With much of Canon’s mirrorless limelight currently being shone on the full-frame R series, it can be easy to forget the usefulness of their M series. Imaging devices such as the EOS M50 fit a specific niche and require their own line of optics, which is where the Canon EF-M 32mm f/1.4 STM comes into play.
As M series cameras use an APS-C or crop sensor, the focal length hovers around the standard of 50mm, coming in at 51.2mm with an equivalent aperture of f/2.2. Add in some quality optics and the very efficient STM stepping motor, and this results in a potentially very versatile lens.
For any lens designed specifically for the Canon EF-M-mount, it needs to be relatively lightweight to match the camera’s low mass. In the case of the Canon EF-M 32mm f/1.4 STM, this has been achieved with the lens having a featherweight feel of 235g. The lens is relatively compact, coming in at 60.9 x 56.5mm, making this offering a good travel and walkabout lens.
To add to the weight saving, the lens is made from tough plastics, which may not have L series ruggedness, but is still relatively strong for general use. As for external features on the lens barrel, there is a focus limiter switch, with the choices of a full focus range or 0.5m – infinity. The rest of the lens is mostly taken up by the focusing ring, which doesn’t have any hard stops but is extremely smooth to turn.
The included STM has had lots of praise for its efficient workings and quiet operation. This has been especially useful for video shooting, but as the motor isn’t completely silent, it will be down to the shooting environment for its usefulness.
As for the lens’ optical arrangement, it has 14 elements arranged in eight groups, with one aspherical element and a Super Spectra coating. There’s also a seven-blade rounded diaphragm which can provide an aperture range of f/1.4-f/16.
Lastly, at the front of the lens, the filter size comes in at 43mm and is nonrotating. The 32mm f/1.4 STM isn’t supplied with any type of lens hood, but at least it has included lens caps.
The Canon EF-M 32mm f/1.4 STM in Use
Coupling the 32mm f/1.4 STM to a Canon EOS M camera makes for an extremely lightweight setup. It can’t be underestimated how much of a relief it is to carry around a camera set up which weighs less than a high-end prime lens.
The angle of view on this lens is 46 degrees, which provides just the right amount of framing for a shot, being not too wide, but also zoomed in enough to capture sharp detail.
Like many lenses in this category, there’s usually some evidence of lens anomalies. Luckily, in this instance, they are largely kept to a minimum. Chromatic aberration, or blue and purple fringing, is only detected on very high contrast areas with the aperture fully wide open. The effect was minimal at best, which saves a lot of cleanup time in post-processing.
Light falloff or vignetting can be seen in the corners when the aperture is set to f/1.4 but is virtually non-existent by f/2. Again, the effect is there, but not to the levels of being distracting or overbearing. Barrel distortion is also kept to a minimum but can be fully corrected with a good lens profile in your favorite piece of editing software.
The lens has a reasonable minimum focusing distance of 23cm. This means that while it’s not exactly a macro lens, it’s still reasonable at capturing small subjects that fill the majority of the frame. Capturing small subjects with a wide aperture close-up, naturally produces some rather nice bokeh effects.
On the whole, this looks very pleasing, and considering that the lens only has seven diaphragm blades, it does a very good job of producing rounded highlight balls and smooth backgrounds. Obviously, bokeh can be a very subjective area, but this lens produces smooth backgrounds which are quite artistic.
The EF-M 32mm f/1.4 STM has quite good sharpness in the center of the frame at f/1.4 and really comes into its own at f/2. After f/5.6 sharpness levels drop a little up until f/11, from which diffraction starts to take its toll. The edges of the frame take a little stopping down to f/5.6 for the best results.
On the whole, the EF-M 32mm f/1.4 STM is quite adept at producing good quality portrait shots, with a decent amount of color saturation and contrast. It’s also quite adept at rendering landscapes and as its a fast lens, it’s also good at freezing action, making it a good option for general sporting shots or events.
How Does It Compare?
If the Canon EF-M 32mm f/1.4 STM was quite a bit cheaper, it would be the end of story when it comes to recommendations. However, the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary is now available for a remarkably cheap price for a third-party lens, considering its quality of optics.
Just like the Canon, it may need stopping down a little for the very sharpest results, but when you hit focus with this thing, it is remarkably sharp. Sigma has been smashing it of late with their Art series lenses, with the quality filtering down to the Contemporary line. If both lenses were at the same price point, the choice would be quite difficult, but as the Sigma is now very affordable, making it the obvious choice.
|Canon EF-M 32mm f/1.4 STM||Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary|
|Optics||14 elements / 8 groups||9 elements / 7 groups|
|Close Focusing Distance||23cm||30cm|
|Diaphragm Blades||7 rounded||9 rounded|
Comparisons aside, the Canon EF-M 32mm f/1.4 STM is a very capable and high-quality lens. It has plenty of resolving power and is also lightweight enough to be carried around all day and take up minimal space in a camera bag.
Therefore, if you want a high-quality prime lens which acts as a great all-rounder and you’re committed to the Canon M series of cameras, the Canon EF-M 32mm f/1.4 STM is a great choice considering its optical qualities and super light weight.