Introduction

Announced on May 11, 2016, Canon released the EF-M 28mm Macro IS STM lens with built-in LED, and at the time the world's lightest macro lens.

From Canon;

The Canon EF-M 28mm F3.5 is an ultra-compact macro lens for the company's mirrorless system. It has a magnification of 1X and can go up to 1.2X in 'super macro mode.' The lens has Canon's 'Hybrid IS' system and a quiet STM focusing motor. There are also two LEDs surrounding the lens to light up your subject.

Product highlights include;

  • EF-M Mount Lens/APS-C Format
  • 44.8mm (35mm Equivalent)
  • Maximum Aperture: f/3.5
  • One UD Element & Two Aspherical Elements
  • STM Stepping AF Motor
  • Hybrid IS Image Stabilization
  • Maximum Magnification: 1.2x
  • Super Macro Setting for 3.7" Min. Focus
  • Built-In Macro Lite LED
  • Retractable Design for Compact Profile

 

Specifications

Core Specifications
Lens Type Macro lens
Format Size APS-C
Focal Length 28mm
Image Stablization Yes
CIPA IS rating 3.5 stops
Lens Mount Canon EF-M
Aperture
Max Aperture F3.5
Min Aperature F22
Aperture Ring No
Diaphragm Blades 7
Optics
Elements 11
Groups 10
Special elements 1 UD, 2 aspherical elements
Focus
Minimum focus 9cm
Maximum magnification 1.2x
Autofocus yes
Motor type STM Stepper motor
Full time manual Yes
Focus Method Extending Front
Distance Scale No
DoF Scale No
Physical
Weight 130g
Diameter 61mm
Length 46mm
Sealing No
Color Graphite

Design

Exterior

Boosting about its lightweight nature, compromises in manufacturing had to occur.  The mount is plastic as is most of the lens barrel.  That being said, the lens feels surprisingly robust given it's manufacturing.

The barrel retracts to a resting position and must be unlocked and the lens turned to it's starting position to be used.  Twisting the lens to align the marker with the dot, allows the lens to be set for 1:1 macro. Twisting it more to the end allows it to be set to "super macro" or 1:1.2 macro (1.2 times magnification).

Also on the lens, is a button controlling small LED lights that exist in front of the lens to assist with illumination.  Continually pressing the button will cycle through all the various LED light settings available on the lens.

 

Focus

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.

Autofocus is smooth and fairly quick.  Some hunting can occur as you approach 1:1 macro and especially 1:2 macro unless you have the LED lights on.

Elements

The EF-M 28mm Macro has 1 UD, 2 aspherical elements, and a hybrid IS system which is specifically tuned for stabilizing macro stills images.

 

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 pancake lens, the EF-M 22mm will deliver good wide-open sharpness in the center, tailing off slightly to the extremities, and very good performance stopped down to F/8.  According to the MTF, as with most macro lenses, this will deliver exceptional results.

 

Samples

From our test samples, we see that center and corner performance is excellent wide open, and improves slightly as you stop down the lens.  This matches pretty near to what the MTF chart suggests.

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 removes all traces of CA from the lens.

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.

F stop 

Center

Bottom Left Corner

Filename EF-M28-HOT-28-35.jpg
ISO 100
Shutter Speed 1/640
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.

Hot Spot Performance

Hotspots can occur in infrared photography with particular lenses.  This test shows us if the lens has hotspots, and just as important when it does.  For normal infrared photography where you don't stop down significantly, this lens should perform admirably.  For macro work where you want to stop down past F11, be aware that at F16 there is a large slight hotspot for you to contend with.

 

F stop 

Samples

This lens is excellent for infrared.  It delivers highly resolving infrared images.

DLO seems to improve the corners more with Infrared images than it does with color and is certainly advisable to have it turned on.

 nm  F stop 

Center

Bottom Left Corner

Filename EF-M28-590-28-35.jpg
ISO 100
Shutter Speed 1/800
Aperture f3.5

Vignetting

Vignetting is perhaps this lens only weakness, showing a great deal of vignetting wide open and never really improving significantly until you reach F8.

F stop 

Conclusion

This is a fun little lens. It's small, light, and really sharp in both color and infrared photography.  The LED lights while at first glance may seem a bit gimmicky, really help with close up macro shots.  Since this lens is a 28mm macro your working distance from the lens to the subject for macro shooting is extremely small, using the lights removes the shadow cast by the lens as you hover over your object.

The only weakness of the lens is a high degree of vignetting, but considering the size and weight of the lens, it's a compromise.

This is certainly a lens to get in the EF-M ecosystem.

 

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