Canon 18-55mm IS STM
Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS STM. (1.6x coverage only, 58mm filters, 7.2 oz./203 g, 0.82'/0.25m close focus, $249). enlarge. My biggest source of support is when you use any of these links, especially this link directly to it at Adorama or directly to it at Amazon when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. It helps me keep reviewing these lenses when you get yours through these approved sources — but I receive nothing for my efforts if you buy elsewhere. Thank you for your support! Ken.
Sample Image Files
Fountain at the Ranch, 07 September 2013. Note that only the front is actually in focus. (Canon SL1 and Canon 18-55mm STM at 43mm, Program and Auto ISO modes set f/5 at 1/60 at ISO 160, 6 sharpening, +1 saturation, no flash.) Camera-original LARGE BASIC JPG file.
The White Gate of Unnecessary Sharpness. Canon SL1 and Canon 18-55mm STM at 34mm, Program and Auto ISO modes set f/11 at 1/400 at ISO 100, 6 sharpening, +1 saturation, no flash. Camera-original SMALL NORMAL JPG file.
The Canon 18-55mm IS STM is a basic zoom for Canon's 1.6x cameras. It has both Image Stabilization to eliminate the need for a tripod, and has the new STM silent autofocus motor to help with quiet, smooth autofocus while rolling DSLR video.
The 18-55mm STM is super sharp at every setting! Auto and manual focus are both electronic. For manual focus, turn the ring at any time, but manual focus only works if you also have the camera on and awake.
Canon makes a lot of 18-55mm lenses. This one has Image Stabilization (IS) and STM, a new kind of autofocus motor that makes no noise so your DSLR videos won't let you hear the lens focusing. (Don't confuse this with the completely different EF-M 18-55mm IS STM for the EOS-M. The EOS-M system is discontinued and its lenses are incompatible with the rest of the Canon system.)
Except for the glass and electronics, it's all plastic, even the mount.
Canon calls this the CANON ZOOM LENS EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM.
EF: "Electronic Focus," meaning that there is an autofocus motor in the lens itself. All Canon lenses since 1987 have been EF.
-S: "Small sensor," meaning that this lens ONLY mounts on Canon's APS-C digital cameras.
IS: Image Stabilization to replace a tripod.
STM: Stepper-motor focus, which is silent and idea for shooting movies without getting lens focusing noise in your sound.
13 elements in 11 groups.
One UD element.
One aspheric element.
The first I've seen it in any lens for still photography, the focus is compensated electronically as the lens is zoomed. If the camera's meter isn't on, the lens goes completely out of focus as you try to zoom. So long as the camera is on and awake it stays in focus as you zoom, but if it's off, it will only be in focus at one focal length setting. This isn't related to the autofocus system, it's part of the basic design of the lens. More at Usage.
Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS STM, EF diaphragm not visible.
Stops down to f/22.
Optical Image Stabilizer
Rated for up to four equivalent stops of shake correction.
"Inner focusing system, high-speed CPU, and optimized AF algorithm allow high-speed autofocus."
Manual focus adjustment possible while in AF Mode.
Close Focus Distance
0.82 ft. (0.25m).
Focal Length top
On 1.6x Canon cameras it will see angles-of-view similar to what a 28-85mm lens would see on a 35mm camera, which is a very useful zoom range.
Angle of View
74.3º - 27.5º diagonal.
Hard Infinity Focus Stop? top.No.
Focus Scale top
Depth-of-Field Scale top
Infra-Red Focus Index top
Filter Thread top
Never rotates, but does pump in and out with zoom.
Canon specifies 2.7" (69.0mm) diameter by 3.0 " (75.2mm) long.
7.155 oz. (202.9g), actual measured.
Rated 7.2 oz. (205g).
58mm E-58 II front cap, included.
Standard EOS rear cap, included.
E-58II 58mm front cap.
Optional Hood top
Optional EW-63 C plastic bayonet, $26 extra.
I wouldn't buy it; I don't use hoods.
Optional LP-1016 sack, $27.
A used tube sock works better.
Price, USA top
2013 September: $250 new.
Canon EF-S 18-55mm STM IS.
The Canon 18-55mm STM IS is optically superb and handles very well for a mostly plastic lens.
It's a kit lens sold with many less expensive Canons, and it's excellent. There is no reason to pay more for a lens for any APS-C Canon camera.
If you can't get brilliant, sharp and colorful photos with this lens, you're doing something wrong.
Autofocus is fast and silent.
Video AF is limited by the camera, and regular AF is fast and quiet.
Just grab the ring and turn for instant manual override.
AF is fast!, as Canons always are.
AF Accuracy and Consistency
I saw no autofocus error on my Canon SL1.
It feels less funny than earlier lenses, but since it's electronic and the focus ring is never actually connected to anything except a computer sensor, it's not as good as real manual focus.
Bokeh, the quality of out-of-focus areas as opposed to the degree of defocus, is usually pretty good.
Backgrounds are rarely out of focus. If you want them out of focus, shoot at 55mm, get close, and shoot at f/5.6.
Focus breathing (the image changing size as focused) is mostly of interest to cinematographers who don't want the image changing size ("breathing") as the lens is focused among different subjects.
The image size from the Canon 18-55mm IS STM stays the same at the 55mm end as focused, and gets slightly smaller as focused more closely at the 18mm end.
The color balance of this 18-55 seems the same as my other Canon EF lenses.
Coma, or saggital coma flare, is when points of light in the corners turn into batwing-shaped blobs. This is often a problem with fast normal or wide lenses.
I see none in this lens; it's super sharp in the corners wide-open.
There is minor to moderate barrel distortion at the wide end, and none throughout most of the range.
Use these values in Photoshop's Lens Distortion tool to remove the distortion for more critical use. These aren't facts or specifications, they are the results of my research that requires hours of photography and calculations on the resulting data.
© 2013 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.
* Some waviness remains.
Canon EF 35mm f/2. enlarge.
Ergonomics are just about perfect.
The AF - MF switch falls right under your thumb, and you don't need it: just turn the ring at any time.
Since all new Canons since late 2013 have both a lens profile and ability to correct this in-camera, I'm showing the falloff as it comes directly from the camera, with the camera's corrections turned ON.
With in-camera corrections enabled, there is no falloff at all! The lens and camera combination work to eliminate any of it.
I've greatly exaggerated what little residual there is by shooting a flat gray target and presenting it against a gray background.
The plastic 58mm filter threads are big enough that even thick or stacked filters won't cause any vignetting.
Go ahead, use any big, fat thick filter, and you'll still be able to add a second one, too!
It's easy to cross-thread the plastic threads, be careful.
Today's Canon cameras correct for any that might be here.
There is no visible lateral color fringing on an 18MP Canon SL1 with its correction enabled.
The 18-55 STM gets so close that I doubt you'll ever need a dedicated macro lens.
At close-focus distance at f/8.
It's super-sharp; here's a crop from a 18MP image at 100%:
Crop from above image at 100%, shot at f/8 on a Canon SL1. If this is 6" (15cm) wide on your screen, the full image would print at 35 x 52" (1 x 1.5 meters)!
The sparkles aren't noise; they are the texture of the watch dial!
Rear, Canon 18-55 STM. enlarge.
The Canon 18-55 IS STM is all plastic, except for electrical connections.
Moisture seal at mount
Laser engraved into the bottom of the black plastic lens barrel near the mount.
Noises When Shaken
Image sharpness depends more on you than your lens, and lens sharpness doesn't mean much to good photographers. It's the least skilled hobbyists who waste the most time blaming fuzzy pictures on their lenses, while real shooters know that few photos ever use all the sharpness of which their lenses are capable due to subject motion and the fact that real subjects are rarely perfectly flat.
This said, this Canon 18-55 is just about perfect. The only way to get anything other than a sharp picture is to have it out of perfect focus, shoot at f/11 or smaller where diffraction softens the image, shoot at higher ISOs where camera noise reduction softens images, or let the camera or subject move.
Hey, sorry to spare you endless boring charts, but with a lens this good, there's nothing to show other than sharp pictures under all conditions — unless you do something stupid.
The biggest detriment to sharpness will be a lack of proper vision and technique, never this lens. I bought mine directly from Adorama. I can't vouch for anything if you buy from a local store or chain where you never really know who's opened and played with your lens before you buy it. I never buy retail; too many risks, so why pay more?
Canon's specified MTF curves:
Focus is maintained electronically as you zoom. You have to keep the camera's meter ON to compose your photo because otherwise the lens will go completely out of focus as you zoom. This isn't part of the autofocus system; the core optical design demands the camera's meter be ON to keep the lens in alignment as you zoom.
With the AF switch set to MANUAL, the camera has to be on and awake to respond to the manual focus ring.
For manual focus override to work in AF mode, you have to have your finger half-pressed to keep the AF system active, otherwise it will ignore the manual focus ring in AF mode.
For the most precise focus for lens testing, use magnified Live View and manual focus.
There's really no reason to pay more for fancier lenses unless you want a lighter wallet. This 18-55mm STM is super sharp, focuses fast, and does everything you'd want it to do. An expensive L lens won't be any sharper, and Canon's wide lenses for full-frame, like the 17-40mm f/4 L for instance, will be softer!
The reason a pro might pay more would be if he needed a lens for his full-frame camera or if he needed something built tough so it wouldn't break as he beat it around all day, every day, and shot it in mud, dirt and pouring rain. This lens is designed for normal people who only use their camera a few times a week, and built accordingly to save money. The pictures are just as good.
If you've found all the time, effort and expense I put into researching and sharing all this, my biggest source of support is when you use any of these links, especially this link directly to it at Adorama or directly to it at Amazon when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. It helps me keep reviewing these lenses when you get yours through these approved sources — but I receive nothing for my efforts if you buy elsewhere. Thank you for your support! Ken.
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