Sydney Wedding Photographers. Est. 2007.
Canon 40mm F2.8 STM Pancake lens review:
I recently acquired a Canon 40mm f2.8 STM lens in basically new condition for a fair price and decided to purchase it for the sake of sake of curiosity and to see for myself if the positive reviews of this first pancake lens from canon is really justified.
My observations are the lens is really well made and does not feel like a cheap lens like the canon 50mm f1.8 II ( which canon desperately need to update to Nikon's equivalent F1.8 G standard) and doesn't feel like it weighs anything on 5D series cameras.
I found the AF to be reasonably fast and my sample required a -5 AF compensation but thats not an issue at all every lens may need a minor adjustment on today's high res. DSLRs.
On a recent engagement shoot, I decided to work with minimal equipment and I carried my Canon 70-200mm F4 L IS as my primary lens on a 5dMkII and carried a 580EXII flash and decided to keep the pancake lens in the Thinktank Urban disguise bag because it doesn't weigh anything and does not take much space and left my camera rolling case with the rest of the camera gear and off camera flash gear in the car.
During the shoot, I used the pancake lens and was pleasantly surprised how well the 40mm focal lens worked for me. Its fast enough, its small enough, and sharp enough and gives a certain look to the image and small and light enough to not even notice your are carrying an extra lens in the bag. It may not be super sharp as an L lens but even at wide open, its surprisingly sharp and yes...totally usable. I used this lens at F2.8 most of time except when i was trying to capture the beautiful view of Sydney Harbour.
The lens has some noticable vignetting and flares when shooting directly against the sun but i just used my palm to shade the lens and its so easy to do when your lens doesnt weigh anything. The vignette and light flaring is quite pleasant and I think it added a little bit of character to the images so I decided to disable the lens profile correction in lightroom and I am really happy with the result.
The bokeh is not what I would call buttery smooth, but it does not distract and when you are close enough to your subject and are shooting wide open on a full frame camera, the camera does provide nice background defocusing.
To all Canon users- this lens is an absolute bargain and canon does not make many lenses which you can call a 'an absolute bargain'. I have no hesitation to recommend this lens to someone who uses a full frame camera but I am not sure how well a 60mm f2.8 equivalent will work on a APSC camera.
Its great for holidays, street shooting, and as a secondary lens to a 85mm or a 70-200mm lens in engagement shoots and if you are a hiker, this lens is worth its weight in gold. You can always shoot a stitched panorama if you need something wider.
I have added a few photos from last weekend's engagement shoot of an amazing couple. Its not the lens that makes them look great but using a great lens doesn't harm :)
Image 1: Normal Perspective of 40mm lens. Not wide like 35 not tight like 50. I think its just right.
Image2: Handheld multiple shot stitched Panorama shot using Canon 40mm f2.8 pancake lens stopped down a few stops. The sharpness, colour and contrast are all excellent.
Image 3: The lens may not have the fastest AF, but it was fast enough for most uses.
Image 4: Excellent shapness and yes 40mm f2.8 can provide some nice background defocus, but doesnt have the buttery smooth bokeh but I can live with it.
Image 5: With on camera 580EXII providing some flash fill.
This little lens has to be one of the most enjoyable lens I have used and yes its a keeper.