Stm vs usm canon lens which is better?

STM and USM canon lens are the two popular types of autofocus systems used in Canon lenses. These two types of lenses are available for both Canon DSLR cameras and Mirrorless cameras. If you plan to buy a Canon lens, you may get confused with these two lens variants. However, there are key differences between the STM vs USM lens that can help you select the best option for your needs. Stm vs usm canon lens which is better?

1. Difference in the Acronyms

Stm vs usm canon lens

The STM is the acronym for Stepper Motor, and USM stands for Ultrasonic Motor.

A stepper motor is used inside a Canon STM lens for autofocusing. The Canon USM lens uses an Ultrasonic motor for autofocusing.

2. Noise Factor

Canon USM Lens 50mm

The USM lenses from Canon produce slight noise during the autofocusing because of quick movement of lens elements inside.

Canon has solved this noise issue by using a stepper motor in their STM lenses.

3. Manual Focus Factor

When you use a USM lens, the manual focus is fast and accurate. This makes it easier to capture a sharp image in low light conditions or fast-moving subjects. The full-time manual focus also allows for more creative control over the final image. You can adjust the focus point on the fly and make subtle refinements as you take a shot.

Another advantage of using a USM lens is its quieter operation. The autofocus motor noise of an STM lens can be distracting when shooting in certain situations such as wildlife photography or events with many people present. With USM lenses, you get almost silent focusing which helps keep your shots from being ruined by loud motor noises.

Overall, UMS lenses are a great choice for photographers who need fast, accurate and quiet autofocus performance. Whether you are shooting landscapes, portraits or sports, the USM lens can help ensure you get the shot you want. So, if you’re looking for an upgrade to your current lens setup, consider investing in a USM lens. It can make a big difference in both your image quality and creative control over final results.

4. Cost Factor

Cost is an essential factor when it comes to lens selection. Canon USM lenses are costlier than the STM ones. So, if your budget is low, then better to go for the STM lens.

5. Speed

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The USM lens also helps in tracking a moving subject. The quick focus system allows you to track the subject and take pictures without worrying about missing the shot due to slow focus speed. This feature is great for sports photography as well, where the photographer needs to be able to quickly lock onto a target and track it as it moves across the field or court.

The USM lenses are also desirable for shooting videos because of their smooth autofocus transition when manually focusing from one subject to another. This ensures that your video clips have seamless transitions between different objects in the scene and look more professional.

Overall, I prefer USM lenses over STM lenses if speed and accuracy in focusing is important for my work. If you are looking for a fast autofocus lens, the USM should be your go-to choice.

6. For Photography

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When opting for a Canon USM lens, it is important to consider the focal length that you will be using. Different lenses have different range of focal lengths. The most common ranges are: 24-105mm, 70-200mm , and 300mm and above. These lenses offer very sharp images with great clarity, color accuracy and contrast.

The USM lenses have a fast focusing motor, so you can easily track your subject with precision. This is especially important when shooting action and wildlife photography as it gives you the ability to capture even the fastest moving subjects. The USM lens also offers weather sealed construction, ensuring that dust, dirt and moisture will not affect the performance of the lens.

Overall, a Canon USM lens will provide you with stunning images, fast focusing capabilities and weather sealed construction that makes it perfect for any type of photography. So if you are looking to invest in professional grade lenses, the Canon USM lenses are an excellent choice. ̌

7. For Video

Canon STM Lens

The STM lenses are quieter compared to the USM lenses and they can be used for recording better audio quality. Since these lenses have no motor noise, the microphone will only pick up what is being recorded and not the motor noise from autofocusing. This ensures that you get cleaner sound without any interference for your video recordings. Moreover, the STM lenses are quieter and smoother when autofocusing, which makes it ideal for video recordings.

This also helps to reduce the camera shake since the lens movements are not as abrupt like with USM lenses. In addition, the STM lenses have a greater depth of field range than USM lenses and this is beneficial for creating videos with shallow depth of field effects. To summarize, STM lenses are better for recording videos as they help to avoid motor noise and camera shake, produce smoother footage and offer greater depth of field range compared to USM lenses.

Pros and Cons of USM

The USM autofocusing system is a great choice for professional photographers. However, there are some limitations to consider as well. While the USM motors provide quick and accurate focusing, they tend to be more expensive than other models due to the higher quality components used in their construction. Additionally, this autofocusing system typically requires more power than comparable models, making it less energy efficient and potentially limiting its use in certain situations. Furthermore, most lenses that come with USM technology are larger and heavier than those without it and may not fit into more compact camera bags or cases.

Overall, if you are looking for exceptional speed and accuracy from your lenses then the USM autofocusing system might just be perfect for you.


Ultra-fast autofocusing

High accuracy and quick response

Better build quality

Cons More expensiveLess silent than STM

Popular Lenses with USM Technology

There is an excellent choice of Canon lenses with USM motors. Most of the L-series lenses and other high-quality telephoto lenses have a USM motor. This is because the USM system can more effectively move the large lens elements. The following are examples of popular Canon lenses with USM motors:

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM

The Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM is an excellent quality lens that many professionals use as their standard lens. It offers a great focal length range and a solid constant maximum aperture of f/2.8. It also features a USM focusing motor and is an L-series lens which means it features enhanced build quality.


Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

The Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM is a top-quality prime lens that is incredibly durable for various photography types. With a maximum aperture of f/1.4, you can capture fantastic detail and easily separate the subject from the background. It also features a Micro USM focusing motor.


Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM

This lens is an older model, but it still holds up well as a telephoto lens. It features image stabilization and a Nano USM focusing motor. The maximum aperture range also gives great control.

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Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM

Canon RF 85mm f/1.2L USM

Although this lens is relatively expensive, it offers supreme image quality for portraits. The maximum aperture of f/1.2 is amazing, and it also features a Ring-Type USM. It has various aspherical and UD elements to ensure sharp images are produced with minimal distortion.


Canon RF 85mm f/1.2L USM

Canon STM Autofocusing in-Detail

The Stepping Motor is becoming widely used, especially in budget Canon lenses. When looking at STM vs USM, STM has generally been considered the better option for video. This is because it provides smoother focusing that is less jarring than USM. STM autofocusing is also much quieter than its USM counterpart.

Different types of STM motor

There are currently two types of STM motor – Gear and Lead-Screw. You can see details about both focusing methods below:

Lead-Screw STM

Lead-Screw STM systems are generally used in larger lenses as the mechanical components can cope with the larger lens elements. Lead-Screw STM also typically provides the quickest autofocus of STM lenses with the quietest operation.

Gear-Type STM

The Gear-Type STM system is generally used in smaller STM lenses due to its compact size and mechanism. It uses helical gears to drive the focus ring.

Pros and Cons of STM

The Canon STM system is known for its silent and smooth operation, making it ideal for video work. It also has a fast autofocus speed, great for capturing fleeting moments or tracking a subject’s movement. However, when shooting stills the AF system may struggle to keep up with the action. The mechanical design of STM lenses is not as strong as that of USM lenses and they are less reliable when used in extreme weather conditions.

When it comes to manual focusing, the STM system can feel clunky and imprecise due to its louder and more abrupt focus shifts compared to USM lenses. In addition, while STM lenses offer good value for money in terms of features per dollar spent, their overall quality and build may not match that of higher end USM lenses.

In conclusion, the Canon STM system is great for video and as an affordable option for still photos, but when it comes to manual focusing and quality of build, USM lenses are clearly the better choice for photography.


Silent operation

Smooth focusing for videos

Much cheaper


Not as fast for autofocusing

Lesser build quality

Popular Lenses using STM

The Canon STM autofocus system can be found in a host of budget lenses for the EF, EF-S, EF-M, and RF lens mounts. This focusing system is usually present in cheaper build lenses but still offers excellent quality and silent focusing. The following are examples of some of the most popular lenses featuring the STM focus.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM

The Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM is one of the cheapest prime lenses available for Canon cameras and it still offers amazing quality. It uses an STM motor and has a brilliant maximum aperture of f/1.8.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens

Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM

For EOS M cameras, the Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM is a great lens. It is fantastic for landscape photography but can also make a decent macro lens. It provides sharp image quality and quick, silent focusing due to the STM motor.


Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM

Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS STM

For APS-C cameras, the Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS STM is a solid lens with a versatile focal distance. You can shoot anything from portraits to telephoto with this lens. It also has a decent build quality and an STM autofocusing motor.


Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS STM

Canon RF 600mm f/11 STM

A relatively new lens for Canon EOS R cameras is the Canon RF 600mm f/11 STM. This huge super-telephoto lens is a superb buy for wildlife photography. It features a different design from most Canon RF lenses, but it still benefits from an STM motor.


Canon RF 600mm f/11 STM

Which is Better – Canon STM vs USM

reduce camera shake and vibration when shooting hand-held. The focus transitions are much more natural with the STM motor as well, providing a more professional look to your videos.

However, the USM system can still be used for video – especially in situations where you need quick autofocus or tracking of an unpredictable subject. This makes the USM system is great choice if you intend to do both photography and videography with the same lens.

Ultimately, choosing between STM vs USM depends on your personal preferences and what type of photography or videography you plan to do. Both systems offer fast and accurate autofocusing, but each technology has its own advantages and disadvantages. If you’re still unsure which system is right for you, contact your local camera store or speak to an expert in the field. They will be able to help you make the best decision for your particular needs.


Why do higher end lenses use USM instead of STM?

Generally, L-series lenses and other high-quality Canon lenses use USM. This is because the USM system can cope better with moving larger lens elements whilst still providing ultra-fast autofocusing.

Which is better and why: Canon STM or USM lenses?

USM is generally better for pure photography due to its excellent response time and fast focusing. Alternatively, STM is generally better for video due to its smoother focusing method.

Canon 50mm STM vs USM?

Both the EF 50mm f/1.4 USM and EF 50mm f/1.8 STM are excellent quality lenses. The USM version offers greater control over depth of field, but the STM version is much cheaper and a better budget option.

Canon 18-135mm STM vs USM?

The Canon 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM is the better quality lens and has an effective nano USM autofocusing motor. The STM version is cheaper but doesn’t offer the same quality.

Read more: Which is more accurate mirror or camera flash?

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