Inexpensive general use and telephoto EF-S lenses have kept coming along in the Canon lenses lineup for a while now, but what was missing was a lens that could add a considerable value to an APS-C/1.6x DSLR kit; a not-so-expensive ultra-wide angle EF-S zoom lens! In comes Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM Lens!

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As the pattern shows, a lot many people are moving to entry level DSLRs from the regular array of bridge and Point and shoot cameras. Thus, for inexpensive entry level DSLRs such as the new Canon EOS 1300D or the Canon EOS 760D, an enthusiast looking for an ultra wide lens would not be eager to invest in Canon’s popular, 10 year old, Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM Lens, considering its high price tag. The but this lens has a more-enthusiast-oriented price tag. The Canon EF-S 10-18mm appeals alot more to people with attention provoking words such as “smallest”, “lightest” and “least expensive” lens! This is also the only lens in its class to come with Canon’s patent IS (Image Stabilization) technology.

Canon-EF-S-STM-IS-Lenses

Focal Length / Focal Length Range

The name (Canon EF-S 10-18mm) clearly denotes that it is an EF-S lens, which means that it will only work with APS-C (Crop sensor) cameras. Before the arrival of this particular lens, the shortest focal length on a budget lens was 18mm (in your everyday 18-55mm kit lens).

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Now, the fact that we call a crop sensor as a 1.6x sensor is because it increases the focal length of the lens by a factor of 1.6x. So Your typical 18-55mm lens at 18mm on a Canon EOS APS-C sensor camera will be equivalent to 28.8mm in terms of full frame sensor or 35mm sensor. Now 28.8mm is only moderately wide, it would leave you wanting more and would fail you in crammed spaces. Hence the need of the Canon EF-S 10-18mm arises. If you have never experienced what it is to go wider than 17 or 18mm, you will love the expanded angle of view this lens provides.

Ultra-wide angle lenses such as the Canon EF-S 10-18mm are mostly used when you need to click landscape, architecture, interior and other such types of photography where a wide angle of view is needed.

Ultra wide lenses keep everything in tack focus, so if you are looking for a lens to blur your background or give you a nice bokeh, this is not the lens for you.
Infact, if you want to click the image such that the foreground as well as the distant background is in tack focus, you are clearly looking for an ultra-wide lens.

Ultra wide lenses give a dramatic perspective and objects or parts of objects might look bigger and broader than it really is. So it is best not to use ultra wide lenses for portraits or such. You do not want your girlfriend’s nose looking like a potato!

The best use of an ultrawide lens can be seen while working in confined places like a monument, an old church, bedrooms and such.

Aperture – Canon EF-S 10-18mm

The Canon EF-S 10-18mm has a max aperture which is 2/3 to 1 full stop narrower than the EF-S 10-22’s max aperture at corresponding focal lengths. What this means that this lens could prove to be a bit of a trouble in low light conditions. Ofcourse you can notch up the ISO another stop to compensate but remember, a photographer’s worst enemies are dust on the sensor and grains on the image. However, clicking things like star trails etc would not be affected as a tripod is used and ISO is brought down to 100-200 anyways.

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The following chart shows the max available aperture step down focal lengths:

Model f/2.8 f/3.2 f/3.5 f/4.0 f/4.5 f/5.0 f/5.6
Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM Lens 10mm 11mm 15mm
Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM Lens 10mm 13mm 18mm
Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM Lens 8mm 8mm 13mm
Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM Lens 10mm
Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM Lens 10mm 11mm 12mm 16mm
Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 DI II Lens 10mm 14mm 21mm
Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro DX II Lens 11mm
Tokina 12-28mm f/4.0 AT-X Pro DX Lens 12mm

Yes, you noticed it right! The claimed f stop of f/4.5 is available only while clicking at 10mm. Zoom on to 11mm and the aperture shifts to f/5.0. But then again, wide apertures are never a requirement as such for ultra wide lenses. Most photographers tend to shoot at f/5.6 or f/8 as these are the stops on which most lens are sharpest around the corners.

Image Stabilization

Narrow aperture on the Canon EF-S 10-18mm means that one has to use longer shutter speeds or higher ISO to get the desired image brightness. Thus it is very important that this lens has Image Stabilization. Canon EF-S 10-18mm lens is the first APS-C ultra-wide angle lens to get IS. Canon has rated the handholding assistance of this lens at 4-stops. This means that the lens can be used hand-held (no tripod) in light levels that are 1/16 as bright as without IS.

As expected of an IS system coupled with Canon’s STM technology used for both video and still photography, the stabilizer on the Canon EF-S 10-18mm is extremely quiet and there is no jumping in the image being seen in the viewfinder.

Canon in its instructions for using the Canon EF-S 10-18mm lens has recommended turning IS off while using a tripod which will help you get more shots out of your battery. Though while using a monopod Canon suggests you leave it on.

Image Quality

The specs of a lens can be discussed all day long but what interests and matters the buyer the most is the image quality. And as it has come to be, in today’s scenario the image qualityof a relatively cheaper lens is subject to question.

MTF CHARTS FOR Canon EF-S 10-18mm
MTF CHARTS FOR Canon EF-S 10-18mm
MTF CHARTS FOR Canon EF-S 10-22mm
MTF CHARTS FOR Canon EF-S 10-22mm

Based on the MTF charts as shown above, the inexpensive Canon EF-S 10-18mm seems to slightly improve over the 10-22 (costing almost twice the cost of the former), this makes me feel joyous if anything. The point is that the Canon EF-S 10-18mm gives great, sharp images across the whole frame with even with a wide open aperture.

Normally, when you stop down the lens (to lets say f/5.6 or f/8) it gives you images with better sharpness, and this is true esp for cheaper lenses. But, with a narrow aperture on a DSLR which has a high resolution (Such as my EOS 70D), ends up giving diffraction and vignetting.

When the more expensive lenses arent free of Chromatic Aberration, how can this little one be. Medium CA can be noticed at the corners of the image, fortunately, if you are familiar with post processing, CA is one of the easiest aberrations to correct.

The Canon EF-S 10-18mm shows medium barrel distortion at 10mm as well. The distortion steadily decreses as you keep zooming in and is almost negligible at 14mm. The transition of distortion follows through with moderate pincushion distortion at 18mm.

The Canon EF-S 10-18mm lens features a 7-blade rounded aperture. Yes, I know what you are thinking but sorry, no bokeh or blurry backgrounds!

Following are some photos clicked with the Canon EF-S 10-18mm lens:

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If you wish to know the EXIF of any of these pictures, let me know in the comments at the bottom of the post.

Focusing

The Canon EF-S 10-18mm intigrates Canon’s impressive STM (Stepping Motor) Auto Focus system. Lenses having STM generally focus quietly and smoothly, though they might not be the fastest in the business. These qualities make it worth your while to record videos with Canon’s latest DSLRs like the Canon EOS 80D, 70D, 760D and even 750D at Movie Servo Continuous AF mode.

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Other common Canon STM Auto Focus benefits such as internal focusing, non-rotating filter threads and Full Time Manual focusing make the Canon EF-S 10-18mm a gem of a lens for Vloggers.

The Canon EF-S 10-18mm, surprisingly has the best MFD (Minimum Focusing Distance) spec of 8.7″ or200mm, which means the front element of the lens can be around 2″ close to the subject and yet be in focus. though the MM (Maximum Magnification) spec of Canon EF-S 10-18mm is 0.15x. This means that the dramaticism of the ultra wide focal lengths does not enlarge the subject too dramatically. To give you a better idea, here is a comparison:

Model MFD MM
Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM Lens 8.7″ (220mm) 0.15x
Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM Lens 9.4″ (240mm) 0.17x
Nikon 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G AF-S DX Lens 9.5″ (241mm) 0.20x
Nikon 12-24mm f/4G AF-S DX Lens 12.0″ (305mm) 0.12x
Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM Lens 9.4″ (239mm) 0.13x
Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM Lens 9.4″ (240mm) 0.15x
Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM Lens 9.4″ (240mm) 0.15x
Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II Lens 9.4″ (240mm) 0.20x
Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro DX II Lens 11.8″ (300mm) 0.09x
Tokina 12-28mm f/4.0 AT-X Pro DX Lens 9.8″ (250mm) 0.20x

 

Build Quality & Features

There is this whole collection of EF-S lenses which look and feel quite similar in one’s hands. The nifty fifty, the basic 18-55mm and the nifty 250 are those lenses which every enthusiast should have in their kitty. The Canon EF-S 10-18mm is an addition to this list. The lens is light, easy to handle and smaller (Than 10-22mm) in length. A pair of switches on the left side let you shift between auto and manual for IS and AF. The STM barrels of Canon lenses are made of quality material and have a polycarbonate mount. This mount is typical of your inexpensive lenses but as many a researches have claimed, for a lens as light as the Canon EF-S 10-18mm, there is no difference between a polycarbonate or a metallic mount. Putting a metal mount would only increase the cost of this lens, and that is certainly not desired.

Canon-Ultra-Wide-Angle-Lens-Comparison

The Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM Lens has a simple yet elegant finish and has the common ribbed rubber covered rings. The Canon EF-S 10-18mm extends a little on both sides, but nothing that makes it uncomfortable.

The Canon EF-S 10-18mm Lens is the champion when it comes to being the smallest and lightest lens in the ultrawide section of zoom lenses. None of its competition is even close.

Price

The Canon EF-S 10-18mm retails for anywhere between Rs 18,000-20,000 in India and some discounts and deals even end up retailing the lens for Rs 15,000-16,000. This is somewhat of a deciding factor for many people. Most of the enthusiasts or hobbyists are not looking for anything too pricey and the Canon EF-S 10-18mm lens rubs them the right way. Compared to all the other lenses in the category of ultra-wide leses, this one is a bargain. I am a resident of New Delhi, which has numerable 14-18th century monuments with intricate drawings and carvings. This is exactly the kind of lens needed to click and document such a place. I never felt crammed for space and quite enjoyed these places.

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Pros
-Cheap!
-Lightweight
-Image stabilization, 4stops of stabilization to take faster shutter speed
-Seven blade aperture
-STM Stepping motor for fast quiet focusing
-Full time manual focus

Cons
-Narrow aperture
-Can’t use the builtin flash without casting a shadow of the camera lens at the smaller focal lengths. You have to crop the shadow out later.
-Barrel Distortion and CA to be removed in post processing

Summary

The Canon EF-S 10-18mm lens is one of the must have lenses for any enthusiast or hobbyist photographer as it will allow them to see the world in a totally different view at a fraction of the cost of its competitors.

Of course, this lens is not the best in terms of image quality or quickness of its AF compared to the rest of the competitors in its strata, but at half if not one third the price, it is definitely worth it. The price factor plays a big role in deciding a lens, esp for us Indians who wish to get the best results with the least inputs. So if you wish to go wider than your common 18-5mm and capture some interesting perspectives, do buy this ultra-wide, ultra small, ultra affordable and ultra light Canon EF-S 10-18mm lens and enjoy. Keep clicking!