EF-M 35mm f/1.8 STM ?

DSC_6394Rumours are abounding right now that Canon will launch a couple of EF-M prime lenses in Q1 2016 and the suggestions are that the first of these will be an EF-M 35mm f/1.8 STM lens.

So far this is just a rumour, and the photo above is simply the EF-M 22mm f/2.0 STM lens.

Let’s dissect this rumour and see what sense this makes.

Firstly, the current Canon EF-M lens range (as of November 2015) consists of five lenses, of which four are zoom lenses:

EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM
EF-M 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM
EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM
EF-M 55-200mm f/4.5-6.3 IS STM 

and only one a prime

EF-M 22mm f/2.0 STM

Out of all of these lenses, guess which is my favourite? That’s right. The 22mm.  Even though the lens looks like a tiny plastic bubble more at home on a cellphone than a serious camera the optics are great. The 22mm works nicely and you get some excellent pin-sharp photos.

So will the 35mm lens be next? It might seem that a 50mm would be more obvious, but 35mm is quite the in focal range right now for many reasons.

Firstly, a 35mm lens gives you approximately the same field of view on an APS-C sensor as a 56mm lens on a full-frame. A 50mm lens has always been regarded as the best ‘standard’ lens (i.e. replicating what the human eye can see) on a full-frame camera, so 35mm is the best match for this on APS-C.

Secondly, 35mm is popular. Canon have just launched their excellent EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM lens with their magic new Blue Spectrum Refractive Optics. But that’s a super-expensive L series lens for full-frame cameras. They also have their amazingly sharp EF 35mm f/2.0 IS USM lens. And of course there’s the absolutely stunning Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art lens too – the lens that broke the Curse of Sigma and finally made professional Canon photographers take Sigma seriously again. Every one of those three lenses is a stunning full-frame 35mm lens. And they all work great as a ‘standard’ lens on an APS-C camera too.

Canon haven’t in general been keen on producing prime lenses for APS-C cameras, in fact the only prime lenses for APS-C that Canon do are the highly-regarded EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM, the EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM pancake lens and of course the EF-M 22mm lens we’ve already mentioned. Nikon, however, have launched their highly popular Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX lens which is only suitable for DX (APS-C) Nikon cameras. It’s marketed as a standard lens to APS-C users who want something to match the 50mm lens they may have been used to in the past on 35mm.

So, perhaps Canon will do the same by releasing a EF-M 35mm f/1.8 STM lens.  But equally, they could just as well be preparing a EF-S 35mm f/1.8 STM lens for the many DSLR cameras.

And this raises the big question, why in twelve years of the EF-S mount have Canon NOT already released such a lens?

The answer is – because the EF 50mm f/1.8 II lens sold too well that they didn’t need to. Consider that in the 12 years since the EOS 300D was launched with the first EF-S mount the ‘nifty fifty’ has been the best selling additional lens because of it’s ultra-low price and superb optics. And that’s mostly to APS-C users, who have embraced the 50mm on an cropped sensor (equivalent to an 80mm lens field of view on a full frame). I’ve made some of my favourite photos in the past using the ‘plastic fantastic’ 50mm Canon lens on an EOS 500D APS-C camera. It’s cheap, it looks like it came off a toy rather than a real camera. But it works, and it works very very well. So well that it really isn’t worth getting the more expensive 50mm lenses in most cases. And the new EF 50mm f/1.8 STM replacement is even better still.

So. Would Canon risk unfamiliar territory with a 35mm f/1.8 lens or would they instead stick to the tried and tested formula of the 50mm lens? Wouldn’t a EF-M 50mm f/1.8 STM be a safer choice?

Maybe – but then if Canon are going to launch a full-frame mirrorless camera in the not too distant future a 50mm lens would be one of the most important first lenses – and that would just be too confusing if there were separate EF-M 50mm lenses for both APS-C and full frame.

So I suspect that the 50mm lens will come out for EF-M, but only when a full-frame EOS-M camera is launched. And if Canon are going to launch a couple of EF-M APS-C only lenses in the next few months then certainly the 35mm is the most likely option.

What could be next after this?

There have been rumours about a macro lens, and an EF-M 60mm f/2.8 Macro STM would be so obvious that it might be the best bet. But one has to wonder whether a specialised macro lens for EF-M would sell when most people would be content with the EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM and the EF to EF-M adaptor.

So what else would work on APS-C? An 85mm lens for portrait would be high up the list, as would a wide-angle prime such as a 14mm or 15mm. A fast wide angle lens (wider even than the 22mm) would be a perfect companion to the EOS-M3.

Whichever focal length Canon choose, if more EF-M prime lenses are launched then it’s a great sign for the future of the EOS-M system (which I firmly believe is the future of the EOS system). Personally  I can’t wait, and as soon as they’re available I’ll get them and review them here.


UPDATE – 5th November 2015

Canon Rumors are now reporting a new rumour that the 2nd EF-M prime will indeed be 15mm – the EF-M 15mm f/2.0  STM (presumably) – out of all the options they could have gone for I think this is by far the best.   The 15mm/22mm/35mm prime set for the EOS-M will be a superb basic set of photography tools.


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