Canon’s New EF 40mm f/2.8 Pancake Lens Doesn’t Waffle on Quality


Canon’s newly announced EF 40mm f/2.8 Pancake Lens has a focal length that places it squarely in that bland category known as “Normal.”  Even used with an APS-C size sensor, it lands on the outskirts of “Normal,” with a view equivalent to 64mm in full-frame format. Several highly prized features help the EF 40mm lens rise above the crowd, however. Most importantly for video shooters; STM technology is a camera-body based attribute that, when paired with an STM designated lens, offers smooth and silent continuous autofocus while capturing video.

Normal lenses are approximately 50mm in focal length. The normal lens is, for many, their default lens—a versatile, everyday tool that’s the jack of all trades. It’s the lens to pack when you‘re only carrying one. Step back and you can use it for “wide-angle” photo situations. Step up, and it can fill in as a portrait lens. It doesn’t provide a creative “crutch” in the form of natural distortion and drama, the way that an extreme wide-angle or telephoto lens does. It’s a lens that will show you how good a photographer you really are. It’s an extremely important lens for any photographer to own.

The EF 40mm lens is a pancake lens—it’s less than 1 inch long, and weighs only 4.6 oz. This is not a lens that draws unnecessary attention to itself—or to you. A bright f/2.8 maximum aperture makes it possible to shoot under pretty much any lighting conditions, and the lens coatings have been optimized to seriously reduce ghosting and flare, while maintaining exceptional color balance. Six elements, including one aspherical element, produce consistently high image quality from the center of the frame to the edge. With seven diaphragm blades, the wide f/2.8 aperture, and the ability to focus as close as 11.8 inches, this is a crackerjack lens that also offers superlative bokeh—the out-of-focus background area in an image.

Focal Length 40mm
Comparable Focal Length in APS-C Format 64mm
Maximum Aperture f/2.8
Camera Mount Type Canon EF
Format Compatibility 35mm Film/Full-Frame Digital Sensor; APS-C size sensor
Angle of View 57.3 degrees
Minimum Focus Distance 11.81" (30 cm)
Groups/Elements 4 groups/6 elements
Diaphragm Blades 7
Autofocus Yes
Front Filter Thread 52mm
Dimensions 2.7 x 0.9" (6.86 x 2.29 cm)
Weight 4.6 oz (130 g)

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It looks pretty.... but whan can I do with this lens that I can't with the 50mm f/1.4?

Wear it around your neck without a big lens sticking out.  Back in the day, a Pentaz MX with a 40mm pancake lens was my favorite walk around kit. 

My favourite walk-about setup today is my Pentax K-5 with the DA 40/2.8 AL Limited attached (660g body + 90g lens).

Will the motor still be silent when not used on a T4i? e.g. a 7D Thanks

STM technology is a camera-body based attribute that, when paired with an STM designated lens, offers smooth and silent continuous autofocus while capturing video will not be available to you.  Now, does this mean it will be loud on other cameras such as the 7D, not likely but it likely will not be as silent.  At this point we cannot say as we have not had a chance to take the lens for a test run.  Once we are able to conduct any tests we will reoport our findings.

There will be no continuous autofocus with the 40mm paired with the 5Dm3. 

This is a bit misleading. I have the 5DIII and 40mm pancake and it will continuously focus in still mode - just not in video mode.

I really like the 40mm - I have the 50mm 1.4 too and the lens characteristics are quite different. On a full frame camera 40mm is a great walk around focal length plus it makes the camera much easier to walk around with or slip into a bag.

Just got this lens and tried it both on 7D and mk3 and it is noisy and doesn't focus quick in either mode.

I have this lens and would just like to add a few of my findings...

The lens is very sharp especially at 2.8 (the same if not better when compared to my L series lenses).

It is by no means quiet, quite noisy in a strange way on my 5dmkii but i know its an older body.

The best thing about this lens is it great optics in a tiny package. i know the whole pancake thing came off the back of the micro whatever thirds. but this means you can carry your full frame around in a small package with great results and kills the competition of mirror-less cameras.

Its not the fastest focus out of the box but then why should it be.


which lens fits best in my 60d... 50mm or 40mm? which of the two is highly recommended? thanks

Between the two, I would recommend the Canon 50mm 1.4 more for the 60D.

The only real advantage of the 40mm would be the size (and a slightly wider field of view) but the 50 1.4 is a great go to prime lens. 

Also.... if you have a cropped sensor i would easily choose the 1.8 50mm it is a great lens and i would try that first. i do find this lens a little on the dark side, especially as literately the amount of glass is very small compared to the 1.8.

the shapness of this lens is its strength, especially on full frame as it extends all the way through the image.

^ What he said.

Also, this lens seems built for street shooters and amatuer videographers, a group that's exploded in size over the past decade.

This lens is unbelievably light, it completely changes the profile of your camera, making it easy to carry everyday in any bag, and the performance and build quality (metal mount) is more than satisfactory for $199.

If they made a 35 this thin I'd rock it, but the 40 came first.

Although not as slim as this one, the EF 50mm is quite small.

True.  This lens is smaller than the 50mm 1.8 but it's also twice the price.

If you don't have a T4i body (which means you wont have the autiofocus while shooting video feature), I suggest sticking with the 50mm 1.8mm

Like the article says, STM allows continuous AF while shooting video, when paired with an STM-capable body like the T4i

So what I'm gathering is, if I buy this lens it will be better for video than a standard lens in terms of autofocus? Or is that only if i have an STM body as well? I have a t3i, and i really can't upgrade at this point, but if I can get even halfway decent autofocus with this pair I might consider it. Thoughts?


STM focusing requires a body that has Canon's new 'Hybrid CMOS' sensor that includes pixels dedicated to phase detection autofocus. An older body such as your T3i will use Canon's original Arc Form Drive (AFD) focusing method.

Does the Canon 60D have AFD as well?


No, please allow me to explain.  In the early days of autofocus photography (Canon’s first AF SLR body was the T80 in 1985), the AF drive motor was placed in the camera body and drove the lens mechanically. With the introduction of the EF lens mount (currently used today) in 1987, the fully electronic connectors allowed the autofocus motor to be moved from the camera body to the lens itself. All Canon AF mechanisms are lens based.

AFD refers to Canon's original focus motor.
The 60D has Canon's conventional sensor and phase detection system allowing it to use Canon's EF and EF-S lenses with all the various focusing motor systems. This includes using STM equipped lenses. However, the 60D does not have the Hybrid CMOS sensor of the T4i therefore it cannot do STM continuous AF during video.

Eos camera that has a "Hybrid CMOS sensor" is EOS 60Da, the another version of EOS 60D that allows you to take picture of stars,night skies,nebula,and more

STM?  Plus the size - travelability of this lens is compelling.

The Canon 50mm f/1.4 has a USM vs a STM motor.  Typically USM is faster than STM but also results in a more "jerky" focus when shooting video (hence why videographers using dslrs might opt for a follow focus attachment).  As noted about when a STM lens is paired with a STM camera body (i.e. Rebel T4), you get a much better auto focusing when shooting video.  The slower motor helps apparently.

Optically, I'd would rather wait and see what other reviewers say about this lens before buying it.

"Optically, I'd would rather wait and see what other reviewers say about this lens before buying it."

Yes, that's what I thought.

shoot at 40mm, and have a lens that can fit in to your pocket.

Squeeze through tight spaces. 

But you're still dealing with a fairly large camera, even the smallest EF-S is fairly substantial.  I think a pancake makes sense with mirrorless cameras, a tiny lens on a small camera - small total package.  Tiny lens on a large camera - still a large total package.


Or my 17-40.

The motor in the lens is better for video recording, it still works great for stills.  That and the compact size make it a nice walk-around lens.

Nothing.  The autofocus while taking video only works on the Canon T4i body - no other body has this feature yet.

Is it good for Canon Eos Rebel T3i? 58 mm Thanks

Yes, it would work great on your T3i.

By the way, it uses 52mm thread size filters, not 58mm, if that's what you were asking with the 58mm part of your post.

In reading the report, how's it on a 60D ? In fact tell me if the 60D is a full frame sensor or not.

If you wanna know if the 60D is full frame or not look it up. The price should suggest something.

A 60D is a cropped sensor, and yes the 40mm lens will work perfectly on that camera

Seriously.. how can someone own a 60D and ask, "is it a full frame camera"? Good grief...

The lens is fully compatible with any of the Canon EOS system DSLRs.  It would work  great on the 60D.  The 60D is an APS-C/crop sensor camera.

The 60d is NOT a full frame sensor.

Would you recommend this lens for a Canon 7D? What about STM autofucus?

How does this compare to the nifty-fifty? Is it really worth the extra 100 dollars? Thanks!

If you don't have a Canon T4i, yuo are better off with the nifty fifty at half the price.

The key differentiator for this lens is the autofocus while taking video - but this is specific to the Canon T4i - even the Canon 5D MkIII can't do this.

I've got another question. Even though other cameras can't support STM, would the focusing system on the 40mm be faster and more percious than the 50mm?

This lens fills a gap on Canon product line, but still I can't find a normal prime lens for my APS-C camera with image stabilizer.

What about releasing a good and fast 32mm EF-S lens for the Cropped sensor product line?

I regret not having bought a Sony system that has IS on the camera body.

Is this an EF-S lens? Can I use it with my Canon film cameras as well?


This is not an EF-S lens and should work on any EOS mount body.

Will it work with the EOS 40D. Or is there a better recommendation.


Yes it will work on the 40D but the improved focusing will not be available to you. To get the most out of this lens, it is best used on the new T4i.  There is no other pancake lens options for Canon at this time.