The Canon EF-M 28mm f3.5 IS STM a unique lens on the market - exclusively for EOS-M!

June 05, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

What makes this lens unique?

The Canon EOS-M System was in a kind of try and error phase for a pretty long time. No competitive bodies and very little amount of glass. The situation had completely changed for the bodies with the wonderful EOS M5 which I reviewed a couple of month ago My EOS M5 review. But what´s about the glass? So far just 2 prime lenses from Canon. There is one very interesting lens out which I got with the camera (ok, 2 or 3 days later...) And this is the EF-M 28mm f 3.5 IS USM...


Mainly there are 2 features:

  • The build in LED-Ilumination
  • The 1.2 magnification (so called Super Macro)

The lens is pretty new - released in May 2016. There is no other comparable lens with build in illumination on the market (not for general photography - it is a feature which is common in microscopy...). The only one which comes close it the EF-S 35mm f2.8 Macro IS STM - but this is a 35mm and has a maximum magnification of 1....

Even if the step up from 1 to 1.2 isn´t the biggest deal the EF-S size is much larger so it might be tricky to photograph little things....


The focal length represents a 44.8mm full frame equivalent which means it is useable as an pretty much universal focal length. But with f 3.5 the lens is pretty slow - I prefer the EF-M 22 f2.0 lens as my general purpose lens on this camera... For this review I decided to walk around for shooting  some street photography. Pretty much unfair: I did have my 5DMkIV with me - and the EF 35mm f1.4 II USM- definitely another kind of animal. The review of this lens will come in the near future, too....

Build Quality / Operating the lens

Well - if there is a complain against this lens: It is the build. Especially the plastic bayonet is just ridiculous!  It is a 300 € lens and even the Nifty-Fifty comes with a metal bayonet... I do hope that canon will offer a replacement set in the future. 


The rest is according the the standards of the EOS-M system: engineered plastic, the feel is ok - and it is light weight, just 130g.

To use the lens you have to use a button to extend the lens to make it working. Typically I run into the "Super Macro"-Mode which does not allow to focus until infinity.... Only the "normal" mode goes from infinity to a magnification of 1.


Optional exists a little lens hoot which covers the illumination as well. It has it pro´s and con´s. The main thin is that it protects the front face of the lens itself nicely. But the downside is that you will have to unmount the lens hood to use the illumination...


Image quality


The image quality is just outstanding. Even with fully open aperture.  As first example I want to discuss the sharpness of the lens 170604_M5_0103.jpg170604_M5_0103.jpg


This is a 100% crop out of the image above. But it is in the Center. But also the corner sharpness is not bad as you can see in the following 2 samples...


Below you find the lower left corner



Out of this image you see below the upper right side...


For a wide open shot this level of corner sharpness is pretty impressive...


It is showing a strong vignette wide open which disapears around f 5.6...



Super-Macro vs Macro

To use the Super-Macro range you have to move the lens into the "Super-Macro" Position.

170604_5D4_0215.jpg170604_5D4_0215.jpg There is a 2nd mark right of it: this is the standard position which allows you to focus to infinity - what is not possible in the Super Macro range.


Ok.. this photos are not exciting - but the show the difference between this both ranges. And yes: the Super Macro range has some benefits....


The lens has a build in illumination. this can be used in different setting, mainly in 2 power settings...


The upper left image shows full power while the right images shows "half" power. The Av Mode corrected that therefore the contrast to the background becomes less pronounced....

The lowest image shows the illumination off. 

For many situations the build in LED is really helpful - and also impressive. But it is another parameter where you have to learn to work with...


This lens is not a Bokeh-Monster. Definitely not. But the bogeh produced is not busy but nice and pleasant. And please do never forget: the magnification produces bokeh - and a lot of it.... 




170514_M5_0018.jpg170514_M5_0018.jpg The bokeh is nice and pleasant wide open. stopped down it becomes a bit busy inside as seen in the image above which was shot @ f8.

Lens Flare

Screenshot In terms of lens flare the lens is not bad - but not a super performer. Especially compares with a lens which is superb like the EF 35mm f1.4...

The left images are showing the lenses wide open, the right images stopped down to f 11.... The images where all processed in Lightroom in the same way: Exposure: + 0.65; Lights-27, shadows+41, Clarity +65, Dynamic +20, saturation+20 and the lens correction... These parameters enhance the lens flare quite intensively. With out this treatment the lans flare is well controlled.

But the contrast in this situation is also remarkable.

Image Samples

Macro Shots

The core application for me are flowers. And here the lens delivers amazing images... 


I do like the image from the inner side of a cherry blossom...  170410_M5_0435.jpg170410_M5_0435.jpg 170514_M5_0001.jpg170514_M5_0001.jpg

For me the images of rain drops are pretty amazing...  170514_M5_0003.jpg170514_M5_0003.jpg 170514_M5_0009.jpg170514_M5_0009.jpg 170514_M5_0010.jpg170514_M5_0010.jpg 170514_M5_0011.jpg170514_M5_0011.jpg 170514_M5_0016.jpg170514_M5_0016.jpg 170604_M5_0066.jpg170604_M5_0066.jpg

170527_M5_0256.jpg170527_M5_0256.jpg 170527_M5_0257.jpg170527_M5_0257.jpg I do love the last 2 images... They were taken in San Jose in front of the AirBnB we had there... Just in the shadow at noon... Nobody should say at noon and bright sun you cannot make great images....

Street Photography

I do have the lens always with me. But I use it for macro stuff mainly. Therefore I had to make a little session taking the lens and use it just for that purpose....

And it delivers much more than expected... Here are some samples of this:


Cast Iron structures on a shopping window...  170604_M5_0073.jpg170604_M5_0073.jpg 170604_M5_0074.jpg170604_M5_0074.jpg 170604_M5_0086.jpg170604_M5_0086.jpg 170604_M5_0097.jpg170604_M5_0097.jpg 170604_M5_0112.jpg170604_M5_0112.jpg

I was pretty much impressed shooting these skateboarders with the M5: This works much better than expected....  170604_M5_0127.jpg170604_M5_0127.jpg 170604_M5_0131.jpg170604_M5_0131.jpg

All the images above were developed with my personal standard development settings which are: lens correction, Lights-10, shadows+10 clarity +40, dynamic +20 saturation +20, ISO 100, f3.5.


Professional Use

This sounds maybe a bit weird, but using a prosumer equipment professionally? In this case I must say: YES!!! And the reason is: the lens is unique. There are shots which only this lens will be able to produce. And I will show some examples here:


This is an application sample of a special laser machining process. The size of the machined area is maybe 12mmx9mm. not more than that.  but the photo shows the difference in surface structure as well as machining depth pretty clearly.


The purpose of this image was to show the difference in surface structure only. In this case the lens what set on the normal focusing range.

The next 2 image were developed to illustrate the fascination of a very special kind of lasers: Thin Disk Lasers. These lasers are pretty powerful and some parameter ranges can be achieved only with thin disk technology. The core of the technology are thin disks and thin means really thin: 100µ@20mm diameter....

When I found out that there exists no nice photo to illustrate this "Thinness" I decided to produce these images. I do have 2 Versions:


This Version shows 2 of these thin discs mounted on a Ferrule as it is build into a laser.  170503_M5_0052.jpg170503_M5_0052.jpg

The 2nd version of this idea shows the thin disk on top of a diamond heat sink contacted thin disk....


This little lens is worth every cent I payed for it. I do love it, especially for product photos and flowers. For those who want to have just one lens: this lens is an option. In terms of versatility hard to beat. Bit it comes with a slow aperture - which is a bit sad...

Another strong pint: it is the cheapest macro lens Canon is offering today. @ 300€ it is priced pretty reasonable - especially in comparison for the quality the lens delivers...

I do strongly recommend this lens! It is another strong argument for the EOS-M Camera line up!


Canon: please give this lens a metal bayonet!!!!

The ridiculous lens mount is not the way Canon should equip such a wonderful product!



All Photos of the camera and the lens where shot with the Canon EOS 5DMkIV and the EF 35mm f1.4 II USM.

All Photos you can find here:













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