(Editor’s Note: We welcome Darren Miles to Photofocus. Based in Naples, FL, Darren is a photographer who specializes in capturing architecture, weddings, family portraits and headshots. You can view his work at darrenmiles.com, and for more gear reviews and tutorials, visit him on YouTube.)

A big chunk of my business comes from photographing high end real estate here in Southwest Florida — an area that covers Marco Island to Cape Coral and everything in between. We’re blessed with a lot of beautiful places to live, fantastic weather and beaches and of course, some stunning homes.

In my line of work, I get to photograph these homes. The Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8 L lens has proven itself to be an invaluable companion in my pursuit of the best possible image quality.

Watch my video review

Build quality

Living up to Canon’s high L lens standards, the 15-35mm lens is a physical specimen. Coming in at 1.85 pounds, the 15-35mm is definitely a heavyweight.

Tightly assembled with much precision, the zoom ring is wide and well dampened, while the focus ring is a bit too thin and a bit too close to the zoom ring for my liking. New to Canon is a third multifunction ring that you can customize in the menu — I like having it set to exposure compensation, but you can set to control shutter speed, aperture value and ISO.

Unlike most other ultra wides in the marketplace, the RF doesn’t have a bulbous front element, which means you can use standard 82mm filters. Finally, the lens is weather sealed, and at $2300, you should be able to take it scuba diving out of the box (you can’t, so please don’t).

Handling

When mounted to an EOS R the combination feels a bit on the heavy side, making all day handholding a potentially difficult task. Employing a new Nano USM (Ultra Sonic Motor) system, AF performance is instantaneous, silent and in my experience perfectly accurate — even wide open and throughout the zoom range.

Because I photograph so many homes, I’m almost exclusively using the RF on a tripod, which is likely how most who use this lens will be employing it as well, given it’s appeal to landscape and architectural photographers.

Wedding photographers will likely find a place for the 15-35mm in their bags as well, with its constant f/2.8 aperture.

Minor nits include the placement of all three rings. There’s literally no space between them, and the zoom ring is beveled and very wide. I wish Canon took some of the width of the zoom and gave it to us on the focus ring. As it is, it’s too easy to rotate the wrong ring as there’s no tactile difference to separate them.

Canon 15-35mm f/2.8 L specs

  • Focal length: 15-35mm
  • Aperture range: f/2.8 – f/22
  • Aperture blades: 9 rounded
  • Elements/groups: 16/12
  • Size: 3.48” diameter, 4.99” length
  • Weight: 1.85lb / 840 g
  • Field of view: 110 30’ to 63 degrees

Results

One word, awesome! Images are razor sharp when stopped down (most of my real estate work is shot at f/8), but even wide open at f/2.8, center sharpness is simply sublime for an ultra wide.

Distortion, though present, is well controlled. Chromatic aberrations barely exist, I’ve been checking the high contrast areas and I can’t see any evidence of CAs. Flare is present, but that’s not uncommon with ultra wide angle lenses.

One area where the 15-35mm does fall short is vignetting. Wide open, vignetting is very strong, and very noticeable. Fortunately, the lens profile corrections available in Lightroom go a long way toward fixing many of these lens aberrations. However, if you shoot astrophotography — as many will with this lens, that kind of vignetting can lead to some noise issues in the corners of the frame.

Overall, I found the Canon 15-35mm to be among the best lenses I’ve ever used in real estate and wide angle photography in general. Stellar optics coupled with fast and reliable autofocus, well controlled distortion and a constant f/2.8 aperture throughout the zoom range has proven valuable in my dusk to evening real estate videos. Of course at this price point, it better be all those things and make me a cup of coffee! It’s fantastic, but this kind of quality comes at a steep price!

Pros

  • Excellent build quality
  • Fast, silent, accurate auto focus
  • Sublime image quality, even wide open

Cons

  • Size and weight — it’s a beast
  • Very strong vignetting wide open

The Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8 L comes in at $2299 new (B&H | Amazon), and I highly recommend it.