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Canon's new compact telephoto lens is the one EOS R fans have been waiting for

Canon RF 70-200mm f/4
(Image credit: Canon)

Canon has announced a pair of highly tempting new RF lenses for cameras like the Canon EOS R5, including what it claims it the "world's shortest and lightest" 70-200mm f/4 telephoto.

Announced alongside an impressively affordable RF 50mm f/1.8, which is a stalwart prime lens commonly referred to as a 'nifty fifty', the two lenses will help widen the appeal of a Canon mirrorless system that was initially skewed towards well-heeled pros.

The RF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM, in particular, could prove to be at least as popular as the EF mount equivalent that became a go-to for Canon DSLR owners. The 70-200mm focal range is particularly important because it's so versatile, making it suitable for everything from portraits to zooming into landscapes.

Canon's EOS R range already has the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM, but its pro design and constant f/2.8 aperture mean it's out of the price range of most people. This is where the new f/4 versions slots into the family, offering a smaller and more affordable option for those who've bought cameras like the Canon EOS R and Canon EOS R6.

While its compact design unfortunately means it doesn't support a teleconverter to extend its focal range further, the RF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM is impressively compact for a lens with such reach. 

It's 32% smaller than its EF counterpart, weighing in at 695 grams, and also has five-stop optical image stabilization on board. Pair it with a Canon EOS R5 or R6, which also have IBIS, and you'll apparently get an impressive 7.5 stops of stabilization, a big boon for handheld shooting.

Because it's an L-series lens, the RF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM is weather-sealed, and its focusing is powered by dual Nano USM tech. This means there are two Nano USM motors working in tandem to move the glass around, which should make it quiet and power efficient. This also reduces 'focus breathing' (an effect where the lens elements slightly zoom in or out when you change focus), making it suitable for both stills and video.

Canon RF 50mm f/1.8

(Image credit: Canon)

Optimized prime

If you've been waiting for a more affordable 'nifty fifty' for your EOS R camera, though, then the Canon RF 50mm f/1.8 STM (above) is here for your Christmas list.

These 50mm prime lenses are popular because they offer an angle of view that's close to human vision, making them ideal for street or portrait snapping. The RF 50mm f/1.8 STM is effectively an update of its EF equivalent, only with a new design and optical system. 

The lens still has the same 7-blade circular aperture as its EF predecessor, but now has a smaller minimum focusing distance of 30cm (compared to 35cm on the EF version). While this doesn't exactly make it suitable for macros, it does boost its versatility – pair it with a Canon EOS R5 or R5 and you'll be able to use it in even more situations, thanks to the resulting seven stops of stabilization.

Canon also claims that the new optical design means you'll get better sharpness in the ring around the center of your photos, compared to the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM.

So when can you snap up the new lenses for your EOS R camera? Canon says both will be available from the first week of December, with the RF 50mm F1.8 STM costing $199 / £219.99 / AU$389 and the RF 70-200mm F4L IS USM priced at $1,599 / £1,699.99 / AU$3,079.