Canon announces its first hybrid lens for hybrid cameras: we explain!

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Canon today announces its RF 35mm F1.4L VCM, a very classic fixed focal length large aperture, if it didn't bring a funny name that echoes the target cameras. Canon describes it as a hybrid.

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After the era of SLRs, cameras with interchangeable lenses sought their name: Compacts with interchangeable lenses (COI or COIN), CSC (Compact System Camera) and others. The convention now is to call them hybrids for their dual video skills. A dual skill that didn’t always come down to optics. While some manufacturers have motorized certain optics, not all make the double effort to design optics for photo and video.

This lack was true for Canon, which offers a fixed focal length with its RF 35mm F1.4L VCM that will appeal not only to photo reporters, but also to videographers looking for a moderate wide-angle to use in video.

The RF 35mm F1.4L VCM is a beautiful 555 g baby from the famous L line, the top of the range of Canon optics. An assembly of 14 lenses grouped into 11 groups, including two UD (low dispersion) elements and two GMo aspherical elements (molded glass aspherical lenses). The whole thing is surrounded by an 11-blade diaphragm which should generate beautiful background blurs. With a focusing distance of 28 cm (magnification ratio of x0.18), the lens offers good potential for well-isolated foreground subjects (but we are far from macro).

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In order to appeal to videographers, Canon engineers have integrated an aperture control iris. Why not write a control ring? Simply because this mechanism only works in video (hence the name iris): in photo mode, you can only adjust the aperture from the camera!

When it comes to optical design, engineers have done their utmost to reduce the focus breathing, a phenomenon that changes the frame when you change the focusing distance. A particularity which was made possible by the addition to the classic ultrasonic focusing motor (USM) of a Voice Coil Motor (VCM, present in the name of the product). A double lens motorization system which allows not only rapid movement of the lenses, but above all precise movement capable of correcting the focus breathing.

Note in passing that the price of optics is much higher in Europe than in the USA: optics cost $1,500 excluding tax across the Atlantic, which is a little less than €1,400 excluding tax. If we apply a sales tax (there is no real USA VAT, but a sales tax) average of 10% (it is less in reality), the price in dollars will be $1650, or €1515 including tax, or €385 less in an area where salaries are much higher than those in Europe. Thanks Canon…

First in its line of hybrid optics (for hybrid cameras, therefore) the RF 35mm F1.4L VCM will be available during the month of July 2024 at €1900.

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