Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM Lens

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Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM pancake lens

Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM pancake lens

 

 

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Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM Lens

Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM pancake lens

 

Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM pancake lens

Sample Images

A selection of photos taken in Thailand with the Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM lens.

Clicking on the thumbnail images will open a larger image in a pop-up window.

Rama V bokeh, Thailand - Click for larger image
Camera: 40D
ISO: 100
Aperture: f/2.8
Shutter speed: 1/50
Focal length: 40mm
EC +/-: 0
Monopod/Tripod: No
Flash: No
Extender: No
Location: Hat Yai, Thailand
File Size: 145 KB
Old spirit couple, Thailand - Click for larger image
Camera: 40D
ISO: 100
Aperture: f/2.8
Shutter speed: 1/50
Focal length: 40mm
EC +/-: 0
Monopod/Tripod: No
Flash: No
Extender: No
Location: Hat Yai, Thailand
File Size: 208 KB
Doll figure at the local night market, Thailand - Click for larger image
Camera: 40D
ISO: 400
Aperture: f/4.0
Shutter speed: 1/60
Focal length: 40mm
EC +/-: 0
Monopod/Tripod: No
Flash: Canon 430EX II
Extender: No
Location: Hat Yai, Thailand
File Size: 110 KB
My daughter and a friend, Thailand - Click for larger image
Camera: 40D
ISO: 400
Aperture: f/4.0
Shutter speed: 1/60
Focal length: 40mm
EC +/-: 0
Monopod/Tripod: No
Flash: Canon 430EX II
Extender: No
Location: Hat Yai, Thailand
File Size: 144 KB
Religious figurines in Southeast Asia - Click for larger image
Camera: 40D
ISO: 400
Aperture: f/4.0
Shutter speed: 1/60
Focal length: 40mm
EC +/-: 0
Monopod/Tripod: No
Flash: Canon 430EX II
Extender: No
Location: Hat Yai, Thailand
File Size: 251 KB
Ellie on the beach, Trang, Thailand - Click for larger image
Camera: 40D
ISO: 100
Aperture: f/8.0
Shutter speed: 1/250
Focal length: 40mm
EC +/-: 0
Monopod/Tripod: No
Flash: No
Extender: No
Location: Trang, Thailand
File Size: 203 KB
Fruit stall, Hat Yai, Thailand - Click for larger image
Camera: 40D
ISO: 100
Aperture: f/4.0
Shutter speed: 1/100
Focal length: 40mm
EC +/-: 0
Monopod/Tripod: No
Flash: No
Extender: No
Location: Hat Yai, Thailand
File Size: 292 KB
Happy mannequins, Hat Yai, Thailand - Click for larger image
Camera: 40D
ISO: 100
Aperture: f/3.5
Shutter speed: 1/80
Focal length: 40mm
EC +/-: 0
Monopod/Tripod: No
Flash: No
Extender: No
Location: Hat Yai, Thailand
File Size: 190 KB
Temple birds, Hat Yai, Thailand - Click for larger image
Camera: 40D
ISO: 100
Aperture: f/5.6
Shutter speed: 1/640
Focal length: 40mm
EC +/-: 0
Monopod/Tripod: No
Flash: No
Extender: No
Location: Hat Yai, Thailand
File Size: 146 KB
Temple birds 100% crop, Hat Yai, Thailand - Click for larger image
Camera: 40D
ISO: 100
Aperture: f/5.6
Shutter speed: 1/640
Focal length: 40mm
EC +/-: 0
Monopod/Tripod: No
Flash: No
Extender: No
Location: Hat Yai, Thailand
File Size: 145 KB
 

Chiang Rai rice fields and mountains

 

 

Thailand, my adopted home, is a great vacation destination for many activities, particularly photography. It's easy to get around and hotels are cheap. Using Agoda to book a hotel on-line will give you a great selection of hotels and the best deals. I always use Agoda to book my own hotels.

 

Introduction

When I first wrote this I was about to make a major house purchase and shouldn't have been buying any camera gear at all. At the time I was desperate to replace my ageing 40D with a 5D Mk3 but the funds simply weren't there.

However, this didn't stop me buying the Shorty McForty. For many years now, every new lens that Canon announces has had great image quality, and this lens is no exception. The pancake design of this lens makes it very easy to carry around, and the low price means that it won't put a dent in anyone's budget.

If you are considering buying a $6,000 dollar lens you need to do lots of research because it's a big capital investment and if you make the wrong decision it could be an expensive mistake. However, purchasing the Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM is a no-brainer because it is so cheap.

Most people will find a use for it and even if you don't find a use and sell it second-hand, you will likely only lose a few dollars. What isn't there to like about it? It is small, light and has very good, if not outstanding, image quality.

In terms of physical size, it falls roughly between the Canon EF 12mm and Canon EF 25mm extension tubes, and it is quite a bit smaller than the Canon EF 1.4x II extender.

Never before has my 40D sat in my LowePro waistbag so comfortably as it does whilst wearing this lens. It really is tiny. After writing this page I bought into the EOS M system and started to use this small mirrorless camera with native EF-M lenses almost exclusively.

I have the Canon EF-EOS M Mount Adapter, therefore, I can use EF and EF-S lenses with the EOS M. Most of my EF lenses feel too heavy, bulky and unwieldy on the EOS M, but the small EF40mm pancake is an exception.

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Focusing

The lens uses new stepper motor technology for its autofocus mechanism. This is all part of Canon's drive to implement silent continuous autofocus tracking in movie mode. To do this requires an appropriate body, such as the EOS 650D with a hybrid CMOS sensor and contrast detection AF technology, and a lens with an STM designation.

In addition, the STM autofocus system is backwards compatible with all EF mount Canon cameras.

I imagined that the autofocus mechanism would be completely silent, but it isn't. There is a discernable noise, even though Canon claims that continuous focusing in movie mode with an STM lens will be silent.

The autofocusing is fairly quick but doesn't feel quite as rapid as some of my other lenses. I can hear the AF going to the correct place, rather than simply 'snapping' into position as do some of my other lenses with ring-type USM motors.

It's still fast enough for my purposes, it focuses accurately, and it seems OK in lowish light. Obviously, the camera body you are using will make a difference here too.

It also appears to work perfectly well when the camera is in AI Servo mode tracking an object coming towards the camera. I tested this on passing motorbikes and the results were quite satisfactory.

There is no direct physical connection between the manual focusing ring and the internal focusing mechanism as there is on other lenses. If you turn the ring with the camera off nothing happens.

Turning the ring sends a signal to the stepper motor which then focuses the lens electronically.

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Bokeh

If focusing at a short distance and using the widest f/2.8 aperture, the bokeh effect created by the seven bladed diaphragm is fairly smooth and creamy. This adds to the appeal of the lens for portraiture, especially on crop bodies where the effective focal length of the lens is 64mm.

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No Image Stabilisation

Presumably the design brief for this lens was to keep it cheap and to keep it as small as possible in order to achieve the desired 'pancake' form. Including IS would have run counter to both objectives.

Opinions on IS vary. Some people want it on every lens, while other people say that it isn't even necessary on lenses such as the Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L. I disagree with the latter thinking and would love to see an EF 400mm f/5.6 with IS.

Conventional wisdom says it is only needed on long lenses, yet Canon have included it in a couple of recent wide angle lenses - the EF 24mm f/2.8 IS and 28mm f/2.8 IS. Surprisingly, the latest EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II doesn't have IS.

I haven't missed IS on the 40mm STM pancake and am confident handholding shots at 1/40s, or even lower.

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With The EOS M

When using the EF-EOS M mount adapter, any EF or EF-S lens can be attached to an EOS M body. That is a fact, but in real life terms it is completely impractical. Unless you use the EVF-DC1 Electronic Viewfinder you will have to hold the camera at arms' length to compose and focus, and holding the camera in such a way is not conducive to using lenses with a focal length over 200mm.

Also, the whole point of the EOS M system is that it is small, light and portable. If you start using it with large, bulky EF lenses it defeats the purpose of EOS M.

 

Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 pancake mounted on Canon EOS M

Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 pancake mounted on Canon EOS M

 

 

Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 pancake mounted on Canon EOS M

Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 pancake mounted on Canon EOS M

 

I bought the EF-EOS M mount adapter with a view to using the EOS M with my EF and EF-S lenses, but most of the time I just use the native EF-M lenses. Occasionally I might use an EF or EF-S lens, but it isn't often.

An exception is the EF40mm pancake and the same will be true of the EF-S 24mm f/2.8 pancake because it is the same size as the 40mm pancake. The EF40mm and EF-EOS M mount adapter used together are just a little longer, little bulkier and little heavier than the EF-M 11-22mm wide angle zoom, and the combination is small enough to fit in the pouch I normally use for my EOS M with an EF-M native lens.

Using the EF40mm lens on the EOS M, the camera still feels balanced and is easy to handle. Another problem using large EF lenses with the EOS M is that the camera is too front heavy. The image quality is also very pleasing. Click on the thumbnail images for a larger image in a pop-up window.

Woolly hats, Hat Yai, Thailand - Click for larger image
Camera: EOS M
ISO: 100
Aperture: f/4.0
Shutter speed: 1/125
Focal length: 40mm
EC +/-: +1
Monopod/Tripod: No
Flash: No
Extender: No
Location: Hat Yai, Thailand
File Size: 159 KB
Fortune telling, Hat Yai, Thailand - Click for larger image
Camera: EOS M
ISO: 100
Aperture: f/4.0
Shutter speed: 1/125
Focal length: 40mm
EC +/-: 0
Monopod/Tripod: No
Flash: No
Extender: No
Location: Hat Yai, Thailand
File Size: 179 KB

If you like the compact size and image quality, but the EOS M autofocus isn't fast enough for the type of photography you do, the little SL1 DSLR body might be a good option. An SL2 has bewen rumoured for a long time and if this body ever comes to fruition it is something that will interest me.

I love the small size and light weight of the EOS M system and although I will still have occasion to use a large DSLR system sometimes I definitely don't want to carry a large, heavy system around me all the time for general photography - as I do with my EOS M. However, there are times when the slow AF speed of the EOS M frustrates me.

A small, light DSLR body and this pancake lens or the EF-S 28mm version seem like a good compromise between size and weight on the one side and speed on the other.

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Focal length

Back in my full frame (film) days everyone had a 50mm 'standard' lens attached to their cameras. It was the same for me using a Canon FD 50mm f/1.8 on my A1 and T90 bodies.

I found this to be too long in many situations and bought a Canon FD 28mm f/2.8. This immediately became my 'standard' lens.

On a full frame digital camera, 40mm would be a useful length if you wished to use a prime lens. On a 1.6x crop body 40mm becomes 64mm, which is getting into the realms of short telephoto.

It is good for close distance portraits and some subject matter, but too wide for a lot of general photography.

One of the great benefits of this lens is its small size and light weight. In most shooting situations I would always want another lens, but the 40mm pancake can be carried almost unnoticeably for those shots where it would be suitable.

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Extenders And Extension Tubes

The lens cannot be physically connected to my Canon EF 1.4x II Extender. I would imagine it is the same for the Canon EF 2x extender. I don't know if other brand extenders, such as Kenko, can be fitted.

My extension tubes do fit, however, I can't use them. If trying to focus manually, I cannot achieve focus. If using auto focus I get the light and bleep to indicate that focus has been achieved, but it hasn't. The shutter can be released but I just get a completely out of focus image.

I see no reason why it shouldn't work and other people seem to be using this combination successfully:

Up Close with Canon's 40mm Pancake Lens

The minimum focusing distance of the lens is already quite close. With an extension tube it should be even closer and therefore you should be able to get a little more magnification.

This wouldn't be my first choice lens for close up work (preferring my Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS Macro or Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 with extension tubes) and as such I am not too worried that I can't get it to work. However, it would be good to know why.

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Canon Product Advisory

Apparently, if pressure is applied to the barrel of the lens the autofocus may stop working. I haven't experienced this personally (yet), and I haven't attempted to induce the problem deliberately.

The problem can be solved with a downloadable firmware update, but if you wish to do it yourself the camera needs to be fitted to one of the latest camera bodies, that is, a 1DX, 5D3, or Rebel T4i/650D. Alternatively, the update can be carried out at a Canon service centre (presumably for free, but I'm not sure).

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Conclusion

I was expecting to be blown away by images from this lens, the same way that I was blown away when I first saw images from the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8. After all, it is a 2012 lens with all the latest technology and lens coatings; it is a fixed length prime lens; and it is a focal length at which manufacturers should be able to consistently produce high quality lenses. That hasn't quite been the case.

The images are perfectly acceptable, but they seem to lack that intangible quality that can't be described simply with figures and MTF charts alone.

Because of its small size and inconspicuous nature it is being talked about as an ideal lens for street photography because a small lens doesn't draw attention the same way that a big white lens would. I haven't found that to be quite the case, either.

I've been on street photography trips carrying just two lenses - the Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 and the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8.

The 10-22mm Ultra Wide Angle zoom is capable of compositions and perspectives that are impossible with longer lenses. The colours, contrast, and image quality of the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 are so good that it flatters photographers by making them appear to be better photographers than they are.

So far, I have found the 40mm f/2.8 STM pancake to do neither. It sits in the middle of these two lenses and isn't able to compete with either.

I haven't been blown away by its performance, but it's a cheap lens - retailing at just US$199 - so what do I expect? The compact size is very welcome and convenient. For a long time I couldn't be bothered with the weight and bulk of my DSLR and just used my Canon PowerShot S90.

When I went back to a DSLR I loved the speed, responsiveness, flexibility and image quality. The weight and bulk is still a pain but my DSLR is a lot more manageable and comfortable with the 40mm pancake attached.

After that I moved to EOS M and found this lens to be the only one of my EF lenses that felt comfortable on the small mirrorless body.

There is a huge EOS customer base and I suspect that a lot of Canon users will buy this lens because of its compact size and budget price. There will always be times when it will be useful and the image quality can be quite pleasing.

There is no one 'Swiss Army Knife' lens that is capable of being everything all the time. Sometimes only a long telephoto will do, sometimes only a wide angle lens will do, and sometimes I will choose a lens for its image quality.

When I want to travel as lightly as possible, yet still want a decent image quality, this is a lens I will choose over others.

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Post Processing

Most original images were shot in the RAW format and converted with Adobe Camera Raw. Noise was reduced using Imagenomic Noiseware Professional. Small amounts of image enhancement were applied using Adobe Photoshop CS2 (curves, levels, saturation) before sharpening using the Smart Sharpen filter (Amount: 30% - 120%, Radius: 0.2px - 0.3px, Remove: Lens Blur).

The large JPG images that open if you click on a thumbnail were saved with a 'High' quality setting of '8' on a scale of 0-12.

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Lens Details

Weight: 130g
Filter Diameter: 52mm
Closest Focusing Distance: 0.98ft; 0.3m
Minimum Aperture: f/22
Date Purchased: August 2012
Supplier: Chia Color Lab, Hat Yai, Thailand
Price: 6,900 Thai Baht
Lens Cap: E-52
Lens Hood: ES-52 (not included)
Soft Case: LP811 (not included)

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