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Just posted: Our Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM lens review

By dpreview staff on Jun 12, 2013 at 09:13 GMT
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Just posted: Our review of the Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM lens. In the latest of our lens reviews brought to you in partnership with DxOMark, we take a look at Canon's slimline 'pancake' prime for its APS-C and full frame SLRs. It's one of the smallest and cheapest lenses currently on the market, and includes a stepper motor for silent focusing during movie recording. But does its small size and low price result in compromised optics? Read our review to find out.

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Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM

Comments

Total comments: 81
Jahled
By Jahled (10 months ago)

I just dropped by to moan about something or other, the comments below are utterly wonderful

0 upvotes
compay
By compay (10 months ago)

if you have a dslr for your commercial work and want a more small camera for everyday use...you can buy a micro 43 camera...I have taken a look at a lot and

even the smallest is still not pocketable
and woow what a lot of noise (i mean sound volume) makes those little camera's

so i thought hey i buy the 40 2.8 canon...let's try...it's small, lightweight...and 2.8 on a 5d mark3 with excellent low light capacities is not bad at all....

and yes this is a great great combination...you already feel much much more compact and more invisible for everyday use and street photography...quality is super...i hope canon will produce some other small lenses....i am pretty fed up with those big big lenses...even the sigma 35 1.4 is 10cm long and has a hood of 6 cm

0 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (10 months ago)

Gold award for the slow focusing f/2.8 non-stabilized fixed FL weighing as much as 50/1.8? It's small size would be useful on SL1, but its FL (64mm eq - neither normal nor portrait) is not. It's FL is not bad for FF, but heavy vignetting makes it f/3.5 and slower for half of the frame, and it is not tele for such heavy vignetting to be ignored. Fail.

1 upvote
Solar Eagle
By Solar Eagle (10 months ago)

You own it and don't like it, or what? I haven't taken it off my camera since I bought it. With it my Rebel weighs the same as my G1X, it's not much bigger, and it's easier to carry (no strap) thanks to the grip. It's sharp wide open, and costs $150, so there's nothing to complain about. The only FAIL here is your comment. On the other hand if you want to come off as a public cry baby, then you've succeeded.

5 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (10 months ago)

"I haven't taken it off my camera since I bought it."

So very few of the picture you took with it have proper perspective and composition.

"you want to come off"

Ad hominem attacks is the sure sign of insecurity. ;)

Comment edited 15 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Cameron R Hood
By Cameron R Hood (10 months ago)

The Pentax isn't stabilized either, but then we have stabilization built into the body, so we don't have to buy it with each lens.

;>)

Cheers,
Cameron

0 upvotes
white shadow
By white shadow (10 months ago)

The "135mm f/4.0L IS" below should read "135mm f/2.0L" and "50mm f/1.8" should read "50mm f/1.8 MkII".

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
white shadow
By white shadow (10 months ago)

Once in a while, Canon would produce some exceptional and affordable lenses, the 40mm f/2.8 being one of the latest.

The others are:
1) 70-200mm f/4.0L IS
2) 135mm f/4.0L IS
3) 50mm f/1.8

and the not so cheap but excellent 70-200mm f/2.8L IS MkII.

A very convenient lens to have on a full frame camera, not so bad even on an APS-C DSLR.

However, for me, I still prefer my Zeiss 35mm f/2.0 on my 5DMkII as it balance better, have better micro-contrast, more neutral colours and have an infinity stop. Obviously, the Zeiss is in a different league and price range but if quality is your main priority this is it. Good to have choices.

For those on a budget, the Canon 40mm f/2.8 is hard to beat.

1 upvote
nicolaiecostel
By nicolaiecostel (10 months ago)

How is the 50 1.8 exceptional ? I bought one for a friend and below f/2.8 it was soft and missed focus. And I have seen plenty other shots from it on the internet, showing the same pattern.

1 upvote
white shadow
By white shadow (10 months ago)

Most large aperture lenses, even the Canon 50mm f/1.2L and the 85mm f1.2L, are soft wide open. It is not unusual that one need to stop down by about a stop to get better centre to edge sharpness. For those shooting portraits, a soft look may even be welcome.

The 50mm f/1.8 MkII is "exceptional" because it is the "best bang for the bucks". It is probably the cheapest lens you can buy and yet optically it is just slightly worse than the f1.4 version. By f/4 - f5.6, there is actually no difference.

As to your "missed focus", it may not be the fault of the lens. You may have a restless subject. You may have use the wrong focusing point or focus on the wrong place by mistake. There are so many factors that may have cause "missed focus". When used by an experience photographer, this problem shouldn't occur. That's why most novices do not like Zeiss lenses. Manual focusing even require more skill but once you know how, there is no problem.

1 upvote
Juck
By Juck (10 months ago)

My copy of the 50mm 1.8 is brilliant,,, plenty sharp at f/2.0 and focuses just fine,, if a bit noisy. $ for $ the best lens canon makes.

2 upvotes
white shadow
By white shadow (10 months ago)

The main weaknesses (if you can call them so) about this lens is the slightly noisy auto focus and the plastic mount. But remember, you are just paying about USD120 for it.

For those who expect top optical and built quality they should go for the Zeiss 50mm f/2.0 Macro but do not complaint about the price and manual focus. No one who have used it have said it is unsatifactory. Try it if you can get hold of one. The 3D pop, the sparkling neutral colour and sharpness just shine. The ZE version is for Canon.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
AP7
By AP7 (10 months ago)

50mm f/1.8 II is a great lens optically. But to be competitive with Nikon and Sony, it needs update, such as, 7-blade circular aperture, quiet AF motor (may be STM). Plastic mount is not a problem. Optical performance is adequate, but can be improved wide open like Nikon and Sony.

0 upvotes
MikeFairbanks
By MikeFairbanks (10 months ago)

Better late than never. This lens has been out a long time, guys.

I think DP Review is losing focus. Perhaps.

2 upvotes
DigiMatt
By DigiMatt (10 months ago)

DPReview is almost worthless for reviews now. The only thing keeping this place going is user generated in the forums. This lens was announced over one year ago, and in peoples hands within a few days. If you're going to be this late with reviewing a first of its kind lens from Canon, you might as well rename this place DPForums dot com, fire the review staff and call it a day. Canon and Nikon are photography, if you don't cover and review everything they make in a timely manner, why are you even in the business? Hello... 1DX and D4... DPReview? is anyone not asleep at the wheel there???

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Edgar Matias
By Edgar Matias (10 months ago)

@DigiMatt there are other photography websites on the web, you know. If DPR is not fast enough for your attention span, perhaps you'd be happier somewhere else.

I'm sure Petapixel and Fstoppers would be honored to have you as a reader.

3 upvotes
Solar Eagle
By Solar Eagle (10 months ago)

I would imagine working at DPReview is a dream job. Probably like working in IT. Maybe 3 hours a day of real work, with the rest of your time being filled with web surfing, playing with toys, and hanging out. I think you're just jealous because you don't work there. Perhaps. lol

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (10 months ago)

I think it's a difficult job for DPR to make objective reviews for that DPR is more a seller beside makers than buyers on the market. actually most of the review sites are, as long as they depend on clicks to amazon, adorama, b&h photovideo ...

no one to blame. should always read between the lines, which is difficult without research of you own.

0 upvotes
Edgar Matias
By Edgar Matias (10 months ago)

Aside from general cynicism, I realy don't understand the constant questioning of DPR's objectivity. What do they have to gain by giving out bad advice?

They're owned by Amazon. What does Amazon care which camera you buy?

1 upvote
cordellwillis
By cordellwillis (10 months ago)

THANK YOU DigiMatt! Well said.

and thank you too Edgar Matias for advice to what might be better places for current reviews.

0 upvotes
nicolaiecostel
By nicolaiecostel (10 months ago)

They review by the sales chart. The 1Dx and D4, or this 40 mm, do not generate as much traffic as, say, the review of the HTC One, or the new rebel thingie from canon.

1 upvote
seventhdr
By seventhdr (10 months ago)

It would have been nice to see a comparison of this Canon 40mm f2.8 lens with lenses from other manufacturers of similar focal lengths. The one that springs to mind is the SMC Pentax-DA 40mm f2.8 pancake lens, which has been available for 8 to 9 years. (Also the XS version of this lens for the Pentax K-01 which is even smaller.)

Regards

Chris

1 upvote
shigzeo ?
By shigzeo ? (10 months ago)

How would you properly compare them? They work on two completely different systems. You cannot compare them directly as sensors, AF systems, JPEG compression, WB bias, etc., are different. Adapted, maybe, but then you can only then compare glass, and that is only one part of a lens.

0 upvotes
Andy Westlake
By Andy Westlake (10 months ago)

Did you mean something like this? http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/lens-widget-fullscreen?compare=true&lensId=canon402p8stm&cameraId=canoneos7d&fl=40&av=2.8&view=mtf-ca&lensId2=pentaxsmcda402p8ltd&cameraId2=pentaxk5&fl2=40&av2=2.8

3 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (10 months ago)

> of similar focal lengths.

there is no meaning in focal length without also siting the sensor size. similar angle of views are okay.

DA40/2.8s are very different lenses for they are 61mm f/4.3 equivalents and this EF40/2.8 is a straight 40mm f/2.8.

of course you can compare them on APS-C and it's possible that 43% of EF40/2.8's image may be not as good as 100% of DA40/2.8. but this is not the intended use of the EF by design.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 5 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (10 months ago)

They may not be state of the art with bodies but they know how to make lenses. If this was from Nikon it would be considered important and historic, like a reincarnated GN. Canon owners will have to settle for a cheap, sharp lens. By the way, the lenshood is ridiculous. If you buy one, make sure you have the option to return it.

0 upvotes
Sad Joe
By Sad Joe (10 months ago)

I think this might well be my very next lens. I owned the Pentax SMC-M 40mm F2.8 back in the day - loved its compact size but I didn't really use it much. On my ASP-C sensor this new Canon 40mm becomes a 60 ish mm lens, will it prove to be useful given that I have several zooms that include that focal length, the 50mm 1.8 (MK1) and the 60mm Macro ?? We'll see....

1 upvote
marike6
By marike6 (10 months ago)

Used to have the excellent Pentax DA* 40 2.8 that I used on the K-30. It's a great lens, but on APS-C, 60mm is kind of too long for a normal lens, and too short (and slowish) for a portrait lens.

On FF, a 40mm lens is quite useful. Not that a 60mm isn't useful, just that it's a bit of a "tweener" focal length.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Cameron R Hood
By Cameron R Hood (10 months ago)

Wow...yeah Pentax invented the pancake 40mm like 50 years ago, and they've had a modern autofocus one out for 8-9 years that is stunning, plus they reintroduced it with the K01, redesigned by Marc Newsome, but by all means review the Canon copy...

:>(

You haven't reviewed a Pentax lens in 4 years, and you completely missed the mark on the last one you DID review (the legendary 15mm Limited).

Cameron

Comment edited 45 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (10 months ago)

Could it be that more people will benefit from a review of a Canon lens? Not that there is anything wrong with Pentax lenses.

3 upvotes
kewlguy
By kewlguy (10 months ago)

So, even though you think DA 40 is stunning, if DPR hasn't reviewed it you're less confident using the lens?

0 upvotes
DigiMatt
By DigiMatt (10 months ago)

It is not my intention to be rude, but a camera or lens not made by Canon or Nikon is really a niche product. Canon probably sells more xxxD models in a month than Pentax sells from their entire product line in a year.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 59 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (10 months ago)

DA are for APS-C only, so they are very different lenses.

0 upvotes
Cameron R Hood
By Cameron R Hood (10 months ago)

So that really speaks to their objectivity, doesn't it, Abrasive?

0 upvotes
ThomasSwitzerland
By ThomasSwitzerland (10 months ago)

Bought this lens here in Malaysia. Use it on my analog EOS 30 V and digitally. Perfect. Amazing quality in such a small size.

One of my best lenses, ever. Bravo, Canon!

6 upvotes
Gesture
By Gesture (10 months ago)

This is how good and how affordable non-exotic lenses should be. Nikon and Sony also have some affordable prime lenses in the 35mm - 50mm range.. Before zooms were all the rage, the standard lens that came with the camera was always of high quality and useful. That 80 percent with the 50mm equivalent are clearly past, however.

4 upvotes
johnparas11zenfoliodotcom
By johnparas11zenfoliodotcom (10 months ago)

i want a nikon mount equivalent :-) I wish I wish :-)

1 upvote
locke_fc
By locke_fc (10 months ago)

Yep, loving it on my 6D

4 upvotes
nathondetroit
By nathondetroit (10 months ago)

Build quality, focus speed, macro, compact sizeā€¦ not to mention a more versatile focal length. A much better buy than the 50 1.8.

"Street Portraiture" on a Rebel body has never been easier.

2 upvotes
Combatmedic870
By Combatmedic870 (10 months ago)

So in the corners on the 7D are actually sharpest at 2.8 and never regain that sharpness again???

2 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (10 months ago)

I got it for compactness, not performance which is not too bad though.

about flare test, should use 5D3's AEB to test contrast in shadow area against the sun.

1 upvote
achim k
By achim k (10 months ago)

Flare test:
putting a light source just a bit outside the frame may also mean, that reflections may be caused by a surface inside the camera body!
I rate the EF 40/2,8 as one of the best flare-resistant lenses I ever had!

Achim

1 upvote
ryansholl
By ryansholl (10 months ago)

What's your point? Either way, it's a problem.

Didn't read review, don't know what's being referred to, but your post is not really making much sense.

0 upvotes
gdfthr73
By gdfthr73 (10 months ago)

@ ryansholl if you don't know what he is referring to, why open your ignorant mouth.

Comment edited 16 seconds after posting
1 upvote
onlooker
By onlooker (10 months ago)

@gdfthr73: " if you don't know what he is referring to, why open your ignorant mouth"

Please enlighten us about the reflections inside the camera body DRP was using for testing.

1 upvote
ryansholl
By ryansholl (10 months ago)

I know what he's referring to, and it still doesn't convey a point.

0 upvotes
achim_k
By achim_k (10 months ago)

How can I blame the lens for reflections supposedly caused by the camera body?

0 upvotes
onlooker
By onlooker (10 months ago)

Had it with 6D along with 24-105 mm. The 24-105 was mounted on the camera only a few times, the 40 mm was that good. I just wish it had been 35 mm (my favorite on full frame).

2 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (10 months ago)

things will get more difficult at 35mm.

looking forward to a 24-105/4LIS2, better f/2.8-4 if possible.

0 upvotes
tiberius_dinu
By tiberius_dinu (10 months ago)

I bought it the day I bought the 6D. Awesome combination for traveling light yet full frame

8 upvotes
DFPanno
By DFPanno (10 months ago)

The "walk-around" on my 5D3 is a 24-105. I can tuck this into a small pocket of my small bag.

Great when you need the aperature or when you want to get out from under a big honking lens.

I often use the zoom all day in combo with a Black Rapid and transition to a hand strap and the 40 at night.

Another great reason to shoot Canon.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 1 minute after posting
2 upvotes
davidonformosa
By davidonformosa (10 months ago)

I bought and I'm very happy with it. I'd still love to see more pancake lenses from Canon though. An EF-S 22mm f/2 pancake would be very desirable.

1 upvote
Andy Crowe
By Andy Crowe (10 months ago)

You'll never get an EF-S 22mm f/2 pancake; the long flange distance means any lens below around 40mm has to be retrofocal, which increases the lens size considerably.

That's why there is a EF-M 22mm f/2 pancake and no EF-S 22mm f/2 pancake.

5 upvotes
Thorbard
By Thorbard (10 months ago)

An EF-S lens could go beyond 40mm, because the EF-S (as opposed to EF) lens can extend some way behind the lens mount.

I don't know what the exact focal length that could be achieved would be, or if that would even be worth it.

1 upvote
GKN
By GKN (10 months ago)

Voightlander make a 20mm pancake for Canon EF - it is manual focus. Their 40mm pancake is f2, though both of these are a lot more $$$ than the Canon

0 upvotes
ecka84
By ecka84 (10 months ago)

Maybe someday canon will update their 28/1.8USM with a cheaper STM version and (as a FF shooter) I'd prefer that over EF-S pancake.

0 upvotes
marike6
By marike6 (10 months ago)

Canon should update the build quality of the EF 50 1.8 to match this lens. The EF 50 1.8 is a great lens optically, but mechanically it's absurdly non-robust. I'm sure Canon users would be happy to see a metal mount EF 50 1.8, with a bayonet lens hood, and the addition of a stepping motor like the 40 2.8 STM.

Comment edited 53 seconds after posting
3 upvotes
Nishi Drew
By Nishi Drew (10 months ago)

Well there's a reason for the F/1.8s price, and then there's always the F/1.4 as an upgrade... though not much better optically, and rather disappointing for the much higher price tag, the Pancake is a lot better, especially when the 50mm needs to be stopped down to F/2.8 to be good, might as well get an F/2.8 lens

1 upvote
marike6
By marike6 (10 months ago)

Canon could easily produce a 50 1.8 with a metal mount for the same price as the 40 2.8 Pancake lens. Nikon's 50 1.8G has a metal mount and comes with a bayonet lens hood all for $200 USD, not much more than the $140 of the current EF 50 1.8. I'm quite sure Canon users won't mind paying an extra 50 bucks for a metal mount. Keep in mind the EF 50 1.8 Mk I had a metal mount and it sold for the same price as the Mk II.

2 upvotes
Babka08
By Babka08 (10 months ago)

Canon are at least 2-3 years waaaay overdue to update their 50/1.8 and 1.4 lenses. Look at the great ones Nikon created. I would be really surprised if Canon doesn't follow Nikon some time in the next 18 months.

0 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (10 months ago)

Canon has already made a 50/1.8 with a metal mount--and they go for more used than the embarrassing all-plastic 50/1.8. Counting the user reviews at B&H and Amazon, Canon sells so many 50/1.8 that even shaving a couple bucks for the mount must add up. Still, it's an embarrassment.

Obviously, for most people the 40mm is the better deal even if it has a "much higher" price of a whopping $150.

1 upvote
Robert Deutsch
By Robert Deutsch (10 months ago)

I have an original (metal mount) 50/1.8, but I much prefer the 40mm f/2.8--sharper at f/2.8 than the 50mm, and I like the wider angle of the 40mm. With the high-ISO performance of the 6D, having f/1.8 is not that much of a benefit.

0 upvotes
mike kobal
By mike kobal (10 months ago)

used it extensively on the 5Dmk3, a great little lens

9 upvotes
Barry Fitzgerald
By Barry Fitzgerald (10 months ago)

It's a nice lens tried this and the 18-135mm STM. Good optics and low price it's a winner for Canon (shame about the 1.6x crop though for APS-C users) The focus by wire is "a bit better" than some previous versions, but as ever it can't respond to faster turning like a mechanical focus can, it's weird as focus by wire always is.

On both lenses manual mechanical focus would be superior no questions about it. So I'd downgrade them a bit based on that. A good mechanical focus always beats electronic focus by wire hands down.

Comment edited 8 minutes after posting
4 upvotes
Photomonkey
By Photomonkey (10 months ago)

As good as mechanical focusing may be you will see less and less as it is cheaper to to make electronics. OTOH focus by wire will get better. Note how good electronic steering can be on some cars.

3 upvotes
Barry Fitzgerald
By Barry Fitzgerald (10 months ago)

My view is that focus by wire will never be as good as mechanical focus, it lacks feedback that you get with the "old way". Same for power zoom, both these technologies are flashbacks to the 90's they're here for video users, not stills photographers.

The photo industry does not always take the road that it should, we've seen this in the past.

3 upvotes
Petka
By Petka (10 months ago)

Real mechanical focus coupling would make autofocus heavy and slow, or the lens more complicated. It is unrealistic to demand both old school manual focus and modern fast autofocus in the same lens.

10 upvotes
Barry Fitzgerald
By Barry Fitzgerald (10 months ago)

So you means all those AF-S Nikkor lenses that have mechanical focus and yet have quiet built in focus motors? Not sure I get your point. Old school manual focus just happens to be better.

Why try to re-invent the wheel..who cares about focus by wire on mirror less cameras, they're hardly a benchmark for others to follow.

0 upvotes
NetMage
By NetMage (10 months ago)

Considering how well gas by wire works, I think it would be possible to make a focus by wire work as well as manual - but perhaps not cheaply.

0 upvotes
JadedGamer
By JadedGamer (10 months ago)

"the focus can't be adjusted when the lens is removed from the camera."

I have been able to "push in" the protruding element after removing the lens - is that not advisable?

1 upvote
b534202
By b534202 (10 months ago)

If you got the firmware update, then you can push it in.

http://www.usa.canon.com/cusa/consumer/products/cameras/slr_cameras?pageKeyCode=prdAdvDetail&docId=0901e0248060f7c7

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
fz750
By fz750 (10 months ago)

I can get that it's a pretty good and cheap prime for a 6D/5D, but it's mostly being sold as packages with the 100d/60d/700D which somehow doesn't make sense..?

Anyway, good to have a lens review :-)

1 upvote
marike6
By marike6 (10 months ago)

In the US you can buy it alone from most of the better camera shops like B&H and Adorama. Don't know about in Europe.

But it's a excellent performing lens.

1 upvote
Thorbard
By Thorbard (10 months ago)

Its still a pretty good and cheap prime on any of Canon's APS-C cameras. Try it sometime.

3 upvotes
RXVGS
By RXVGS (10 months ago)

@Thorbard It' a EF lens so it's compatible with all EOS cameras, not just APS-C

4 upvotes
monkeybrain
By monkeybrain (10 months ago)

I wonder if Canon will produce any more pancake primes? It is probably possible to do more focal lengths, but then they might start stepping on the toes of the EOS M line (and we all know Canon likes to, often artificially, differentiate between its models a lot).

0 upvotes
Photomonkey
By Photomonkey (10 months ago)

I doubt it as the lens formula is best at the normal range of FL.
A telephoto or WA needs greater size to just do its job( tele) or avoid the flipping mirror and be far enough from the sensor to minimize edge falloff (WA).

1 upvote
Andy Crowe
By Andy Crowe (10 months ago)

Around 40-50mm is the only focal length that a pancake lens is practical on a DSLR mount because of the flange distance. You can make them a little wider but they'd have relatively poor performance, think Olympus Four Thirds 25mm f2.8

1 upvote
klavrack
By klavrack (10 months ago)

Pentax managed a pretty tiny 70mm prime, as well as others at 15mm and 21mm. While their 40mm is smallest, the others are close. Not for everyone, certainly, but great for certain uses. Hopefully Canon will develop others.

4 upvotes
NetMage
By NetMage (10 months ago)

I'd be happy with a 30mm f/1.8 or f/2 for a APS-C normal.

0 upvotes
cgarrard
By cgarrard (10 months ago)

40mm is ideal to me on a full frame SLR/DSLR for a general purpose focal length. The Canon "hockey puck" has a lot of fans out there, me included, and was a no brainer addition to a Canon kit the day it was announced. Great review and nice to see you agree with others Andy.

Carl

3 upvotes
Total comments: 81