I found out about a new Canon ultra wide angle zoom lens at the beginning of this week. It is the Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM that immediately caught my attention.
In terms of ultra wide angle lenses, there is also the Canon EF-S 10-22mm lens that I have always loved to use and that provides a pretty good image quality in my opinion. For me, the downside of the Canon EF-S 10-22mm lens is actually the price that is still around EUR 550,00 at the moment. In addition, I also use the Canon EF-S 17-55mm which is such a great lens that I try to use it as much as I can. With a minimum focal lenght of 17mm, it eventually makes all focal lenghts larger than 16mm useless on the 10-22mm so that I do effectively use it for 10-16mm only. This is almost half of the focal range of the 10-22mm that I do not neccessarily need. For my personal setup, the Canon 10-22mm is 90% more expensive than for anyone who needs it’s full focal range.
In comparison, the Canon EF-S 10-18mm is a more economic option for me. Also, it provides some pretty nice additional features such as a stepper motor (indicated in the lens name as STM) and an Image Stabilizer unit (IS). The image stabilizer is interesting because normally wide angle images are not really vulnerable to shaking, however it can probably assist in getting images even sharper.
I have done some research on the Internet since the beginning of the week and learned that many people describe the Canon EF-S 10-18mm as a very powerful ultra wide angle lens. It has some minor disadvantages such as a variable maximum aperture over the focal range and the lens is predominantly made of plastic elements. On the other hand, the image quality (which in my opinion should always be the most striking argument) is slightly better than the quality provided by the Canon EF-S 10-22mm. Last but not least, the price is EUR 279,00 (Amazon Germany on 12.07.2014) which supported my decision.
I purchased the Canon EF-S 10-18mm on Wednesday, 9th of July 2014, and received it yesterday. Here is a short review on both general information and my personal impressions of my new lens.
The Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM is only supported by crop-sensor cameras and therefore does provide a slightly different impression of focal ranges to the viewer. Given a crop-factor of 1.6, the resulting images are equivalent to 16-29mm on a full frame camera. This lens features a stepper motor which is known for its ultra fast and silent focus performance. The diaphragm – consisting of seven blades – has a maximum aperture of f/4.5 at 10mm, immediately reduces to f/5.0 at 11mm and reduces once more to f/5.6 at 15mm. The lens consists of 11 lens groups totalling 14 lens elements. Here is the official Canon diagram showing the internal structure.
The Canon EF-S 10-18mm does also feature an Image Stabilizer that can compensate the longer exposures resulting from the limited aperture. According to MTF Charts, overall lens resolution is quite impressing, see the official Canon Chart below.
Here is a short description on my personal impressions related to the Canon EF-S 10-22mm lens. I took some time today and documented the unboxing process so you can participate in this ceremony =)
In terms of weight and dimensions, my expectations were met and the Canon EF-S 10-18mm is a bit smaller and lighter than the Canon EF-S 10-22mm. It has the lens cap “CAP E-67II” included which I personally like very much because it is easier to remove and re-attach to the lens than previous lens cap designs. The filter ring has a 67mm diameter and does not rotate when focusing, however the lens slightly changes length (approximately 4mm) when zooming in and out.
Having expected a plastic feel, I was a bit surprised that the overall build quality is pretty decent. The zoom ring has a rubber coating and feels solid with no gaps between the zoom ring and the lens barrel. Zooming in and out gives a constant feedback with no changes in pressure. The focusing ring is placed on the very front of the lens and it allows to do manual focusing. The focus ring is extremely easy and smooth to turn and gives a feeling of precision, although I would not want to miss the stepper motor to perform the focusing.
For an ultra wide angle lens at a very favourable price, I was sceptical about the image quality. I did some quick test shots today and I was frankly surprised that image sharpness was pretty high and constant over the entire scene. There is barely some distortion at any focal lenght and also chromatic aberration is low. I do not have a detailed comparison between the Canon EF-S 10-22mm and the new Canon EF-S 10-18mm, but my impression is that the new lens can definitely keep up with the expensive version.
One thing I have to say is that I was slightly disappointed by the lens mount which is also designed in plastic. Although plastic technology has brought up some really resilient and durable materials – as the lens barrel itself shows – plastic is still not so popular in high-quality products.
There is also a professional review of the Canon EF-S 10-18mm on the website of Ken Rockwell.