Canon RF-S 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM lens
The RF-S 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM lens is a remarkably good performer for a kit lens, and capable of consistently exceeding expectations for the Canon R7’s 32-megapixel sensor across the image frame at optimal settings. Its extended zoom range, although weak at the wide-angle end, is useful for a wide variety of subjects at longer focal lengths.
Build quality is good for a mostly plastic lens, although there are a couple of areas that caused us to deduct points. Firstly, we think a lens like this deserves a metal mount. We’d also like to have seen the lens hood bundled with the lens; it’s not a good look to expect buyers to fork out up to $50 more for a ring of moulded plastic that probably costs well under $10 to make when they’ve invested almost AU$900 for the lens.
On the plus side, the stepping motor AF system focuses quickly, quietly and accurately, making the lens capable of pin-sharp accuracy.
The RF-S 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM was one of two kit lenses launched with the EOS R7 and EOS R10 cameras on 24 May, 2022. Offered with the EOS R7, this lens is essentially the same as the EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM lens, which was released in 2016 for Canon’s EOS M cameras (and which we haven’t reviewed). Both lenses share the same optical design, AF drive and filter threading; the main difference is their lens mounts, with the new lens being 10 grams heavier due to its larger mount. Neither lens is supplied with the EW-60F lens hood, which sells for between AU$18 and $50, depending on where you buy it.
Angled view of the RF-S 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM lens. (Source: Canon.)
Covering a zoom range equivalent to 29-240mm in 35mm format, the RF-S 18-150mm lens can be used for a wide range of subject types, including close-ups at roughly half life-size magnification. Its optical design contains 17 elements in 13 groups and includes two aspherical and one UD (Ultra-low Dispersion) elements. Canon’s Super Spectra Coating minimises ghosting and flare.
Built-in optical stabilisation provides up to 4.5 stops of shake correction and can combine with the IBIS in the R7 to provide up to seven stops of correction. This lens also claims to provide full Dual Pixel CMOS AF frame coverage for cameras with APS-C sensors or up to 80% if it’s used on a full-frame camera in crop mode. (When attached to a full frame camera, the automatic 1.6x sensor crop is applied.)
Autofocusing is driven by a lead-screw-type stepping motor, which operates quickly and almost silently, allowing the lens to be used for shooting video. We reviewed the lens on the EOS R7 camera.
Who’s it For?
This lens (and its shorter counterpart) are really only suitable for use on the EOS R7 or EOS R10 camera bodies, which somewhat constrains their potential customer base. That said, if you opt to acquire this lens as an adjunct to one of these cameras, you’ll be getting a $900 lens for around AU$540 if bought with the R10 or $500 if it’s bundled with the R7, which is a worthwhile saving.
Make sure you negotiate a competitive price for the lens hood as part of the bundle as it’s definitely worth having. We think Canon should have included the hood – which is only a few cents worth of plastic and not particularly challenging to produce – as part of the bundle. (Small, but important, items like lens hoods provide a competitive advantage.)
Light weight and versatility are key selling points for this lens – along with its capable image stabilisation when it’s fitted to the R7. The downside is its variable apertures, although they are a ‘given’ for such a compact lens at its relatively low price.
The variable aperture changes quickly as the lens is zoomed in. Maximum and minimum apertures at the main focal length settings are shown in the table below.
|Focal length||Maximum aperture||Minimum aperture|
However, it’s not really worth stopping down beyond f/16 at any focal length due to the effects of diffraction.
Build and Ergonomics
Although Canon doesn’t state what this lens if made from, going by its weight and appearance it’s likely to be mostly plastic. The mounting plate certainly appears that way. ‘Made in Taiwan’ is stamped onto the plastic inside the lens mount.
The front element of the lens is 40 mm in diameter and recessed to accommodate the threading for 55 mm screw-in filters. The bayonet fitting for the lens hood is on the outer edge of this section of the inner barrel with a 5 mm wide band behind it.
Zooming the lens from 18mm to 150mm extends the inner barrel by approximately 42 mm without rotating the barrel. This makes it easy to use the lens with angle-critical filters.
A rotating, 10 mm wide ring with a hatched surface lies at the leading edge of the outer barrel, where it does double duty as the focusing and control ring. Switching between them has to be done via the camera’s menu since there are no dedicated controls on the lens barrel.
Behind it lies the zoom ring, which is 45 mm wide with a 35 mm wide band of moulded ribbing around its middle. The trailing edge of the zoom ring is stamped with markings for the 18mm, 24mm, 35mm, 50mm, 70mm, 100mm and 150mm focal length settings. These line up against an index mark located just in front of the Canon branding on the fixed, 11 mm wide section of the barrel, which flares gently out to become the lens mount.
A grey, faux metal band runs around the mount at this junction, carrying the red index mark for attaching the lens to a camera body. The mount itself is made from plastic.
Our Imatest tests showed the review lens to be a good performer that was capable of meeting resolution expectations with JPEG files across the image frame at the 24mm focal length with an aperture of f/5.0 (the best measured performance). Resolution comfortably exceeded expectations in the centre of the frame at this setting.
We found varied resolution performance at other focal length settings, although across the focal lengths up to and including 50mm central resolution was above expectations, as shown in the graph below. Resolution declined at longer focal lengths and dropped sharply from about f/8 on due to diffraction.
Lateral chromatic aberration is corrected by default in Canon’s cameras so it’s no surprise to find it remained within the negligible band for all focal length settings, as shown in the graph of our test results below. Note the red line marks the boundary between negligible and low CA.
When we checked CR3.RAW files recorded simultaneously, we found resolution was generally slightly higher than for JPEGs, which was much as expected. However, with optical corrections disabled in the Adobe Camera Raw software we use for converting raw files into editable TIFFs, chromatic aberration climbed up into the lower reaches of the ‘low’ band (also expected).
Without a lens hood it was easy to force the lens to flare, resulting in both veiling and flare artefacts. Interestingly, we also found a lot of colour effects in sunstars when we examined the raw files from the camera, which appeared nice and sharp. As expected, they weren’t visible in the JPEG files where they seemed rather muddy-looking as a result of automatic corrections.
Bokeh was much as expected from an extended-range kit lens; acceptable but not inspiring. Readers should note many of the test shots we took were captured in overcast conditions, which made it difficult to push this aspect of the lens performance.
Autofocusing was generally fast and accurate, provided the appropriate focus mode and focus area were selected. We had few problems with getting sharp pictures, even with moving subjects, although when we left selection to the camera, there were a few times when the focus landed on the wrong part of the frame. An example is provided in the Samples section below.
With all in-camera optical corrections disabled, there was slight vignetting at the widest apertures with the two shortest focal lengths and progressively stronger vignetting from 70mm to 150mm, where the maximum aperture is f/6.3. Fortunately, enabling the optical corrections eliminated most vignetting and the problem is easily corrected when raw files are converted into editable formats.
Rectilinear distortion had to be assessed through CR3.RAW files with all optical and profile corrections disabled in Adobe Camera Raw. We found visible barrel distortion at the 18mm and 24mm focal lengths, which evolved into barely visible pincushion distortion by 35mm.
There was a gradual, but slight, increase in pincushioning as the lens was zoomed in to 150mm but it was less than expected for a kit lens. Both vignetting and rectilinear distortions are largely irrelevant since they are corrected automatically in JPEGs and most raw file converters.
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Picture angle: 64 degrees 30 minutes to 8 degrees 40 minutes
Minimum aperture: f/22-40
Lens construction: 17 elements in 13 groups (including two aspherical and one UD elements)
Lens mounts: Canon EOS RF-S
Diaphragm Blades:7 (rounded aperture)
Weather resistance: Not specified
Focus drive: Lead-screw-type stepping motor (STM)
Stabilisation: Yes, 4.5 stops or up to 7 stops correction with EOS R7
Minimum focus: 17 cm (AF) / 12 cm (MF)
Maximum magnification: 0.44x (AF) / 0.59x (MF)
Filter size: 55 mm
Dimensions (Diameter x L): 69 x 84.5 mm (without lens hood)
Weight: 310 grams
Standard Accessories: Front and end caps
Distributor: Canon Australia, 1800 021 167
Based on JPEG files recorded with the EOS R7 camera.
Based on CR3.RAW files recorded simultaneously and converted into 16-bit TIFF format with Adobe Camera Raw.
Vignetting at 18mm f/3.5.
Vignetting at 24mm f/4.0.
Vignetting at 35mm f/5.0.
Vignetting at 50mm f/5.6.
Vignetting at 70mm f/6.3.
Vignetting at 100mm f/6.3.
Vignetting at 150mm f/6.3.
Rectilinear distortion at 18mm.
Rectilinear distortion at 24mm.
Rectilinear distortion at 35mm.
Rectilinear distortion at 50mm.
Rectilinear distortion at 70mm.
Rectilinear distortion at 100mm.
Rectilinear distortion at 150mm.
18mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/250 second at f/8.
150mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/160 second at f/8.
18mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/640 second at f/10.
150mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/250 second at f/10.
Close-up at150mm; ISO 125, 1/250 second at f/6.3.
Close-up at150mm; ISO 200, 1/250 second at f/8.
Close-up at 150mm; ISO 100, 1/500 second at f/6.3.
Close-up at 50mm; ISO 100, 1/160 second at f/6.3.
Bokeh in close-up at 18mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/125 second at f/3.5.
Flare resulting from strong backlighting: 31mm focal length, ISO 160, 1/60 second at f/11.
150mm focal length, ISO 1600, 1/160 second at f/6.3.
150mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/160 second at f/10.
Perspective compression at 150mm focal length, ISO 500, 1/250 second at f/6.3.
Sunstar at f/40 with 150mm focal length; ISO 200, 1/160 second.
Sunstar at f/36 with 66mm focal length; ISO 100, 1/30 second.
43mm focal length, ISO 500, 1/100 second at f/5.6.
66mm focal length; ISO 160, 1/125 second at f/6.3
18mm focal length, ISO 2000, 1/80 second at f/4.
18mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/200 second at f/7.1.
150mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/500 second at f/6.3.
Additional image samples can be found with our review of the Canon EOS R7 camera.
- Build: 8.5
- Handling: 8.8
- Image quality: 8.9
- Autofocusing: 9.0
- Versatility: 8.9