens is an ultra-wide zoom lens that you can take with you everywhere. It produces beautiful photographs at an entry-level price. Images boast vibrant colors with plenty of detail. It isn’t fully weather-sealed, but it performed exceptionally well on Montana’s frozen tundra during a snowy day.
Canon’s RF 15-30mm f4.5-6.3 IS STM lens has noticeable distortion and lots of vignetting. It is most evident at 15mm. The verticles are easily corrected in post-processing, but vignetting is still heavy. Real estate photographers will either want to zoom in 1-2mm or create an action plan if they buy this lens. We suspect many photographers will be using this lens to create content for their social media platforms.
Canon’s 15-30mm f4.5-6.3 lens is a versatile focal length suitable for various applications. Photographers can embrace distortion for fun portraits. It’s also an excellent option for landscapes, cityscapes, travel, and photojournalism.
- Versatile focal length
- Handles well in extreme cold
- Beautiful colors
- Fun angles for portraits
- Not the fastest-focusing lens
- Heavy vignetting at 15mm
- Noticeable distortion
The Canon RF 15-30mm f4.5-6.3 lens isn’t innovative. At its affordable price point, it doesn’t have to be. It’s a great entry-level lens that produces professional results.
The Canon RF 15-30mm f4.5-6.3 lens is a lightweight and compact ultra-wide zoom lens. It feels comfortable to hold in your hands. The lens follows one of Canon’s basic blueprints. The wide zoom ring sits closest to the lens mount. Next is the textured manual focus ring which, if manual focus isn’t your favorite, can be used as a lens control ring.
Here is a view of the left side of the lens to show its Focus Control and Image Stabilizer switches. Flip it on to take advantage of up to 5.5 stops of IBIS.
It accommodates a 67mm filter thread.
The Canon RF 15-30mm f4.5-6.3 IS STM lens cuts a lot of excess weight with its primarily plastic design. Its combination of plastic and textured rubber elements feel sturdy yet cheap. That’s to be expected at this price point.
The lens is not fully weather-sealed, although it performed very well in frigid temperatures and a dusting of snow. I would not feel comfortable taking this lens out when heavy moisture is forecasted.
The Canon RF 15-30mm f4.5-6.3 lens is fast and accurate when photographing landscapes, cityscapes, and subjects that are further away. It is slower to focus when you get closer to your subject. However, it’s still faster than most DSLR offerings.
The wide-zoom performed reasonably well in various AF modes with animal and human AF enabled. It was indecisive with choosing whether to focus on my eyes or my cat’s eyes when I turned it around for a selfie. This was the case in both human and animal AF modes. And although it was a little slower, it never missed focus.
When attempting macro images, I found it easier to focus manually. The lens would often focus on the background instead. Canon’s R5 takes the stress out of manual focus with its responsive focus peaking and magnification.
Ease Of Use
Photographers of all skill levels will feel comfortable using Canon’s 15-30mm lens. Simply choose your desired focal length and press the shutter. It provides excellent tracking and swift AF when paired with a body like the R5. The lens provides up to 5.5 stops of IBIS which is excellent for slower exposures.
The lens produces a heavy vignetting at 15mm. The lens profile adjustments provided by Adobe and Capture One don’t correct it fully. Real estate photographers will either need to edit the corners by hand or zoom in slightly for the best results.
There is noticeable distortion at 20mm. Portraits require a bit of practice if you aren’t accustomed to working with distortion. You can minimize that by keeping your subject in the center of the frame or correcting it in post. On the other hand, you can create some fun portraits if you embrace the distortion.
Canon’s RF 15-30mm f4.5-6.3 lens produces vibrant images with plenty of details. There is heavy vignetting and noticeable barrel distortion at 15mm. The distortion is remedied in post. The vignetting is heavy-handed, even with a lens correction in Adobe and Capture One.
The Canon RF 15-30mm f4.5-6.3 IS STM lens can create substantial bokeh. Give yourself subjects plenty of background separation and zoom in for maximum results.
The RF 15-30mm f4.5-6.3 lens produces a colorful palette that pops with sufficient contrast. It amplifies the color temperature of ambient light. Tungsten lighting is very yellow while neon lights are bright and poppy. Skin tones can have a touch of magenta when backlit with cool winter light. Skin tones are very accurate with ideal lighting.
Images produced with this lens are sharp throughout most of the frame at its widest aperture. Stop down to extend the sharpness to the corners of the frame.
The Canon RF 15-30mm f4.5-6.3 IS STM lens did not skimp on character. There is heavy vignetting at 15mm. Either zoom in slightly or plan to edit it if this isn’t your jam. Sunflares are challenging to achieve with this lens, but they are possible. Any unwanted highlight fringing can be minimized in post-production. Distortion is also very noticeable at 15mm. We suggest embracing it for some entertaining portraits.
Extra Image Samples
From day one, The Phoblographer has been huge on transparency with our audience. Nothing from this review is sponsored. Further, lots of folks will post reviews and show lots of editing in the photos. The problem then becomes that anyone and everyone can do the same thing. They’re not showing what the lens can do. So we have a section in our Extra Image Samples area to show edited and unedited photos. From this, you can make a decision for yourself.
Who Should Buy The Canon 15-30mm F4.5-6.3 IS STM Lens?
Canon has created the RF 15-30mm f4.5-6.3 lens with social media content creators in mind. It has an affordable entry-level price and can produce professional results. Beginner photographers or those new to Canon mirrorless who are on a budget will appreciate this lens. Professional photographers will also enjoy creating with it.
Canon’s 15-30mm f4.5-6.3 lens is not fully weather-sealed. Although, it performs remarkably well in moderate moisture and arctic temperatures.
The 15-30mm lens produces a lot of distortion that can be fun, depending on the subject matter. It also has heavy vignetting that isn’t a simple lens correction in Adobe and Capture One. Real estate photographers will want to zoom in an extra 1-2mm or plan on creating an action to batch edit every frame.
I would not buy this lens for my client work. Although, I wouldn’t have a problem buying this to travel with and not have to worry about its livelihood. Other professionals looking for an extra all-around lens would also appreciate this lens. It’s an excellent choice for landscapes, cityscapes, portraits, photojournalism, and street photography.
The Canon RF 15-30mm f4.5-6.3 lens can be added to your camera bag for an affordable $549. You can also rent it from Lensrentals.
Tech specs are from the Lensrentals listing.
- Angle of View: 110° 30’ to 71° 35’
- Autofocus: Autofocus
- Brand: Canon
- Compatibility: Full Frame
- Filter Size: 67.0mm
- Focal Length: 15.0-30.0
- Image Stabilization: Yes
- Item Type: Lens
- Lens Type: Wide Angle
- Macro Reproduction Ratio: 1:2
- Max Aperture: 4.5
- Maximum Magnification: 0.52x
- Mfr. Model Number: 5775C002
- Minimum Aperture: 22.0
- Minimum Focusing Distance: 0.4feet
- Mount: Canon RF
- Groups/Elements: 11/13
- Ultra-Low Dispersion Elements: 2
- Aspherical Elements: 1
- Aperture Blades: 7
- Dimensions (ø x L): 3 × 3.5″
- Weight: 0.9 lb.
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