Introduction

On September 15, 2016 Canon announced the 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 all in one zoom lens for the EOS M mount.  They promptly started selling it as the higher tier kit lens included with the EOS M camera bodies.

Canon had this to say about the EF-M 18-150mm;

The new Canon EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM lens offers a high-zoom ratio, expanding the range of photographic possibilities for EOS M digital cameras. Its image stabilizer helps with reducing image blur and making image and video shooting easier at longer focal lengths. Along with the enhanced performance, the EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM lens is compact and lightweight, making it a versatile and convenient lens to carry.

Specifications

Core Specifications
Lens Type Zoom lens
Format Size APS-C
Focal Length 18-150mm
Image Stablization Yes
CIPA IS rating 4 stops
Lens Mount Canon EF-M
Aperture
Max Aperture F3.5-6.3
Min Aperature F22-40
Aperture Ring No
Diaphragm Blades 7
Optics
Elements 17
Groups 13
Special elements 2 asperical + 1 UD Element
Focus
Minimum focus 25cm
Maximum magnification .31x
Autofocus Yes
Motor type STM Stepper motor
Full time manual Yes
Focus Method Rear
Distance Scale No
DoF Scale No
Physical
Weight 301g
Diameter 61mm
Length 87mm
Sealing No
Color Graphite or Silver
Zoom Method Rotary (extending)
Power Zoom No
Zoom lock No
Filter Thread 55mm
Hood Supplied No
Tripod Collar No

Design

Exterior

This lens is an all-purpose zoom lens, consisting of a metal shell and a plastic mount, and industrial plastic interior.  This lens is 61mm in diameter and 86mm in length.  It weighs 301g. The zoom ring is smooth, and no zoom creep occurs with this lens.  The filter thread size is 55mm.

Focus

The STM motor used in this lens is a lead screw STM motor and offers fast AF.

The manual focus adjustment is focus by wire, which means that electronically the lens detects if you are spinning the focus wheel and moves the lens accordingly electronically.  As you move the wheel faster or slower, will depend on how quickly the focus adjustment occurs.  Many people dislike this focus method because it lacks the tactile feel and consistency that you get with mechanically coupled focus rings.

Elements

The lens features 17 elements and 15 groups, containing two aspheric elements and one UD element, making it the most complex EF-M lens to date.

Zoom Aperture

The 18-150mm very quickly reaches a minimum aperture of 6.3 early in the zoom range.  This is most likely a compromise to keep the optical quality good and the size small.  At 60mm the lens already reaches 6.3.  

Zoom Aperture Comparison

When compared to the other long focal zoom the 55-200, we see that the 18-150mm is slower throughout most of the common zoom range.

Color Performance

Summary - MTF

The MTF (or Modulation Transfer Function) provides a way to measure lens performance. Atypically this is computer generated based upon models, the lone exception being Zeiss that shows their MTF’s based upon a production lens sample.

For a detailed explanation of MTF and specifically how Canon shows their charts, refer to the article in Canon’s Digital Learning Center here.

Reading MTF Charts

The charts suggest that for a high ratio zoom lens, the EF-M 18-150mm will deliver good wide-open sharpness in the center, tailing off to the extremities, and very good performance stopped down to F/8.  Telephoto at 150mm is excellent with good contrast and sharpness throughout the frame. Contrast is good at 18mm throughout the frame, and tails off to the extremities, and improves significantly as you stop down the lens.  At 150mm, contrast is excellent throughout the frame, and increases as you stop down the lens.  Looking at the MTF, this lens is better as you increase the focal length.

Samples

Here is a sample image which you can navigate through the aperture and focal and see how our copy of the lens responds.

As we can see from our example, it conforms well to the MTF diagram.  The corners are good wide open the lens sharpens up in the corners as you stop down the lens.  The center performance is excellent throughout the zoom range.

Canon’s DPP and some of Canon’s later camera bodies contain DLO, Digital Lens Optimizer, which can be used to correct various aberrations with any of the supported cameras and lens combinations.  All the EF-M lenses have DLO “configurations” allowing you to further improve the characteristics of the lens.  Using DLO with this EOS-M lens is highly recommended as it clears up a lot of aberrations and the resultant images are excellent.  As you can see from our DLO samples below it sharpens up this lens considerably removing all traces of heavy CA especially at 18mm.

If you are interested in learning more about DLO, Canon has a DLO mini-website, located at https://global.canon/en/imaging/dlo/

Sharpening for non-DLO images is set at USM Strength 2 Fineness 2 and Threshold 1 and for DLO images, USM Strength 1 Fineness 2 Threshold 1 with DLO strength set to 50.

 mm  F stop 

Center

Bottom Left Corner

Filename EF-M18-150-HOT-18-35.jpg
ISO 100
Shutter Speed 1/1250
Aperture f3.5

Infrared Performance

Summary

We tested this lens on a full spectrum modified Canon M5.  The conversion was done by Kolari Vision, who in our opinion, one of the leading vendors of infrared modified cameras and filters.

Converting your camera allows it to be more sensitive to infrared wavelengths, that are normally reduced by your sensor’s IR/UV cut filter.  IR conversion removes that cut filter, and replaces it with an infrared filter, or in the case of full spectrum, clear glass.  This allows the camera to be far more sensitive to various wavelengths that normally a camera is not.  Because normally cameras are not sensitive to these wavelengths, lenses are also not designed around these wavelengths.  Various problems may occur with complex lens designs, including hotspots (a center area of the lens brighter than the peripheral, more noticeable as you stop down the lens) and wavelength smearing which atypically shows up as a loss of resolution in the periphery of the lens.  Lenses are also more prone to flare.

Each test is performed using Kolari Vision slim PRO anti-reflective infrared filters, which we find to show the best characteristics and contrast of any filters we have tried.  They also have Teflon coated filter threads which we find to be extremely useful when we are swapping filters frequently during testing.  While any filters will show an adequate final image, since each photo you are taking with a converted camera has a filter, we recommend using the highest of quality filters that you can afford.

A special note about the infrared test images.  It's very common because lenses aren't designed to focus infrared light instead of visible light at the lenses are softer than what you'd see normally with color images.  Depending on your filter choice, there's also a lot less RGB pixels receiving light, therefore, less sharpness.  For infrared images, very aggressive sharpening and contrast curves are used to bring out as much as possible from the image.  For a good judge of the image characteristics, click on the 2:1 button to reduce the image magnification down to 50%.  We usually find most infrared images look exceptional at around 50% magnification.  For each image, you can download and view to your own satisfaction. 

Hot Spot Performance

Hotspots do exist with this lens above 50mm and over F/11, however, there is minimal hotspot behavior at larger apertures.  The hotspot is not distinct and quite small even if you stop down the lens to F22.  For most normal photography of F/8 and under, no hotspots are visible.

 mm  F stop 

Samples

There's a lack of contrast visible at the lower focal lengths, and when the lens is wide open.  18mm is the worst focal when it comes to infrared.  There is slight wavelength smearing at the wider apertures to the sides of the lens and the corners. As you increase the focal, the lens produces sharper results. Stopping down the lens to 5.6 to f8 is advisable to extract the maximum sharpness from your infrared images.

Sharpening is set to an aggressive USM Strength 6 fineness 6 threshold 2 for non-DLO images and set to USM Strength 4 fineness 5 threshold 2 with DLO images, with DLO strength set to 100.

 nm   mm  F stop 

Center

Bottom Left Corner

Filename EF-M18-150-590-18-35.jpg
ISO 100
Shutter Speed 1/800
Aperture f3.5

Vignetting

The EF-M 18-150 has moderate vignetting wide open at 18mm and decreases as you increase both the aperture and also the focal length.

 mm  F stop 

Conclusion

Combined with DLO or using DLO in your Canon EOS M camera with JPG’s will produce excellent results with this lens.  There is not much to complain about, outside of a heavy chromatic aberration that need to be corrected to bring out the best of this lens.

Even with a plastic mount, which some will be disappointed with, this lens has a solid feel, and is a worth kit lens for your EOS M camera.  For infrared, with some care excellent results can be obtained from this lens, however you have to stop down to the sweet spot of f5.6-f8 to achieve the best results.

We recommend this lens for both color and infrared photography, and think it’s an excellent travel walkaround lens for your EOS-M.

EOS Mirrorless Reviews is not affiliated with Canon Inc. or any of their subsidiaries.