"The awesome Canon 40mm f2.8 STM lens"
As much as I enjoy street photography I was aware I was getting quite a bit of (unwanted) attention from passers-by which I don’t like. In order to solve this issue I thought I would change my street photography set up to something a little more discreet. So with this in mind I’ll be totally honest from the start and say I only bought the Canon 40mm f2.8 STM lens because I wanted a small, discreet and lightweight pancake lens so I could blend in to the background (as much as possible) when out doing some street photography.
Compared to other types of lenses the choice of pancake lenses is pretty limited and with little to choose from the best option seemed to be the Canon 40mm f2.8 STM, so I took a punt and bought one. I usually do a lot of research before investing in a lens but I didn’t bother with this lens because at a little under £150 it wasn’t a huge investment, and if it didn’t live up to expectations I could always sell it and not lose too much money on it. All things considered I thought this lens was worth the blind buy gamble.
When the Canon 40mm f2.8 STM lens was delivered the first thing I noticed was how small it was. Sure, I had read about the tiny dimensions but it wasn’t until I actually had it in my hand, and had the chance to put it side by side with my other lenses, that I realised just how small the lens was. It was tiny, even when I put it next to my (what I consider small) Canon 50mm f1.8 lens. First impressions on the size of the lens were positive, and there was no way I was going to find a lens any more discreet.
Another thing that instantly struck me when I was looking around the lens was the build quality, which is very good. It is not up to the same standard as the L series lenses but then it’s not an L series lens. For a budget lens I would say the build quality is exceptional, especially when you compare it to Canon’s top selling budget lens – the 50mm f1.8. Even though the 50mm f1.8 is a very good lens (and one I recommend – see a review here) the build quality is pretty rubbish and since it is predominantly plastic, it feels more like a child’s toy than a serious bit of photography equipment. This lens, on the other hand, isn’t like this and it feels strong, sturdy and man enough to deal with whatever I throw at it, and come out the other side. I guarantee that you won’t have any complaints with the quality of the workmanship of the Canon 40mm f2.8 lens.
Even though I am impressed with the discreet size a lens this small does come with its problems when it comes to manual focusing. The focus ring small and fiddly to get to, and even though my hands are not particularly large (I have been told I have “sausage fingers” though) focusing quickly can be a bit of a challenge. There are no such problems using auto focus, which is surprisingly quick for a budget lens, and photographers with the largest of hands will be able to take photos.
On the side of the lens there is a MF-AF switch and that’s it, but given the tiny size of this lens I guess this is to be expected. Distance scales are always nice to have, but you’d never get one on a lens this small so I can’t mark Canon down for this.
The focal length of 40mm (effective 64mm on a crop sensor camera) may seem a little weird, I mean it’s not a common focal length for a prime but the framing at 40mm has resulted in some pretty cool photos, and I am starting to really like the field of view of this lens. There are times when 35mm isn’t quite long enough and 50mm is a little too long, and the 40mm focal length perfectly fills this gap.
Now on to the serious stuff, and the thing that is most important, i.e. the image quality. The image quality of this lens is awesome and it is better than that of lenses costing several times more. Images are crisp, colours are bright (and not over-saturated) and the sharpness……. Oh the sharpness. This lens is sharp used wide open at f2.8, but stop it down a little and it is even sharper. The sweet spot of the lens is f8 – f11, which is to be expected, and at these apertures there is sharpness from the centre of the frame to the edges, as well as front to back. I guarantee you will not be disappointed with the how sharp this lens is.
Below are a few images taken with the Canon 40mm f2.8 to give you a taster of the image quality:
Unlike the Canon 50mm f1.8 which I consider “cheap and cheerful” the Canon 40mm f2.8 lens is “affordable quality”. The Canon 40mm is a top end budget lens. Many photographers rave about the 50mm f1.8, and whilst it is a very good lens it is not as good as the 40mm f2.8 lens. The 50mm f1.8 is slightly soft used wide open (although the bokeh is lovely) which is great for portrait photography, but when you actually want to take a photo that is sharp throughout the 50mm f1.8 gets out of its depth. The 40mm f2.8, however, doesn’t. The image quality of the 40mm f2.8 easily exceeds the 50mm f1.8 and yes, you can capture some great portraits with it too.
The Canon 40mm f2.8 is a little more expensive than the 50mm f1.8, but it is well worth the additional cost. Yep, the Canon 40mm f2.8 is the best value for money lens for Canon cameras, and I am stunned that Canon can produce a lens this good and sell it for such little money.
If you are after a prime lens that is small, discreet, has excellent image quality and is also affordable you need look no further than the Canon 40mm f2.8 STM lens. It really is that good.
Buy the Canon 40mm f2.8 STM lens from Amazon.com (US citizens) or buy from Amazon.co.uk (UK citizens).
Alternatively, you may want to see if you can get a Canon 40mm f2.8 STM lens for even less money and head over to eBay and see if you can make a huge saving. Use the search box below:
What are you waiting for? Go grab yourself a bargain
OTHER CANON LENS REVIEWS
Below are other lenses I own and have reviewed. To see the pros and cons of each lens simply click on the title. Please feel free to check them out.
Keen photographer addicted to cameras, lenses and everything photography related. Feel free to follow me in my photography ramblings, and if you have any thoughts, comments, queries or anything else to add I would love to hear from you.