Wide-angle lenses generally have to do a lot of optical juggling to make sure those large views points have accurate lines and definition. This is especially true when lenses like the Canon EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM are almost verging into fisheye lens territory.
While there are rather expensive wide-angle lenses on the market, they are not all within everyone’s budget. Therefore, a more budget-friendly wide-angle zoom is needed. One that can still deliver good image quality, but doesn’t break the bank.
Made specifically for EF-M mount, APS-C camera bodies, the Canon EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM slots nicely into the budget-friendly category. But, can the lens also deliver on all fronts with not just good optics, but also in build and handling?
The first impression of the Canon EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM is that it’s super lightweight at 220g and it’s also very compact at only 58.2cm in length. This makes it an ideal complement to EOS M cameras, producing an equivalent focal range of 18-35mm.
Although the lens feels very lightweight, it has a largely metal construction with a wide zoom ring but an ever so narrow focusing ring. The lens barrel also features a lock switch to keep the lens barrel in place, achieved by simply putting the lens at the 11mm setting.
One common feature we’re seeing more these days are budget-friendly lenses with image stabilization. In this case, three stops of compensation is available and it’s activated via the camera’s menu system.
As for the optical arrangement inside the lens, there are two UD lens elements and two aspherical elements. There’s also a Super Spectra coating to reduce the likes of lens flare and ghosting and increase image detail.
All 12 elements within the lens are arranged in nine groups, with a seven-blade diaphragm. At the front of the lens is a 55mm filter thread that doesn’t rotate, allowing for the majority of filters to be fitted such as the circular polarizing type.
On the whole, when this lens is attached to a typical EOS M camera, the dimensions feel lightweight and compact enough for travel purposes or even discreet street photography. Compact form and lightweight features are a wonderful bonus to any lens, but how it operates in the real world is where it counts.
The Canon EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM in Use
As expected, the Canon EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM is straightforward to operate, with the initial realization that the focusing ring doesn’t have any hard stops, meaning it’s harder to locate infinity.
The Stepping Motor (STM) performs a respectable job in the autofocusing department, being extremely quick and quiet to lock into focus. We didn’t experience many cases of focus hunting until the lens ventured into extremely low light conditions. This means that the lens could be an ideal candidate for video shooting as well as for static images.
As with any zoom lens in the lower price category, it’s expected to see a good deal of optical anomalies which are well controlled with this lens. Chromatic aberration was only evident in small amounts when the aperture was wide open and in high contrast areas.
There were small amounts of blue and purple fringing, for instance with objects against a bright white background, but with a little stopping down to f/5.6 started to clear up matters. Vignetting on this lens is most evident at 11mm, being slightly better at 22mm, but clears up nicely once the aperture is set to f/8.
This lens can also get reasonably close to a subject at 15cm, with a maximum magnification of 0.3x. This isn’t exactly macro territory, but the lens is still very capable of nearly filling the frame with the subject.
Bokeh is a usual area to consider with any type of lens, but with the wide-angle variety, it’s not always top of the list. Wide-angle scenes usually require everything to be in sharp focus, but when background blur is required this lens can produce bokeh with relatively pleasing qualities, but mainly when the background is simple in layout and colors.
Sharpness is the next consideration with the Canon EF-M 11-22mm. At 11mm the center of the frame is relatively sharp from f/4 up to f/16. At the edges of the frame, the sharpest results come in at the focal lengths of f/5.6 to f/11. At 22mm, the lens performs equally as well with sharpness across the frame from f/4, with the sharpest results at the edges from f/5.6-f/11.
General image quality from this lens may not be mind blowing, but when the aperture is stopped down just a little, sharpness is very respectable, with a not-so-over-the-top level of contrast and color saturation.
How Does It Compare?
Competitors to the Canon 11-22mm, which are zoom lenses for the EF-M mount, are thin on the ground. This leaves us in a bit of a quandary as there are no direct competitors. The Canon EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM is the nearest match covering the relatively wide-angle range up to medium telephoto.
The EF-M 18-150mm may be slightly more expensive and arguably a different proposition, but with this lens, you do get a further reach of view, image stabilization, and a reasonably close focusing distance of 25cm. Optical qualities are comparable to the EF-M 11-22mm, which means the decision here is if you need the extra length.
|Canon EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM||Canon EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM|
|Optics||12 elements / 9 groups||17 elements / 13 groups|
With a zoom lens that costs only a few hundred dollars, we were not expecting it to have mind-blowing image quality or sharpness, but the Canon delivers better-than-expected results in this department.
Build quality is respectable for its price point and the autofocusing system is extremely quick and reliable. Sharpness levels from the lens are better than expected, with the only downside being obvious light fall-off in the corners, most evident at 11mm.
Surprisingly good is the main takeaway statement with the Canon, producing extremely distortion-free images for a very good price. Although image stabilization isn’t always needed on a wide-angle zoom, it does allow the lens to be used in very low light conditions, allowing for some extremely low shutter speeds.
In essence, if you need a cost-effective wide-angle lens with some very useful features, the Canon is definitely a lens to shortlist.