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Thread started 05 Dec 2018 (Wednesday) 11:12
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List all reviews of Canon EF-M 32mm f/1.4 STM

Canon EF-M 32mm f/1.4 STM, reviewed by nero_design

 
nero_design
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Post edited 1 month ago by nero_design. (2 edits in all)
     
Dec 05, 2018 11:12 |  #1

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Canon EF-M 32mm f/1.4 STM lens on the Canon EOS M6 (above)

_______________

I've been shooting daily with this lens since purchase in September this year (2018) and it's an impressive lens that offers even more versatility for the Canon EOS M mirrorless platform. I have not shot with this lens using RAW and instead prefer to use it to capture JPEG images. My camera user-template setting was "Fine Detail" with a minor color saturation enhancement (available in the User Menu). As such, the lens itself tells the camera to engage Lens Correction and shares this data (presumably) from a chip onboard the lens itself (which surprised some of us). So it looks like Canon's newer lenses will tell the camera what profiles to apply rather than force the user to download the lens profile to the camera. I've scored this lens highly and with good reason.

What I shot:
I used this lens aggressively for two months and took 7,000+ images with it on the first weekend and an additional 9,000+ images with it from September to December 2018. It's still on my camera right now.

Subjects included:
* City Landscapes (Urban CBD Architecture, Transport etc) - Excellent results
* Wilderness Landscapes (Australian Bush) - Very Good results.
* Still Life - Very Good results
* Street Photography - Good results. Excellent results with AF Tracking
* Astrophotography (Milky Way and cityscapes) - Very Good results. - A bit narrow for Milky Way shots
* Portraits (arm's length portraits) - Good results
* Pets (closeup and portrait) - Very Good results
* Food & Beverages - Very Good results
* Flowers (pseudo macro) - Very Good results
* Insects/Jewellery etc (pseudo macro) - Good results
* Overcast conditions - Very Good results
* Bokeh Testing - Good results (as expected for f/1.4)
* Bright sunny conditions - Good results with or without a CPL filter
* Indoor lowlight shots - Good results.
* Sharpness (architecture, landscapes, closeups) - Excellent results.

Bokeh:
The Bokeh is exactly as expected: Controlled and Smooth with both circular and occasional cat-eye bokeh balls appearing depending on the nature of the background highlights. The aperture ranges from f/1.4 to f/16. Using this lens in bright sunlight on the EOS M cameras (which have a maximum shutter speed of 1/4000 sec) requires adding an ND or CPL filter if you want to shoot wide open at f/1.4 to produce strong bokeh... otherwise your shots will be washed out unless you stop down the lens in bright light. I shot some pelicans and other birds on a beach over the weekend with this lens and there was noticeable subject separation with the background - even at 40 feet or more. But this isn't an f/1.2 lens so for maximum bokeh you'll want to be within arm's length (or closer) to the subject. I thought the bokeh was just right for jewellery shot through store windows and flattering shots of animals, people, food and plants. A nice 'Bokeh Swirl' effect was visible in some shots that I took.

Sharpness:
Without a doubt this is possibly the sharpest Canon lens I have used, offering neck-to-neck results for sharpness and optical performance comparable to the respected EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM lens. But without the weight or price tag. When shooting wide open at f/1.4, this lens is astoundingly sharp. I found that shooting the core of the Milky Way at night at f/1.4 produced sharp stars from corner to corner with only subtle coma visible towards the corners. Quite surprising at f/1.4.

Distortion:
Extremely well controlled. The focal length of nearly 50mm (equiv) helps produce images with little or no spherical distortion. The lack of vignetting, even with double-stacked filters on the front of the lens should also be noted. Chromatic Abberartion is expected with f/1.4 lenses in bright light but even this is extremely well controlled with optical coatings.

Speed of Operation:
There's sometimes a slow transition when the focus breathes from a VERY closeup subject near the lens to something in the distance but that's to be expected for videopgraphers or the effect would be too jarring. For objects at similar distances the lens is fast and snappy to respond. Using a tracking AF mode, I was able to catch great shots of people as they approached me or entered the frame from around corners. I thought the lens was great for street photography because it was small enough to go unnoticed. And the touch-AF and tracking feature made photography and video easy to accomplish.

Closeup:
One of the big bonuses with this lens is how fantastic the Closeup ability is. According to Canon "you can fill the entire frame with a business card" and this turned out to be true. i find myself reaching for a Macro lens less and less when this lens is mounted to my EOS M6 camera. I can take a tiny Japanese cherry blossom and dominate the shot with it... or capture a piece of jewellery with plenty of room to spare. I took a picture of a neighbors flower that had a 1.5 inch long caterpillar munching away on the petals and I could make out the hairs and textured markings on its body clearly with some shallow DOF in play to make it interesting.

Lack of Image Stabilizer:
Canon seldom fit IS to their super-bright lenses and they obviously wanted to keep costs and complications down. For this reason I recommend showing caution when shooting at 1/60sec or slower with shaky hands. But this lens is so bright you'll hardly find this to be an issue. 1/80sec and faster is the safe zone because this lens equates to just over 50mm (equiv) when mounted on an APS-C sensor camera.

Lowlight:
This is what made me want to buy this lens when it was announced. I find that the EF-M 22mm f/2 STM lens is a great lens for indoor lowlight use but there are times when you need to use a faster shutter speed or when you need to utilize the low available light in the room. I visited a candle-lit restaurant in a basement the week before this lens was released and I had a lot of problems with the f/2 lens that an f/1.4 lens would have made easier. AF with a bright lens is always much easier than with a darker lens with a smaller aperture. I found I could handhold on the street without needing to lean against a pole for support when using this new lens. And it's very nice to see Canon producing a faster Prime lens for the M-series. I spent last night shooting video of my cats playing on a bed with a single low-output bulb behind a lamp shade and the results were great. The motor was silent enough not to distract the cats.

Astrophotography:
This lens was almost too bright and so a dark sky with a soon-to-rise moon cresting the horizon. It's just a little too narrow with the 50mm (equiv) field of view to capture a majestic and WIDE night shot of the Milky Way splashed across the sky. You'll need a wider lens for that type of shot. The EF-M 22mm f/2 STM lens lends itself well to a framed but wider shot of this subject. But for comets or a tighter shot of the Galactic Core... I think this is a very handy astro lens. It's so bright that I had to knock my ISO down ISO 800 for some of my shots when approaching 8+ second exposures. Shooting for 15 seconds with ISO 1600 at f/1.4 produced very bold results that needed some toning down during processing. As noted, this lens produced no real discernible coma although it was there in the corners yet controlled very well compared to lenses like the EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM. Shooting the city in the distance at night produced nice diffraction spikes at f/7.1 and I think this will be the lens to use for some comet-related subjects in the night sky. Handheld shots of a faint crescent moon obscured by thin cloud was possible from a dark street at midnight with no street lighting. Nebulous colors and extremely faint stars showed up in test shots of the Galactic Core. A NiSi Natural Night Filter was tested with this lens and produced attractive results. I'll post an example shortly. The NiSi filter was 77mm and step-up rings were used to mount this filter to the 43mm threads on this lens. See notes below in relation to the use of step-rings with this lens.

Color Rendition:
Colors are excellent with this lens with acceptable levels of contrast in all situations. With the exception of certain times when I used a Circular Polarizer (which will warm up and oversaturate some colors) I found this lens produced appealing natural colors which were then enhanced further by my settings (which increased some color saturation). Nice results overall. Neon is often a hard color to capture accurately with a digital camera and the lens usually has some influence with the results. I liked the color accuracy and noticed no greenish tinges etc to the resulting images.

Pets and Wildlife:
This is a good lens for this type of subject although with such a shallow DOF available when shooting wide open, you'll need to pick your target zone. If I photograph my cats and their heads are turned slightly, only one eye will be in focus. With the new DPAF sensors this lens is fast and accurate. Up close to an animal you may find that the focus may lock on an individual eyelash or even a reflection on the eyeball... that's how shallow the DOF can either benefit or hinder you. Fortunately the Magnify Feature on the Canon EOS M camera will assist when dealing with complex scenes.

Noise during Operation:
It's fast, accurate and silent when shooting video due to the STM motor. But with so much breathing and travel when shifting focus from Near to Far (or vice versa) the lens does seem to produce a sound when engaging with super-close subjects that is just barely audible in a quiet room (although it's more keenly felt by your hand holding the camera).

Lens Hood:
Canon release da very large (almost oversized) and optional tubular lens hood for this lens called the ES-60. I thought the price was a little high and availability was scarce when I picked up my lens so I purchased the Canon EW-60F lens hood instead. This is a Petal Design which was released for the EF-M 18-150mm lens and yet, with a little pressure during first use.... It can and does fit onto the EF-M 32mm f/1.4 STM lens. It also offers more access for your fingers when adjusting, adding or removing filters on the lens.

Price:
For what you're paying for, the price is acceptable but some may consider it slightly steep unless you realize this lens ought to be branded with a red ring due to stellar performance. I'd have liked to have seen this lens sell for just a little less yet it's worth every penny as it is. Do you need it? No. But does it take shots the other EF-M lenses can't? Yes it does.

Summary:
Overall, this has been a very rewarding lens to own and use. It's small and affordable and it's light enough for me to clip the rig to my belt or harness when hiking. The comparison to a similar lens on a Full Frame DSLR is enormous and I walked into several locations where photography was frowned upon with my camera in hand and nobody gave me a second glance. I recommend this lens highly and congratulate Canon for producing such high performance in a lens this size and at this price. It's incredibly light at just 235 g (0.52 lb) and with a minimum focus of 0.23 m (9.06") it's a very versatile lens. The only time I've swapped it over was when I needed a wider lens for certain broad landscapes.

Filter Use:
I used several CPL and UV filters with this lens and settled on 43mm Hoya UV "FUSION" filter and a 43mm Hoya "FUSION/ECO" Circular Polarizing filter for continued use based on my needs. The CPL filters tend to warm up some color hues but there was no vignetting. It should be noted that several other users and myself encountered odd results when fitting Step-up rings for using larger filters on this lens. All of the Step-up rings came from China and none would seat properly on the threads of the lens. They'd just keep turning and turning without locking down hard on the lens. We have a theory that the same cutting dies were used for these step rings, regardless of the sellers. Additionally I had mounted 5 different filters directly on the lens without any issues. Another user noted that the 43mm filter mount ring that comes with the 28mm lens doesn't mount to the 32mm lens either... although that is a specialized ring that was never intended for the 32mm lens. Due to the focal length, sky 'Banding' was not an issue with the use of CPL filters.

Focus Limiter Switch:
There's also a Focus Limiter switch on the side of the lens so that if you as shooting through grass or foliage, the lens will not lock on the nearby plants or subjects if they are within a short distance from the lens. Otherwise the lens will lock onto the closest target when the AF focus reticule is overlaid over any subject. I used this feature once to allowed me to shoot through a glass window with rain droplets on the surface and found the switch effective. The switch is marked: "0.23m/0.76ft-Infinity"

Minor Extrusion of outer Optics during operation:
I was shooting without a lens hood against a store window to try and capture an image of wrist watches and felt the lens push away from the glass display window. The inner optical element extrudes by just a few millimeters when the lens is focusing on very CLOSE subjects. But the optics do not rotate and this has no effect on polarizing filters. Most users may not notice this. For those unable to grasp the knurled edges of a CPL filter to remove it, extruding this element slightly (by forcing the lens to focus on something close) will afford more finger purchase on the edges of the filter for dismounting it.

I hope this information is of use to those contemplating this lens. It's fun to own and appears to be both robustly built but has no history of bad (or inconsistent) copies out there. I think it's a solid performer with a lot of versatility since it's sharp, bright and capable of near-macro closeups without complications.

- Regards,

Marco Nero

_______________

* The images below are from the EF-M 32mm f/1.4 STM lens
* They were all taken in JPEG and are uncropped.
* A Hoya 43mm FUSION (aka ECO) Circular Polarizer was used for some shots in sunlight.
* A Hoya 43mm HMC UV filter was used all the time.
* They have been gently batch-tweaked in Lightroom and Photoshop before resizing and saving.


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nero_design
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Post edited 1 month ago by nero_design.
     
Dec 05, 2018 11:18 |  #2

A few more examples from the lens...


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nero_design
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Dec 05, 2018 11:26 |  #3


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The odd magenta hue was naturally occurring in the leaves of the trees here. The effect of bushfires.

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That's all I have for the moment. Let me know if anyone needs more examples from this lens and I'll add a couple more.

Cheers.



  
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Dec 05, 2018 22:04 |  #4

I think this is fast becoming my favorite "food lens"


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nero_design
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Dec 05, 2018 22:06 |  #5


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Probably could have used a smaller aperture here to increase the DOF.



  
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Dec 05, 2018 22:09 |  #6


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The cat here was photographed at night in a room with extremely low concealed (recessed) illumination.


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Dec 05, 2018 22:12 |  #7


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Dec 05, 2018 22:14 |  #8


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Dec 07, 2018 22:01 as a reply to  @ nero_design's post |  #9

This is a really awesome camera




  
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Dec 07, 2018 22:08 |  #10

Looks like another great EF-M lens. Such an under rated line by Canon.


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Canon EF-M 32mm f/1.4 STM, reviewed by nero_design
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