The range of official Canon EF-M lenses is ever-expanding, and doubling up the features of a regular lens is always beneficial. One of the most recent additions to the Cannon mirrorless lens series is the Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM.
This is the first official EF-M macro lens, and it’s also relatively wide. Made specifically for the APS-C-format and EF-M mount cameras, it provides a 44.8mm equivalent focal length and even image stabilization.
The EF-M 28mm Macro lens has a stylish and compact design that keeps in trend with other EF-M lenses. Considering the lens’s reasonable price tag, it’s aimed more at the enthusiast photographer, but that doesn’t mean Canon has skimped on the optical quality. There are lots of features packed into this compact lens, which should make it a great application for general use.
The Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM is certainly light. Weighing only 130g, it’s one of the most compact macro lenses in the Canon lineup at 45.5cm. The EF-M designation means that the lens can only be used on the likes of the Canon EOS M3, providing a 45mm equivalent view.
As expected for a lens at this price point, the lens barrel is made from solid plastic, with a narrow focusing ring and tiny operational switches. Surrounding the lens barrel is a lock switch that retracts the barrel. Two macro modes have been included on the lens, being a normal mode with 1.0x magnification and a Super Macro setting with 1.2x magnification.
One cool addition to the lens is the Macro Lite, designated by the standout white ring surrounding the lens barrel. A small button on the side of the lens swaps the different modes of light, choosing from either the left or right LEDs, both being illuminated and the choice of two different light settings.
The Hybrid image stabilization offers up to 3.5 stops of compensation, which is enabled by the camera’s menu and is very straightforward in operation. Lastly, the lens is supplied with an ES-22 lens hood, with a 43mm filter thread accepting most types of filters.
The Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM in Use
With the Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM strapped onto the likes of an EOS M3, the overall setup is extremely light, making it a very good travel companion.
When it comes to focusing abilities on the lens, as previously mentioned, the focus ring is quite narrow with no hard stops, making it difficult to set the lens to infinity. The autofocus system is extremely quick using the stepping motor (STM) and does a good job in the majority of cases at locking into focus. It’s also exceptionally quiet, which should also suit video recording.
Moving on to the usual lens anomalies, the Canon displays a surprisingly low amount of chromatic aberration. This usually shows up as purple or blue fringing around high contrast areas, which is very well controlled in this instance.
When the aperture is wide open, there is a fair degree of vignetting, which will need stopping down to at least f/5.6 to alleviate. However, if you shoot in JPEG mode, this can be automatically corrected in-camera.
As this lens doubles up as a macro solution, it’s expected to deliver in this area, which it does very well. With the Super Macro mode and 1.2x of magnification, the 9.3cm minimum focusing distance gets extremely close to a subject, while pulling out lots of detail.
This is where manual focus is the most useful, which is why the lens could have done with a wider aperture ring. However, there is no faulting the macro abilities of this lens, especially for its price point.
Although this lens is verging on the wide-angle side of things, it can still produce relatively good bokeh. It’s not going to be as creamy smooth as a wider aperture prime lens, but bokeh can be served up in reasonable amounts when needed.
As for overall sharpness levels, center sharpness is very good from f/3.5 upwards, with diffraction taking a hit from f/16 and beyond. The edges of the frame don’t fare as well and will need to be stopped down to f/5.6 to get the sharpest images.
Generally, images produced by this lens are extremely sharp when stopped down a little and although they may not be as sumptuous looking as high-end prime lenses, the results are still respectable.
How Does It Compare?
Aside from the Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM, there is no other dedicated macro lens for the Canon EOS M range. There are no third-party macro lenses either. You can use a lens adapter to attach EF-S macro lenses, however.
Although the EF-M 28mm f/3.5 has some unique qualities which can’t be found on other lenses for this platform. The Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM is in the ballpark price range specifically for the EOS M platform.
The EF-M 22mm lens benefits from an f/2 aperture and while the optics of both lenses are comparable, the inclusion of the macro facilities and the macro light on the EF-M 28mm make the lens a better all-rounder.
If simply wide-angle viewpoints are your thing, then there is the option of the Canon EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM and the Canon EF-M 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM. These are both zoom lenses that provide good optics for the money but lack macro capabilities.
However, these two lenses do have the inclusion of image stabilization, which may tip the balance of decision-making. Alas, none of the above have the cool looking macro light as featured on the EF-M 28mm f/3.5.
|Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM||Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM|
|Optics||11 elements / 10 groups||7 elements / 6 groups|
Luckily for us, the Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM packs in a lot of features for the money – a very capable macro system, with the bonus of the built-in LED lights. The simple but effective stabilization system works very well to get those low shutter speeds, and focusing is quick and quiet in the majority of cases with manual override.
Image quality is satisfying with good degrees of sharpness over the whole frame from f/5.6. Lens anomalies are kept low and while the lens does have some deficiencies, such as some slight edge softness, it’s still a fine performer for the price. The resultant focal length of 45mm is more like a standard lens, which means this lens acts more like a general all-rounder than anything else.