If you’re currently working with a Canon crop sensor body and want a very wide-angle zoom lens that doesn’t cost the earth, then you have a few options. The Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM is one such lens with a few specific attributes. The EF-S stands for ‘Short-back focus’ which means the lens is built specifically for APS-C EOS DSLRs.
The quoted focal range works out at 16-35mm in reality, which still can be plenty wide enough for most applications. From here on, we will see what the lens can provide and if it is a worthy adversary to what else is on the market.
The lens itself is quite a compact affair and doesn’t extend during zooming. This means that filters can be easily added and the total dimensions are kept well in check. The lens barrel itself is made from durable plastics, which may not be as tough feeling as something from the Canon L-series, but is still pretty rugged for general use. There’s also no weather sealing or dust proofing provided.
However, the lens does have some high-quality features to make the package attractive. A near silent ring-type USM (ultrasonic) motor with full-time manual focusing should be helpful for the video guys with a large upfront zoom ring and thin focusing ring.
Upfront is a 77mm filter thread. The lens also has an auto and manual focus switch and the usual Canon distance scale. There’s also an optional petal-shaped hood, which is the snap-on type.
Inside the lens are 13 elements in ten groups, three of them being aspherical and one SUD element. There are also six rounded diaphragm blades, a minimum focusing distance of 0.24m and a total weight of 385g.
In all, a well-constructed lens with basic attributes that you would associate with this price point of glass.
Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM in Use
Starting off, the Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM shows an impressively low amount of barrel distortion, even at its widest. At roughly 14mm is where the lens is at its best and only a marginal amount going up to 22mm.
As for vignetting, there is definitely more on a crop sensor body than on a full-frame and at the widest aperture is where the most vignetting is apparent, though stopping down to f/5.6 clears things up considerably.
Chromatic aberration is low for a lens at this price point. It is most noticeable at 10mm against high contrast areas and diminishes going up to 22mm.
As for overall resolution, center sharpness is very good across the focal range, only displaying a little bit of softness when you get to 22mm. Corner sharpness is at its best when you hit f/8, but tends to tail off at the extremes of aperture. Diffraction also starts to creep in from f/8 onwards, but this is to be expected.
As for general image quality, architecture and landscape images come out with straight lines and a reasonable amount of contrast. The overall quality isn’t going to be anything like a high-end prime lens, but you’ll definitely produce good quality images with this lens covering the wide end of the spectrum.
How Does It Compare?
As we’re talking more about the medium price range of lenses here, there are few other options to choose from. The Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II VC HLD comes in at a similar price point and goes a few millimeters extra at the telephoto end.
The lens also has a few other added bonuses such as Vibration Compensation (VC) which gives you up to four stops of leeway. Its also said to be moisture resistant and has a fluorine coating on the front element to guard against dirt and the like.
It weighs more than the Canon, but that is to be expected with the image stabilization. If your allegiance isn’t completely with Canon, then this could be a likely choice.
As a cheaper alternative, there is the Tokina AF 12-24mm f/4 AT-X Pro DX. It doesn’t cost anywhere near the Canon, but like the Tamron it has two extra millimeters at the telephoto end. It also only goes as wide as f/4. The optics are reasonable, just not in the same league as the Canon or the Tamron.
|Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM||Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5|
|Elements||13 elements in 10 groups||16 elements in 11 groups|
|Blades||6 rounded||7 rounded|
Overall, the Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM is a reasonable package that provides better than expected optics and thus very good images. The resolution and sharpness are very good at the widest focal length and still pretty reasonable when you go up to 22mm. Center sharpness is very good across the range, with only slight corner softness at the extremes of focal length and aperture.
Things like distortion and lens flare are kept well in check, but the lens isn’t a complete no-brainer. Depending on where you shop, it can cost more than the third-party counterparts and if you’re wanting the ultimate in optical quality, then you will have to part with more money for a Canon L-series.
Ultimately, if you own a crop sensor camera and want to cover the wide end of the spectrum for a reasonable amount of money, then this lens is definitely worth considering.