Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM: The Little Lens with Big Capabilities

Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM Image

Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM DEALS

The Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM lens is one of two lenses created for the Canon EOS M mirrorless camera. The EF-M 22mm isn’t compatible with other Canon camera bodies, so DSLR owners will have to give this pancake lens a miss.

It’s a fast prime lens featuring a constant aperture of f/2, along with a stepping motor (STM) for smooth continuous AF while shooting video (and in Live View mode). Because it’s made for the EOS M camera, the Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM prime has a near equivalence of a 35mm lens on a full-frame camera.

It’s a relatively inexpensive and lightweight lens, but we’re going to have a closer look and see how it fares when tested.

Design

Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM Image 1

The Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM lens is a lightweight 105g, which makes it one of the lightest standard lenses in the Canon range. It’s not hugely expensive, either, yet the build quality is good. The EF-M 22 lens is tiny compared to others, measuring a mere 61mm in diameter and 24mm in length. It was brought out in 2012, and is still a mainstay prime lens in Canon’s mirrorless system.

It’s made mainly of metal, with a metal lens mount which gives it a solid feel even though it’s so small. It doesn’t come with the EW-43 lens hood, so you will have to buy that separately if you want one. It also takes 43mm circular lens filters.

The focusing ring is quite wide, but one niggle is that it only has a very narrow ridged grip. If you only use autofocus then that won’t be an issue, but it does make manual focusing harder than it has to be.

The optics consist of seven elements in six groups, including one aspheric element. It has a maximum aperture of f/2, and a minimum aperture of f/22, which makes it fairly versatile.

While the Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM isn’t built for macro work, it does offer a closest focus distance of only 15cm, with a magnification ratio of 0.21X. That’s pretty impressive for a little lens like this, and you can get some good close-up shots.

The Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 in Use

Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM Image 2

As far as the AF system is concerned, the Canon EF-M f/2 lens is fairly quick to respond. There isn’t too much hunting for focus in bad light either, with accurate and smooth focusing most of the time. It’s also almost silent in focusing, thanks to the STM (stepping motor) system, which makes it very useful for shooting video.

Fans of manual focusing may be less impressed, because of the narrow focusing ring and the lack of hard stops at either end of the range, which makes it more difficult to set your focus to infinity.

For sharpness, the 22mm f/2 has good center sharpness from f/2.8 to f/11. The apertures that are affected by diffraction are f/11 and f/16. For sharp edges as well as a sharp center, f/2.8 to f/8 give the best results.

The Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 doesn’t control the dreaded chromatic aberrations all that well. The purple or green fringing often appears along edges of high-contrast, and in the corners of the frame, so that’s something to bear in mind (although chromatic aberration can be fixed or reduced in your image editing software).

On the plus side, the 22mm f/2 does give good resistance to distortion – there is very little with this lens.

When the lens is wide open at f/2 there is some visible light falloff in the corners of images – up to a full stop darker than the center, but the Canon EOS M system can automatically correct this when shooting in JPEG.

If good bokeh is your thing, you’ll be interested in the pleasing bokeh the 22mm f/2 provides. It has an iris diaphragm and seven rounded blades to produce some nice out-of-focus areas in your photos.

How Does It Compare?

The Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM doesn’t have many rivals because it’s one of only two prime lenses in the EF-M system. However, for $299 you can choose the Canon EF-M 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens if you would prefer a zoom lens instead of a prime.

The EF-M 18-55 zoom is larger and heavier than the EF-M 22mm prime lens (although it only weighs around 100g more than the 22mm f/2), and offers an equivalent focal length of 29-88mm).

The EF-M 18-55mm has Canon’s IS image stabilization system which the EF-M 22mm lens does not. Canon claims that using the IS system gives a four f/stop advantage over lenses without a stabilizer, and it can be turned off if you prefer.

The build quality is as good as on the EF-M 22mm, but the EF-M 18-55 lens does suffer from poorer image quality (zoom lenses do suffer in this compared to prime lenses anyway, but the EF-M 18-55 is particularly poor).

It’s ok at the 18mm end of the range, but up at 35mm the edges aren’t as sharp, and there’s a lot of distortion, corner shading, and chromatic aberrations too.

On balance, the Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM lens seems like better value, but it depends if you want a prime or zoom lens in this particular focal range.


Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STMCanon EF-M 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM
Optics7 elements/6 groups (including 1 aspheric element)13 elements/11 groups
Diaphragm7 rounded blades7
Image StabilizationNoYes
Weight105 grams205 grams

Conclusion

The Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM is a lightweight but sturdily-built prime lens. It’s not too expensive, and offers good image quality (although manually focusing with it is tricky due to the tiny focusing ring).

The STM motor gives smooth and silent focusing which is a major benefit to those who want to shoot video, but the main selling point has to be its size and flexibility. Paired with a Canon EOS M mirrorless camera, you have a lightweight and compact combo that’s perfect as a travel camera or for just about any type of photography.

The Review

Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM

7
The Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM is a lightweight prime lens, great for those with a Canon mirrorless system. The STM system provides smooth focusing, but the chromatic aberration and light falloff at certain settings do let it down a bit. However, for this price, it's a useful addition to your lens collection.

Pros

  • Canon STM motor
  • Light and compact
  • Solidly built
  • Good bokeh

Cons

  • Chromatic aberration in high-contrast areas
  • Manual focusing can be difficult
  • Significant vignetting at f/2 (a full stop darker than the center of the frame)

Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM DEALS

Review Breakdown

Performance

Design

Optics

Build Quality

Price

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