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Can a $149 lens be any good? Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM Lens

Updated on October 22, 2013

Recent work with this lens

Photography by Edward M. Fielding
Photography by Edward M. Fielding | Source

Best Price on the Canon 40mm Pancake

Lens Features

  • Ultra-slim and lightweight design
  • Aspherical lens element delivers high image quality from the center to the periphery
  • Advanced optical design enables a bright f/2.8, compact optical system at 40mm
  • Optimized lens coatings ensure exceptional color balance while minimizing ghosting and flare
  • Built-in stepping motor provides smooth and quiet autofocus when shooting video with Canon EOS Rebel T4i DSLR

Canon's inexpensive "pancake" lens

Spend any time in the world of photography and you'll find that photographers love to talk about gear. Professionals look for specific gear to meet their needs like a wide aperture or fast lens for indoor wedding portrait work or a wide angle lens for landscapes. Hobbyists like to spend time on forums discussing the pros and cons of their latest purchase or show off their new camera by walking around with a shiny new neck strap that announces their brand and model. And who doesn't gawk at other people's gear while on vacation. Better than a photography store, a National Park is the best place to see awesome gear.

Hobbyists and equipment envy is the backbone of the photography industry from the endless array of photography equipment available and the amount of press that talks about and reviews these products. I have no doubt that in the backrooms of the photographic equipment manufacturers they have a big laugh over the gear hounds who are terrible photographers but still insist on spending thousands of dollars every years on professional grade equipment because no lens or camera comes with an instruction manual on composition, art theory or a trained eye.

As long as people believe that spending more money means getting better pictures, the industry thrives. So this leaves the savvy buyer with the opportunity to pick of some true bargains such as the Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM Lens.

Manufacturer's Statement

A unique and indispensable addition to Canon’s series of EF lenses, the new EF 40mm f/2.8 STM offers an ultra-slim and lightweight design. Incredibly compact in size, the EF 40mm f/2.8 STM delivers high image quality from the center to the periphery thanks to its advanced lens configuration including an aspherical element, a bright 2.8 aperture, and optimized coatings that minimize ghosting and flare while providing exceptional color balance. The EF 40mm f/2.8 STM’s unobtrusive design helps the photographer avoid overwhelming their subjects with a large lens and to remain discreet in sensitive shooting situations with no compromise in performance. Its diminutive design is complemented by features such as a newly developed stepping motor for smooth and quiet continuous AF while capturing video with the Canon EOS Rebel T4i DSLR, a circular aperture (7 blades) for beautiful soft-focus backgrounds, and a short minimum focusing distance of only 0.98 ft./0.30 m.1-Year Warranty

Tiny Pancake Lens

I was complaining to a friend of mine about the heavy and bulky Canon 24 - 105mm f/4 L lens that came with my Canon EOS 6D and they suggested the 40 mm pancake lens. For $149 price point it was a no brainer to pick up this lens.

When it arrived I could not believe the size. Easily pocket-able, this lens is not much bigger than a lens cap. In fact on the camera, someone might think you forgot to attach a lens.

While my bulky 24 - 105mm gathers all sorts of unwanted attention, "Whoa that is a lens", "Wow, what a huge lens" and so on, this 40mm makes even a full frame camera like the 6D more stealthy. Its a great lens for street photography and in situations where a big professional lens draws too much attention or when you are carrying it around all day.

The only drawback on the size is that the lens barely has room for the Auto Focus/Manual Focus switch and its doesn't balance the camera like say a 50mm might.

For people photography this lens is less likely to make people nervous as it has the profile of a point and shoot camera rather than a bazooka.

In use, I found the quality of this lens to be excellent with great build quality. The f2.8 and lack of a stabilizer might not be exciting for people looking for low light abilities (try the 50mm 1.4) but for general photography its fine. This lens is considered to be in the normal range for full frame camera and 64mm on a crop body so it might be more useful for full frame cameras.


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