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Review – Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM Ultra Wide Angle Zoom Lens

The Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 ultra wide-angle USM [check price] lens is purely for Canon’s crop sensor camera line (as of writing) starting from the EOS 20D/300D to the current EOS 50D/450D. It will not mount on the EOS 1D series (1.3x crop), neither will it mount on any full-frame, 35mm bodies such as the 1Ds, 5D, and film variants.

With a 1.6x crop camera, th% EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM focal length equates to a 16-35mm ultra-wide field-of-view on a full-frame sensor. So you can consider this as the cheaper consumer version of the Canon EF 16-35mm range without the pro-grade build and f/2.8 constant aperture advantage.

However, this EF-S lens is much lighter and cheaper than the pro variant, arguably a better value lens overall if everything is considered, especially the price.

Here’s what Canon has to say about their lens.

Overview

This exciting zoom lens provides ultra wide-angle coverage to the EOS 20D, 30D, 40D, 50D and Digital Rebel SLRs. Equivalent to a 16-35mm zoom, it offers excellent performance and optics designed from the ground-up for digital SLR use. Three Aspherical lens elements, plus a Super-UD element, assure image quality. Its ring-type USM means fast and silent AF along with full-time manual focus. It focuses as close as 9.5 inches.

Canon EF-S 10-22mm f3.5-4.5 USM Specifications

Lens
Focal Length & Maximum Aperture:    10 – 22mm; 1:3.5-4.5
Lens Construction:    13 elements in 10 groups
Diagonal Angle of View:    107° 30′ – 63° 30′
Focus Adjustment:    Inner focusing system, with focusing cam
Closest Focusing Distance:    0.24m / 0.79 ft.
Zoom System:    Ring USM
Filter Size:    77mm
Max. Diameter x Length, Weight:    3.3″ x 3.5″, 13.6 oz. / 83.5 x 89.8mm, 385g

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The filter ring is a common 77mm, which is a big plus. In addition, the USM motor allows full time manual and instantaneous AF with no audible motor noise. Build quality is excellent for a non-L lens including a metal mount and nice, smooth zoom and focus rings. The feel of the barrel is sturdy and not plasticky as well.

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Sharpness is wonderful for an ultra-wide and a non-L lens. In fact, I subjectively believe that this EF-S lens is visibly sharper than the EF 16-35mm f/2.8L USM that I reviewed earlier at 16-22mm. If you factor the extra 6mm wide angle coverage of the EF-S 10-22mm, cropped sensor camera users should consider this for wide angle use over the older 16-35mm version of the pro lens. I can only see *slight* softness at the extreme edges at 10mm or so wide open. However, you can most certainly use this lens at its widest aperture on all focal lengths to achieve sharp and great contrast results.

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Vignetting is extremely low for an ultra wide. I can barely see any vignetting regardless of focal length.

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As always, when shooting wide angle shots, the angle of the camera will dictate how much perspective changes with hard-edged subjects. Shooting low or high angle shots will cause areas nearer to the lens to be larger than those farther from the lens. With a low-angle shot of the National Museum of Singapore, you can see noticeable keystoning effect. It’s not a fault, per-se as it’s physics. Unless you use a perspective-correcting lens or shooting at the same level as the subject, such keystoning effect will occur with all wide angle lenses.

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Having said that, an ultra wide angle lens will exaggerate the relative size of near versus far elements in the frame. The closer the subject is to the lens, the larger it’ll appear compared to distant objects. So try not to shoot portraits up close with this lens or you’ll get really wide forehead andknose portraits that’ll make your subject look deformed (unless that’s really your intention). I’ve seen some people use ultra-wides for portraits, it’s fun once in a while, but it can really get tacky after a couple of times.

With the right subjects, though, the 10mm ultra-wide angle and the <1ft close focusing ability of this lens can get you some really unusual perspectives in your photographs.

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Flare control is excellent and ghosting is very, very low even if the light source is within the frame. Some contrast is lost if the sun is in or near the edges of the frame. If I have to rant about something, it’ll be Canon insists to not include a lens hood for all their consumer lenses. The EF-S 10-22mm covers such a wide field of view, getting a lightsource at the edge of the frame is almost a given in many circumstances, adding a lens hood to a relatively expensive consumer lens shouldn’t hurt Canon’s bottom line so much, right?

Chromatic aberration is hard to locate regardless of aperture and focal length, another tough task to achieve with an ultra-wide lens.

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From 12mm onwards, distortion is surprisingly low for an ultra-wide. In fact, at 22mm, it’s hardly visible.

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For shooting street scenes, cityscapes, landscapes, etc. This is really a gem of a lens to have for a crop-sensor Canon.

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This is a perfect lens to have if you already have a capable all-around zoom lens such as the consumer range Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM, or the excellent Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM in your travel bag. The image quality, handling, auto-focus speed, and build quality makes this lens a must-have if you’re a crop sensor Canon user.

For wide angle use, I strongly recommend this over any other Canon wide angle zoom lens, even the pro-grade 16-35mm (the olde2 one, as I haven’t tested the Mark II version yet). This is probably the first lens I’ve used that has impr%ssed me so much in all aspects of its assigned tasks.

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The Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM is considerably more expensive that its 3rd party competitors such as the Sigma 10-20 f/4-5.6, Tamron 11-18mm f/4-5.6, Tokina AT-X Pro SD 11-16mm f/2.8, etc, and doesn’t come with a lens hood like its 3rd party variants. It does have a trump card in terms of focal range, auto-focus and image quality. It’ll be up to you to compare the lenses if the premium is worth it over the 3rd party options.

You can visit my Flickr set for higher resolution sample photos of the EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM lens.

I have to scrap the plans to save up for a portrait prime and get the Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM instead in the future… Arghh..