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Review Canon EF-S 10-18mm zoom lens

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Review: Canon EF-S 10-18mm F4.5-5.6 IS STM lens

Looking at the 10mm to 18mm wide angle zoom lens



 

Although Keith uses a full frame Canon 1Ds Mk3 and 5Ds for much of his work, we’ve also got a Canon 100D here as a back-up camera and for some Macro photography.

Canon’s recent EF-S 10-18mm F4.5-5.6 IS STM is an economically priced wide angle zoom lens that potentially offers wide angle photography at a reasonable price for many users of crop sensor cameras, such as the 100D.

100D and EF-S10-18

Wide lenses

It gives a ‘film equivalent’ zoom range of ~16mm to ~29mm

16mm is very wide if you were previously using a lens like the standard 18-55 kit zoom, and is a good step up from the EF-S 15-85 that I use as a general purpose zoom on the 100D.

Please note that the pictures in this article are shown to illustrate lens capabilities, rather than as great pictures in themselves (great pictures help sell lenses, but that’s not my aim here ;-)

The review is very much my first impressions of the lens, so I’ll update links to further high res images on my G+ page, and some links to some downloadable RAW files.

Our lens was supplied by Park Cameras in the UK – where we buy our new Canon kit.

Back in the days I used 35mm film, I’d have considered 24mm as a fairly wide lens. With my 2004 Canon 1Ds (11MP full frame) I moved to the EF16-35 2.8L, and these days it’s the EF14mm and TS-E17mm (tilt/shift) that offer my widest rectilinear views.

This lens has a smaller aperture than I’d normally use, however it’s vastly lighter than for example, my old EF16-35, or even the upcoming new 16-35 f/4L IS.

I don’t have the older Canon EF-S 10-22mm or any of the third party APS-C (crop) wide zooms available to compare, but you can rest assured that such reviews will appear once the lens is more widely available.

Buying the EF-S 10-18mm F4.5-5.6 IS STM lens
We make a specific point of not selling hardware, but if you found the review of help please consider buying the lens, or any other items at all, via our links. It won’t cost more, but we do get a small contribution towards running the site (thanks!).
In the USA:  Amazon | B&H | Adorama
In the UK : Amazon UK 

Park Cameras
 – where Keith gets his new Canon kit in the UK.

This is not a ‘lens review’ full of charts and measurements, but more a feel for what the lens was like to use, and the kinds of results you can expect.

Images are from RAW files. All have had some small amount of sharpening applied, except the 100% rollover images across the street from my house. These and the macro shots are also the only ones taken using a tripod.
If the level of precision is not enough, you’ll have to wait for reviews from the more quantitative reviewers, since I don’t have the patience or equipment to measure lens performance under lab conditions. I ‘ll be honest and add that I also regard it as largely irrelevant for the market this lens is aimed at – I’m curious about the precise details for my £2000 lenses, less so around £300.
Given that the images have been reduced in size for web display, please don’t try and read too much into their exact look here (there are 2 RAW files you can download).
Images are uncropped and pretty much straight out of the camera – many could be ‘improved’ through cropping and much more agressive processing, but this article is about using the lens, not a Photoshop tutorial…

The Canon EF-S 10-18mm F4.5-5.6 IS STM Lens

The lens is supplied with one of Canon’s ‘pinch’ style lens caps, but no bag or lens hood.

Canon 10-18mm lens and box

That manual is mostly made up of numerous foreign language options, but one thing I did note was that being a fully electronic lens, it can go to sleep, so the manual focus ring may appear to do nothing, until you’ve touched the shutter button.

There is also a warning to ensure that camera firmware is up to date if you use a 700D/T5i (1.1.3 or later).

I’m used to fairly hefty lenses, many of which are manual focus, however the focus ring at the front continuously rotates and drives focus electronically – this took a bit of getting used to, but that probably says more about my lens collection ;-)

Some specifications
Principal specifications
Lens typeZoom lens
Max Format sizeAPS-C / DX
Focal length10–18 mm
Image stabilisationYes
Lens mountCanon EF/EF-S
Aperture
Maximum apertureF4.5 – F5.6
Number of diaphragm blades7
Optics
Elements14
Groups11
Special elements / coatingsUD lens element and enhanced lens coatings
Focus
Minimum focus0.22 m (8.66″)
AutofocusYes
Motor typeStepper motor
Full time manualYes
Physical
Weight240 g (0.53 lb.)
Diameter75 mm (2.94″)
Length72 mm (2.83″)
SealingNo
Filter thread67 mm
Hood product codeEW-73C
MTF charts

ef-s 10-18 MTF charts

internal construction diagram for the ef-s 10-18Maximum aperture varies with focal length

10mm: f/4.5
11mm: f/5.0
15mm: f/5.6
18mm: f/5.6

First impressions

The lens feels very light, but robustly built – nothing like the appalling finish of some of Canon’s 18-55 kit zoom lenses of the past.

The STM focusing is indeed quiet. In my brief testing of video, the internal microphone picked up no focusing noise at all.

The image stabiliser made a few faint noises, that I could only detect by putting my ear against the lens – that counts as effectively silent for me…

It’s not a small lens, as you can see below.

It’s next to the EF-S 15-85 – it is much lighter than the 15-85 though.

Unlike the 15-85, the front only extends a couple of millimetres.

It’s around 2mm at 18mm and perhaps 5mm at 10mm, with minimum length around 14-15mm.

If you look carefully at the construction diagram to the right, you can see th slight changes.

lens size compared

The rear mount of the lens is plastic, including the protruding part that marks out some EF-S lenses (it does not detach).

lens mount details

Lens coatings do a good job of cutting down internal reflections, whilst the relatively flat front element does mean that people who like to use filters will be able to.

You will need good quality filters (low profile) and if you’ve never used filters before at very wide angles of view, expect some interesting results (I rarely use them, but then again, many of my lenses such as the 8-15, 14 and TS-E17 are really not suited to filters).

front element of lens

The distance settings…

There are none. There is no display of focus distance.

It’s been pointed out that the electronic focus makes setting the lens to infinity for star photos a bit of an issue, so expect a bit of pfaffing around with magnified liveview if you want to try it out.

Using the lens

I’ve a series of shots taken at 10mm to 18mm and two apertures. The initial view shows the widest aperture at that focal length, and you can mouse over the image to see the change at f/8.

The most obvious difference is in vignetting, which is very obvious wide open.

10mm

12mm

(Note that I took this set of images first at one aperture stepping through focal lengths, then at the second. Since there are not focal length ‘click stops’ there is a slight variation in angle of view).

14mm

18mm

A couple of corner shots at 100% magnification show the differences between wide open and f/8.

10mm (f/4.5)

Corner at 18mm (f/5.6)

From my experience of wide lenses, this one is moderately sharp, and has quite low chromatic aberration.

There is a bit of barrel distortion at 10-12 mm, but nothing untoward.

The vignetting is pronounced wide open, but drops off somewhat at f/6.3, and by f/8 is much less noticeable (but still there).

All distortions should be very amenable to software correction once the appropriate profiles are available.

Closer focus

The lens has a very short minimum focal distance, at just 22cm from the sensor (towards the back of the camera).

This shot was taken at 18mm – mouse over it to see the change in depth of field at f/16.

At 10mm, you are very wide and close.

macro view at 10mm

Note that the relative positioning of the items has not changed, I’ve just zoomed out from 18mm to 10mm.

But wait, there’s more…

You can add extension tubes to get even closer. This was with my shortest (13mm) tube.

Mouse over to see different apertures (5.6/16).

This is close – only a few centimetres from the front element (the cover glass of the stopwatch may contribute to some of the poorer edge quality).

Flare?

The Lens is not supplied with a lens hood (the required model is the EW-73C)

Note that you can modify a cheap EW-73B lens hood to match the EW-73C for the 10-18mm.

We’ve had no sun since I got the lens, but a streetlight gives a good feel for the flare from this lens (10mm @f/4.5) – note the small patch in front of the car.

night itme shot showing lens flare

It’s a high ISO shot, but detail (100%) shows the colour.

detail of lens flare

I’d note that this is flare against a dark sky with the lens wide open – the other street shots such as below, don’t show it.

At 1/20th, f/6.3 and ISO6400, the image stabilisation works well. Not one blurred shot during testing (with IS on) even at 1/15.

A less critical night shot – at f/6.3 (to ease the vignetting rather than for any improved DOF).

night time photo of lit building

Update – sunshine

A sunny day – the sun is just out of shot – flare doesn’t seem very obvious in this one…

landscape shot with the sun just outside the frame

Some more general shots

As I said, I hope to have some shots under ‘better’ lighting before long, but I’m really pleased with just how easy the lens works on my 100D. I’ve large hands, and the two together feel well balanced (remember that I’m just as happy with a 1Ds3 and EF14 2.8L II ).

A dog waiting for its owner in a shop (I’m seriously not a dog person, so this is as close as I get – camera at arms length, no viewfinder ;-).

dog and lamp post

Bargains – note the slight curvature along the top of the sign (10mm).

shop front

Hardware store.

hardware store

What does a £3.50 haircut look like?

hair cuts for only £3.50

Outside a local bar.

sign outside bar

10mm gives a wide coverage – I can see this lens being very popular with property professionals.

canal bridge - wide angle view

10mm (16mm equiv.) needs some care in composition. Tilt the camera just a little bit up and building verticals will very obviously converge.

view form under bridge

A view down the canal – autofocus on the far trees.

view along the canal at Leicester

A 100% crop (10mm) shows out of focus detail at f/6.3

detail of previous shot

For some reason this guy was practising hanging over the canal.

One of his friends asked why I wanted a photo, and was not amused when I said what a great shot it would make if he fell in…

not falling in to the canal

No shortage of swans about…

a swan in the canal

A 100% crop gives an idea of detail (it’s a young swan, hence the rather drab look).

detail of swan's head

A quick example of lens correction shows how much was needed for this view of a building at 10mm – I’ve left it uncropped.

At such wide views, you need to be very careful in handling verticals – this is hand held.

building view after geometry correction

Distortion seems to be slight barrel type at 10mm, moving to slight pincushion at 14-18mm – there’s really not that much though, and easily correctable if you notice it (once again lens profiles, when available will take care of a lot of this).

The nearby Land Registry office view, like most pictures in this review, has had no correction.

By keeping the centre of the field of view at my eye level, I’ve kept the verticals fairly true. However if you’re using a lens like this for architectural work, then a tripod really does help.

I tend to use a tripod for my architectural work, but not for landscape (I’ve more about this in an article about ‘making a picture‘ ).

view of Land Registry

St. Mary de Castro – now unfortunately without its spire.

St Mary de Castro church

I’d prefer a nice blue sky with sun, but this is one of those shots more aimed at showing what you can fit in… ;-)

Detail of the stonework of the church – at such wide angles, you need to get up close to really feature a particular aspect.

The camera seems very close – almost too close – but try it and see.

Wide angle composition takes some practice…

detail of stone carving. St Mary de Castro church

A flower in the nearby castle gardens.

flower - close up view

and a crop at 100% – this is 18mm at f/10.

detail of flower photo

UPDATE – a few bright colours from a visit to a garden centre.

greenhouse

Some bedding plants up close.

bedding plants

Time for some more colour in the garden

lots of brightly coloured bedding plants

The viaduct near John O’Gaunt in Leicestershire (larger version on G+)

viaduct near John O'Gaunt, Leicestershire

I hope the images above give a bit of a feel for some ways of using a lens like this.

Yes – the header image used on the new version of the Northlight site was taken at the same time (it’s from a stitched panoramic view using the 10-18 hand held).

Conclusions

If you’re not used to ‘shooting wide’ then this lens is a very welcome addition to Canon’s line-up.

At appreciably less cost than the EF-S10-22, the 10-18mm surprised me with its build quality and optical performance.

The image stabilisation adds to its general purpose usefulness and partly makes up for its relatively restricted aperture.

If you’re looking for thin depths of field then this lens is lacking in aperture, but anything that did offer more would not be cheap or light weight.

Actually, if you’re looking for razor thin DOF, then a full frame camera is more likely to meet your needs. Personally I’m waiting for something like the 11-24mm f/4L lens from Canon, but that’s just a pipe dream at the moment, and would cost at least five times the 10-18mm ;-)

June 2015: I have the 11-24mm and have a detailed review.

This lens is aimed at a very different market and I’m inclined to say that Canon have done a very good job with it, particularly compared with some of the clunky ‘kit’ lenses I’ve seen in the past.

Distortions are well under control, and when suitable correction profiles arrive, the lens will be more than adequate for serious use if you were looking to photograph property for example (it’s something I teach to businesses in the UK – one of my reasons for being interested in the lens).

I only briefly looked at using the lens for video, however the STM focusing is very quiet, and with the 100D I was able to change focus points via the touch screen quite easily (video is not an area of my expertise, so I’ll leave detailed coverage of this to others).

Oct 2014: This lens is analyzed at DxO, and gets a good value rating.

Build quality?

Buying the EF-S 10-18mm F4.5-5.6 IS STM lens

We make a specific point of not selling hardware, but if you found the review of help please consider buying the lens, or any other items at all, via our links. It won’t cost more, but we do get a small contribution towards running the site (thanks!).

In the USA:  Amazon | B&H | Adorama
In the UK : Amazon UK 

Park Cameras – where Keith gets his new Canon kit in the UK.

The lens only weighs 240gm (about half a pound), but feels well balanced on a small camera such as the 100D. I don’t have any other crop sensor cameras to compare.

The zoom feels solid (the front does not rotate) although the focus ring movement could do with more resistance for my taste.

I’ve seen some people express concern about the plastic mount, but unless you are exceptionally ham-fisted or use your camera to drive in tent pegs, it’s just not worth bothering about (IMHO), on a small camera like my 100D for such a good value lens.

Summary

The Canon EF-S 10-18mm F4.5-5.6 IS STM lens is a welcome addition to Canon’s range of cameras for APS-C cameras.

Currently just under £300, it represents good value for the image and build quality it offers.

Article first published June 2014 – Comment below, or discuss with Keith on Google+, where there are also more (higher resolution) images taken with this lens.
If you’re new to the site, it has many hundreds of such reviews and articles – Articles index page.

More Info.

Two sample RAW files (50MB)
Modifying a cheap lens hood to match the EW-73C for the 10-18mm
Some more lens related reviews and articles.
Why Keith avoids ‘hyperfocal’ focusing techniques.