When Gene Siskel reviewed Attack of the Clones he gave it a 2/4 and mocked the romantic dialog, “I don’t like sand. It’s coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere. Not like here. Here everything is soft and smooth.”
When he was asked what the greatest film of all time was, he answered, “Citizen Kane…That’s the official answer.”
Unfortunately, the Canon EF-M 15-45 f3.5-6.3 is not the Citizen Kane of lenses, The Canon EF-M 15-45 f3.5-6.3 is a lot more like Attack of the Clones. I’m not going to search for the Blu-ray copy I received as a gift, but if it’s on TV, I might sit down and watch it. Sure, the dialog and acting can be stiff. Some of the scenes look like a cheap sets with expensive CGI backgrounds. But on the other hand, you have Yoda’s fight scene with Count Dooku. Overall, it makes for a very average film.
It’s not a terribly fast lens at f3.5, of course it’s even worse zoomed at f6.3. The image stabilization helps a bit, but unless it’s a sunny day you will be shooting pretty close to open or at a high ISO leading to distortion/pincushioning, vigneting or lots of noise. Most of these can be fixed in Lightroom or Photoshop, but getting a blurred image because your subject moves while you are shooting at 1/15 of a second due a lack of light makes it stay in the bag more than it should. Sharpness also doesn’t seem to be it’s strong point as you might be able to see in the next image or by looking at the utility pole above.
Even stopped it down, at the zoom end it’s still softer than I would like. However, my macro shots with it seem to usually turn out, it might still be soft, it’s just taking up the whole sensor so it’s not as noticeable.
Below are two comparison shots, the first with the Canon EF-M 15-45 f3.5-6.3, the second with the Canon EF-M 22mm f2 (review link). These are direct from camera with only cropping and lens adjustment done in Lightroom. The 15-45 was set to 21mm. If you look closely at the nearer middle support, you can see the bullet holes from when the bridge was strafed in WWII.
If you compare the railings near the top you can see a bit of softness and lack of detail in the 15-45mm vs. the 22mm. At this end of the zoom, it compares very well to the 22mm.
I had anticipated using the lens for video work with it’s built in IS and nearly silent stepper motor, but I’d have to use a selfie stick (adding more weight) to get the lens back far enough so I wasn’t just a massive head filling the frame. Walking around in the woods with a selfie stick seems like a good way to smack my camera into a tree.
One nice feature is the lens can retract bringing the front element to a fairly compact 4 cm/1.75 inches. It has a plastic body and a plastic mount, weighing in at 130 grams. Mounted to the camera it doesn’t fit into my coat pocket nearly as nicely as the Canon EF-M 22mm f2. So it stays in the bag or in another pocket unmounted a majority of the time.
One other important factor to consider is the lens is really a 24-72mm lens due to the 1.6x effect from the camera’s APS-C sensor; which is actually a really useful range for traveling if you can only take one lens. But it doesn’t hit the sweet spot for portraits or really go wide enough for small crowded rooms. I would venture to guess it was a lens designed by marketing so it wouldn’t sabotage the Canon EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 and also be a more affordable kit lens then the Canon EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM.
If you have infinite money, I’d suggest you buy a Sony a7R II and a lot of Zeiss prime lenses and carefully select which ones you need for each trip. Also, please buy me one for recommending it to you.
If you don’t have ten thousand dollars burning a hole in your pocket, you could buy a Canon M5 with the 15-45 kit. Perhaps, later on get a Canon EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 and/or Canon EF-M 22mm f2. The 15-45 is the affordable jumping in kit lens, it covers a nice range, it has some softness issues but it’s small and light and it has good color and little lens ghosting. I wouldn’t plan on making posters with the any of the zoomed images, but for viewing on a 1980×1024 computer or tv screen, it will make a nice image.
Now that I think about it, maybe the Canon EF-M 15-45 f3.5-6.3 it isn’t Attack of the Clones – Maybe it’s The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, Siskel gave that film 3 stars. Nah, overall, it’s a very average lens, but zoomed…here everything is soft and smooth.