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. And you don't just have to look at Canon's own lenses – there are plenty of options from third-party manufacturers like Sigma, Tamron, 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 Canon EOS M cameras we've reviewed, from the Canon EOS M200 (opens in new tab), through to the EOS M50 Mark II (opens in new tab) and EOS M6 Mark II (opens in new tab), have impressed us by being 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 (opens in new tab) lens does on its own. That's a pretty powerful draw.
• Read more: PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine (opens in new tab)
And they're not just small and cheap – EF-M lenses deliver quality where it counts, with plenty of that high-quality Canon optical engineering to deliver sharp images that make the best of the APS-C sensors in the EOS M cameras.
• Read more: Canon EOS M50 Mark II review (opens in new tab)
We've picke dout the best of the best for this guide – many of the lenses included here are ones we've personally reviewed, and rated highly. So, here are our picks of the ten best Canon EF-M lenses you can buy right now...
Best Canon EF-M lenses
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: The Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN | C review (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
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.(opens in new tab)
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.(opens in new tab)
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: The Canon EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM lens review (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
There’s a lot to be said for ‘superzoom’ lenses (opens in new tab)' for travel and walkabout photography. The main advantage is that the epic zoom range, stretching all the way from wide-angle to telephoto focal lengths, enables you to react to pretty much any shooting scenario with just a twist of the zoom ring, rather than having to carry multiple lenses and swap between them.
Read more: The best superzoom lenses for Canon cameras (opens in new tab)
You could naturally stick with Canon’s own-brand EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM, which measures 61x87mm and weighs in at 300g. The Tamron 18-200mm is only a little larger, despite delivering a more generous zoom range and greater telephoto reach.
It’s about 50 per cent heavier than the Canon, but feels better built and has a metal rather than plastic mounting plate. It also comes complete with a hood, which you have to buy separately for the Canon lens. One thing to be aware of is that early examples of the lens may need to be sent away for a firmware update, ensuring full compatibility with the latest EOS M cameras. See our full Tamron 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 Di III VC review (opens in new tab).
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 (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
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 (opens in new tab) 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.
Read more: Top street photography tips (opens in new tab)
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.(opens in new tab)
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 (opens in new tab) in EF-M mount at a cheaper price, but the Canon wins out with superior control of axial chromatic aberration or ‘bokeh fringing (opens in new tab)’, at or near its widest available aperture.(opens in new tab)
Sigma currently makes three Contemporary lenses in EF-M mount, the other two being 16mm and 30mm primes. The longest of the three, this 56mm lens has an ‘effective’ focal length of 90mm, coupled with a fast f/1.4 aperture rating, making it perfect for portraiture.
It’s impressively compact and lightweight for an f/1.4 lens of this focal length, but is nevertheless smartly turned out with TSC (Thermally Stable Composite) components and a metal mounting plate.
• Read more: The in-depth Sigma 56mm f/1.4 DC DN | C review (opens in new tab)
The stepping motor autofocus system operates in virtual silence, while enabling extreme accuracy with excellent consistency, driven by Canon’s sensor-based Dual Pixel AF. As well as being pin-sharp, the lens delivers smooth and creamy bokeh (the quality of defocused areas) which can be every bit as important in portraiture.(opens in new tab)
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 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.
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