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Old 07-21-2012, 04:13 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Canon 40mm 2.8 STM - AKA Pancake

I received my Canon 40mm 2.8 STM lens yesterday from bhphoto and thought I'd share my initial thoughts about this lens. First and obvious is that it's a tiny lens. It's about as small my Kenko Pro 1.4x extender. The front element is about the size of a dime. The focus ring is about as think as three stacked pennies. It has a metal mount and plastic outer body. It's a solid body though for $200. As a comparison for lenses that I had in my bag when the 40 2.8 arrived:


IMG_4106.jpg by jwalters33, on Flickr

From left to right: Kenko Pro 1.4x extender, Canon 40 2.8, 24-70 2.8L, 70-200 2.8L IS II. Photo taken with a 45mm TS-E.

I haven't read up much on the focus motor, but to use the focus ring while in AF, the camera must be in "One-shot" mode and the camera must be on. I believe this is due to the new AF drive system that requires the motor to be used while manual focusing. This is new to me as all of my other lenses allow me to manual focus while in any AF mode while the lens is in AF. Not a big deal, just different. The lens must have power for the focus ring to operate. When the lens is in MF, the focus ring is smooth, but the AF motor is moving, focusing the lens. It's a little sluggish compared to other Canon lenses that don't require the motor to, for lack of better words, assist in focusing. It's a very different feel than many of the higher end Canon lenses.

Auto-focusing speed is decent. It's not lightning fast, but not slow either. For a comparison in lenses that are similarly priced such as the 28 1.8, 50 1.4 or 1.8, or 85, 1.8, the 40 2.8 is noticably slower in low light and about on par in outdoor day light. It's not a deal breaker, but don't expect instant on-point focusing for high action activities. This may improve on a body with a better focusing system than my 5D II.

When in use the front element moves forward to focus. The lens may not focus if the front element is pushed back into the lens body. Turning the camera off and back on usually fixes this issue. If it doesn't, the camera needs to be turned off and the lens must be removed from the body. The easiest way to remedy this potential issue is to let the lens focus to infinity prior to turning off and installing the front lens cap. Not a big deal, but on some forums people are going nuts over this thinking it's some big enginering/manufacturing error that Canon must fix.

I took the Canon 5D II and 40 2.8 to a local parade this morning primarily shot my girl. Mainly because she's photogenic and because we were sitting back a ways in the shade trying to stay out of the heat. The following shots were taken in Av mode, 2.8-4.0, and varying shutter speeds. These shots are SOOC.


IMG_4131.jpg by jwalters33, on Flickr


IMG_4129.jpg by jwalters33, on Flickr


IMG_4123.jpg by jwalters33, on Flickr


IMG_4146.jpg by jwalters33, on Flickr


IMG_4175.jpg by jwalters33, on Flickr

By the way, the kid wasn't drinking Mountain Dew, but the empty bottle was pasifying her.

For being SOOC and for no micro-adjusting, I'm pleased with these shots. The shots are in focus where I want my focal point to be. Where the subject is a close-up, the backgrounds, although busy due to the activities are fairly pleasing. What I do notice is that the reds and magentas stand out. I have read other people noticing this phenomenon as well. It's an easy correction in Lightroom or other processing software.

I'll post additional photos from the 40 2.8 that are under more control. I'll also post some shots from other lenses I have that are at or near this focal range including the 35 1.4L, 45 TS-E, and 24-70. The 40 2.8 is a fraction of the cost from these lenses, but it's images are quite comparable. For $200, this lens should be in everyone's bag. Great images, decent focusing speed, and can fit in quite possibly any bag with other equipment, given it's incredibly small size.
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Old 07-21-2012, 04:44 PM   #2 (permalink)
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i wish nikon would a nice pancake lens
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Old 07-21-2012, 09:52 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Yeah, that would be nice. Heck, I'd take ANY wide angle prime for DX! That's about five years overdue.

Thanks for the review. Looks like a handy little piece of kit. With the m4/3 world and lower end DSLR's doing battle in that particular price range, I guess now we know what the smallest possible DSLR body + lens combo looks like!

The focus ring made me smile...Nikon's first foray into AF was a VERY similar focus ring. Shooters at the time wouldn't touch them, hence the later AF-N style MF ring. Funny how history repeats itself sometimes.
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Old 07-21-2012, 11:04 PM   #4 (permalink)
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i think im going to sell my nifty 50 and get this thing
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Old 07-21-2012, 11:05 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Looks like a nice little prime. How would you say it stacks up to say, the 50 f1.8? 50 f1.4?

I mean, twice the price of the f1.8, just under half the price of a 50 f1.4. Looks to be a solid median. On a crop sensor it'd be around a 65 mm instead of 80mm. The size also looks great for us crop sensor guys who just want something to carry around. Throw this on a t2i or what not and it'd look really sharp for carry around camera.
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Old 07-22-2012, 08:42 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Keep looking at this lens myself, just having having a hard time justifying buying it having a 30 mm.

Would be a wonderful lens on a light Rebel. Tiny SLR setup...
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Old 07-23-2012, 10:15 AM   #7 (permalink)
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The only reason I would buy the 50 1.8 or 1.4 would be because I need that aperture. Having owned both I'd stick with the 40mm 2.8. I've had a few 50 1.4 lenses go bad with the fairly commom bad AF motor issue. I can't say anything bad about the 50 1.8...it's been so long since I've owned one that I can't remember what it was like.
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Old 07-23-2012, 02:53 PM   #8 (permalink)
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nice write up
all depends on what body I upgrade to, I might pick this up.
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Old 07-23-2012, 03:27 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sparky View Post
Keep looking at this lens myself, just having having a hard time justifying buying it having a 30 mm.

Would be a wonderful lens on a light Rebel. Tiny SLR setup...
That's what I am thinking. My 7D is a beast to carry for a long time. My little rebel is a third the weight.
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Old 07-25-2012, 09:29 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kermit View Post
That's what I am thinking. My 7D is a beast to carry for a long time. My little rebel is a third the weight.
The 7D isn't heavy, even with the battery grip...unles you have one of those 400mm 2.8L lenses on it.
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