Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM: Let There Be Light!


The Canon EF-M 28mm Macro IS STM is the first macro lens meant for Canon’s mirrorless segment. Vedika Singhania puts it to test.

This article was originally published in September 2017.

Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM

Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM

Macro photographer would empathize with the pain of not getting sufficient light on the subject or having to carry an additional ring light accessory. Canon extends a helping hand to eliminate this struggle for its M-series users and how. The first macro lens built for the Canon M-series, EF-M 28mm Macro also boasts of being the first of its kind with an in-built light. Considering this, Canon 28mm Macro lens is the only one of its type with such feature, including those from other lens manufacturers.

If you’re a Canon EOS M system user, then this is the only Macro lens option available. The lens also acts as a 28mm prime lens and a Macro lens with 1.2x magnification. It is a retracting lens. A switch on the lens barrel enables the lens to be extended to two points at 28mm and Super Macro. It also acts as a focus limitor dedicated to macro use. Other aspects of this lens includes STM which permits smooth and silent focus, especially handy while shooting video.
The optics consists of three special elements, out of which two are aspheric and one is UD (low refractive index and low dispersion). The lens employs an internal focusing mechanism. Once the lens has been extended for normal use, there is no further extension while focusing, and the front lens element does not rotate.
The USP of this lens is in its dedicated Macro Lite feature. It can illuminate small objects up close, diffused by a clear white ring. A small dedicated switch on the lens barrel allows you to choose between the right, left or both LEDs, and also toggles between two different intensities. The ring light also serves to add a catchlight in the eye especially in close-up portraits.
A lens hood that comes as a cover to the built-in Macro lite, when attached helps reduce flare and is threaded to accept a very convenient, inexpensive 43mm filters. It also provides additional protection to the lens from accidental impacts, bumps and scratches. The feature of ring light although cannot be used with the filter.

 This image was captured using the ring light. The sharpness of the optics and the lack of aberrations are plainly visible. Exposure: 1/400sec at f/3.5, (ISO 1600)

This image was captured using the ring light. The sharpness of the optics and the lack of aberrations are plainly visible. Exposure: 1/400sec at f/3.5, (ISO 1600) Photograph/Vedika Singhania

The barrel is metal although the mount is plastic. It still feels reasonably well-made and sturdy, despite it being just 130gms in weight. It is also compact and balances well on the Canon EOS M5. The compact nature of the lens also makes tripod selection easy, considering it becomes a major component while shooting macro photographs.
A long press of the LED lighting button alternates between keeping both LEDs functioning or switching between either. This feature also helps attain side-lighting on the subject.
The MF ring is smooth, and there is full-time MF override for precise focus corrections. The MF shifts focus minutely, rendering good control. While shooting videos too, in both regular and super macro setting, the manual focus ring allows extremely smooth transition between two points of focus.
Coupled with the Canon EOS M5 the results were absolutely stunning. The combination of features of the M5’s viewfinder, touch screen focus and the Super Macro lens setting enables quick and precise AF point selections and quick AF. It allows its use as a touchpad to move the focus point when you’re shooting through the viewfinder.

Chromatic aberrations are very well controlled in the most demanding cases. There is a slight distortion at the minimum focusing distance, although at other shooting distance it is corrected very well in-camera. Likewise, fringing is barely visible around the edges of highlights. The Image Stabilization (IS) works rather well, and becomes an especially important feature in handheld macro shooting in low light, giving its user 3-stops of advantage. Another merit of this lens is that it is used on an APS-C sensor camera; this essentially helps the lens attain a greater depth of field than what would be available with a full frame camera. This is an undeniable asset as far as macro photography is concerned.

The price of Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM is Rs. 21,995. Considering this is a dedicated macro lens for the M-series of cameras, and includes the unique feature of a built-in ring light, the price is excellent, especially given its performance. For those who need the specific DOF characteristics of this particular lens’ focal length, and the overall compact size of the lens-camera combination, for either clinical or technical usage, will find the 28mm an excellent fit. To top things off, the lens also performs rather well as a regular 28mm prime lens. Definitely a bargain!

MFD of 3.66in, in-built ring light, IS, STM
Sharp optics for Macro, minimal aberrations
Build Quality
Light, compact, metal barrel, plastic mount
For anyone invested into the EOS M system and looking for a dedicate macro, this is the only option available.
Warranty & Support
Wide area service network, 2 years warranty
MRP Rs. 21,995
Who should buy it? Photographers looking to shoot a wide range of subjects with both stills and video.
Why? In-built ring light, MFD, magnification ratio
Tags: Review, Canon, better photography, Lens review, Vedika Singhania, Canon EF-M 28mm Macro IS STM, August 2017