Review: Canon 22mm f2 STM (EF-M)

As perhaps one of the most perfect pancake lenses on the market at the moment, the Canon 22mm f2 for the EOS M mount system has the unfortunate problem of being stuck with a system that grows slower than a bonsai tree. Canon’s lenses have always been good but in the case of this pancake you’re never going to want to have it leave your camera. It’s so small. Attach it to an EOS M5 and the package will fit easily into a coat pocket. You can take it anywhere and everywhere with you.

But of course, it has a few drawbacks.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Sharp output
  • Nice bokeh
  • Pancake size is perfect for a camera like this
  • Fast aperture, which the EOS M5 really needs
  • Lets the M5 fit into your pocket

Cons

  • Slow autofocus

Gear Used

We tested the Canon 22mm f2 with the Canon M5.

Tech Specs

Specs taken from Canon’s own website

Focal Length & Maximum Aperture

22mm, 1:2

Lens Construction

7 elements in 6 groups

Diagonal Angle of View

63°30′

Focus Adjustment

Inner Focusing System

Closest Focusing Distance

0.49 ft. / 0.15m

Filter Size

43mm

Max. Diameter x Length, Weight

2.4 x 0.9 inch, 3.7 oz. / 60.9 x 23.7mm, 105g

Ergonomics

The Canon 22mm f2 lens is a a pancake. So you really shouldn’t expect a whole lot from it as far as the ergonomics go. It’s thin, it’s designed to be so. Nonetheless, you’ve got the front element here.

When you look at the lens from the side or from up top, you’ll spot just how small it is. The lens and camera together can fit into a jacket pocket.

Build Quality

Now, this lens isn’t weather sealed at all. But it feels pretty solid; about on par with the 40mm f2.8 EF lens. You’ve also got this manual focus ring around the front, but I highly doubt you’ll ever use it unless you’re shooting video.

Autofocus

Ugggghhhhhh…

You see this is my major beef with this lens. The autofocus is slow. Like, imagine Fujifilm X100 first generation slow– at least it is on the M5. It’s annoying and sometimes makes street photography tough. But if you’re just hanging out, then it’s pretty okay.

Ease of Use

Essentially, you’re slapping the lens onto the camera, pointing, focusing and shooting. If you’re shooting video though, then you can rely on the tracking focusing to easily and accurately get your face or something else in focus. Otherwise, you can use the manual focus ring on the camera.

Image Quality

Well, here’s the fantastic thing about the Canon 22mm f2 EF-m lens: it offers fantastic image quality. In fact, I wish every brand made a pancake lens this good. It’s sharp, contrasty, has beautiful bokeh, there’s no chromatic aberrations, etc.

It’s so perfect. Yes, I’m saying that it’s perfect.

Bokeh

The best bokeh is going to come from the camera when you focus right up close to a subject and shoot wide open. The bokeh is very, very creamy and it’s nice that the 22mm f2 can focus this closely.

Chromatic Aberration

In my tests, I honestly can’t find much if any sort of chromatic aberration. The distortion is very low and the fringing isn’t really there.

Color Rendition

This is where you’ll really need to look at the camera’s settings. If you use the right Canon color profile, you’ll get some incredible colors. Otherwise, I want to say that it’s very standard. Canon has been known for doing this though with their L lenses being a tad more saturated in their rendition.

Sharpness

Here’s where I’m very floored. The sharpness of the lens is something that I really didn’t expect. Obviously when shooting with a flash you’re going to get even better output. But this is genuinely impressive.

Extra Image Samples

Conclusions

Likes

  • Sharpness
  • Small size
  • Great quality overall

Dislikes

  • The autofocus…

Canon, this lens could have easily gotten my Editor’s Choice award. But it’s not getting it because of the fact that the autofocus of this pancake lens is slower than maple syrup being poured. Otherwise, it renders what I want to call class leading image quality.

The Canon 22mm f2 lens ([amazon_link asins=’B008NF8BRI’ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’7fe4656e-de60-11e6-ab4a-c91505899412′]) receives four out of five stars.