Lens: Venus Optics Laowa 4mm ƒ/2.8 EF-M (Photography Museum)

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Venus Optics Laowa 4mm ƒ/2.8 Fisheye EF-M

I bought the Venus Optics 4mm ƒ/2.8 Fisheye in April, 2020, shortly after the manufacturer announced that this compact lens was coming to the EF-M mount.

Amazingly this is only the second third-party lens I have ever purchased (not counting Lensbaby). The other is my Tamron 150-600mm super-telephoto. I’m a person of extremes I suppose.

I have always been intrigued by fisheye lenses. Even though I consider them a hyper-specialized lens category, I own more than my share of fisheyes: an Olloclip Fisheye for iPhone, the Lensbaby 12mm Fisheye Optic, and the Canon EF 8-15mm ƒ/4 L Fisheye USM.

I wanted to add the Venus Optics Fisheye to my collection because it creates a full circular image on APS-C. It has a unique 210° field-of-view and was quite cheap at $199US (that’s less than 1 dollar per degree!)

The Venus Optics Fisheye is like a jewel. It is tiny, but it must have the highest weight to volume ratio of any lens I own.

It is a bit tricky to use, being manual focus and manual aperture. The aluminum lens cover is a friction fit but I have never had a problem with it slipping off.

I use this lens on the Canon EOS M3 which has the same sensor size and quality as the EOS M5. It lacks Dual Pixel CMOS AF, but that doesn’t mean anything in manual focus mode.

The reason I don’t use it on the M5 is that the M3 grip is much smaller and it is easier to avoid getting my knuckles in the frame. Getting my toes in the shot is pretty much a guarantee.

The Venus Optics Fisheye is relatively sharp when stopped down to ƒ/5.6 or ƒ/8. Stopping down also improves the quality of the edges of the image circle. Still, there is often a lot of fringing at the edges, so I usually add a sharp circular vignette to blackout those edges (I have a Lightroom Preset for this).

A fun lens to experiment with.


Photography Museum | Lenses | Canon EF-M Mount

Lens: Canon RF 24-105mm ƒ/4 L IS USM (Photography Museum)

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Canon RF 24-105mm ƒ/4 L IS USM

This is my first RF lens, purchased alongside the Canon EOS R6 Mark II camera in January, 2023.

This was the first of two RF zoom lenses introduced (2018), the first image stabilized RF lens, and the first L-series lens to feature Nano-USM. When introduced, it’s 5-stops of image stabilization was the most ever achieved by any Canon lens.

I chose this lens because I never owned a L-series standard zoom and I felt that it would be a versatile range on full-frame (standard zooms always felt too long on APS-C sensor cameras and so I gravitated more towards the 16-35mm wide-angle zoom range).

I planned to use the R6 Mark II for both stills and video and felt a compact, straight-aperture, image-stabilized lens would be a good place to start. I wasn’t wrong.

On 24 megapixels, the RF 24-105mm ƒ/4 L IS USM is quite sharp across the entire frame. No complaints so far. I have had zero issues with flare or chromatic aberration.

The ƒ/4 aperture is a little slow for video work in low light (dusk, indoors) but has been perfectly adequate for stills photography. In fact I have only ever seen the slightest amount of motion blur even in photos taken at shutter speeds of ¼ second or longer. Really, with lens IS, IBIS (in-body image stabilization), a 24 megapixel sensor, and high ISO capabilities all combined, I just don’t know when I would need to shoot stills on a tripod, except to compose with filters.

RF L-series lenses look nice and feel very good in the hand. The zoom and focus rings are more refined than the older EF designs, but are still easy to locate and turn. I do find that the control ring is quite hard to feel, especially with gloves on.

The RF 24-105mm has been a good complement to my EF 16-35mm ƒ/4 L IS USM, and I expect will serve me many years as a professional “kit” lens.



Photography Museum | Lenses | Canon RF Mount

Photography Museum Lenses: Canon RF Mount

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Canon’s RF lens mount (2018) used on EOS R cameras and associated RF lenses is an interesting evolution and amalgamation of the previous EF (1987) and EF-M (2012) technologies. The mirrorless specific RF mount has the same 54mm diameter as the EF mount, but has a flange to sensor distance of only 20mm versus 44mm for the SLR EF mount (and 18mm for the EF-M mount). This shorter flange distance allows for more compact wide angle lens designs. It also means that EF mount lenses can be used on EOS R cameras with an adaptor.

The RF mount features 12 twelve electronic contacts compared to the 8 contacts on EF/EF-S and 9 contacts on EF-M. The increased contact count allows for more bandwidth and faster communication between the lens and the camera body.

Like EF-M lenses, Canon RF lenses contain factory-calibrated correction data which is passed to the camera when mounted.

The RF mount was initially only available on full-frame R-series cameras. However, in late 2022, Canon introduced the R1O and R7 bodies with an APS-C sensor. Concurrent with these new bodies, Canon released the first RF-S lenses designed to work with the smaller sensor. RF-S lenses can also be mounted on full-frame R-series bodies, but with an automatic 1.6x sensor crop.

Along-side the zoom and focus rings, many RF mount lenses feature an additional control ring. In some lower end primes and zooms, a switch toggles a single ring between focus and control functions. A control ring is also available on the Control Ring Mount Adapter EF-EOS R. The control ring can be configured in camera to adjust many camera functions, such as aperture, ISO, focus area, exposure compensation, flash exposure compensation, etc.

While Canon never released a professional L series lens for the EF-M mount, the RF mount and R-series bodies were, from the onset, targeted more towards professionals and enthusiasts than amateurs and beginners. In the first two years, Canon released 8 L series lenses and only 2 non-L lenses (a 35mm prime and 10x super-zoom).

As of writing, all RF lenses feature the slower, but virtually silent, STM (stepper-motor) or the faster, and still mostly silent, linear Nano-USM (ultra-sonic motor)1. Because of these two technologies, all RF lenses to date are focus-by-wire and work equally well for either stills or video.

Canon has chosen to prioritize compactness for RF L-series zoom lenses which feature extending lens barrels, compared to most EF L-series lenses which were of a bulkier internal-zoom design.

To date, all L-series zoom lenses also feature IS (image stabilization), except for the fast and already very large RF 28-70mm F2 L USM.

Adapted EF lenses (Canon or third-party) work seamlessly via the EF-EOS R adaptors.

Canon have chosen to keep the RF mount closed to third-party autofocus lenses.

The new Lens Dust Cap RF is compatible with EF lenses, but not the other way around.

In fact, my biggest complaint about the RF mount is the dust cap design. Because the bayonet tabs on the EF mount were arranged symmetrically, the older EF dust caps could be mounted at any of three angles (0°, 120°, 240°). Without looking you could quickly get the dust cap on just by feel. The bayonet tabs on the RF mount are not symmetrical. The new dust cap will attach in only one orientation and the alignment marker is quite hard to see. I plan to highlight all of my RF dust cap alignment markers with silver marker or vinyl strips so they are easier to see and still look classy.

RF Prime Lenses

  • Canon RF 16mm ƒ/2.8 STM
  • Canon RF 24mm ƒ/1.8 Macro IS STM

RF Zoom Lenses

RF Miscellaneous

  • Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R With Control Ring

  1. The only exception is the RF 5.2mm F2.8 L Dual Fisheye Lens which has fixed focus.

Lens: Canon EF-M 28mm ƒ/3.5 Macro IS STM (Photography Museum)

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Canon EF-M 28mm ƒ/3.5 Macro IS STM

The Canon EF-M 28mm ƒ/3.5 Macro IS STM lens is a compact macro lens with several interesting features. The collapsible design has two selectable focus ranges: infinity to 0.7x, and Super Macro which goes from 0.7x to 1.2x. To counteract the issue of lighting with such a short working distance, the lens has a built-in camera-powered selectable ring light. A screw on “lens hood” covers the ring light in storage. With the hood removed, the front element has chamfered outer edges to allow as much light as possible to reach a close subject.

For a dedicated macro lens, I generally prefer a short telephoto focal length as this gives more working distance. On the other hand I do like the look of wide-angle extreme close-ups.

As is usual with macros, this lens is quite sharp shooting at the minimum focusing distance all the way thru to infinity. That makes it a decent general purpose walk-around prime, though it has a relatively small maximum aperture. For general use I prefer the compact EF-M 22mm ƒ/2 STM or the very fast EF-M 32mm ƒ/1.4 STM, though neither of these are image stabilized.

This lens was released in June, 2016, but I didn’t buy my copy until January, 2020.

I haven’t used this lens as much as I would like, but I have been pleased with the images I have captured with it.

The first image below, Sugar Crystals, is a focus stack of 12 shots. The second image is one of ten frames from a focus stack set—the third image, Salt Crystals, which shows how depth of focus can be increased by stacking multiple focus-bracketed exposures.



Photography Museum | Lenses | Canon EF-M Mount

Lens: Canon EF-M 55-200mm ƒ/4.5-6.3 IS STM (Photography Museum)

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Canon EF-M 55-200mm ƒ/4.5-6.3 IS STM

The Canon EF-M 55-200mm ƒ/4.5-6.3 IS STM (released in 2014) is Canon’s only telephoto lens (as of 2020) for the M-series of compact mirrorless cameras.

It is a fine lens, especially for its size. I wouldn’t say that I love this lens, but with a maximum equivalent focal length of 320mm it has impressive reach in a very small package. It is probably sharper than, but not as versatile as, the EF-M 18-150mm ƒ/3.5-6.3 IS STM (which might be a better compact travel lens).

If I am going out for a day and have no definite plans for shooting with a long lens I take this lens in my bag just-in-case. If I plan to take telephoto shots (birds, landscapes, or people) I will carry either my Canon EF 80-200 ƒ/2.8 L or Tamron 150-600mm ƒ/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 SP instead.



Photography Museum | Lenses | Canon EF-M Mount

Lens: Canon EF-M 18-150mm ƒ/3.5-6.3 IS STM (Photography Museum)

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Canon EF-M 18-150mm ƒ/3.5-6.3 IS STM

With a zoom range factor of 8.3x, the Canon EF-M 18-150mm ƒ/3.5-6.3 IS STM (released 2016), is the only “high-power zoom”1 in my collection. Typically, beyond 4x zoom, compromises in lens design must be made resulting in a lens with less than stellar optical performance. With the Canon EF-M 18-150mm ƒ/3.5-6.3 IS STM these compromises have largely been avoided and the lens is sharp, with well behaved aberrations, across it’s zoom range.

A good lens for travel or hiking, I reach for this lens in general shooting situations where I might want both wide-angle and telephoto focal lengths and want to avoid changing lenses. In more specialized situations I will usually choose a more specialized lens (for speed, sharpness, specific focal lengths, etc.).

  1. This is how Canon characterizes this lens, which is fair as true superzooms have a zoom range of 10x or higher. 



Photography Museum | Lenses | Canon EF-M Mount

Lens: Canon EF-M 18-55mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 IS STM (Photography Museum)

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Canon EF-M 18-55mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 IS STM

The Canon EF-M 18-55mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 IS STM, released in 2012 along with the EOS M and the Canon EF-M 22m ƒ/2 STM, was the standard kit zoom lens for Canon’s new compact mirrorless system. It was replaced in 2015 by the wider and smaller collapsible Canon EF-M 15-45mm ƒ/3.5-6.3 IS STM and is no longer produced.

The 18-55mm covers a very useful if conventional focal range on APS-C, equivalent to 28-88mm on full-frame. It’s a range I find useful if I have no specific plan when going out with my camera. I also have the Canon EF-M 18-150mm ƒ/3.5-6.3 IS STM at my disposal and I will take the lens if I think I will want more reach. If I am prioritizing sharpness I will go with the 18-55mm which has excellent resolving power at 25 megapixels.

In every review I have seen the EF-M 18-55mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 IS STM is much sharper than the replacement EF-M 15-45mm ƒ/3.5-6.3 IS STM. The 15-45mm is tiny when collapsed, but I have never found the 18-55mm bulky in my bag and thus have also never had the desire to add the 15-45mm to my kit.

Surprisingly, the EF-M mount’s short back flange distance shows little advantage over the DSLR EF APS-C mount when it comes to the design of this focal range. Indeed, the Canon EF-S 18-55mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 IS STM kit zoom lens, released in 2013, is practically identical in optical design, dimensions, and price.

Lens MSRP (Yen) Weight Max Diameter x Length (mm)
 Canon EF-M 18-55mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 IS STM 35,000 yen (2012) 210g 60.9 × 61.0
 Canon EF-S 18-55mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 IS STM 36,000 yen (2013) 205g 69.0 × 75.2
 Canon EF-M 15-45mm ƒ/3.5-6.3 IS STM 35,000 yen (2015) 130g 60.9 x 44.5



Photography Museum | Lenses | Canon EF-M Mount

Lens: Canon EF-M 11-22mm ƒ/4-5.6 IS STM (Photography Museum)

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Canon EF-M 11-22mm ƒ/4-5.6 IS STM

The Canon EF-M 11-22mm ƒ/4-5.6 IS STM, released in 2013, is the third lens for Canon’s EOS M series of compact MILC cameras, and quickly became one of my favourite lenses of  all-time (particularly for landscape work).

This is the first lens I owned with a collapsible design. For transportation the lens is very small. It is a sharp lens and I have never had any complaints about corner sharpness or other lens aberrations. Expect moderate vignetting at maximum aperture, but this is easily corrected in post-production if shooting RAW or via in-camera peripheral illumination correction if shooting JPEG.

It works well for expansive landscapes or for working in tight spaces (canyons or interiors), but it is a bit too wide for people photos—expect unflattering results if you try to use it for portraits.

This lens highlights one of the main advantages of short back flange distance (the distance from the lens mount interface to the sensor) for ultra-wide angle lens design. It also exemplifies the benefits of the EF-M mount on an APS-C camera. To get the similar focal range in EF mount for APS-C you would look at the EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM1 which is 55% longer, 75% heavier, and you will probably not see any difference in real-world image quality. To get the similar focal range on EF full-frame, you still need to step up to the EF 16-35mm ƒ/4L IS USM2 which, again, is twice as long, three times as heavy, and three times the price of the EF-M lens.

  1. Admittedly, the EF-S lens is slightly wider and offers 1/3 faster and 2/3 faster apertures at the minimum and maximum focal lengths respectively. On the other hand, the EF-M lens offers 3 stops of optical image stabilization.
  2. This is a tough comparison, because Canon has never made a non-professional ultra-wide zoom lens for full-frame and the EF 16-35mm ƒ/4L IS USM is a professional lens with internal zoom, constant aperture, weather sealing, and four stops of optical image stabilization. The Tamron 17-35mm F/2.8-4 Di OSD would be a cheaper third-party alternative.



Photography Museum | Lenses | Canon EF-M Mount

Lens: Canon EF-M 22mm ƒ/2 STM (Photography Museum)

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Canon EF-M 22mm ƒ/2 STM

Released in 2012 along with the original EOS M camera, the Canon EF-M 22mm ƒ/2 STM, at only 23.7mm long, is the shortest lens in the EF-M range1. It is also the only pancake lens for the EF-M mount.

I bought this lens on day one alongside my original EOS M camera body. It and the much newer Canon EF-M 32mm ƒ/1.4 STM are the only EF-M lenses that forego optical image stabilization. In the case of the 22mm this is not surprising as the designers obviously prioritized size/weight over stabilization. The fast ƒ/2 aperture also obviates the need for stabilization for stills photography.

While I have always enjoyed the 22mm focal length (35mm full-frame equivalent) and the pocketable size, I have often wanted slightly better image quality (sharpness mostly) and focusing speed from this lens. Its absolutely perfect as an unobtrusive carry-around street photography lens and that is mostly how I use it.

I initially scoffed at the tiny 43mm filter thread diameter, but now it and the other two Canon EF-M prime lenses (i.e., the 32mm ƒ/1.8 and 28mm ƒ/3.5 macro) all share that same size. I have added a 43mm Hoya Fusion Anti-static circular polarizer to my kit and have enjoyed using it on these primes.

The one downside of this lens is the inability to mount a tradition lens hood. I am a big fan of lens hoods. Canon’s EF-S 24mm ƒ/2.8 STM pancake also has this design limitation. In actuality I would always prioritize compactness over the ability to mount a hood on this type of lens.

Since the introduction of the Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM, online commentators often question the need for the 22mm ƒ/2 lens? There are many reasons why I would say the 22mm is still very useful:

  1. focal length—there is a big difference between 35mm and 45mm equivalent focal length;
  2. size—the 22mm remains jacket-pocketable on any EOS M body (I’m Canadian and we have big jackets and big pockets);
  3. speed—the 22mm lacks image stabilization, but ƒ/2 is 1 1/3 stop faster than ƒ/3.5, allowing not only faster shutters speeds when shooting moving subjects but also a much shallower depth of field effect;
  4. sharpness—I have not fully tested this, but macro lenses typically sacrifice some infinity focus sharpness for the ability to focus closely.
  5. focus speed—there is a danger of increased focus hunting with high magnification lenses as they move through a much wider range of focus distances.

To that end, I always—repeat, always—carry the Canon EF-M 22mm ƒ/2 STM when I go shooting—it takes up almost no room in by bag.

  1. As of 2020, Canon has adhered to a strict design standard for the EOS M system and all eight EF-M mount Canon lenses share the identical 60.9mm barrel diameter.



Photography Museum | Lenses | Canon EF-M Mount

Lens: Tamron 150-600mm ƒ/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 SP (Photography Museum)

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Tamron 150-600mm ƒ/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 SP

I bought the Tamron 150-600mm ƒ/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 SP (what a mouthful) the same day I bought my EOS M5 (2016). I admit it is an odd combination. The EOS M5 features the first built-in EVF in the EOS M-series and also has a more substantial grip compared to previous models. We had been living for several years in our new house, next to a large natural park, and I wanted try my hand at bird photography.

Well built, optically good, attractively priced. Absolutely love the Arca-compatible tripod foot (all long lenses should have this feature). The the clutch mechanism on the zoom ring is great. Zoom creep is not a problem, but still it is reassuring to be able to lock the lens in any position. I will never get used to the fact that Tamron zoom and focus rings rotate the opposite direction of Canon (one of the reasons I have hesitated to add the Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Lens to my collection).

Bulky when mounted on the EOS M5, but almost manageable. When zoomed to 600mm, the lens is physically long and the weight very far forward so that the EOS M5 is hard to balance. It is okay for a few minutes of handheld shooting then my arms need a rest.

After purchasing this lens it wasn’t too long before I also added a high quality carbon monopod to my kit.

I am very pleased with this lens for general landscape work as well. The ability to zoom into distant scenes and to isolate compositions is handy and rewarding.

I have not become a hardcore bird photographer, but I have learned a lot more about the birds that frequent my area.

Canon have made very few super-telephoto zoom lenses, and none with this focal range. The excellent and popular Canon EF 100-400mm is the only realistic first-party alternative. An un-realistic alternative is the Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM (aka, “Unicorn”) with built-in 1.4x extender (for a total focal range of 200-560mm and the price of a used car).

Early-2020 MSRP prices comparison:

Lens MSRP (USD) Weight
Tamron 150-600mm ƒ/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 SP $1399 4.42 lb / 2010 g
Sigma 150-600mm ƒ/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary $1089 4.03 lb / 1830 g
Sigma 150-600mm ƒ/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports $1699 6.29 lb / 2860 g
Canon EF 100-400mm ƒ/4.5-5.6L IS II USM $2199 3.61 lb / 1640 g
Canon EF 200-400mm ƒ/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x $10999 7.98 lb / 3620 kg



Photography Museum | Lenses | Canon EF Mount