Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM: Size Does Matter!

 

Vedika Singhania tests the Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM, the company’s first pancake lens for their mirrorless M-series of cameras

Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM

Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM

The heading must already reveal it, but we can’t rave about it enough. It is unbelievable how tiny this Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM lens is! It is the second prime lens in the fledgling EF-M lineup. In a sense, this 22mm comes close to its rather well-received full-frame sibling, the Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM, but it has two significant advantages.

Features
Firstly, the Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM delivers the classic 35mm equivalent angle of view on the 1.6x crop factor of the M5’s APS-C sensor. Secondly, a maximum aperture of f/2 (one stop more than the 40mm), also lends itself well to shoot in lower light levels. At f/2, not only does the 22mm offer the same DOF characteristics as the 40mm; on a smaller sensor, it also negates any noise disadvantage over its full-frame cousin.

Though not rated as macro lens, the minimum focusing distance is 15cm from sensor plane, and boasts of a magnification ratio of 1:2 . The lens has seven circular aperture blades for near circular bokeh. It includes an STM motor for smooth and silent focus, good for video-shooters, but it also means that the AF is slightly slower.

Even while shooting in a low-light condition at the widest aperture, flaring was reasonably well-controlled. Exposure: 1/400sec at f/2, (ISO 1600)

Even while shooting in a low-light condition at the widest aperture, flaring was reasonably well-controlled.
Exposure: 1/400sec at f/2, (ISO 1600). Photography/Vedika Singhania

Handling
Weighing a mere 105g, it is one of the smallest and lightest standard wide lenses that Canon offers. The combination of the lens with EOS M5 (that we tested it with) would easily fit into a coat pocket or a sling bag, and looks quite inconspicuous too. The lens consists of a metal barrel and mount, although the filter ring and insides are plastic. The build quality of the lens is quite impressive originating from the simple fact that there aren’t many moving parts. The lens combined with EOS M5, makes shooting great fun; it grows on you!
Measuring 23.7mm in length, it extends very slightly as it focuses, but the front lens element does not rotate. This comes handy while using a polarizing filter. The lens is threaded to accept a very convenient, inexpensive 43mm filter. The focusing ring is quite wide given the size of the lens, and has a narrow ridged grip to assist with finger-tip operation.

Performance
Lenses have to strike a fine balance between optical performance, size and cost. At f/5.6 and f/8, the results in this lens are at their best in all aspects. The edges aren’t nearly as sharp as the center on both the extreme end of the aperture openings. While f/2.8 to f/8 produces the sharpest results; f/16 and f/22 is adversely affected by diffraction.
The flare although, is minimal even at wide apertures. Image distortions are negligible and chromatic aberrations are also well-controlled within the lens. The M-Series cameras are correction-enabled. While vignetting is minimised, especially at f/2, the edges reveal some telltale signs of increased noise in low light.
The lens also comes with a full-time manual focus override. With lack of distance markings, it becomes somewhat difficult to set accurate hyperfocal distances with manual focus. This is a little disappointing, considering that this lens is conducive to its use, especially for street photography.
While the AF performance for still photos is slightly slow, it remains perfectly adequate except in the most challenging situations.

Conclusion
The Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM is a capable, optically sound 35mm equivalent pancake lens that will appeal to street chroniclers and reportage photographers using the M-series, looking for a sturdy and inconspicuous lens. Priced at Rs. 15,995, this lens has several stand-out features in a surprising tiny package and is quite reasonably priced.

FINAL RATINGS
Features
MFD of 15cm, STM, rounded aperture blades, Full-time manual focus override
18/20
Performance
Sharp images, minimal aberrations, slow AF
30/35
Build Quality
Light, compact, metal barrel, sturdy
21/25
Ergonomics
Quite autofocus, metal barrel, pancake lens, consistent quality images
13/15
Warranty & Support
Wide area service network, 2 years warranty
4/5
MRP Rs. 15,995
OVERALL 86%
VALUE FOR MONEY 4.5/5
Who should buy it? For EOS M-system users, interested in travel or reportage photography.
Why? Sturdy, compact body at a bargain price, delivers consistent quality even in varied lighting conditions.
Tags: August 2017, better photography, Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM, canon lens, Test, Vedika Singhania