If you’re looking for a mid-wide prime lens for your crop-sensor Canon dSLR, the Canon 24mm f/2.8 STM for EF-S mount is a solid contender; and, it’s compact size and light weight make it ideal for travel photography.
Canon 24mm f/2.8 EF-S STM — Tech Specs
- Focal Length: 24mm (equivalent to 38mm field of view on full-frame)
- Mount: Canon EF-S
- Max/Min Aperture: f/2.8 – f/22
- Aperture Blades: 7
- Focus Type: AF / MF via Stepper Motors
- Glass: 6 Elements in 5 Groups
- Filter Thread: 52mm
It’s reasonably fast with a max aperture of f/2.8, and reasonably wide-angle with an equivalent field of few of 38mm on a full-frame sensor. This makes the Canon 24mm f/2.8 STM on an APS-C body a close cousin to the Canon 40mm f/2.8 STM in terms of field of few and speed on a full-frame body, such as the Canon 6D. And indeed, the two lenses share similar technology (stepper motor for focusing) and physical appearance. The minimal size and weight also makes it an ideal candidate for travel photography. And with an inexpensive adapter, it can be mounted on any of Canon’s mirrorless M-series camera bodies, such as the EOS M (my review is here).
What’s in the Box
Not much. Besides the lens, there is a front cap and back cap and the usual Canon warranty information and other useless paperwork. No case candy here, but that’s hardly surprising considering the low price and name brand.
The max aperture of f/2.8 is pretty fast, especially for a $149 prime lens. It’s very compact at 2.68 x 2.68 x 0.91 inches and weighs a mere ~4oz (~118 grams).
It is respectably sharp wide open, with some minimal edge softening and vignetting. Focusing is fast and consistent, but it’s stepper focusing motor does make more noise than Canon’s USM focusing technology found in other Canon lenses.
The STM focusing technology in this lens allows for continuous AF operation (focus tracking, etc) during live view and while shooting video. This will be a big plus to videographers who have missed this feature in past Canon lenses.
The bokeh, in my opinion, is nice but not great. It’s smooth enough in many instances, but can get a little harsh and noticeable for mid-depth-of-field details. But, for a wide-angle lens, this is not something I consider an important flaw.
The STM focusing system does not allow for full-time manual focus. You must activate manual focus with the switch on the lens barrel. Additionally, the camera must be powered on for manual focusing to work, because even in MF mode the stepper motor is used to set focus.
All sample images shot on a Canon T5i, JPEG only and no post-processing at all (other than image dimension downsizing for web viewing).
Here is the lens at a range of apertures: f/2.8, f/4, f/8, and f/16.
And here is an example of the harsh bokeh mentioned above. Take a look at the leaves and the rusty fire escape in the upper right. The foreground is sharply in focus, but the blur in the upper right almost looks like camera shake:
And here’s one I think has nicer bokeh:
I don’t think there is much bad about this lens. For the price (even brand new), it delivers very good image quality, pretty good bokeh, fast and reliable autofocus, and it’s small and light. Hard to complain too much with all that going on.
The Final Verdict
For a cheap wide prime that’s fast and works great for video, you can’t beat the Canon 24mm f/2.8 STM in its price range. It’s super-compact, light, has a great field of view for street photography, and can produce sufficiently blurry backgrounds as needed. This is exactly the kind of all-around travel lens I could see myself using on the streets of, say, Havana to capture the urban magic of that city. I’m biased towards the 35mm (full frame) focal length, so take that into consideration.