Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II
 

Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II

This review covers


PAGE 2

» Image Quality «


PAGE 3

» Sample Pictures «

» Conclusion «

» Further Information «


Table of contents

Image Qualityhide all test shotsshow all test shots

Note: the test shots for each of the image quality tests can be compared directly amongst all tested lenses. Within the test box click on "Choose lens to compare with..." to add a lens to the comparison. Then use your mouse to hover over the lens thumbnails. If all those test shots are a little too overwhelming consider clicking on "hide all test shots" above this paragraph.

Sharpness / Resolution

Let's take a look at the wide end of the focal range first: at an effective focal length of 29 mm the Siemens star in our test shots (3) is blurred towards the center, the checkerboard (5) looks fuzzy and the horizontal lines at the corner of the image (6) are blurred. In other words all but the center of the image show significant blur. If you choose higher f-stops the sharpness increases until it reaches its maximum resolution at about f/6.3. At 50 mm and 70 mm the lowest available f-stops are f/4.5 and f/5.0 and the EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II shows quite an impressive resolution even at the corners of the image. It diminishes a little if you look at the tele end of the focal range but it's still very useful at 88 mm. Overall I would say this lens offers a good sharpness for a general purpose lens. If you want to use it at its wide end you might consider stopping down a little to increase corner sharpness.

-Test shots

APS-C    tested with 7D
Sharpness / Resolution

Distortion

The EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II shows some significant distortion at 29 mm effective focal length which is not surprising because all but the very best or speciality lenses show distortion at wide angle focal lengths. Distortion is not affected by aperture so you can't help it by stopping down. The good news is that the lens only shows distortion at it's wide end. If you use longer focal lengths you will not notice any relevant distortion.

-Test shots

APS-C    tested with 7D
Distortion
Aperture:
Irrelevant

Crop from top of image (downsized)

Crop from bottom of image (downsized)

Best case: the line between the black and white boxes is completely straight in both test shot crops

Color Errors Transverse Chromatic Aberrations

In regard to color errors 70 mm effective focal length is the sweet spot of this lens. At all other focal lengths the EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II shows quite noticeable color errors.

-Test shots

APS-C    tested with 7D
Color Errors

Crop from lower image border
(in landscape orientation)

Color errors in focused parts of the image (upscaled)

 

Best case: no color fringes

Crop from left image border
(in landscape orientation)

Beauty of blurred image parts Bokeh and Axial CA

While Canon claim that the lens's aperture uses rounded blades it doesn't really make it a circular shape. The test shots can't reveal that at the lowest f-stop setting but switch to f/8 or f/11 to see it. An angled aperture shape will make blurred parts of the image less smooth. The EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II also shows color fringes in out-of-focus areas of the image that are quite hefty towards the wide end and less pronounced towards the tele end of the focal range. Choosing higher f-stops helps but until around f/11 the color fringes are still visible.

-Test shots

The way blurred parts of the image look depends on several things such as focal length, aperture setting, aperture shape, distance to the background, distance between foreground and background as well as the texture and dynamic range of the background. With so many things to consider it's very difficult to compare different lenses. Moreover the beauty of blurred image parts is also a matter of personal taste.

In general blurred image parts should be as uniformly blurred as possible and ideally not show any artifacts. Out of the above mentioned criteria only the shape of the aperture cannot be influenced by the photographer and thus this test will show you the shape you are dealing with (left test image). To minimize artifacts there should be no bright line around the edge of the aperture shape. To get uniform blur the aperture should be as circular as possible (which depends on the number of aperture blades used and their individual shape). Furthermore there should be no color fringes in out-of-focus areas of the image (middle and right test shots).

Aperture Shape

Number of aperture blades:  6
Type: circular
Best case: circular and evenly bright

Color errors in out-of-focus areas of the image (upscaled)

before focal plane

behind focal plane

Crops from the center of the image
Best case: no color fringes in out-of-focus areas

Curvature of the focal plane Field Curvature

The EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II's focal plane is pretty straight (as it should be). At 29 mm and 50 mm effective focal length it shows slight curvature but I wouldn't really worry about it.

-Test shots

Crop from the corner of the image
focused at the image corner

 

Best case:
no difference

Crop from the corner of the image
focused at the image center

Corner Shadow Vignetting

Yes, there is quite a bit of corner shadow at 29 mm at maximum aperture but that is to be expected at this effective focal length. At higher f-stops or longer focal lengths the corner shadow becomes a lot less pronounced. The performance of the lens in regard to corner shadow is average and that will be good enough for most applications.

-Test shots

APS-C    tested with 7D
Corner Shadow

Crops (100%)

Corner

Center

Best case: no difference in brightness

Test shot (downsized)

Corner

Center

Best case: perfectly even brightness

Result-Chart

Best case: no color gradient

EV

0

-1

-2

-3

-4

-5

PAGE 1

Handling

PAGE 2

Image Quality

PAGE 3

Conclusion

 

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