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

When looking to move beyond the kit-included standard zoom lens, a macro lens is a popular choice. In addition to being a prime lens of a specific focal length, a macro lens opens up a ‘small world’ of possibilities by delivering high magnifications not achievable with typical lenses.

The Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM Lens offers a number of firsts in the modern Canon lens lineup – first macro lens for the EOS M system, first wide-angle macro lens (its launch preceded the Canon EF-S 35mm f/2.8 Macro IS STM Lens), first autofocusing macro lens to exceed 1x magnification and first lens to feature an integrated ring light. Those firsts, along with very good optical performance, come wrapped in a small, light and relatively inexpensive package, making this lens an excellent choice for EOS M owners looking for a macro lens.

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

Focal Length

When selecting a lens, focal length is often the first factor considered. Focal length determines the angle of view – how much of the world the camera can ‘see’ at a given time. The EF-M 28mm Macro delivers a ‘normal’ angle of view, one that closely approximates what we see with our own eyes.

With the EF-M designation, this lens is only compatible with Canon EOS M series mirrorless cameras; it is not compatible with Canon DSLRs. Since the EOS M cameras all have an APS-C sensor with a 1.6x FOVCF, the EF-M 28mm Macro lens delivers a 35mm full frame angle of view equivalent to approximately 45mm.

Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM Lens Sample Image (Rose)

With an angle of view that approximates human vision, the focal length of this lens is useful for many subjects ranging from pets to parties, landscape to lifestyle and sports to studio. This is a lens that can simply be left on the camera for everyday use.

Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM Lens Sample Image (Boston)

The EF-M 28mm Macro is the widest macro lens in Canon’s lineup. Most macro lenses have a longer (telephoto) focal length, and for a very good reason – longer focal lengths mean a greater distance between the lens and the subject at high magnification. Achieving maximum magnification with the EF-M 28mm Macro means getting very up close and personal with the subject. The short working distance can somewhat limit subject choice for macro photography. For example, many insects will not tolerate the close proximity needed for a wide-angle macro lens. Conversely, some creatures are more tolerant of having a camera in their personal space.

Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM Lens Sample Image (Horse)

With an angle of view that is wider than most macro lenses, the EF-M 28mm Macro can show your subject in context. From a meadow flower with mountains in the background to an elegantly plated entrée on a dining table, the lens can deliver a unique perspective for close up photography.

Another consequence of the wide-angle focal length is a reduced apparent strength of background blur compared to macro lenses with longer focal lengths. Conversely, a wide-angle macro lens will show more of the background because of the wider angle of view. The pair of images below are identically framed with an EOS M6 using either the EF-M 28mm Macro or the EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM Lens, the latter mounted via the Canon EF-EOS M Adapter. The same aperture setting (f/4) was used, and in both cases the punch tool is the same distance from the pegboard in the background. Although the resulting depth of field is the same for both images, the perspective and angle of view are quite different.

Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM Lens Background Blur Comparison

The 28mm macro lens shows a larger area of the pegboard in the background than the 100mm macro lens. Background subjects in the 28mm image appear to be somewhat more in focus, but in reality, they are not – their smaller relative size simply gives the appearance of less blur.

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

Max Aperture

In addition to focal length, maximum aperture is an important consideration when selecting a lens. Wider apertures mean more light reaches the sensor, which is beneficial in low light and when action-stopping shutter speeds are needed. A wider aperture also means a shallower depth of field and greater subject isolation can be achieved.

The standard zoom lenses included in kits with Canon’s APS-C cameras are ‘slow’, meaning they have relatively narrow maximum apertures, and are also variable aperture, meaning the maximum aperture gets progressively narrower as the lens is zoomed from the wide end to the long end. In general, prime lenses have an aperture that is wider than a zoom lens including the same focal length (for example, the relatively fast Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM Lens). However, that is not usually the case for macro lenses, which tend to have narrower apertures than one might expect for a prime lens. With a fixed f/3.5 maximum aperture, the EF-M 28mm Macro has an aperture equal to the EF-M standard zoom lenses at their widest focal length, which definitely puts it on the slow side for a prime lens.

For macro photography, a wide aperture is generally not needed. Because the depth of field becomes shallower as the camera is placed closer to the subject, at macro focusing distances one often needs to stop down significantly to obtain sufficient depth of field for three-dimensional subjects.

This example demonstrates the effects of stopping down from the widest aperture (1/3-stop then full stops for the rest of the range).

Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM Lens Aperture Comparison Example

Below is an example of the strong background blur achievable with the EF-M 28mm Macro.

Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM Lens Example (Max Blur)

In the f/3.5 above example, the subject is not quite at the MFD, so there is a bit more background blur available with an even closer subject. The reddish slip of bark is only about 2" (5.1 cm) behind the small slip of bark that is in focus, and the rest of the busy background, which included trees and the side of a building, has been rendered as a pleasing but unrecognizable blur.

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

Image Stabilization

Image stabilization counteracts the effects of camera shake when shooting handheld. Although IS is not beneficial for moving subjects (unless panning techniques are used), with still subjects when light is limited, the ability to handhold at a slower shutter speed enables the use of a lower ISO for better image quality or a narrower aperture for deeper depth of field. The latter is especially important for macro shooting, where depth of field is usually limiting.

The EF-M 28mm Macro features Canon’s Hybrid IS version of image stabilization. Typically, IS compensates for angular motion (pitch and yaw), which are the main drivers of loss of sharpness due to camera shake with subjects at non-macro distances. With very close subjects, translational motion (side-to-side and up-and-down) also has a substantial impact on sharpness, and the ‘hybrid’ part of Hybrid IS compensates for that translational motion.

The EF-M 28mm Macro lens’ IS system is virtually silent during operation, which is beneficial for recording video. The startup and operation appear smooth on the display, with no jumping or drifting during handholding or recomposing. The stability of the image during handholding can significantly aid image composition.

Although Canon has remained silent on the matter, based on my observations the EF-M 28mm Macro appears to be tripod-sensing, meaning it automatically deactivates the IS system if the camera is mounted on a tripod or other similarly stable platform. Canon does recommend turning off IS to save battery life when using a tripod. There is no switch on the barrel of the lens to control IS, so IS can only be deactivated using the camera’s menu option. The IS system automatically detects panning motion of the lens, and in that case will compensate only for camera motion perpendicular to the panning direction.

The IS system of the EF-M 28mm Macro is rated for 3.5 stops of shutter speed improvement, meaning that it should be effective down to exposures of 1/4 second. Under ideal conditions (indoors on a stable floor), I find that the lens delivers its specified approx. 3.5-stop benefit, and I’m seeing greater than 80% keepers when shooting subjects at non-macro distances with a 0.25 second exposure. The keeper rate drops to approx. 50% at 0.3 seconds and drops rapidly at longer exposures. The effectiveness of IS, even Canon’s Hybrid IS, is reduced as the distance to the subject decreases. With magnifications of around one-half life size (0.5x), the keeper rate with a 0.25 second exposure drops to approx. 50% and at life size (1.0x) it drops below 25%.

The example below shows a comparison of 100% crops from a 0.25 second exposure test with IS on versus off. These images were at a magnification of approx. 0.40x.

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

Image Quality

Macro lenses are typically very sharp, and the EF-M 28mm Macro is no exception. At its maximum aperture of f/3.5, images are sharp across the frame with only a small decrement at the extreme corners that improves with a moderately narrower aperture. The images below are 100% resolution center of the frame crops captured in RAW format using a Canon EOS M6. These images were processed in DPP using the Standard Picture Style with sharpness set to "1".

Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM Lens Sharpness (Center)

Below are real-world examples at the extreme bottom-left corner of images captured with a EOS M6 and processed as above.

Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM Lens Sharpness (Corner)

Overall, the EF-M 28mm Macro may be the sharpest EF-M lens released as of review time.

Most lenses suffer from some degree of light fall off at their wider apertures, and many of the EF-M lenses have exhibited a greater amount of vignetting than their EF-S counterparts. The EF-M 28mm Macro reverses that trend, showing not-very-strong vignetting of approximately 1.5 stops wide open at f/3.5. Stopping down to f/5.6 brings the vignetting down to approx. 1/3 stop, and vignetting is essentially eliminated by f/8. Automatic vignetting correction during in-camera JPG conversion or with your favorite RAW converter will easily correct this minor degree of vignetting, with very little practical impact on image quality. The examples below show the reduction in vignetting as the lens is stopped down from wide open.

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

If you have ever used a glass prism to create a rainbow from sunlight, you’ve seen that different wavelengths of light refract differently as they pass from air into glass. This phenomenon occurs at the many optical interfaces of a lens and results in chromatic aberration. One job of the lens designers is to attempt to mitigate CA (Chromatic Aberrations), and with the EF-M 28mm Macro, Canon’s engineers have done so very effectively. Lateral CA occurs when light of different wavelengths is focused at slightly different places in the image and is most noticeable as color fringing at high contrast transitions. Lateral CA occurs at the edges of the frame and stopping down to narrower apertures generally does little to improve it. The following example is a 100% crop taken from the upper left corner of an EOS M6 image, showing essentially a worst-case, white-on-black scenario. The green and purple color fringes are very mild and easily corrected in post-processing.

Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM Lens Chromatic Aberration Example

Longitudinal (axial) CA occurs when light of different wavelengths is focused slightly in front of or behind the image plane. When present, the color fringing is most evident in out of focus areas of an image, which is why longitudinal CA is sometimes called bokeh fringing. Longitudinal CA can occur throughout the image frame and is generally improved by stopping down the lens. As you can see from the examples below, the EF-M 28mm Macro has a very slight amount of bokeh fringing wide open, which is reduced to minimal levels by f/4 and essentially gone at apertures of f/5.6 and narrower. This tiny amount of longitudinal CA is unlikely to cause issues in normal shooting situations.

Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM Lens Axial CA Example

When a bright light source is within or just outside of the frame, light can reflect off of the surfaces of the elements within the lens, leading to flare, an image artifact. The shape, intensity, and position of the flare in an image is variable and depends on the position and nature of the light source (or sources) as well as on the selected aperture and shape of the aperture blades. The image below shows one example of flare with the EF-M 28mm Macro.

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

There are two lens aberrations that are particularly evident when shooting images of stars, mainly because bright points of light against a dark background make them easier to see. Coma occurs when light rays from a point of light spread out from that point, instead of being refocused as a point on the sensor. Coma is absent in the center of the frame, gets worse toward the edges/corners and generally appears as a comet-like or triangular tail of light which can be oriented either away from the center of the frame (external coma), or toward the center of the frame (internal coma). Astigmatism is seen as points of light spreading into a line, either meridional (radiating from the center of the image) or sagittal (perpendicular to meridional). The example below is a 100% crop from the extreme upper left corner of an image taken with a 10-second exposure at f/3.5.

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

The EF-M 28mm Macro has a small amount of internal coma, as well as a very small amount of meridional astigmatism. Both of these aberrations are much less evident away from the extreme corners of the frame, and both are improved by stopping down, although that is generally not very practical for astrophotography, particularly when wide open is a not-very-fast f/3.5.

Most lenses exhibit some degree of geometric distortion, either barrel distortion where the image appears to bulge outward, or pincushion distortion where the image appears to pinch inward. More rarely, a combination of the two, known as moustache distortion, occurs. Prime lenses generally show lower amounts of distortion than zoom lenses. The EF-M 28mm Macro has a barely perceptible amount of pincushion distortion, which you can spot if you very carefully examine the example below.

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

The quality of blur seen in the out of focus portions of an image is referred to as bokeh. The EF-M 28mm Macro delivers relatively smooth, soft bokeh through the aperture range. When the lens is stopped down, the out of focus highlights retain a circular shape thanks to the rounded aperture blades.

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

When capturing bright point light sources at narrow apertures, the 7 aperture blades produce starbursts with 14 rays, as seen in the f/22 example below.

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

From an overall image quality standpoint, the EF-M 28mm Macro delivers very good performance.

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

Focusing

Like all EF-M lenses to date, the EF-M 28mm Macro features a stepping autofocus motor. Canon uses two types of STM motors, one driven by gears and one driven by a lead screw. Both provide quiet and smooth focusing, which is beneficial for shooting video, although focusing is slightly slower than with Canon’s ultrasonic motors. Gear-driven STM is a more compact system, with some residual noise, whereas the lead screw-driven STM used in the EF-M 28mm Macro is almost completely silent without sacrificing precision.

The EF-M 28mm Macro is a reasonably fast focusing lens, and like other STM lenses, focus is very accurate. AF tracking speed in AI Servo is similarly fast and accurate. Like other Canon STM lenses, the filter threads do not rotate with focusing (beneficial when using a circular polarizer filter), and focusing is internal, which means the front of the lens does not extend. The latter is particularly beneficial for macro photography, where the lens is already very close to the subject.

Typical for STM lenses, the EF-M 28mm Macro offers full-time manual focusing with a catch – when turning the manual focus ring, focusing is still performed by the STM motor, rather than by directly-coupled gearing. Manual focusing is often used during macro photography, and the focus-by-wire implementation is challenging for a couple of reasons. First, even though the focus ring is smooth and well damped, the focus-by-wire offers very little tactile feedback during focusing. Second, there is no hard stop at the ends of the focus range and coupled with the lack of a distance window to show focus distance, that means you must judge the ends of the range yourself, based on when the image on the display/viewfinder stops changing. Focusing from infinity down to the minimum focus distance requires approx. 180° of rotation.

The manual focus ring is reasonably sized for a lens this small, although it could have been made bigger, particularly since only the front 3mm of the focus ring is textured. Still, the small diameter of the barrel makes the focus ring easy to grip and turn.

When Canon uses ‘Macro’ in the name of a lens, that usually indicates the lens is capable of delivering a maximum magnification of 1.00x, or if you prefer, a reproduction ratio of 1:1. That means objects in the real world are projected at full life size onto the image sensor, when the lens is focused at the minimum focus distance. The EF-M 28mm Macro features a specified minimum focus distance of 3.8" (97mm) in the normal shooting mode, which allows focusing from infinity to 1.00x magnification. However, the EF-M 28mm Macro actually goes beyond 1.00x magnification, with a ‘super macro’ mode that allows focusing at 3.7" (93mm) and delivers a maximum magnification of 1.20x. The table below compares several Canon lenses.

ModelMFDMM
Canon EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM Lens5.9"(150mm)0.30x
Canon EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens9.8"(250mm)0.25x
Canon EF-M 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens9.8"(250mm)0.25x
Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM Lens5.9"(150mm)0.21x
Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens7.9"(200mm)0.23x
Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM Lens6.3"(160mm)0.27x
Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens9.1"(230mm)0.23x
Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM Lens3.7"(93mm)1.20x
Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM Lens9.4"(240mm)0.24x
Canon EF-S 35mm f/2.8 Macro IS STM Lens5.1"(130mm)1.00x
Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens7.9"(200mm)1.00x
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens11.8"(300mm)1.00x
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM Macro Lens12.2"(310mm)1.00x

The super macro mode is for close up photography only and, in effect, is like adding a short extension tube – the lens gets slightly longer and the focus distance range is restricted to 4.3" (110mm) to 3.7" (93mm), producing magnifications of 0.70x to 1.20x. Below are examples of a miniature rose taken at 1.00x magnification in normal mode and 1.20x magnification in super macro mode.

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

This particular miniature rose flower, as oriented for the images, measured slightly over 0.9" (22mm) across, and thus completely covered the horizontal dimension of the EOS M6 APS-C sensor at 1.00x magnification.

These high magnifications are achieved because the subject is very close to the camera. Although we often discuss the minimum focus distance in this context, that value represents the distance between the subject and the camera’s image sensor. A more useful measure is the working distance, which is the distance from the subject to the front of the lens. For the EF-M 28mm Macro, the working distance at 1.00x magnification in normal mode is 0.7" (18mm), and at 1.20x magnification in super macro mode, the working distance is 0.5" (13mm).

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

 WD at Magnification:   1.00x  |  1.20x 

Beyond the need to work with a very close subject, high magnifications present an additional challenge in the form of an ‘effective F-number’ which is narrower than the selected aperture. The effective F-number accounts for that fact that, with close subjects, the illuminance (light per unit area) on the sensor is reduced, because light from a smaller subject is spread over a larger area. In normal mode at 1x magnification, the impact is small – the effective aperture is only about 1/3 stop narrower than the selected aperture. In super macro mode, the effective F-number is approximately 1.5 stops narrower. For example, a shot in super macro mode at f/8 will have an effective aperture of f/13. In the case of the miniature rose pictures above, the 1.00x image was an exposure of 4 seconds, while the 1.20x magnification image required a 10 second exposure to achieve the same approximate brightness. If using an auto exposure mode (P, Av, Tv, or one of the scene modes), the camera will handle the change in exposure automatically.

Even higher magnifications than natively available can be obtained by using extension tubes. Although Canon does not make extension tubes for the EF-M mount, there are third party extension tubes available.

Build Quality & Features

The EF-M series of lenses released to date share several common features, including a uniform diameter of 2.4" (60.9mm), a minimalist design with few controls/switches and an overall small size and light weight. They have also been designed with compactness in mind, in keeping with the smaller size of mirrorless cameras – several of the EF-M lenses have a shorter, retracted lens position for storage/travel, requiring the barrel to be extended into shooting position.

Canon EF-M Lens Group

The EF-M 28mm Macro, like several of the newer EF-M lenses, has a polycarbonate barrel with diamond-textured polycarbonate zoom and focus rings. The lens mount is also plastic and the lens has an overall light feeling in the hand. In spite of the plastic construction, the build tolerances are quite tight, giving the lens a quality look and feel. The lens features an inner barrel that retracts for storage/travel. Extending the lens into the normal shooting position requires pressing a lock release switch on the lens, then rotating the selection ring 30° to extend the lens. This extends the inner barrel of the lens by 0.67" (17mm). Moving from normal to super macro mode requires pressing the lock release and rotating the ring a further 15°, which extends the barrel only slightly further.

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

MFD |    w/ Hood:  MFD |    Rotated        Compare »

The relatively short amount of rotation needed to extend the lens into the normal shooing position means that I sometimes inadvertently rotate the mode selection ring beyond the normal setting and into the super macro mode which precludes the lens from focusing on anything further than a finger-width in front of the lens. There are design choices that could have prevented this from being so easy to do, but unfortunately, none of them were implemented by Canon.

At the very short working distances necessary to achieve high magnification, getting enough light on the subject can be a challenge. With the EF-M 28mm Macro, Canon has introduced a convenient and effective way to shed some additional light on the subject, which they call a Macro Lite, consisting of a pair of LEDs integrated into the front of the lens, surrounding the front element like a miniature ring light. The two LEDs can be set to either high or low intensity, and they can be independently controlled, all with a single button on the lens barrel. The series below shows the six possible options for subject illumination with the Macro Lite (note that left/right are from the perspective of the photographer using the lens).

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

A short press of the Macro Lite button on the barrel activates both lights at the higher intensity, a second short press reduces the intensity to the lower setting, and a third press turns both lights off. A long press of the button, either with the lights off or on, will activate only the left light at high intensity. Short presses will then cycle through left light at low intensity to right light at high intensity, low intensity and then off. A long press at any point in the single-light cycle will activate both lights. The both vs. one selection is retained for a brief period of time, but if the camera goes into sleep mode or is powered off, the lights are deactivated and the setting choice is cleared. The Macro Lite draws power from the camera, so expect a slight reduction in shots per charge with heavy use of the lens’ lights.

How powerful is the Macro Lite on the EF-M 28mm Macro? Canon specifies a light output in terms of a guide number for their regular and macro flash units, but they do not specify a light output for this lens’ built-in light. To estimate the brightness of the illumination, I focused on one face of a Datacolor SpyderCube at 1.00x magnification in normal mode with the side of the cube at 0.7" (18mm) from the front of the lens. In an otherwise completely dark room, ambient illumination was provided by the LED light on an iPhone placed approximately 36" (914mm) above the subject, at an angle where the lens did not cast a shadow on the cube face. The level of ambient illumination was chosen such that a 30 second exposure would just begin clipping the white area of the SpyderCube, and the actual testing was carried out a full stop below that clipping point. As you can see from the examples below, with histograms from DPP inset, a 1/15 second exposure with the Macro Lites both on at the high setting delivers approximately the same brightness as a 15 second exposure with the ambient lighting. That difference indicates that the built-in lights deliver approximately 8 EV of light at the minimum focus distance. With the Macro Lite set to low intensity, a 1/8 second exposure gives similar brightness, meaning that the difference between the high and low intensity settings is about one stop of light, or phrased differently, the low setting delivers half the light of the high setting.

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

Adding 8 stops of light to a scene seems like a fair amount of light. For example, that’s approximately the difference between a typical household interior at night and being outside on a sunny day. However, it’s important to remember that light follows the inverse square law – the intensity of illumination decreases with the square of the distance. In practical terms, even though the EF-M 28mm Macro lens’ built-in illumination is delivering 8 EV at the 1x magnification working distance of 0.7" (18mm), with a subject that is 12" (305mm) from the front of the lens, the light added by the Macro Lite has fallen to less than 1 EV in intensity. So, while at very high magnification the EF-M 28mm Macro is mostly capable of lighting a subject on its own, for most close up applications I would consider the feature most useful for adding some additional light, and particularly for adding directional lighting with the ability to activate only one of the two lights on the lens. Directional lighting is useful for giving subjects the appearance of depth and can add interest and contrast to an image by enhancing the appearance of shadows.

In the series of examples below, the Lego® figurine is illuminated by the Macro Lite in the same sequence as shown in the images of the lens itself above.

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

Canon offers much more powerful dedicated macro flash units, the MR-14EX II and MT-26 EX-RT, and many Canon macro lenses can mount those units either directly or via a Macrolite adapter. However, mounting the macro flash units on the EF-M 28mm Macro would be a complicated effort, requiring a 43-58mm step-up ring and the Macrolite Adapter 58C, and that arrangement would result in the macro flash being attached to the extending inner barrel of the lens. I’m not sure I’d be fully comfortable with such an arrangement – if I wanted to use a dedicated macro flash, I would be inclined to mount the heads of a Twin Lite MT-24 or MT-26 on a pair of Wimberley Macro Flash Brackets.

The EF-M 28mm Macro is easily the smallest and lightest of the currently available Canon macro lenses, and among the lightest lenses in general. This level of portability matches well with the smaller size of mirrorless cameras, and means it is easy to bring along the EF-M 28mm Macro lens on an outing or trip, ready for any normal or macro shooting opportunities that arise.

Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM Lens Sample Image (Ice)

The table below compares several macro and non-macro lenses.

ModelWeightDimensions w/o HoodFilterYear 
Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM Lens3.7 oz(105g)2.4 x 0.9"(60.9 x 23.7mm)43mm2012
Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens9.9 oz(280g)2.7 x 2.2"(68.4 x 55.7mm)58mm2012
Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM Lens4.4 oz(125g)2.7 x 0.9"(68.2 x 22.8mm)52mm2014
Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens9.2 oz(260g)2.7 x 2"(68.4 x 51.5mm)58mm2012
Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM Lens4.6 oz(130g)2.4 x 1.8"(60.9 x 45.5mm)43mm2016
Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM Lens11.8 oz(335g)3.1 x 2.5"(77.9 x 62.6mm)67mm2012
Canon EF-S 35mm f/2.8 Macro IS STM Lens6.7 oz(190g)2.7 x 2.2"(69.2 x 55.8mm)49mm2017
Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens11.8 oz(335g)2.9 x 2.8"(73 x 70mm)52mm2006
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens22.1 oz(625g)3.1 x 4.8"(77.7 x 123mm)67mm2009
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM Macro Lens21.2 oz(600g)3.1 x 4.7"(79 x 119mm)58mm2000

For many more comparisons, review the complete Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM Lens Specifications using the site's Lens Spec tool.

Below is a visual comparison of a selection of the above lenses.

Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM Lens Comparison to Macro Lenses

Positioned above from left to right are Canon’s currently available macro lenses up to 100mm:

Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM Lens
Canon EF-S 35mm f/2.8 Macro IS STM Lens
Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM Macro Lens
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens

The table of specifications and the image above ignore the fact that only EF-M lenses mount natively on EOS M bodies. Using Canon EF or EF-S lenses or third-party lenses requires the use of the Canon EF-EOS M Adapter. Mirrorless cameras can have a much shorter flange focal distance, the space between the lens mount and the sensor, because no space for the mirror is needed. For Canon DSLRs, that distance is 44mm, compared to 18mm for the EOS M series. The EF-M mount adapter provides the additional distance needed between the lens and the sensor when using any of the EF/EF-S lenses listed in the table above. As such, a true comparison means adding an extra 3.7 oz (105g) and 1.2" (31mm) to lenses other than the EF-M 28mm Macro.

The same set of Canon macro lenses are shown below as they would be mounted on an EOS M camera, with the mount adapter on EF/EF-S mount lenses, the lens hoods in place and the EF-M 28mm Macro extended to the normal shooting position.

Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM Lens Comparison to Macro Lenses with Hoods

The EF-M 28mm Macro lens is more than just a macro lens, it is also very useful as a normal prime lens. Below is a visual comparison of wide and normal primes around the 28mm focal length.

Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM Lens Comparison to Non Macro Lenses

Positioned above from left to right are the following lenses:

Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM Lens
Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM Lens
Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM Lens
Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens
Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM Lens

The comparison below shows the same five lenses as they would be mounted on an EOS M camera with the mount adapter on EF/EF-S mount lenses, the lens hoods in place and the EF-M 28mm Macro extended to the normal shooting position.

Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM Lens Comparison to Non Macro Lenses with Hoods

Use the site's product image comparison tool to visually compare the EF-M 28mm Macro to a variety of other lenses.

The typical function of a lens hood is to help prevent stray light from entering the lens, thus reducing flare. Looking at the very thin ES-22 lens hood, I questioned whether the hood could provide significant benefit in terms of reducing flare – so I put it to the test. My ‘torture test’ for lens flare is shooting black fabric in a dark room, with a 150W halogen light source pointed obliquely toward the lens, just outside the lens’ field of view. As can be seen in the images below, under especially harsh conditions the ES-22 lens hood can quite effectively reduce lens flare.

Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM Lens Hood Flare Test

In addition to flare reduction, lens hoods provide some physical protection to the lens, a function assisted by the hood’s anodized aluminum construction. The hood also covers the Macro Lite, meaning the two cannot be used simultaneously, but also meaning the hood can used to prevent the appearance of the white circle on the front of the lens that could otherwise be visible with a reflective subject.

The EF-M 28mm Macro is one of a small number of Canon lenses outside of the L-series for which Canon includes the lens hood in the box with the lens. I suspect the main reason for this is that the hood is the way that front filters are mounted to the lens. The ES-22 lens hood screws onto the 22mm diameter threads just around the front element, inside the circle formed by the Macro Lite. The front threads on the hood itself accept 43mm diameter filters, a somewhat uncommon size but one that is shared with the only other current M system prime lens, the EF-M 22mm f/2 STM.

Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM Lens Hood and Cap

The lens cap is designed with two sets of threads, an inner set to attach directly to the 22mm threading around the front element and an outer set to attach to the 43mm threading on the lens hood.

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

Canon recommends the optional Canon LP811 Lens Pouch for this lens, although it is slightly oversized. A good alternative is the Lowepro Lens Case 8x7.

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

Price and Value

The EF-M 28mm Macro lens is the least expensive Canon macro lens, and it also costs less than the majority of third-party macro lenses for the EF mount (with the exception of a couple of budget-level fully manual options). The low cost coupled with excellent image quality and a host of features including 1.2x super macro magnification, Hybrid IS, built-in Macro Lite, compact size and light weight make the EF-M 28mm Macro an excellent value.

The reviewed Canon EF-M 28mm Macro lens was purchased online/retail.

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

A macro lens is a commonly purchased additional lens for many photographers, and as a result there are several choices in this category from Canon. However, if you are looking for a macro lens with a native EF-M mount, the EF-M 28mm Macro is the only standard lens that meets that criterion (there are a couple of highly specialized third-party EF-M mount macro lenses discussed below). For those that have or are willing to purchase the Canon EF-EOS M Adapter, there are several other options to consider. As pointed out above, all of them are larger and heavier than the EF-M 28mm Macro. All of the Canon lenses discussed below also happen to be f/2.8 lenses, relatively slow for prime lenses in this focal range, but still 2/3-stop faster than the EF-M 28mm Macro, a difference that is unlikely to have a major impact in most situations.

The Canon EF-S 35mm f/2.8 Macro IS STM Lens is quite similar to the EF-M 28mm Macro, and the two lenses have many design aspects and features in common, including image IS and a built-in Macro Lite. The EF-M 28mm Macro delivers overall similar image quality but has a higher native maximum magnification and is smaller, lighter and less expensive. The EF-S 35mm Macro has the ability to mount a dedicated macro flash unit.

The Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens lacks IS but has overall similar image quality. The 60mm focal length offers an increased working distance and a greater perceived background blur. The EF-S 60mm Macro also features faster ring USM focusing and a distance window which can simplify manual focusing.

Canon offers two 100mm macro lenses, both of which extend the benefit of the EF-S 60mm lens in terms of a longer working distance and greater background blur. However, the perspective that a shorter focal length macro lens offers can be desirable in some circumstances. As EF lenses covering a full frame image circle, both 100mm lenses have less vignetting than the EF-M 28mm Macro, but both are larger, heavier and more expensive. The Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM Macro Lens is slightly less sharp than the EF-M 28mm Macro, and lacks IS. The Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens also features Hybrid IS but delivers a subjectively better color rendering often seen with Canon’s L-series lenses. As you could expect, the L-series lens comes at a substantially higher cost.

In addition to the above-discussed standard macro lenses, there are a couple of interesting third-party specialized macro lenses that are available in the native EF-M mount. The Mitakon Zhongyi 20mm f/2 4.5x Super Macro Lens and the Yasuhara Nanoha Macro Lens 5:1 are specialized lenses that are most similar to the Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5x Macro Lens. Both lenses offer magnifications of 4-5x, with both maximum and minimum magnifications falling in that range, i.e., the lenses lack infinity focus and are restricted to a working distance of a couple of centimeters in front of the lens. Both lenses are fully manual, and neither is optically stellar. The Mikaton lens is relatively inexpensive, with decent build quality. The Yasuhara lens offers built-in subject lighting, with three LEDs placed at the front of the lens. Unlike the EF-M 28mm Macro, the lights on the Yasuhara lens require external power (via a USB connection) and they are not independently controllable. These lenses are certainly in a different class than the EF-M 28mm Macro, but worth a look for those who are seriously interested in super macro photography.

When considering the EF-M 28mm Macro as a normal focal length prime lens, there are other relevant lenses that can be compared. The Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM Lens is about the same physical size as the EF-M 28mm Macro when the former is combined with the mount adapter, thanks to the pancake design of the EF-S 24mm f/2.8. The EF-M 28mm Macro is more expensive, delivers slightly better image quality, has IS and has a quieter implementation of STM focusing. The Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens and Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens are a pair of very similar lenses that, like the EF-M 28mm Macro, offer a normal field of view on APS-C cameras, have image IS and deliver very good image quality. The two EF lenses feature faster USM focusing, are larger, heavier, and substantially more expensive.

Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM Lens Front View Closeup

Summary

The Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM Lens is heavy on features and image quality but light in weight and importantly, light on the wallet. It offers both normal and macro shooting opportunities and the built-in ring light and 1.2x maximum magnification make the latter easy and fun. For EOS M users looking to add a macro lens to their kit, the Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM Lens is an excellent option.

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My Recommended Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM Lens Retailers

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