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Canon RF 16mm F2.8 STM

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A slim, affordable prime with a wide angle view
Wide angle lenses are typically bulkier, pricier camera add-ons. Canon is bucking the trend with its lightweight, full-frame RF 16mm F2.8 STM ($299.99). It’s a small lens, one that you can add to your camera bag without much effort, at a price much lower than premium wide zooms, like Canon’s $2,400 RF 15-35mm F2.8 L IS USM. The RF 16mm certainly makes some compromises to meet its form and asking price, but it’s a very capable piece of photo gear, and a good fit for enthusiasts who crave a wide view, but don’t have the budget for L series optics. Take It With You The RF 16mm’s form factor is a big selling point. Its optics are shockingly small and light, around 1.6 by 2.7 inches (HD) and just 5.8 ounces. It’s uncommonly small given its wide angle of view, no bigger than the RF 50mm F1.8 STM —if you have both lenses in your kit, you’ll need to take a little care so as not to confuse them. There’s a big difference in angle of view between the two lenses, though. The 50mm is a standard angle, perfect for head-and-shoulder portraits and other types of images where you want to blur the background and isolate a subject. The RF 16mm captures a much broader view, even wider than the RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM that Canon bundles with its entry-level EOS RP camera. Wide lenses come in handy for many types of photography, but are especially apt tools for architectural interiors, landscapes, and night sky photography. Canon skips putting any sort of dust or splash protection in the RF 16mm, you’ll need to step up to a premium L series lens to get an all-weather option. Canon has two wide L series zooms, the aforementioned RF 15-35mm F2.8 and the $1,700 RF 14-35mm F4 —both in a different price class than the RF 16mm. Anti-smudge fluorine is also omitted, so you’ll want to take care to keep the lens free of dust and debris. You can add a 43mm protective filter if you’d like, and Canon sells the EW-65C lens hood accessory for an extra $34.95. I didn’t get to try the hood, but would recommend it regardless. You’ll enjoy a bit of extra protection from flare, but more importantly, a physical barrier around the front element that does a good job stopping stray fingerprints and protecting the glass from incidental bumps. Dual-Purpose Control Ring There’s not much to the RF 16mm as far as controls go—just a control ring around the front of barrel and a toggle swap it between manual focus and a programmable function. I usually set it as an EV compensation control, but you can set a number of options via your camera’s menu, including f-stop control, ISO, white balance, and cycling between creating picture styles. We expect most photographers buying the RF 16mm to use autofocus first and foremost. The RF 16mm focuses by moving an inner portion of its barrel to and fro, a method that adds a bit of noise.

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