Archive for August, 2017

picture of lens

Photo from Canon USA website

So recently Canon added another lens to the skinny field of M lenses for the mirrorless camera line. They have pushed out a trainload of camera bodies over the last two years, M3, M10, M5, M6, yet they still only have seven lenses in the native lineup. Sure Canon has the adapter that allows full functionality with the entire line of EF and EF-S lenses totaling some 50 plus in the current catalog. But those a bulky and clumsy for the most part when used on the little EOS-M series. I am lucky enough to have five of seven in my little Tenba travel bag. The latest is the 28mm F/3.5 Macro.

When I first saw this lens arrive I was pretty stoked. I am a bit perplexed about why the EF-S version is a 35mm focal length rather than the M version at 28mm. The EF-S lens is faster at F/2.8 but I get that, they are going for compact with the M series. Both lenses feature the built-in LED ring light and life-size magnification, but the M lens gets an additional “Super Macro” mode to 1.2x.

picture of quarter dollar coin

M5 with 28mm F3.5 Macro at roughly 1/2 life or 1:2 ratio; simulates life-size on full frame

First thing about Macro Lenses is the term life-size or 1:1. These terms are often misunderstood. A life-size image is a 1:1 reproduction ratio meaning that the size of the image on the “film” or Sensor is exactly the size it is in real life. A life-size image on a larger sensor doesn’t appear as “close” as it does on a small sensor. 1mm in life is 1 mm on the film or sensor that is 1x magnification or 1:1 reproduction or “life-size”. A full frame sensor or 35mm film is 24mm x 36mm and an American quarter Dollar coin is almost exactly 24mm in diameter. So one could place a quarter inside the borders of a 35mm film frame with no room vertically there will be about 6mm on each horizontal side. This would represent a “life-size” image, 1x magnification or macro ratio of 1:1. Since the lion’s share of camera sensors are smaller than a full frame, this means a quarter will not fit! Since we rarely view images at a size of 24mm x 36mm the images made with 1:1 on smaller film or sensor sizes look “closer” or “bigger”. Look at it this way, how many quarters would fit on an 8×10 sheet of film? The answer is about 80 with a little bit of room around the edges. A picture of 80 quarters on an 8×10 camera would be life-size reproduction but wouldn’t really qualify as a macro shot.

super close picture of quarter

M5 with 28mm macro at 1:1 or life-size.

All of that aside, the little canon can shoot really close! It will focus down to a couple of inches and that means the subject is almost on the front element of the lens! This is why I wondered about them using the 28mm focal length. At least at 35mm there would be some breathing room. I shot this image of the quarter at 1:1 as close as the lens would go with out shifting into “super macro” mode. This was done the top of this desk I write the blog on and hand-held using the built-in light. Yes the lens has IS and it is a good thing as I was shaking like the proverbial leaf. So the smaller APS/C sensor at 1:1 looks much closer but inch for inch it is the same image size.

The lens is plenty sharp and with the aforementioned stabilizer it stays sharp when the magnification is high and the coffee is fully loaded. The focal length works out to a 35mm equivalent of 45mm and that is a decent little knock around lens. It takes nice sharp photos across the range and the Super Macro mode does work well yielding some 20% more in your face close-ups, but the subject distance is silly close.

Over all I like the lens. They are pretty proud of it getting some $350 for it and still giving us the flimsy feeling plastic lens mount. I say “flimsy feeling” but my experience is that these composite plastic mounts are actually pretty durable. I may just have to prep myself for the day when steel lens mounts are gone on anything not labeled with a big red L. 

The lens performs well, has quick and snappy focus and the ring light is not just a cool widget but rather useful when you realize the distance between the front element of the lens and the subject can be less than once inch (25mm). The IS system lives up to Canon’s lofty standards and the lens enjoys the M series instant manual focus over ride with a twist of the focus ring.

I had been using an old Canon FD 50mm f/3.5 macro as my go to close up lens for the M5 and I will say this lens is sharper and with the IS it is sharp more often.

dew drop on leaf

Morning Dew, M5 with 28mm  macro ISO 200, 1/1250th@f/3.5

picture of flowers

Morning Dew 2, M5 with 28mm macro, ISO 100, 1/13th sec@f/3.5

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