Does Canon’s New RF 70-200mm f/2.8 Lens Have a Focusing Problem?

Does Canon’s New RF 70-200mm f/2.8 Lens Have a Focusing Problem?

Multiple customers who have recently purchased Canon’s new RF 70-200mm f/2.8 lens for full-frame mirrorless cameras are reporting that it consistently focusing just in front of the subject using autofocus, raising questions over whether Canon may have to issue a recall.

The issue first surfaced on the forums at FredMiranda and DPReview with users describing an identical problem: using autofocus to focus on subjects that are close to the lens’s minimum focusing distance would result in images that are front-focused — i.e. missing focus by a tiny degree and create sharpness just in front of the desired zone.

The problem is clear in this series of images posted by one user on the FredMiranda forum. In each image, the area of sharpness is just in front of the eye of the model, or just in front of the toy robot used to demonstrate the problem. In this image, the user has marked a box around the eye of the toy robot that shows where the focus point was aimed when shooting. The eye is clearly not sharp, whereas other areas closer to the lens are crisp.

Much debate has ensued discussing the cause of this problem, with Tony Northrup suggesting that it might be an issue with the Canon EOS R which he says he doesn't trust when shooting with a very shallow depth of field. Many photographers have reported similar problems while others claim not to be able to reproduce the issue. Some suggest that it could be a timing issue that may be fixable using a firmware issue, but if the error resides in the lens itself, it’s possible that Canon will have to issue a recall.

One DPReview forum member has tested his own lens and was able to reproduce the error consistently, with the discrepancy more pronounced at longer focal lengths, as you might expect.

Do you own this lens? Have you had any issues nailing focus when shooting with a very shallow depth of field? Let us know in the comments below.

Andy Day's picture

Andy Day is a British photographer and writer living in France. He began photographing parkour in 2003 and has been doing weird things in the city and elsewhere ever since. He's addicted to climbing and owns a fairly useless dog. He has an MA in Sociology & Photography which often makes him ponder what all of this really means.

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Gotta love progress....15 years ago the lens would have to be sent back. Now it's just firmware :-)

Maybe ten years ago, Roger Cicala at remarked that he expected continued lens design to rely heavily on software to close the gaps rather than continue expensive hardware design. Mirrorless cameras make software even more effective in this regard.

I know everybody wants the latest and greatest right now, but it pays to wait until after at least the second or third firmware update before buying a new product. I saw a lot of initial-release bugs like this one during 25 years as a design engineer and manager in Silicon Valley.

That's why I'm waiting to what the second gen Zs will be like...and even then I'll wait for a firmware update. ;-)

As stated already Canon has swiftly stepped up with a fix.

Is this a DSLR or mirrorless lens? If it's mirrorless, that's a heluva fuck-up.

RF mount, so...