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)

Items discussed in article

Discussion 77

Add new comment

Add comment Cancel

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

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. 

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...

My best friend is one of the top photographers for Getty, and he doesn't know everything about his camera. He was recently named as top 7 photographers in the world for sports. I am an accomplished pianist, have played in symphonies and I still do not know all of the functions on my Yamaha Motif. It is people like you that take the fun out of life. Rather than answering with your ego, how about helping someone with the correct answer. You do not know this persons situation. What if it was a gift? What if this person loves photgraphy but is learning? As I stay up tonight editing photos on my camera, getting paid, published in a major newspaper, photo series in a major magazine, hired all the time to shoot photos, I could not tell you everything about my camera. Should I learn? Eventually. But should I make someone feel small because they haven't? The answer is obvious. Go to a therapist. 

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.

To Make this easy for everyone if you have a DSLR that is NOT a 5 D or higher you hace a cropped sensor and this lens will fit your camere and be at 64MM

Having just purchased a Canon 10-22 USM, is this 40 mm STM compatible with a Canon 7D and Canon XTi, or do the cameras need software updates?


STM focusing lens will be compatible with previous or non STM bodies. Camera models like the 7D and Canon XTi that do not have the new 'Hybrid CMOS' sensor and therfore do not have pixels dedicated to phase detection autofocus will use Canon's legacy Arc Form Drive (AFD) the original Canon EOS motor. At this time, we do not know if firmware updates will be required.

How will it work with an extension tube set up?  


By moving a lenses optical center away from the focal plane (sensor area) you increase the magnification or macro capabilities. So in theory, if you added 80mm's of extension (double the focal length) to the 40mm lens, you would get 1:1. When used with extension tubes that support TTL,  mettering will be possible. Fine focusing is usually done by moving the camera/tube/lens combination on a focusing rail but AF operation should be possible as well.

  I know that I'm gonna sound like a dinosaur here, but, back in the day one of my favourite walk around cameras was (and still is) the good old Olympus Trip 35. It came equipped with a very nice 40mm f2.8 lens. I'm looking forward to having this one to try out on my Canon T3i. I've always found that the 40mm focal length is  very comfortable  for composing a good shot.  I can see this as being a very useable lens to have.

You must not forget to take into consideration that Olympus Trip 35 camera had a 35mm sensor(film) and your T3i has an aps-c. The crop factor is 1.6, making your 40mm lens a 64mm (40mm x 1.6 =64mm). So your  "real" focal length will be more zoomed than previously expected.