Canon ef-m 28mm Macro IS STM Lens Review

by | Jun 16, 2018 | Camera Equipment Reviews | 0 comments

A tiny macro lens – but does it deliver?

Overview

This macro lens is designed for use with the Canon M series of cameras. It will not work with Canon EOS DSLRs.

EF-M 28MM F3.5 Macro Review

Pros

  • Genuine macro lens
  • Super macro setting
  • Built in LED semi-ring lights
  • Lightweight
  • Small
  • Superb image quality
  • Excellent ‘standard’ lens
  • Image Stabilisation

Cons

  • None.

Limitations

  • F3.5
  • All plastic build
  • Focal length means very short working distance when shooting macros

Introduction

Arguably, the compelling reason to get a mirrorless camera is size – having DSLR quality in a pocketable package! As a hiker, I love having a lightweight system capable of producing professional quality results.

This lens is basically a ‘standard’ focal length – its field of view roughly equates with the human eye, making photos that truly reflect the scene before your eyes.

But it has a hidden extra – the ability to focus so closely that it is a genuine macro — producing an actual size image of tiny objects.

And then it can go one further – it can focus even more closely and make the image larger than the subject. Very few lenses exist that can do this.

Specs

Dimensions: 60.9 x 45.5 mm
Weight (g) : 130g
Type: Macro, Standard Lens, Fixed Focal Length
Filter Size: 43mm

In use

Look at the dimensions. This lens is small and light. It’s one of those retractable lenses – when it’s not in use the front element tucks neatly into the lens’ body. Attached to an M100 it’s easily pocketable.

In use, the lens extends a bit, but it’s still tiny. It comes with a ‘hood’ which screws on the front and allows circular filters to be attached. As the front doesn’t rotate when focussing, polarisers are easy to use on this lens.

Remove the ‘hood’ and the macro LED lights are visible – more on them below.

General

As a general purpose, ‘standard’, lens this is simply beautiful. It’s so small and light and works wonderfully with the EOS M cameras. If it works well with this tiny camera then it will be just as good with the larger M series bodies.

Image quality is great. Focussing is fast enough – the M100 is not an action/sports/wildlife camera so the AF speed isn’t going to be supersonic. But it’s fast enough.

As a landscape lens it is brilliant. This focal length is ideal for ‘big’ landscapes where a wide angle would make the background too small.

This focal length may be a little too long for street photography – I’d use the even smaller EF-M 22MM for that, but with some effort, good results are possible. Indeed, the focal length makes taking discreet shots easier as you are further from the subject.

The F3.5 maximum aperture is a limitation – see below for details.

Macro

How they managed to make a ‘super-macro’ so tiny is amazing. I’ve used a lot of macro lenses and they tend to extend a long way or be big to start with. Even the excellent EF-S 60MM feels ‘chunky’, but this lens is sooooo tiny even when in full blown macro mode.

As the sample pictures show, the macro capabilities are impressive indeed.

As detailed in the Limitations section, the physical design of a 28MM lens means that macro focussing can only be achieved at extremely close distances. In this case we are talking about a centimetre. Compare that to the EF 180MM, which achieves macro focus at 48CM! Then again, that lens costs well over 5 times as much and weighs almost 10 times as much. (Of course, with the EOS M adapter you can use the EF 180MMM Macro with your M series if you want to!)

Such a close working distance can be challenging – live insects may be spooked having a camera so near to them and (usually) there would be lighting issues, as the lens/camera would get in the way.

Here’s where this lens shines – literally. The lighting problem is overcome because it has a small pair of LED lights at the front of the lens. Press one button and they turn on. Press it again and they dim a little. Hold the button down and one side lights up. And so forth.

Some reviewers have complained that these lights aren’t very bright. They don’t need to be! They are designed for extreme close up work and, in my tests, I found the brightest setting to sometimes be too bright. They do their job! Sure, if you are going to take portraits with this lens, then the lights wont be bright enough. But they are macro lights not portrait lights.

Tripod

The lens does have image stabilisation. Nevertheless, for macro work using a tripod is better. Even the best Image Stabilisation systems struggle to work with extreme close ups as camera shake tends to be magnified. In addition, getting the right composition is much easier using a tripod. Macro work is rarely a case of point and shoot.

But semi-macro work – taking a picture of a whole flower, for example, is possible hand held and here the image stabilisation will be beneficial.

Limitations

Many reviews list limitations as negatives/cons. I don’t think that’s right. I mean, if you buy a Volkswagen Golf you don’t complain it won’t be competitive at a Grand Prix. So, my review list my equipment’s limitations as basic facts and not criticisms.

The lens has a focal length of 28MM. That means that macro focus is achieved at about 1cm. This is a fact, a law of physics. It can’t be beaten. If you want a macro lens with a longer working length then they are available – Canon make several, all of which work with M series cameras with the adaptor.

To keep the lens small and in keeping with the diminutive M series of cameras, the lens has a maximum aperture of F3.5. For macro work, this is almost a negligible factor. Often, macro work requires small apertures for increased depth of field.

For landscape work, the F3.5 max aperture is a non issue.

For portrait work, it is possible that the modest max aperture will be too small to get the soft backgrounds that F2.8 can give. But serous portrait work on an APS-C system requires a focal length of 85MM and not 28MM…

So, the F3.5 max aperture is, in reality, a non issue.

The build quality is fine. It has a plastic lens mount and it’s not weather sealed. So don’t use it in the rain. Don’t drop the camera. Don’t use it to hammer in nails. You get the picture…

Conclusion

At this price point I wouldn’t expect that much. But what you get is a lightweight, optically brilliant, diminutive, genuine macro lens. Frankly, this is an astonishing lens.

The addition of the LED ring lights is a huge bonus.

If you have an EOS M series camera and want a small macro lens then get this lens!

If you have an EOS M series camera and want a small standard lens then get this lens!

This lens is a must have for the EOS M series!

Where to buy

Please use the link below to purchase this item – this site depends on income from photo sales and commission on purchases.

UK

USA

Sample Images

[URIS id=54]

 

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