There are two surprising things about Canon's new EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM lens.
- It's an EF-M lens for the EOS M mirrorless system. Canon has completely neglected EOS M, releasing just five lenses since the system launched nearly four years ago — four slow zooms and a 22mm f/2 prime. This 28mm macro lens is only the sixth, but it has a trick up its sleeve not found anywhere in Canon's extensive DSLR lens lineup.
- It actually has a pretty innovative design. Most macro photographers prefer relatively long focal lengths so as not to disturb their subjects; even for stationary objects, wider macro lenses tend to cast a shadow because you have to get so close. The EF-M 28mm, however, gets around that with a built-in mini ring flash that features two user-controllable "Macro Lites." You can use both or one at a time, and adjust the intensity of the lighting. Canon also says the lens' tapered shape when extended helps avoid shadows.
It's unexpected enough to get a macro lens for the EOS M system, but for it to be such a unique product (esoteric 1980s medical optics from Nikon notwithstanding) is even more so. We'll have to wait a bit to see how well it works in practice, though — the EF-M 28mm F3.5 Macro IS STM is due out in June for $299.99.