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,
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,
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
EF 40mm f/2.8 STM Lens at Amazon.com
EF 40mm f/2.8 STM Lens at Adorama
EF 40mm f/2.8 STM Lens at B&H Photo
Thanks for reading!