The right tool for the job: the advantage of crop mirrorless lenses

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Alastair Norcross Veteran Member • Posts: 6,985
The right tool for the job: the advantage of crop mirrorless lenses
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Although the M cameras can use any EF and EF-S lenses pretty much flawlessly with the adapter, there's a distinct advantage to using lenses specifically designed for mirrorless crop cameras. The advantage is mostly in size and weight, which is the reason that many of us (not all) have switched from DSLR to mirrorless, at least for a lot of our shooting.

Here's a quick comparison between some lenses with EF-M mount, and EF mount rough equivalents.

First, my new favorite lens, the Sigma 56 F1.4. It weighs 280gm, is 67mm in diameter, and 60mm long. The nearest equivalent from Sigma, in full frame EF version, is the 50 ART, which weighs 815gm, is 85mm in diameter, and 100mm long. That's nearly three times as heavy, much longer, and considerably wider.

Next, the Sigma 16 F1.4, which is the biggest and heaviest of the Sigma prime trio for EF-M. That weighs 405gm, is 72mm in diameter, and 92mm long. That's quite a bit bigger and heavier than the 56. But, the nearest equivalents in full frame versions that you could adapt to the M are the 14 F1.8 ART and the 20 F1.4 ART. The former weighs 1170gm, is 95mm in diameter, and 126mm long, and the latter weighs 950gm, is 91mm in diameter, and 130mm long. That's a lot heavier, wider, and longer. And that's not even adding in the adapter, which would be needed to mount these lenses to the M cameras.

You see the same size difference with Canon lenses. Start with the incredibly sharp EF-M 32 F1.4, That weighs 235gm, is 61mm in diameter, and 57mm long. To get roughly the same focal length on an M from a Canon EF lens, you're looking at either the 35 F1.4L or the 35 F2 STM. The former weighs 760gm, is 80mm in diameter, and 106mm long. That's more than three times the weight, nearly twice the length, and a lot wider. The 35 F2 is much smaller, but even that weighs 335gm, is 78mm in diameter, and 63mm long. And, again, you have to add the adapter to use it on an M. You do get IS with that, but lose a stop. You can't adapt RF lenses to the M, but the closest RF lens to the 32 is the 35 F1.8, which weighs 305gm, is 74mm in diameter, and 63mm long. So it would still be a fair bit bigger and heavier.

Finally the 22 F2 is the smallest and lightest EF-M lens, at 105gm, 61mm diameter, and 24mm length. The closest EF lens is the 24 F2.8, which weighs 280gm, is 66mm in diameter, and 56mm long. Again, it has IS, but is a stop slower. And you have to use the adapter on an M.

There's a reason to use lenses designed for crop mirrorless. They are simply the best tools for the job.  Luckily, we now have quite a few good ones to choose from, at least in the wide-angle to short telephoto range. All these EF-M mount lenses compete very well with the full frame versions in terms of sharpness, contrast, etc. (in some cases outdoing the FF lenses), and all are smaller and lighter. It will be interesting to see whether the Sigma primes for EF-M sell well enough for them to design zooms for the mount, and whether we get any longer lenses. I've read that the advantages of designing lenses specifically for crop mirrorless diminish with longer focal lengths, but I've no idea whether that's true.

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As the length of a thread approaches 150, the probability that someone will make the obvious "it's not the camera, it's the photographer" remark approaches 1.
Alastair
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