Review: Canon 28mm f3.5 IS STM (Canon EF-M)

Not many macro lenses have impressed me in the mirrorless camera category, but the Canon 28mm f3.5 ([amazon_link asins=’B01FFACQYW’ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’e614e7b5-e8ab-11e6-8b0a-0190d499b1f7′]) is probably an underrated lens that you haven’t heard a whole lot about. However, it’s got a few great features to it that make it very useful in various situations. Besides its compact size, it also has a cool macro light built into it. The light can be controlled using a button on the lens and can be very useful in many situations.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Small size
  • Pretty nice image quality, though it doesn’t seem super exciting overall
  • Macro light attached

Cons

  • A Macro flash would have been better
  • Image stabilization is a bit weak. You still need a tripod at macro ranges.

Gear Used

We tested the Canon 28mm f3.5 lens with the Canon EOS M5.

Tech Specs

Tech specs taken from the Canon page listing.

Focal Length & Maximum Aperture

28mm f/3.5

Lens Construction

11 elements in 10 groups

Diagonal Angle of View

51°55′

Focus Adjustment

AF with full-time manual

Closest Focusing Distance

Normal Mode: 0.318 ft./0.097m
Super Macro Mode: 0.305 ft./0.093m

Filter Size

Compatible only when hood attached
Φ43mm (attaches to hood)

Max. Diameter x Length, Weight

2.4 x 1.8 in. (lens retracted), approx. 4.6 oz.
60.9 x 45.5mm (lens retracted), approx. 130g

Ergonomics

The Canon 28mm f3.5 IS STM looks weird; I really can’t lie about that one. It’s just odd. I mean look at it: you’re used to a red ring with Canon, not a white one. And yes when you look at the lens from the front, what you’re seeing is the macro light built into it.

When you go to the top of the lens you’ll find the focusing ring along with more texture that I think that Canon should put on their EF lenses. Now here’s where the lens starts to get even more interesting. It needs to be unlocked to shoot but then you can set it to macro focusing or super macro mode.

When the Canon 28mm f3.5 IS STM gets extended, this is what it looks like. Again, not going to lie: it’s kind of ugly.

The lens has a button on the side that you can press to activate the macro light. Pressing it a number of times changes the type of light that you get.

Build Quality

The Canon 28mm f3.5 IS STM and nothing in the company’s EF-M lineup of lenses are weather sealed. It isn’t built terribly at all, just oddly.

Ease of Use

Canon has made using this lens very simple and straightforward. It needs to be unlocked to be activated which is kind of annoying. Then to go into Super Macro mode you need to turn it again. I understand why Canon would do this because of the small, compact size. But this gets sort of annoying to do.

Autofocus

The entire EF-M lineup of lenses aren’t the fastest out there to focus. But this one genuinely isn’t so bad in comparison to everything else on the market.

Image Quality

This Canon 28mm f3.5 IS STM is very feature rich and is indeed fun to work with overall. But I don’t believe it to have the absolute best image quality available. With that said though, it’s still not bad; but once you work with the company’s very good 22mm f2, you get spoiled.

Bokeh

Let’s start with an amazing thing that this lens can do: and that’s render bokeh. This is due to the extremely close focusing abilities.

Chromatic Aberration

In our tests, we weren’t able to find any major issues with chromatic aberration. There isn’t a whole lot of distortion that would make me want to flip a table but it’s there.

Color Rendition

The color rendition from this lens tends to be a bit muted–like almost Panasonic muted. If you’re into that and then getting better colors in post, then you’ll like it. But again, the 22mm f2 isn’t like this.

Sharpness

The macro light adds a bit more light to your subject so it can make it look sharper. The sharpness here isn’t terrible but it’s also not the greatest on the market. To get even better sharpness, I recommend using a flash–not a constant LED light.

Extra Image Samples

Conclusions

Likes

  • Canon made something much different from all the rest out there.
  • Thank you for actually creating small primes

Dislikes

  • Autofocus and image quality I both feel could be better.

The Canon 28mm f3.5 IS STM lens is a beautiful lens in terms of its construction and design. But I feel like the image quality is lacking just a bit. More importantly though, I feel like the EOS M lineup has image quality that lacks; and until this is improved then this lens can’t maximize on its potential. Still though, it isn’t bad; just isn’t fantastic.

The Canon 28mm f3.5 IS STM lens receives four out of five stars.