Canon 40mm f2.8 STM Lens Review & Sample Photos

The new Canon 40mm EF f/2.8 STM Lens has finally arrived from Canon. I’ve spent some time now testing and getting an overall sense of what this lens is capable of. So far I’m very impressed.


Canon 40mm Pancake Overview

It has very nice sharpness and clarity. Better than my 24-70mm f2.8L @ 40mm. It has a slight vignette when wide open but nothing to worry about. I’ve notice it disappears at around f/4.5. It’s also sharpest at the center and drops off slightly towards the edges. You won’t notice this as much on a cropped sensor. 

Focus isn’t super fast, but not super slow either. You also cannot manually focus when set to auto focus.

Ultimately I’ll be using it as my walk around lens because of its size and weight. 

Canon 40mm Test Shots – Sample Photos

I thought a great place to test a lens with a 40mm focal length would be the local exotic bird store. Parrots are not only very colorful but their feathers have a lot of detail. 

Because this lens is 40mm it also makes a decent landscape on my full frame 5Dmkii. I’ve posted some of those as well.

I didn’t crop or correct any barrel distortion or vignette. What you see has only color corrections, some grain removal and sharpness added. All the photos were taken on the Canon 5Dmkii. Also one other disclaimer. I shot most of these handheld using a slow shutter, 1/30. I have very steady hands compared to most people but some motion blur does affect sharpness slightly since I am moving and birds rarely hold still. I figured it’s better to test the lens in a real life situation that people can relate to rather than showing a bunch of charts and brick walls that normal people will not understand. 

Blue Macaw – f/3.5 1/30sec ISO 640                                  

Peach Front Conure – f/4.0 1/30 sec ISO 400

Peach Front Conure Sleeping – f/2.8 1/30sec ISO 250

Below – same shot but 100% crop. 

Love Bird – f/2.8 1/60sec ISO 640

Green Parrot (I don’t know what he is) – f/4.5 1/30sec ISO 1600

Baby Crab with Cheap Circular Polarizer – f/8.0 1/180sec ISO 400

Below – 100% crop – some sharpness and grain removal added

Duck Noodle Soup – f/2.8 1/30sec ISO 640

And of course, one does not show lens tests anymore without paying homage to the HDR gods. 

Below are 3 shot bracketed -+2 exposure combined and edited with Photomatix and Lightroom 4

Laguna Beach –  f/19 ISO 200 0.9 ND Filter + Polarizer + Light Weight Tripod + Remote Timer / Shutter

Long Beach Bridge -f/16 ISO 200 somewhere around a 10-30 second shutter bracket.

It’s a very impressive lens. Its color and sharpness are incredible across the aperture range and from the center to the edge of the glass. 

A little better than my 24-70mm f2.8L @ 40mm. If you don’t have a lens in this range or if you’re looking for a smaller compact lens that will give you professional quality photos, I can’t see any reason to not buy it.

There is even going to be a rumored adaptor for this lens to fit it to future mirrorless Canon cameras making the lens future proof. It’s also the first of Canon’s lenses to feature STM, which allows the lens to continuously and smoothly focus while in video mode. (Currently only the T4i)

I am very happy with this lens. It’s great for pros and armatures.

If you liked this review please “like” or “+1” it below. Also feel free to comment if you want to see any specific tests, raws etc, and I can update this post.

Purchasing the lens through the link below helps me keep this blog and my photography alive. 

Amazon Canon 40mm EF f/2.8 STM Lens $199.00


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