Canon EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM Mirrorless Lens Review
A few photos taken with the Canon EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM lens.
Canon EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-f/6.3 | Focal length 15mm | Canon EOS M6 | ISO:1000 | Aperture: f/3.5 | Shutter Speed: 1/60s
Canon EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-f/6.3 | Focal length 15mm | Canon EOS M6 | ISO:160 | Aperture: f/3.5 | Shutter Speed: 1/250s
Canon EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-f/6.3 | Focal length 15mm | Canon EOS M6 | ISO:1250 | Aperture: f/3.5 | Shutter Speed: 1/8s
Canon EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-f/6.3 | Focal length 45mm | Canon EOS M6 | ISO:100 | Aperture: f/6.3 | Shutter Speed: 0.8s
Canon EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-f/6.3 | Focal length 41mm | Canon EOS M6 | ISO:500 | Aperture: f/6.3 | Shutter Speed: 1/250s
This is one EF-M lens that I never intended to own. Canon replaced the excellent Canon EF-M 18-55mm STM IS lens with this one and now use it as the standard kit lens with different EOS M mirrorless camera bodies. It is smaller and lighter than the Canon EF-M 18-55mm STM IS, but the construction isn't as solid and it feels a lot more plasticky. The extra 3mm focal length on the wide end is useful, but for this you have to sacrifice 10mm of focal length at the long end. It's also slower, with a maximum aperture of only f/6.3 at the long end.
When I was searching around for the best price on my EOS M6, one on-line kit price I found that included this lens was cheaper than buying the body alone at my local camera shop. Therefore, it was the same as receiving a free lens. Considering that this lens retails for around $299 in the US I thought that the kit was quite a good deal, even though this lens will probably get very little use. In fact, I will probably wait until my daughter is a little older and then give her my old EOS M along with this lens.
The EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM lens has the same lock that first appeared with the Canon EF-M 11-22mm and the lock needs to be released before you can use it in order to get it out of the storage position. It's a bit fiddly at first and you soon get used to it, but I much prefer using my EF-M lenses that don't have this lock.
The zoom ring is positive and has about the right amount of resistance. At 15mm the lens is fully extended. As you start to zoom it retracts and reaches its most retracted zoom position somewhere between 24mm and 28mm. As you continue to zoom the lens then starts to extend again and at 45mm it is fully extended again, as it was at 15mm.
As with all EF-M lens, the manual focus ring is small and probably won't be used by the majority of users.
The lens uses new stepper motor (STM) technology for its autofocus mechanism. This is all part of Canon's drive to implement silent continuous autofocus tracking in movie mode. To do this requires an appropriate body with a hybrid CMOS sensor and contrast detection AF technology, and a lens with an STM designation.
Autofocus is maybe not as fast as some other lenses, but in most situations it works well without any problems. For videographers the continuous autofocus in movie mode is a very welcome feature.
It also appears to work perfectly well when the camera is in AI Servo mode tracking an object coming towards the camera. I tested this on passing motorbikes and the results were quite satisfactory.
There is no direct physical connection between the manual focusing ring and the internal focusing mechanism as there is on other lenses. If you turn the ring with the camera off nothing happens. Turning the ring sends a signal to the stepper motor which then focuses the lens electronically.
Unlike my Canon EF and EF-S lenses, manual focusing isn't as easy with the EOS M system as simply turning the lens focus ring, or manually switching the lens into MF mode first and then turning the lens focus ring.
There is no AF/MF switch on the EF-M lenses and, because of the stepper motor technology and a lack of any physical connection between the focus ring and the focusing mechanism, nothing happens most of the time when you turn the focus ring.
To enable manual focusing, first you must go into the menu system and find 'Focus mode' (the camera icon with two dots). This mode has three options:
- AF (Auto Focus). When in this mode the focus ring is completely inoperational.
- MF (Manual Focus). In this mode the Auto Focus is completely inoperational and turning the focus ring controls the focusing mechanism whenever the camera is switched on.
- AF+MF. This allows the Autofocus to operate and also allows the user to focus manually after the autofocus has activated. However, you can only focus manually while pressing the shutter release halfway down after the Autofocus has activated.
When the camera is put into MF mode a small magnifying glass icon appears on the rear LCD in the bottom right-hand corner. Tapping on the icon cycles through 1x, 5x and 10x magnification with an accordingly larger image shown on the display. This is very similar to the Liveview feature on Canon SLRs.
Canon's Image Stabilisation system has got better with every generation. The Canon EF 300mm f/4L IS lens that I sold had first generation one-stop IS and although it was helpful, it wasn't very effective at all.
This EF-M 15-45mm lens has the latest four-stop IS system that has been around for a few years. It has somehow been packaged into this tiny package and works very well.
I didn't use a tripod for any of the sample images above. Some of the shutter speeds were quite slow (1/8s and 0.8s) and you can see that the lens IS system has done a good job.
This lens is roughly the equivalent of a 24-72mm lens on a 35mm (full frame) camera. It's a useful zoom range for a general walkabout camera and can be used in most situations.
However, when attempting some street photography I found myself zooming the lens to 15mm all the time and wanting some more width. I really longed for my Canon EF-M 11-22mm IS STM and had I not been using this lens in order to test it, the EF-M 11-22mm would have been my first choice.
Extenders and Extension Tubes
Currently, there are no extenders or extension tubes available for Canon EF-M Lenses. I don't know if Canon has any plans to make these items available in the future.
This lens comes with the new style Canon lens caps that can be released by pinching the centre of the cap. A lens hood and soft pouch are available but not included.
If this lens had been expensive, or if I had had high expectations of its performance, I would have been very disappointed. As it was, the price that I paid for my EOS M6 kit with this lens included meant that the lens was effectively free. In addition, after seeing the plastic lens mount, my expectations were very low.
The sensor in the M6 is excellent and images from some of my other lenses really 'pop'. Images taken with this lens are satisfactory and - as you can see in some of the sample images - provide quite a lot of detail, but they don't really stand out.
I can understand Canon's predicament. The company wants people to buy into the EOS M system and new customers won't have any EF-M lenses already. With an interchangeable lens camera system you can't sell consumers a body alone because it would be useless. New buyers also need a lens.
The MILC market place is crowded and very competitive, therefore, a kit lens for the masses needs to be cheap in order to keep the kit price competitive. This was probably why the higher quality EF-M 18-55mm kit lens was replaced with this one, because this one is cheaper.
Maybe I sound too harsh because this lens will be perfectly acceptable for many people. If you are a 'normal' person who simply takes photographs of events in your life to remember and share those events, this lens will be perfectly fine.
On the other hand, if you are primarily a photographer and not someone who regards photographs as a secondary concern you will probably want a better lens than this.
I don't plan on keeping mine. Eventually I will give my original EOS M body and this lens to my daughter.
Would I Buy One Now?
This is not so much a lens that you 'buy', but a lens that you 'get' when you buy a kit. That's how I got mine (when I bought my Canon EOS M6). Had I not acquired the lens this way, I wouldn't have bought one as a separate purchase.
If you want a small, native EF-M wide-to-normal focal length zoom lens my recommendation would be to go for the Canon EF-M 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS or the Canon EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS, or (even better) both of these lenses.
These two lenses have metal lens mounts, are much better made, faster, and produce much better images.
In September 2018 it was reported on a rumour site that Canon had filed a patent for another EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 lens.
In recent years all of Canon's new lenses have been on a different level optically compared to older lenses. If Canon release a Mark 2 version of this lens I am confident that it will be a huge improvement over the original.
However, as far as the original is concerned, it is not a lens I feel very happy about recommending. It does a satisfactory job as part of a cheap kit, but falls short in image quality terms compared to other EF-M lenses.
Original images were shot in JPG format using the EOS M's built in lens aberration correction. Noise was reduced using Imagenomic Noiseware Professional. Small amounts of image enhancement were applied using Adobe Photoshop CS2 (curves, levels, saturation) before sharpening using the Smart Sharpen filter (Amount: 30% - 120%, Radius: 0.2px - 0.3px, Remove: Lens Blur).
The large JPG images that open if you click on a thumbnail were saved with a 'High' quality setting of '8' on a scale of 0-12.
Filter Diameter: 49mm
Closest Focusing Distance: 0.25m
Minimum Aperture: f/22-f/40
Maximum Aperture: f/3.5-f/6.3
Autofocus: Stepper Motor
Date Purchased: August 2017
Price: Part of a kit
Lens Cap: E-49 II
Lens Hood: EW-53 (not included)
Soft Case: LP811 (not included)
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