Best Canon EF-M lenses in 2024: optics for EOS M cameras

Best Canon EF-M lenses: lenses for Canon EOS M6, M50 and other M cameras
(Image credit: Canon)

The best Canon EF-M lenses pair perfectly with EOS M cameras. Canon's lightweight APS-C mirrorless system has its share of devoted fans, from casual photographers to seasoned content creators, and there are a fair few lenses out there to cater for them. 

You're not just limited to Canon's own glass, as third-party manufacturers also make some of the best Canon EF-M lenses – so there are plenty of options from the likes of Sigma, Tamron and Laowa, many of which can offer fantastic value for money.

The key draws of the EOS M system are its light weight and high speed. All the cameras in the range, from the ultra-popular Canon EOS M50 Mark II to the flagship Canon EOS M6 Mark II, are portable enough to take everywhere while still offering the level of focusing and shooting speed needed to capture the moment.

Lens choice therefore should reflect that, and Canon has done a good job with the EF-M lenses that are available. To put it in perspective, put the EF-M 15-45mm, 55-200mm and 11-22mm lenses in a bag with an EOS M camera and you'll have a setup that weighs about the same combined as Sigma's full-frame 24-70mm f/2.8 Art lens does on its own. So, here are our picks of the ten best Canon EF-M lenses you can buy right now…

Best Canon EF-M lenses in 2024

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Best Canon EF-M lenses: Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN | C

(Image credit: Matthew Richards)
Best wide-angle prime with a wide aperture and great price

Specifications

Mount: Z FX
Autofocus: Pulse (stepping motor)
Stabilizer: None
Min focus distance: 0.28m
Max magnification: 0.16x
Filter thread: 82mm
Dimensions (WxL): 89x85mm
Weight: 485g

Reasons to buy

+
Fast f/1.4 aperture rating
+
High-quality optics and build

Reasons to avoid

-
No image stabilization
-
A bit on the heavy side

Compared to most own-brand Canon EF-M lenses, this Sigma is comparatively weighty at 405g. Even so, considering its combination of a 16mm focal length (25.6mm ‘effective’ in full-frame terms) and a fast f/1.4 aperture rating, it’s still remarkably small and light, typical of Sigma’s ‘Contemporary’ line-up of lenses. 

However, when we reviewed the Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN | C, we were blown away by the quality inside and out. Build quality is very good indeed, with a sturdy metal mounting plate and smooth-action focus ring, electronically coupled to a fast and near-silent stepping motor autofocus system. The complex optical path includes three top-grade FLD (‘Fluorite’ Low Dispersion), two SLD (Special Low Dispersion) and two glass moulded aspherical elements, all of which work together to deliver sumptuous image quality. 

Typical of ‘fast’ f/1.4 lenses, there’s no optical image stabilizer but it’s a superb wide-angle prime that’s tremendous value at the price, and arguably the best lens you can buy for your EOS M system.

Read more: Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN | C review

Best Canon EF-M lenses: Canon EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM

(Image credit: Canon)
Best EF-M standard zoom: Compact & lightweight but enormously versatile

Specifications

Mount: Canon EOS M
Autofocus: Pulse (stepping motor)
Stabilizer: 3.5-stop
Min focus distance: 0.25m
Max magnification ratio: 0.25x
Filter thread: 49mm
Dimensions (WxL): 61x45mm
Weight: 130g

Reasons to buy

+
Space-saving retractable design
+
Wide maximum viewing angle

Reasons to avoid

-
Telephoto reach is a bit limited
-
Hood sold separately

Typical of Canon’s EF-M lenses, this one is available in black (or dark grey, to be exact) but you can also buy it in silver. It replaces Canon’s older EF-M 18-55mm as the standard zoom of choice. With a clever retractable design, it’s both smaller and lighter than the original lens, and has the bonus of a significantly greater maximum viewing angle. That’s because the ‘effective’ focal length at short end of the zoom range shrinks to 24mm rather than 29mm, thanks to the 1.6x crop factor. However, telephoto reach isn’t quite as generous as in the original 18-55mm zoom. 

Unlike a number of retractable standard zooms from competing camera manufacturers, the EF-M 15-45mm has a manual rather than motorized zoom ring. It’s arguably less convenient when shooting movies but enables greater precision when making adjustments for stills. Image quality is very good and the 3.5-stop optical image stabilizer is a bonus for handheld shooting. Overall, it’s the perfect standard zoom for any EOS M camera.

Read more: Canon EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM review

Best Canon EF-M lenses: Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM

(Image credit: Canon)
Best prime for street photography with an EOS M camera

Specifications

Mount: Canon EOS M
Autofocus: Pulse (stepping motor)
Stabilizer: None
Min focus distance: 0.15m
Max magnification: 0.21x
Filter thread: 43mm
Dimensions (WxL): 61x24mm
Weight: 105mm

Reasons to buy

+
Ultra-slim ‘pancake’ design
+
Ideal 35mm ‘effective’ focal length

Reasons to avoid

-
No image stabilizer
-
Hood sold separately

A small prime lens with a 35mm focal length is generally regarded as being perfect for street photography, at least on a full-frame camera. This EF-M 22mm brings the same benefits to APS-C format shooting on an EOS M camera. Its ‘pancake’ design enables it to be incredibly small, so you can be as inconspicuous as possible when shooting. Candid photography also benefits from the virtually silent stepping motor autofocus system. 

Furthermore, the lens has an almost identical 35.2mm ‘effective’ focal length, taking the 1.6x crop factor of EOS M cameras into account. There’s no image stabilization but the relatively ‘fast’ f/2 aperture rating makes camera-shake less of a problem. As usual, the lens hood is sold separately, adding a little to the overall purchase price.

Read more: Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM review

Best Canon EF-M lenses: Canon EF-M 55-200mm f/4.5-6.3 IS STM

(Image credit: Canon)
Best EF-M telephoto zoom that's also incredibly compact

Specifications

Mount: Canon EOS M
Autofocus: Pulse (stepping motor)
Stabilizer: 3.5-stop
Min focus distance: 1.0m
Max magnification: 0.21x
Filter thread: 52mm
Dimensions (WxL): 61x87mm
Weight: 260g

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight with good handling
+
Useful zoom range

Reasons to avoid

-
Maximum telephoto reach isn’t massive
-
Plastic mounting plate

Like the EF-M 15-45mm standard zoom, this telephoto lens has a plastic mounting plate. It’s naturally less robust than a metal plate, but is still perfectly sturdy and helps to keep the weight down, to just 260g in this case. Measuring 61x87mm, it’s also very compact for a telephoto zoom, despite not having a retractable design. As you’d expect, the physical length extends at longer zoom settings but, overall, it’s a very easy lens to live with. 

There’s a slight gap in focal lengths between where the 15-45mm lens leaves off and the 55-200mm picks up but, in practical terms, this doesn’t present any real problems. The ‘effective’ zoom range in full-frame terms is 88-320mm which is very useful, even if it doesn’t give as much telephoto reach as, say, Canon’s EF-S 55-250mm lens for APS-C format SLRs. Ultimately, the EF-M lens is an ideal compromise between compact build and telephoto power.

Read more: Canon EF-M 55-200mm f/4.5-6.3 IS STM review

Best Canon EF-M lenses: Canon EF-M 32mm f/1.4 STM

(Image credit: Canon)

5. Canon EF-M 32mm f/1.4 STM

Best standard prime that's not in the least bit ‘standard’...

Specifications

Mount: Canon EOS M
Autofocus: Stepping motor
Stabilizer: None
Min focus distance: 0.23m
Max magnification: 0.25x
Filter thread: 43mm
Dimensions (WxL): 61x57mm
Weight: 235g

Reasons to buy

+
Classic ‘standard’ perspective
+
Fast f/1.4 aperture rating

Reasons to avoid

-
Pricey for a Canon EF-M lens
-
As usual, no hood supplied

With an ‘effective’ focal length of 51.2mm, this lens equates to a ‘nifty fifty’ in full-frame terms, when used on an EOS M APS-C format camera. Despite weighing just 235g and having diminutive physical proportions, it combines a classic ‘standard’ viewing perspective with a fast f/1.4 aperture rating. As such, it gives you the potential to isolate subjects within a scene, thanks to a tight depth of field. This is especially true at shorter focus distances and, indeed, the lens has a very short minimum focus distance for a 50mm lens, at just 0.23m, which gives a generous 0.25x maximum magnification ratio. 

Autofocus is quick and typically near-silent for a stepping motor system but, to speed things up even more in practice, there’s an autofocus range limiter switch, which you use to lock out focus distances shorter than 0.5m. Sigma offers a competing 30mm f/1.4 Contemporary lens in EF-M mount at a cheaper price, but the Canon wins out with superior control of axial chromatic aberration or ‘bokeh fringing’, at or near its widest available aperture.

Best Canon EF-M lenses: Canon EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM

(Image credit: Canon)

6. Canon EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM

Best wide-angle zoom so you can go ultra-wide with confidence

Specifications

Mount: Canon EOS M
Elements/groups: Pulse (stepping motor)
Stabilizer: 3-stop
Min focus distance: 0.15m
Max magnification: 0.3x
Filter thread: 55mm
Dimensions (WxL): 61x58mm
Weight: 220g

Reasons to buy

+
Refreshingly compact and lightweight
+
Solid build quality

Reasons to avoid

-
Lens hood sold separately
-
A little more pricey

Carrying on from the more mass-market standard and telephoto EF-M zoom lenses, this is the obvious choice for anybody wanting an ultra-wide viewing angle. Wide-angle zooms can be notoriously big and heavy, but this one has the same kind of retractable design as the EF-M 15-45mm lens, shoehorning seriously wide viewing into physical dimensions of just 61x58mm. The long-zoom aperture of f/5.6 is slightly wider than in the standard and telephoto zooms, and this lens also goes one better in terms of build quality, with a metal rather than plastic mounting plate. 

Again, you need to pay extra for the lens hood, which is sold as an ‘optional extra’ but is definitely worth having for reducing ghosting and flare, as well as giving physical protection to the front element. Unlike many ultra-wide zooms, this one has an attachment thread (55mm) for the easy fitment of filters. Image quality is very pleasing, on a par with that of the EF-M 15-45mm and 55-200mm lenses, although the image stabilizer is slightly less effective, rated at 3-stops.

Read more: Canon EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM lens review

Laowa 9mm f/2.8 Zero-D

(Image credit: Laowa)
Best ultra-wide-angle prime for hands-on shooting

Specifications

Mount: Canon EOS M
Autofocus: None
Stabilizer: None
Min focus distance: 0.12m
Max magnification: 0.13x
Filter thread: 49mm
Dimensions (WxL): 60x53mm
Weight: 215g

Reasons to buy

+
Extreme viewing angle
+
Negligible distortion

Reasons to avoid

-
No autofocus
-
No camera-driven aperture control

This Laowa lens is available for various makes of ‘crop sensor’ camera. The EF-M mount edition delivers a mighty viewing angle of about 115 degrees, beating Canon’s 11-22mm zoom in the process. Despite the extra wide-angle coverage, the Laowa lens produces such negligible distortion that it’s essentially a distortion-free optic. That’s a real bonus, considering that in-camera corrections are unavailable for this independently manufactured Canon-fit lens. 

Indeed, there are no built-in electronics at all, so focusing is a purely manual affair and you’ll also need to shoot in Manual mode, adjusting the aperture via the lens’s control ring, rather than from the host camera. 

However, when we reviewed this lens, we found ourselves blown away by the build quality and how smooth it feels in use, with a long-travel focus ring and a distance scale that allows for a pleasing level of precision. The enormous depth of field means that focusing isn’t very critical, even at the impressively short minimum focus distance. Image quality is very good indeed and the lens has a pleasantly compact and lightweight yet robust construction.

Read more: Laowa 9mm f/2.8 Zero-D lens review

Best Canon EF-M lenses: Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM

(Image credit: Canon)
The best macro lens that will help to shine a light on your close-ups

Specifications

Mount: Canon EOS M
Autofocus: Stepping motor
Stabilizer: 3.5-stop
Min focus distance: 0.09m
Max magnification: 1.2x
Filter thread: 43mm (via hood)
Dimensions (WxL): 61x46mm
Weight: 130g

Reasons to buy

+
Astonishing 1.2x maximum magnification
+
Built-in LED Macro Lite

Reasons to avoid

-
Very close macro working distance
-
Stabilization less effective at close range

Canon’s EF-M macro lens has an unusually short 28mm focal length, which gives a working distance of just 13mm between the front of the lens and the subject in full macro mode. This can block out ambient lighting but, thankfully, the lens has a built-in LED Macro Lite for illuminating close-ups. The relatively short focal length also helps to enable a very compact and featherweight build of just 130g.

It also features a ‘hybrid’ image stabilizer, which can correct for x-y shift as well as the more usual angular vibration or wobble. This makes it more effective for close-up shooting although, in full macro mode, it’s no real substitute for a tripod. While most macro lenses top out at 1.0x for their maximum magnification factor at the shortest focus distance, this lens boosts magnification to 1.2x, thanks to a switchable ‘Super Macro’ mode.

How we test Canon EF-M lenses

We test lenses using both real world sample images and lab tests. Our lab tests are carried out scientifically in controlled conditions using the Imatest testing suite, which consists of custom charts and analysis software that measures resolution in line widths/picture height, a measurement widely used in lens and camera testing. We find the combination of lab and real-word testing works best, as each reveals different qualities and characteristics.

Matthew Richards

Matthew Richards is a photographer and journalist who has spent years using and reviewing all manner of photo gear. He is Digital Camera World's principal lens reviewer – and has tested more primes and zooms than most people have had hot dinners! 


His expertise with equipment doesn’t end there, though. He is also an encyclopedia  when it comes to all manner of cameras, camera holsters and bags, flashguns, tripods and heads, printers, papers and inks, and just about anything imaging-related. 


In an earlier life he was a broadcast engineer at the BBC, as well as a former editor of PC Guide.

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