Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM Lens Review:

Canon EF40mm f/2.8 STM

 

I've just tried the new Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM pancake lens for a few days. I must confess that this baby lens surprised me in a very pleasant way. What to know how it did it? Just read below... I have no intention to shoot test charts, because nobody shoots test charts, print them and hang the pictures of test charts on the wall in real life, and there are lots of places over the internet, where you can check out formal lens tests. I will supply a link or two at the bottom of this review page where you can check all these formal test results if desired. I want to share some real life experience here.


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. – this is a short description from official Canon web site.

Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM is the smallest and lightest EF lens available. It weights the same as Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II, and is much smaller. The new pancake lens is just slightly larger than a lens mount cap. Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM build quality is very good, it similar to more expensive modern Canon lenses. Tiny lens body is made of high quality plastic with metal mount. Focusing ring operates silently and smoothly, but it is too narrow for convenient manual focus. I believe that compactness is more important here, why bother with manual focus when AF works fine. Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM utilizes stepping motor for focusing, that insures very smooth and nearly silent operation. It is quieter than USM drive but it works slowly. Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM has relatively slow focusing speed, compared to most Canon lenses. AF speed is not very good, but to be honest it is fast enough for most situations. AF accuracy is although very good on both anon 5D mark III and Canon 7D.

Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM has internal focusing and doesn’t change its size. Filter thread is fixed and doesn’t rotate, so it accepts polarizing and gradient filters well. Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM has 52mm filter thread.

 

Church of Trinity, Moscow, Canon 5D mark III, f/7.1, 1/640s.

Church of Trinity, Moscow, crop 100%, Canon 5D mark III, f/7.1, 1/640s.

Moscow panorama, Luzhniki stadium, Canon 5d mark III, f/8, 1/800s.

Moscow panorama, Luzhniki stadium, crop 100%, Canon 5d mark III, f/8, 1/800s.

 

Despite its tiny size Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM has very good optical qualities. It is very sharp even wide open, especially in the center. Corner sharpness wide open is not perfect, but good. Sharpness improves slightly when stopped down, by f/4 it is sharp in the frame corners too. There is plenty of sharpness for any real life use even wide open. When you shoot wide open, you probably want to isolate a subject with a shallow depth of field, nobody puts main subject in a frame corner. So when you use Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM lens, you need to adjust aperture for DoF only. Color reproduction is very accurate; saturation and contrast are excellent. It captures almost all the tiniest and finest details, look at the sample shots below.

Lanterns, Canon 5D mark III, f/8, 1/200s.

Lanterns, crop 100%, Canon 5D mark III, f/8, 1/200s.

Winter alley, Canon 5D mark III, f/8, 1/125s.

Winter alley, crop 100%, угол кадра, Canon 5D mark III, f/8, 1/125s.

 

Chromatic aberration on Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM is very well corrected and may be noticeable only in extreme conditions. There is nothing to worry about in real life shots. It has only small traces of chromatic aberrations that can be corrected easily in software. On the sample shots it is not corrected, so you can see that it is negligible.

Vignetting is not significant even when you shoot with Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM wide open on a full frame body, and it quickly disappears stopped down to f/4. When you shoot at f/2.8 aperture vignetting emphasizes visually perceived depth, have a look at the sample with color tassel. Distortion is not noticeable in real life shots.

Moscow Kremlin at night, Canon 5D mark III, f/14, 6s, штатив

The dog, Canon 5D mark III, f/3.5, 1/60s.

dog, crop 100%, Canon 5D mark III, f/3.5, 1/60s, handheld.

Tassel, Canon 5D mark III, f/2.8, 1/200s.

Tassel, crop 100%, Canon 5D mark III, f/2.8, 1/200s

 

Bokeh, or how the lens renders of out of focus areas, is a very important characteristic of any lens. Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM bokeh is very good, thanks to 7-blade circular aperture. Background is rendered very smooth and nice, however highlights may have slightly visible edges and the shape of highlights is not round on the edges of the frame. Of cause 40mm lens with a relatively slow 2.8 aperture will not blur background as strong as fast telephoto lenses do, but the rendering of out of focus areas is pleasant.

Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM is flare resistant, it doesn't loose contract with the bright light source in a frame. There may be some color artifacts, but there are not severe. Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM turns bright light sources into a beautiful 14-point stars when shooting stopped down to a narrow apertures.

Flare sample, Canon 5D mark III, f/7.1, 1/160s.

Christ the Savior Cathedral, Moscow, Canon 5D mark III, f/14, 6s, tripod

Christ the Savior Cathedral, Moscow, crop 100%, Canon 5D mark III, f/14, 6s, tripod

 

Conclusion. Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM is a very nice addition to almost any photographers kit. It's focal length right between 35mm and 50mm makes it a wonderful general purpose lens. Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM is a great travel or street photography lens. This lens gives you great flexibility, it is useful for anything from landscapes to candids and interiors. It is good for environmental or interior portraits. On a APS-C camera body it is equivalent to approximately 64mm lens, not very handy focal length, that is a bit long for all-round walk around lens, I prefer shorter focal lengths for that purpose. If Canon makes a EF or EF-S pancake lens in a 22mm-28mm range of similar quality it may be a perfect travel kit with recently announced Canon Rebel SL1/EOS 100D. Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM is a great value lens. It offers excellent image quality, precise and silent focusing in an extremely light and small package. It's price is a huge plus, especially now, when all other lenses of comparable quality costs few times more. The only gripe is relatively slow AF speed, but it is the only minus. It is so small that you can take it everywhere, that a very big plus. So if you shoot full frame Canon DSLR you should have one.

You can buy Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM here (use these links to support this site) :

Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM Lens at Amazon.com

Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM Lens at Adorama

Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM Lens at B&H Photo

 

Thanks for reading!

 

  Tweet Stumble it!
This Del.icio.us

this site is powered by HostGator.comIncrease your website traffic with Attracta.com