Canon EF-S 10–18mm f/4.5-5.6: The Ultrawide Steal

 
Canon EF-S 10–18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM

Canon EF-S 10–18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM

Despite a plethora of ultrawide lenses in Canon’s lineup, the Canon EF-S 10–18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM has its own special place. Aditya Nair finds out.

Despite a wide range of ultrawide zooms and an array of primes in the 16–35mm range, Canon has seen fit to thrown the EF-S 10–18mm into the mix for APS-C cameras, at half the price of the older 10–22mm f/3.5- 4.5. Lightweight, compact, silent, sharp and under Rs. 21,000, this 16–29mm equivalent lens seems too good to be true.

Features
The lens gets two very important features—image stabilisation and an STM motor. While the company claims the lens has 4-stops of IS, in practice, I found it useable up to three stops. This means that you can use the lens handheld at even 1/2sec.

The STM motors were introduced by Canon to be used with their cameras that allow focus tracking during video, like the Canon EOS 70D we were testing this lens on. It gives videographers smooth transitions while changing focus. It also makes autofocusing fast and virtually silent which was extremely helpful when I wanted to get really close to a subject. The focusing is quite fast too but struggled a bit in lowlight. The STM AF mechanism is ‘focus by wire’ and allows fulltime manual override. It also has a close focusing distance of 0.22m.

Most significantly, unlike the 10– 22mm, the lens is missing a distance scale. At f/4.5-5.6 it is also about 2/3-stop slower. A lens hood would have been welcome too but can be purchased separately.

Photograph/Aditya Nair

Photograph/Aditya Nair

 

Handling
While entirely plastic, the lens is feels quite sturdy. This is where you realise the how they managed to keep the costs down. That said, it is tightly packed and compact. There is no wobbling or zoom creep.

The zoom mechanism tends to extend out slightly at both wide and telephoto end of the range, but it is very slight. The shortest overall length is at about 14mm. The front element of the lens doesn’t rotate. The focus and zoom rings rings function smoothly and have rubberised ridges for a better grip. I did wish that the focus ring was a bit bigger though.

Performance
For a consumer-grade lens, the 10–18mm is excellent. It has very good contrast. Also, considering that it is an ultrawide zoom, I had expected a fair amount of distortion. However, I was surprised to find only slight distortion at 10mm.

It is almost non-existent from 14mm. The lens has one aspheric and and one UD glass element. That said, the lens flares quite a bit. Some fringing is also visible but this is a common problem in most ultrawide zoom lenses. Vignetting can be seen throughout the zoom range and is quite a bit wide open.

Despite being a budget lens, the 10–18mm shows very little distortion. Exposure: 1/15sec at f/5.6 (ISO 6400). Photograph/Aditya Nair

Despite being a budget lens, the 10–18mm shows very little distortion. Exposure: 1/15sec at f/5.6 (ISO 6400). Photograph/Aditya Nair

These problems aside, the 10–18mm is a sharp lens. Even at the widest apertures, the lens shows good centre-to-edge sharpness. Beyond f/16, however, the image quality is affected due to diffraction.

Cinematographers will welcome the fact the focus breathing is minimum too. Focus breathing is where the subjects may become larger or smaller as the lens focuses on different subjects in the frame. This is slight at 18mm but not noticeable at 10mm.

Conclusion The Canon 10–18mm is the first of its kind, an inexpensive, compact ultrawide zoom lens. There have been some obvious compromises made along the way but it still remains an incredibly fun lens to shoot with. It is a great lens for beginners looking to explore the world of ultrawide photography. Cinematographers will love the silent STM AF motor, stabilisation and lack of focus breathing.

Photograph/Aditya Nair

Photograph/Aditya Nair

 

Lack of distortion make it a good lens to shoot interiors and architecture, while the image stabilisation make it a useful lens for low light and street photography. However, if you are a serious photographer looking for a sturdier piece of optics, wanting some extra zoom or simply, a faster aperture, you may wish to opt for the older EF-S 10–22mm f/3.5-4.5, the Tokina AT-X Pro SD 12-24mm f/4 (IF) DX or the Tokina AT-X Pro 11-16mm f/2.8 DX II.

FINAL RATINGS
 Features: Stabilised, fast STM AF motor, lacks a distance scale  16/20
 Performance: Virtually no distortion, flare and fringing exist  30/35
 Build Quality: Good quality plastic, comfortable focus and zoom ring  21/25
 Ergonomics: Extremely lightweight and compact  12/15
 Warranty & Support: Large number of service facilities  4/5
 OVERALL  83%

MRP: Rs. 20,995

Who should buy it? Beginners, street photographers, cinematographers, architecture photography enthusiasts will love it.

Why? It is sharp, compact, silent, lightweight and has virtually no distortion. All of this at Rs. 21,000.

Tags: Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM, Canon ultrawide angle lens, Canon EF-S 10–22mm f/3.5-4.5, the Tokina AT-X Pro SD 12-24mm f/4 (IF) DX or the Tokina AT-X Pro 11-16mm f/2.8 DX II, STM motor, Budget ultrawide, first of its kind