Lens Review: Canon 40mm f/2.8 Pancake


highres-Canon40mm130_1340025439A couple of weeks ago, Deejay Scharton was selling off his Canon 40mm lens over at DSLRFilmNoob.com (dslrfilmnoob.com). I had been wanting to purchase one for a while, but never pulled the trigger on it. Deejay’s price was too good to pass up, so I jumped on it.


The following weekend I took the lens out to the Conservatory of Flowers in Chicago’s Lincoln Park for a trial run.

IMG_8494The pancake lens is technically a macro lens and says it can focus down to 0.3 meters (roughly 1 ft.). So I knew that I really wanted to test the focus in both automatic and manual modes. While shooting stills, I found that both the auto and manual were adequate; unless I wanted to throw focus to a secondary spot. However, in video mode the auto focus (and nobody should be using it anyway) severely lacked the ability to stay sharp with any amount of movement. As far as the focusing as close as ~12″ goes, it holds up. In fact, in manual mode, you can push it to focus even closer (up to ~8″).


The 40mm isn’t a super common focal length, so I took some comparison shots so you can see the difference between a 35, 40, and 50mm. I actually really like the focal length of the 40mm. These were all shot on a 7D that has the APS-C crop sensor, so all the framings get a little magnified (about 1.6 times) versus what they would be on a full frame sensor, but the concept of the focal lengths is the same.






















IMG_8568Since I was shooting in the Conservatory of Flowers there was an immense amount of steam and condensation. When I had out my 35 and 50mm lenses they fogged up within the first 10 seconds and I had to constantly wipe them clean. But the 40mm handled the heat like a champ; I never once had to wipe the lens from fogging. It’s small lens element means that there’s less surface to actually get fogged, and that’s a good thing.

Finally, and this was a surprise to me, the conservatory had an exhibition of model trains running. Being the fan of timelapses that I am, I took the opportunity to throw the camera into burst mode and shoot some quick mini-lapses. If you take a look at the video (below) you’ll see that everything is blurry. That’s not from the lens, I blurred it all in After Effects to simulate a faked tilt shift effect. It wasn’t super effective, but the lens handled the burst mode really well.

Miniature Trains from Jeremy Widen on Vimeo.

So, I also took some shots, just goofing off with Loretta. But, it turned out to be a decent demonstration of the focal length and frame size from about arms’ length. I’ll leave you with that.



While the Canon 40mm f/2.8 isn’t going to replace other lenses in my kit, it’s a nice little piece of glass. And if you find yourself needing a focal length not quite as wide as a 35mm, but not as tight as a 50mm, this puppy does the trick. They sell for under $200(bestbuy.com), so for the price point they are definitely worth a gander.

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