Canon EF-M 11–22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM: Wide Choice Narrowed

 

The Canon EF-M 11–22mm is the first wide-angle lens from the company’s mirrorless camera segment. Shridhar Kunte puts it to the test.

Canon EF-M 11–22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM

Canon EF-M 11–22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM

Ever since Canon launched its M-series lineup, this is their third lens for this system. With this attempt, Canon is trying to answer some uncomfortable questions raised by the company’s aficionados, who bought into their mirrorless cameras. Prior to this, the lens choices were limited to the EF-M 18–55mm and EF-M 22mm. Given that it is not particularly easy to support multiple product lines, the question is whether Canon will be able to reinstate the confidence in the Canon EOS M system users, with this launch.

Features
If you are a Canon EOS M system user, then this is the only wide angle zoom option available. This is also the first wide angle lens from Canon which has IS. In 35mm parlance, this lens offers a focal length of 18–35mm. It uses Canon’s proprietary Super Spectra Coating technology to control ghosting and flare. The optics consist of three special elements, out of which two are aspheric and one is UD (low refractive index and low dispersion). The lens contains a total of 12 elements arranged in 9 groups. There are 7 blades in the aperture diaphragm. But this is not critical to bokeh performance because of the much larger DOF present in wide lenses of this nature.

At all focal lengths, the lens focuses down to 0.15m. At this focusing distance, the magnification ratio is 1:3 at 22mm. Considering the focal length, this is rather good, and aids in the capabilities of this lens. It accepts filters of a very convenient, less expensive 55mm thread. The other good thing is that the front element does not rotate while focusing. With one of the ideal uses of this lens being for landscapes, a circular polariser can easily be used.

 When focused at a minimum focusing distance at the wide end of the lens, you can throw the background out of focus, even at f/4. Exposure: 1/4000sec at f/4, (ISO 3200)

When focused at a minimum focusing distance at the wide end of the lens, you can throw the background out of focus, even at f/4. Exposure: 1/4000sec at f/4, (ISO 3200). Photograph/Shridhar Kunte

Handling
For testing purpose, we coupled the lens with the EOS M5. The combination feels light and has a good overall balance. The lens weighs only 220gms. Yet, considering this low mass, it feels rather sturdy. The overall look and feel is very similar to EF-M 18–55mm kit lens.  The lens barrel is made up of aluminium and is covered with polycarbonate, affording it a very robust look and feel. The mount is also made up of metal, to ensure a more secure coupling with the camera body, and years of use. The focus ring is much smaller in size as compared to the zoom ring. It is placed near the front element of the lens. The zoom ring is placed close to the camera body and is much wider than the manual focus ring, in order to make it easy to hold and rotate steadily, while shooting zoom bursts at slower shutterspeeds, or video. The overall length remains the same at 11mm and 22mm position, but it retracts by few millimeters at 14mm. The zoom ring rotates approximately at an angle of 40°, to cover the entire range. There is no distance or DOF scale, but I feel that on wide angle lenses of this nature, it is not all that important.

Performance
I was particularly happy with the close focusing performance of this lens. When it comes to wide angle lenses operated at narrow apertures, one cannot expect to get a shallow depth of field. But blurs are usually difficult at any aperture. For subjects at the minimum focus distance of about 15cm, you can certainly blur backgrounds quite effectively. Distortion is noticeable across the entire focal length. At 11mm, there is a noticeable barrel distortion, but as you start zooming in at 15mm, it starts settling to acceptable level and disappears at 22mm. The overall sharpness of the images reaches its highest level from f/4 and f/5.6. Considering the history of Canon’s mirrorless cameras, I was quite happy to see that the focusing speed is quite fast and accurate. Under different lighting conditions, the focusing was affirmative, and hardly showed any kind of hunting. While the manual focus ring is responsive full-time, it is too narrow and difficult to locate and use, especially in the thick of action. Thanks to the STM motor, the focusing is smooth and near silent. This feature will be handy while capturing video as well. The IS worked well, giving 3-stops of advantage, while shooting handheld. Chromatic aberrations are very well controlled in the most demanding cases. The light fall off is more serious when images captured at wide apertures, but it settles down from f/8. However, this might be contributed by both sensor and the lens.

Conclusion
This is the only wide angle zoom lens from Canon for their mirrorless M series camera range. This lens is available at MRP of Rs. 25,995. At this excellent pricing, it will definitely appeal to most landscape and travel photographers, looking for a portable and versatile lens. The lens delivers a good focal length wide angle range and is a welcome addition to the EF-M arsenal. Besides, it certainly won’t make a hole in your pocket, and is excellent value for money.

 

FINAL RATINGS
Features
Close focusing distance of 15cm, FTM
16/20
Performance
Vignetting, distortion well controlled
32/35
Build Quality
Feels sturdy, metal interior
22/25
Ergonomics
Light, MF ring is very narrow
12/15
Warranty & Support
Wide area service network, 2 year warranty
4/5
MRP Rs. 25,995
OVERALL 86%
VALUE FOR MONEY 4/5
Who should buy it? Those who are looking to shoot a lot of interiors and landscapes, as the lens offers good optical performance.
Why? Useful at close-focus distance and distortion is well controlled.

 

Tags: better photography, Canon, Canon EF-M 11–22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM, Gear Guide, July 2017, Review, Shridhar Kunte