Review: Canon EF 40mm F/2.8 STM Lens –The Pancake Lens

Let’s get the disclaimer out of the way, first – I am in no way affiliated with Canon, or being paid by them to review this lens. I like Canon products, almost to the point where I get in little arguments with my friends who swear by Nikon (the divide is great among photographers).

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The Pancake and the 52mm filters.

I bought this lens in mid-June as a birthday present for myself. “Really? Something so expensive for a gift to yourself?” you say. Well, no. The first great thing about this lens is that it usually sells for about $150. I bought mine on Amazon through an independent seller who added in a cleaning kit, a small lens bag, and UV and polarizing filters for $164. The filters were what really drew me to the bundle, because the part where filters can be screwed in on the pancake is 52 mm, while most other lenses, including the kit, are 58mm.

The “pancake” – nicknamed because of its flatness – is a prime lens, with a fixed focal length of 40mm. This came out in 2013, so it’s been around for a while and gaining some notoriety. This is very well deserved, because the pancake is a rock star of a lens.

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Different views of the pancake. The quality of the lens is really nice for the price of it.

This is actually my first prime lens, and I still getting used to feeling confident while using it. I think that if you’re new at photography that this is a lens you want to pick up right away. Because of their fixed focal length, prime lenses really make the photographer think about creative composition.

The pancake is also really great for if you want to wander around the city with your camera. The lens is almost flat against the camera (Flat as what, you say? Well, a pancake, of course!), which means no bumping into anything and knocking things off of shelves if you pop into a store. Also, since this is a fast lens* I think that there would be some really nice photos in low light settings such as bars and parties. I haven’t had a chance to try it out in a low light place, but plan to in the near future.

The smallness of the lens also means that it won’t be as intimidating to human subjects. I took it on a shoot for the newspaper to a children’s museum and found it really puts people more at ease than a kit lens or something equally as large.

Overall, I think this is a great lens – especially if you are looking to expand your photography. It’s easy to use, great quality, and inexpensive.

Here are some photos I took the other day with the lens – nothing spectacular (it was cold and rainy).

A sculpture and lilies outside the art building on the UW-Eau Claire campus.
A sculpture and lilies outside the art building on the UW-Eau Claire campus.
A close up of some flowers show the depth of field on the pancake lens.
Taken on the day the pancake lens of was delivered. This Buddha is really cool.
Taken on the day the pancake lens of was delivered. This Buddha is really cool.

*A fast lens, for those of you new to photography, is a lens that can achieve a wider aperture, which allows in more light and lets you use a faster shutter speed.

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