Canon 10-22 EF-S Lens

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Canon 10-22mm EF-S Lens

Anyone who’s shot with a mid-range digital SLR – such as the Canon D30, D60, 10D, 20D, Rebel or the Nikon D100 or D70 – knows that, although these cameras can shoot exceptional images, and offer a full assortment of great features, their focal length multipliers mean that shooting wide angle is really a pain. Canon’s new 10-22mm EF-S lens, then, is a great pain reliever.

With their Digital Rebel, Canon introduced a new lens mount, the EF-S. Because of the small size of the image sensor, it’s possible to have a smaller mirror and pentaprism configuration inside an EF-S SLR. This creates a little more space behind the lens, and thus makes it possible to engineer lenses with rear elements that sit closer to the sensor. (The “S” in EF-S stands for “short back focus.”) Because lens engineering becomes easier as the lens moves closer to the focal plane, this configuration makes it possible to build high-quality lenses that are smaller and cheaper than lenses engineered for a normal 35mm body.

Canon 10-22mm EF-S

Canon’s new 10-22 offers excellent, extremely wide images. 10mm is surprisingly wider than the 12 and 14mm lenses that are its closest competitors. Click to view full-size image.

Canon’s latest EF-S lens offers a 10-22mm focal range, making it the equivalent of a 16 to 35mm lens on a 35mm or full-frame digital camera. At $799, the lens is not cheap, but you get a lot of lens – and a lot of field of view – for that price.

Small and Wide

One problem with extremely wide angle lenses, whether zooms or primes, is that they’re very large and often very heavy, thanks to their preponderance of glass. Thanks to their simplified optical arrangement, Canon S lenses are smaller than their EF and L cousins.

Measuring 3.5” long, with a diameter of a little over 3 inches, the lens is only about an inch longer than a more “normal” lens such as Canon’s own 24-85 EF. Weighing in at 13.6 oz, the lens is very light (it actually weighs the same as the smaller 24-85 EF) while build quality is sturdy and creak-free. The 10-22 doesn’t have the same “cheap plastic-y” feeling as some of Canon’s other S lenses. The lens is small enough that it doesn’t cast a shadow when used with the 20D’s built-in flash, a problem that can occur on larger wide-angle lenses such as the Sigma 15-30.

Three aspherical elements help control distortion while one Super UD element serves to dampen the frequency dispersion that can cause chromatic aberration. (Canon claims that a single Super UD element is equivalent to a more expensive Flourite element, in terms of clamping chromatic abs.)

The zoom mechanism is entirely internal, meaning the lens doesn’t get longer when you zoom. What’s more, unlike many super-wide zooms, such as the Sigma 12-24 or Sigma 15-30, the front element of the Canon 10-22 is not a tremendously bulbous affair.

Sigma 14mm comparison

On the left, the Sigma 14mm with it’s protruding front element. On the right, Canon’s smaller-diameter, lighter 10-22 EF-S.

This lower-profile front end makes the lens less likely to scratch, less prone to flare and, most importantly, means you can actually use regular threaded filters, rather than being limited solely to gel filters (though a gel filter holder is available). The 10-22 uses 77mm filters.

Canon 10-22mm EF-S

The lens uses Canon’s USM focusing mechanism which means autofocus is speedy, quiet, and precise. The zoom ring is mounted frontmost, with the focus ring behind it. The usual autofocus/manual switch allows you to switch the lens into completely manual focus. However, the 10-22’s manual focus ring is always active, meaning you can manually focus while in full autofocus mode. For close-ups, or rapidly-changing focus situations, this can be a very handy feature.

Though not tremendously speedy, the f3.5-4.5 aperture range is perfectly acceptable, particularly given the low-noise, high-ISO capabilities of Canon’s current generation of cameras.

Canon 10-22mm EF-S

One nice surprise with the 10-22 is the close focusing distance of the lens., which allows you to get within roughly 9 inches of your subject. (Click to view full-size, 8-megapixel JPEG image.)

In typical stingy fashion, Canon does not include a lens shade with the 10-22. Though this is not a painful omission on a normal lens, a wide angle lens is much more susceptible to flare. At $799, it seems like a small lens shade isn’t too much to ask.


Though build quality and features are nice, for 800 bucks you want really good image quality and fortunately, the 10-22 delivers. The lens yields very good sharpness throughout its focal range though it softens up a bit at extreme apertures, as one would expect. However, you’ve got to look real close for softening below f5.6, and you can probably take care of this with a simple unsharp mask.

Distortion is surprisingly low, although when shooting at 10mm, images are inherently a little weirdly distorted. However, I was very surprised to find that you’ve really got to look hard to discern distortion, even at the extremes of the camera’s zoom range.

Canon 10-22mm EF-S

The 10-22 delivers excellent sharpness throughout its focal range. Click to view full-size image.

Most surprising, though, are the lens flares. Surprising in their absence, that is. It’s downright hard to get this lens to flare. The flatter front element helps, and when compared to any other super-wide angle lens I’ve used, the 10-22 wins hands down, flare-wise.

Color rendition is very accurate, though different from what I’ve been used to, as we’ll see below. Packing an almost completely round iris, the 10-22 yields very nice bokeh, although shallow depth of field can be a little difficult to achieve with a lens of such short focal length. Overall contrast is also excellent.


When I got my D30 several years ago, I opted for Sigma’s 15-30 to handle the wide end of things. Canon’s options were more than I could afford, and the Sigma offered very good image quality. Unfortunately, the monstrous lens almost required an entirely separate bag, and was far too heavy to carry on an extended expedition.

Realizing that I was mostly using the lens for its wider end, I replaced it with Sigma’s 14mm prime. This has been my wide-angle option for the last year or so.

Obviously, these two lenses are not direct competitors. A better mach up would be Sigma’s 12-24, a $669 (street price) lens that is larger and heavier than the Canon. But, the Sigma 14 is what I have handy, and it proves an interesting point of comparison. However, if you’re trying to choose between the 10-22 and the Sigma 12-24, you can find some comparison pictures here and here.

Sigma 14mm

Canon 10-22mm

On the top, the Sigma 14mm. Below, the Canon 10-22mm zoom. Click images to view full-size JPEGs.

Sigma 14mm

Canon 10-22mm

On the top, the Sigma 14mm. Below, the Canon 10-22mm zoom. Click images to view full-size JPEGs.

The 10-22 holds its own very well, detail-wise, against Sigma’s 14mm prime.

In comparing the 10-22 with the Sigma 14, two things are immediately interesting. First, detail-wise, the 10-22 holds its own with no problem. At extremely high magnification, perhaps the Sigma has a slight sharpness edge, but it’s very slight, and nothing you can’t compensate for with post-process sharpening. Granted, the Sigma is a cheaper lens (roughly $450-500) but it is a prime lens, and the Canon stands up to it very handily.

The other interesting difference is overall color temperature. The Sigma is a much warmer lens. Color accuracy is a very subjective quality, so it’s difficult to say which is more accurate. What’s more, which is more desirable depends largely on subject matter. For these exterior shots, I find the Sigma’s warmth to be a little more inviting, however the difference is so small, you can easily make up for it with some simple color adjustments.

I was very surprised to find the 10-22 standing up so well to this prime lens. Its competitive sharpness, combined with its lack of flares (it’s very difficult to avoid flaring with the Sigma, even on a 20D, which crops the lens’ field of view), slightly smaller size and noticeably lighter weight – and, of course, the fact that it’s a zoom – make the Canon a better wide-angle choice, if you can afford it.


Even if you’re not interested in the lens, the fact of its excellent performance should be of interest to camera nerds as it simply shows the advantage of the optical configuration provided by Canon’s S-mount. Simply put: the S system does live up to its promise of delivering smaller, lighter lenses of excellent quality, even at wide angles.

Many people are concerned about whether it’s worth investing in S-series lenses. They wonder if the format will still be around in the future. I cover this topic in more detail here.

The 10-22 EF-S is a very good lens. Yes, it’s pricey, but for what it delivers, it’s an ideal wide-angle choice for your Digital Rebel or EOS 20D.

Canon 10-22mm EF-S

Click to view full-size

[Updated 1/11/05] In a recent meeting with Canon, it was brought to my attention that the 10-22 EF-S actually uses all L-series glass. Canon does not want to give the L moniker to any lens that isn’t full-frame, so the 10-22 is labelled an EF series lens, but optically, Canon considers it L-quality. The “L” classification does not automatically mean “perfect, flawless lens,” but most the superior L-series glass does go a long way to explaining the quality of this excellent lens.

Related Links:
Should you upgrade your 10D to a 20D?
Canon EOS 20D Review
Sigma 14mm f2.8 lens Review
Should you buy a Rebel XT or EOS 20D?

22 Responses to “Canon 10-22 EF-S Lens”

  1. Vrindavan Lila Dasi

    thanks Ben for your review and especially for picture samples. It was so helpful. I want to buy this 10-22 EF-S lens for my EOS 20-D, but I do have a fear that in future if I want to go for a FF camera I will regret that I got this expencive lens… My other concideration is of
    EF 17-40 ‘L’.

    Would it be too much trouble if I ask you to review these 2 lense together like you did with Sigma here and with samples too if possible, or at least give your appinion on how they compare (besides loosing extra wide angle with 17-40).

    Also I found one extra wide angle lens, but it turned out to be a fish-eye, I hate that effect. Do you know how to correct the fish-eye effect, so I can get a strait picture at the end? Is there any physical or PS filters to deal with this?

    Thank you so much. Hare Krishna!

  2. Per Kristensen

    Is your 10-22 also very soft in the corners at 10mm and 3.5? Mine is VERY soft.

  3. Dave Jones

    Could some one out there post or point me to a series of the same sceen at 10mm, 11mm, 12mm, 13mm and 15mm?



  4. John Riding

    Thanks for a great review of a lens that I already own and was thinking of getting rid of. You’ve totally changed my mind! I’m intrgued by the fact that Canon consider it to be L series glass. If so, why don’t Canon just come up with a new term for the lens. This would give the lens an extra claim to fame – a bit like the DO in the 70-300mm. What’s wrong with having L glass for cameras with non-full-frame sensors?

  5. Lynn

    I rented this lens a few times before spending the money for it. I found that at 10mm length there was a lot of dark corners ( I think it’s called Vingetting or something like that). The slightly weird effect you described at 10mm is what is selling it for me though. I also used the Sigma 10-20 which performs just as well in my opinion as the Canon for about $200.00 less, but I really like that “weird thing” the Canon does at the 10mm focal length. It’s almost like a very low key fish eye effect, but not as noticeable.

    I am curious as to why you chose to compare the Canon 10-22 to lenses that didn’t have the same competitive width, instead of comparing to the Sigma 10-20?

  6. Edward

    Just bought this lens few days back now already sent in to Canon for warranty because all photos came out so blurred and focusing problem :(

  7. Chris Arnet

    I have to say, you sold this lens to me. I have been reading lots of reviews on both the canon ond sigma wide zooms, and i have chosen the canon. what really suprised me though is that it uses “L” series glass. why wouldn’t canon advertise this? it seems like it would be an extra selling point.

  8. Edward Friar

    Think you do a great job with your reviews

    Any reviews coming up comparing the Canon 10-22 with Nikkor 12-24 f4?
    just wondering!!! For those of us running both stables always good to know!

  9. ELIE

    H everybody,
    Id like to buy a used rudge SIGMA 14F3,5 GEL for my CANON EOS 1DS 11MP, do you thnk the lens will match with the camera. thanks for your help

  10. Victor Z

    Arny Johannas –

    The 30D is not a full frame camera, it is still a 1.6x crop APS-C. I have been running the EF-S 18-75 on my 30D for a long time now and plan on getting the 10-22 as well, It will fit on your 30D no problem as it is EF-S compatable.If you have a D30, thats a different story than a 30D.

  11. jamie

    hey i want to start getting readers to my blog like you! can i pay you a couple bucks to give me a link in your blogroll/links? let me know :)

  12. Nigel

    Nice review, would just like to add an experience I had regarding flare. I was experiencing flare through my $150 B+W UV filter, so decided to try without it and the flare completely disappeared. This lens really handles flare better than nearly any other lens I have owned, that in itself would sell this lens apart from its other qualities.

  13. Bruce Nicholson

    Well, I have this lens…
    did alot of research and thought it a fine thing
    In practice ,however not so
    it is better than my L series 16-35 in regards to barrel distortion…
    actually it is the best lens I have ever used in this regard…
    sharpness though is sad
    wide to maybe f8 is ok go any smaller and it gets worse as you shut down
    ie f 5.6 is sharper than f 22
    BUT TRUE!!
    if I had my chance again I would go for the 2.8 11-16 Tamron 11-16 which I have tested against the canon 10-22
    thia is a crazy mixed up digital world
    I prefered the anologue days where you didn’t have to send your body and lens to Canon to get them individually calibrated for sharpness and have it done for every lense and set those parameters into the camera for each different lense combo…In my day you bought a lens…put it on and it worked pefectly if your eyes are good…SHAME ON YOU…CANON,NIKON ETC

  14. Stacey Bindman

    I have the same lens and it’s great for taking in a w/a area in a confined space. I use 4 accessories when I use then lens for architectural photography:

    1. A level that shows both on the vertical and horizontal axis (buy on e-Bay inexpensively).

    2. A Delkin pop-up shade for the LCD This helps lets you see the image better, but on a sunny day that’s still a problem.

    3. Canon C angle finder. This is a right-angle magnifier (1.25 and 2.t magnifier than fits over the viewfinder. It helps to check your focus.

    4 A tripod for all my shots (except sports or action).

    I also shoot with Manual focus and usually stop down to f11.

    The lens is great, but right now I only have a T1i, so I lose 1.6x the focal length. There’s not much barrel distortion, and I try and correct (improve) any distortion with Photoshop (somewhat OK) and PTLens. used either as a stand-alone or as a Plug-In in Photoshop.



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