The launch of the EF-M macro lens has been the most eagerly awaited since the launch of the EOS M. The following photo review of the EF-M28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM explores its surprising features such as the built-in miniature Macro Lite (LED electronic flash units) and Super Macro Mode. (Photo & text by: Kazuo Nakahara)
A compact, affordable lens that does not compromise on quality
What makes the EF-M28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM stand out most is the built-in miniature Macro Lite at the front of the lens, and Super Macro Mode that provides magnification up to 1.2x.
You will understand the outstanding compatibility of these two functions when you start using the lens. Usually, going up close to your subject such as they are mere centimetres away from the lens surface often results in the lens casting a shadow on the subject. However, there are no fears of that with the Super Macro Mode and the built-in miniature Macro Lite.
Use the button on the lens barrel to turn on the Macro Lite.
The lens weighs in at an incredibly light 130g. Even when mounted on the EOS M3, the combined weight is under 500g. This light weight makes it the natural go-to for any shoot as you can easily carry it around. Contrary to the common belief that portability leads to compromised image quality, this lens still managed to deliver on the all-important imaging performance.
While the maximum aperture is limited to f/3.5, the lens has an 11 element, 10 group lens construction that includes one UD lens element and two aspherical lens elements, providing reliable resolution right up to the edges of the image. Additionally, the lens is equipped with image stabilisation, which is great to have for handheld macro photography, and Hybrid IS , which addresses shift blur that is particularly noticeable during high-magnification photography.
With a standard focal length of 45mm equivalent (35mm-film equivalent), the lens is somewhat in the wide angle category as far as macro lenses go. You can enjoy close-up photography while making the most of the background.
Naturally, this lens can also be used for standard photography, allowing you to cover any scene, ranging from faraway scenery through to super macro, with a single lens, making it very cost-effective.
A: Tilt blurring
B: Shift blurring
The lens is equipped with Hybrid IS, which compensates for tilt blurring that can easily affect standard shots, and addresses shift blurring that can easily affect macro photography. This function provides robust compensation for two-directional blur, and can compensate blurring by up to approximately 3.5 stops.
TOPIC 1: Perform full-fledged photography with lighting while adjusting the amount of light
In close-up photography scenes, there is a tendency for the lens to cast a shadow over the subject, but this is overcome on the EF-M28mm IS STM thanks to the built-in Macro Lite at the tip of the lens, which provides natural lighting. However, because the Macro Lite does not provide a great amount of light, they are more effective for photography in shady, cloudy, or indoor conditions, than for sunny conditions.
EOS M3/ EF-M28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM/ FL: 28mm (45mm equivalent)/ Aperture-priority AE (f/4.5, 1/8sec, EV+1.0)/ ISO 200/ WB: Auto
The above photo was taken in a dark room, and would have appeared flat and two-dimensional if not for the Macro Lite. I illuminated the subject from the right to evoke a sense of three-dimensionality.
Brighten/dim the built-in Macro Lite for your shots
Press the button on the lens body once to turn the Macro Lite on, and once again to dim the light. A further press turns off the Macro Lite, making it a cinch to use! If you feel uneasy about using bright light, you can reduce the amount of light in your shots.
[LED Off] If you shoot right up close with the Macro Lite off, the lens will cast a shadow on the subject, so the amount of light is far from sufficient for dark scenes. This is a very tough brightness to work with for handheld photography.
[Dim] I set the Macro Lite to dim while leaving the exposure as is. While this has made the photo considerably brighter, the surface of the flower as well as the shadow area deep inside the petals remain fairly dark.
[Bright] When I set the Macro Lite to Bright, I not only obtained a sufficient brightness for handheld photography, but the light also reached the shadowy area deep inside the petals, bringing out the brilliance of the flower in the photo.
Turn on either the left or right built-in Macro Lite for your shoot
The Macro Lite on the left and right can also be turned on independently. By doing so, light is provided from one direction, making it easier to express the detail of the subjects. The closer you get, the easier it becomes to feel the effect of your shots.
[LED Off] I took the following close-up shot of a strawberry with the Macro Lite off. In the photo the unevenness of the surface is hard to tell, leaving a flat, two-dimensional impression overall.
[Right Side Light (Bright)] When I used the right side light of the Macro Lite for my shoot, not only was the shine and feel of the surface of the strawberry depicted well, but a natural shadow was formed on the left side, which imparts an even greater sense of three-dimensionality.
[Left Side Light (Bright)] I took this shot with only the left side light of the Macro Lite set to Bright. A delicious-looking sheen is brought out on the surface of the strawberry, and the unevenness of the surface is also apparent. However, the right side became unnaturally dark.
TOPIC 2: Up to 1.2x magnification with the Super Macro Mode
Macro lenses usually have up to 1x magnification. However, this lens is capable of up to 1.2x magnification. Because it is an APS-C lens, the magnification is about 1.92x at 35mm film-equivalent, allowing you to easily enjoy a super macro world that was previously impossible to experience with traditional macro lenses.
The closer up you get for your shoot, the easier it is for camera shake to occur. Hence, for handheld photography, in the case of the EOS M3, you can achieve more stable results by mounting an optional electronic viewfinder (EVF) when performing viewfinder shooting.
Extending your lens to the Super Macro Mode position, allows you to shoot at 1.2x magnification, with the distance from the lens surface to the subject being approximately 1.3cm. Switch to Standard mode when shooting distant scenery.
The tapered structure of the lens extension mechanism not only contributes to the compact body, but also makes it more difficult to cast a shadow on to the subject when shooting close-up, so it is easier to capture a subject that is deep inside a flower or on a table, for example.
[1.0x] A 1 cent coin captured using 1x magnification. One of the benefits of an APS-C camera is that you can obtain a 1.6x crop factor at 35mm film-equivalent.
[1.2x] In Super Macro Mode, the crop factor becomes 1.92x at 35mm film-equivalent, so a large part of the coin extends outside of the frame. You can even see the fine scratches on the surface of the coin.
TOPIC 3: With a 45mm equivalent standard angle of view, this lens can also be used for street and portrait photography
The focal length of 45mm (35mm film-equivalent) is the angle of view for so-called standard lenses, so you can also make use of this lens for standard street and portrait photography. New users, in particular, should find this versatility very attractive - it is almost like a standard prime lens that also allows you to take macro shots.
Users will also be pleased to know that the scene is well resolved right to the periphery, as is typical of a macro lens.
EOS M3/ EF-M28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM/ FL: 28mm (45mm equivalent)/ Aperture-priority AE (f/5.6, 1/400sec, EV+0.7)/ ISO 200/ WB: Auto
EOS M3/ EF-M28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM/ FL: 28mm (45mm equivalent)/ Aperture-priority AE (f/4.5, 1/1,600sec, EV+0.7)/ ISO 320/ WB: Auto
The 28mm (45mm equivalent) angle of view captures a slightly wider view for a macro lens, making it possible to include the background in the view while getting up close to the subject. I was able to capture a view from the flower bed to the sky in one shot.
Using Super Macro Mode, your shots can evoke a sense of presence even of a tiny insect that might measure mere millimetres in length. A noteworthy point is that the tips of the 1mm stamens are properly resolved. The image stabilisation capability is also reassuring.
EOS M3/ EF-M28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM/ FL: 28mm (45mm equivalent)/ Aperture-priority AE (f/11, 1/1,000sec, EV±0)/ ISO 800/ WB: Auto
The contrast between a bicycle and grass on the side of the road. This is also an image that is possible because this macro lens also has quite a wide angle. I set a narrow f-number of f/11 to include the background. In street macro photography, the appropriate selection of the f-number is critical.
EOS M3/ EF-M28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM / FL: 28mm (45mm equivalent)/ Aperture-priority AE (f/3.5, 1/500sec, EV+0.7)/ ISO 800/ WB: Auto
I took a close-up shot looking into an azalea covered in water droplets. The tapered structure of the extended lens and the Macro Lite allowed me to properly capture an image looking deep inside the flower. The lens brought out the sparkle of light reflected off the water droplets.
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Born in Hokkaido in 1982, Nakahara turned to photography after working at a chemical manufacturing company. He majored in photography at the Vantan Design Institute and is a lecturer for photography workshops and seminars, in addition to working in commercial photography. He is also a representative of the photography information website studio9.
A monthly magazine that believes that enjoyment of photography will increase the more one learns about camera functions. It delivers news on the latest cameras and features and regularly introduces various photography techniques.
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