PetaPixel

Review: Can the Canon EF-M 11-22mm Revive the EOS M System?

canon1122mm

The third EF-M lens – finally! The Canon EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM is an important lens for Canon. Since the launch of the EOS M, Canon has been trying to quell the dissatisfaction of consumers who lament about the lens selection, which until recently has been limited to the EF-M 18-55mm and EF-M 22mm.

Compared to the competition (Micro Four-Thirds, NEX and Fuji) who offer a myriad of lens choices, the EOS M user can only look on in envy at the “greener grass on the other side”. With the new ultra-wide angle, EOS M users finally have some reprieve from the optical drought, although many would still appreciate a lens map from Canon to signify the manufacturer’s commitment to the system.

The question is: is the EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM good enough to maintain consumers’ confidence in the Canon EOS M system?

IMG_9458

The EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM is Canon’s first wide zoom (18-35mm in 35mm film equivalent focal length) with Image Stabilizer (IS) technology, which Canon is claiming a 3-stop effectiveness. I personally feel that IS technology is long overdue in the EF and EF-S lens line-up, and hope that future wide-angle lenses will incorporate the technology as well.

Canon takes delight in slapping every other new EF lens with STM (stepper motor) that should deliver smoother and quieter focusing during videography, and it makes an appearance on this lens as well. Personally I prefer USM (ring-type) over STM for faster AF speed, but videography fans will definitely agree with Canon’s decision.

Lens design

In terms of appearance, the EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM continues the smart and clean design of the other EF-M lenses, with metal barrel featuring die-turned grip areas. Both the zoom and focusing (focus by wire) rings turn smoothly and precisely, and the zoom travel distance is very short which makes for fast zoom operation.

The lens sits in a collapsed position for compactness during transport, and you need to activate a catch to turn the lens to the shooting range. The retracted position shrinks the lens by 13mm – not enough incentive for me to go through the hassle of sliding the switch and zoom ring every time I take the lens off, so I just keep the lens in the “ready” position permanently.

IMG_9396

The proof in the pudding for any lens is its optical performance, and the Canon EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM looks very promising on paper. For starters, it has two aspherical lenses and one Ultra-low Dispersion lens within its 12 elements in 9 groups configuration. And the EF-M 11-22mm features Super Spectra coatings to help ensure colour fidelity and control flare and ghosting.

Optical performance

IMG_9520

In the field, the Canon EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM performs admirably with impressive sharpness and excellent control of contrast. From the center to the edge of the image, from near distance to infinity, from wide-open to stopped down aperture settings, the Canon EF-M 11-22mm has no issues with sharpness. It performs best at the sweet spot of around f/8 or so, but in general the lens has spades of sharpness. So long as the depth of field covers the subject in question, you are assured of crisp rendition in your images. Go beyond f/14-16 though, and the laws of optics dictate that sharpness will take a hit from diffraction. But with the ample depth of field from the ultra-wide angles, I can count with one hand the occasions I had to stop down beyond f/16.

IMG_9599

The EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM handles flares and ghosting competently as well, which is a good thing because it does not ship with a lens hood. It is still possible to provoke flare intentionally, but in most shooting situations the lens does an admirable job in challenging lighting conditions. The EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM can focus down to 15cm (approximately 6 inch), which is pretty good performance. But the surprise is how the EF-M 11-22mm can do it so well – even micro-details are rendered with pinpoint sharpness.

Conclusion

IMG_9638

The long-awaited Canon EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM is a great addition to the EOS M system, and if you’re a EOS M owner who loves wide-angle photography, this is the lens to go for. Not because it’s the only choice (aside from a EF lens adaptor), but it is a genuinely impressive lens that delivers the goods. It’s incredibly sharp, compact, flare-resistant and well built. It is not perfect though, with some barrel distortion visible at the ultra-wide angle end, but it rates highly for its overall optical performance.

IMG_9632

Not available in USA

For reasons unknown, Canon Inc. has decided not to make the Canon EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM available to the US market at the point of publication for this review. Given the strong demand for the Canon EOS M after the downward price revision on online retailers, it is definitely a strange decision not to offer more EOS M-mount lenses to the consumers who might have snapped up the EOS M cameras in anticipation of this lens. We can only hope that this is a temporary decision, but I know photographers in the US have been ordering the EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM from online retailers in Hong Kong and Canada.


About the author: Nelson Tan is a photographer based in Singapore. Check out his Facebook, blog, Flickr album and his photo gallery.


 
  • Kieran Grasby

    “I personally feel that IS technology is long overdue in the EF and EF-S lens line-up”

    Where exactly have you been since nineteen ninety five?
    The Canon lens line-up contains plenty of IS lenses for both EF and EF-S

  • YS

    The biggest advantage to this lens is price: For the price of an ultrawide zoom in any other system, you can get this lens and the basic kit, Now that’s value!

  • NelsonTan

    If you look at the sentence in the context of the paragraph, you’d realize that I was referring to IS for wide-angle Canon lenses.

  • Gene

    I understood what you meant (and suspect the GP did too, and is just being snarky) but that was a poorly worded sentence. It wouldn’t elicit a double-take if it explicitly said “wide EF and EF-S”.

  • Kieran Grasby

    I must admit I was being snarky to try and point out what I thought was a poor choice of wording.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah this. The price is crazy. Panasonic/Olympus/Sony rough UWA mirrorless lenses are about double the price.

  • John Scarborough

    I would rather have an EF-M 40mm PANCAKE. I want a pocket camera that will fit in my pocket. I don’t do wide angle. I prefer tele or macro. I want to see details. So far the adapter with EF-S lens works for me. EF lenses are problematic.

  • FourString

    I will definitely be saving up for this while I’m studying abroad in England.

  • canonite

    Compared to the competition (Micro Four-Thirds, NEX and Fuji) who offer a myriad of lens choices, the EOS M user can only look on in envy at the “greener grass on the other side”. …

    The eos-m does have the lens mount adapter where you can attach the many ‘myriad of lens’ offered in Canon’s EF + EFS ranges.

  • barney klingenberg

    Is there any need for IS in an ultra wide angle zoom then.
    What are the benefits at this focal range. You can already use slow shutter speeds at these focal ranges anyway.

  • Ted Lee

    I bought this lens via eBay from a retailer in Japan, and I’m very happy with it. Having a UWA kit that’s as capable as a Canon 60D and the EF-S 10-22 at half the price and weight is an amazing thing. Canon missed the boat by not offering this lens in the US. I personally know of 6 photographers who snatched up the EOS M at the $300 price point, and wouldn’t have thought twice about buying the EF-M 11-22 at $500 to go along with it.

  • farhxyx

    find out how to generate 100 usd every day at your own home! simply go here surveymoneymaker dot net

  • go4it

    Well, your right … and not quite. The EF lens -> EF-M body adapter is peachy-keen, no question. But other than the EF 40mm f/2.8 USM “pancake” lens, every EF lens you hang on the tiny EOS M body looks like a whale humping a goldfish. I have the rather astonishing EF-S 10-22mm IS zoom. It’s better than non-Canon owners realise. But I hang it – with adapter – on the Gen 1 M body and it’s an unmanageable package. So I went to Canada and came back with the EF-M 11-22. Yeah, I lose 1mm on the wide end – it shoots like a 17.6-35.2mm “film lens”. But compared to trying to manuever – basically – the equivalent dSLR lens with adapter, it’s no contest. I’m even good with the EF-M lens being a little slower. I just can’t hand-hold the big dSLR lens – with adapter – with the M. The dedicated ultra-wide EF-M lens & body? Piece of cake!!!!!! To me, the simple omission of an EVF on the Gen 1 EOS M body should have cost someone high-up in Canon hierarchy their career. For starters! Canon was inexcusably late to the party with the EOS M. It was horribly over-priced! Before the firmware update, the slow AF stunk! And they insult American owners by not even offering this magnificent 11-22 EF-M lens.

  • go4it

    But …… D-A-M-N ……. with that big sensor, it DOES capture tremendous images!!!!!!