4 Important Things to Know About Canon’s 40mm Pancake Lens

4 Important Things to Know About Canon’s 40mm Pancake Lens

1. Long History of a Short Lens

So called because of their flat, short-barrel look, pancake lenses are primes made with thin glass and have been a convenient carry-along for photographers for over 100 years. They are an unobtrusive lens with aesthetic appeal, a longtime favorite in the mirrorless/Micro Four Thirds crowd. Canon has jumped on the bandwagon with its inaugural pancake: the EF 40mm f/2.8.

2. Better Focusing Distance and Bokeh

Most pancakes fall into the normal-to-wide focal range and this one is no exception. While most, especially older, pancake lenses are unable to focus down on anything closer than 18 inches, this one is able to home in at a relatively close 11.8 inches. And with 7 diaphragm blades at f/2.8, the bokeh on this lens is quite good.

3. STM Enables Video Auto Focusing on the Canon Rebel T4i

This lens is certainly a great go-t0 for travelers looking to pack light. However, the technology of the 40mm is principally for video and will allow the camera to focus continuously while shooting video. The STM (STepping Motor) feature of this lens offers smooth and quiet continuous auto focusing when used with AI Servo Focus while shooting video on the Canon Rebel T4i.

4. Why a 40mm Focal Length?

The focal length is a bit of a novelty. The most commonly found lengths for prime lenses are 24mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm, and 100mm. For some, choosing the 40mm is just a matter of having a very specific preference – the 35mm, on a full frame camera, is just a little wide while the 50mm is a little long. For a crop sensor camera, the 40mm is the equivalent to about 64mm – still a good “middle ground” length.

If you’re a photographer looking for a lightweight lens with a decent focusing distance, good bokeh, and is unobtrusive (a great feature for street photographers), give the 40mm a try. If you’re a videographer, especially if you are trying out cameras with AI Servo Focus, like the T4i, the STM will impress, especially for the price.

Check out our other pancake lenses:

• Samsung 16mm f/2.4 Ultra Wide Pancake Lens

• Samsung 30mm f/2.0 NX Pancake Lens

• Pentax 70mm f/2.4 Pancake Lens

• Sony 16mm f/2.8 E Mount Lens

• Sony 20mm f/2.8 Alpha E-mount Lens

• Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM Lens

• Panasonic Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 Lens for Micro 4/3

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Alexandria Huff's photography and lighting tutorials can be found on 500px and her blog. She is a Marketing Coordinator for BorrowLenses.com and also writes for SmugMug. She learned about lighting and teaching while modeling for photographers such as Joe McNally and has since gone on to teach lighting workshops of her own in San Francisco. See her chiaroscuro-style painterly portraits on her website.

18 Comments

  1. Can the new Canon 40mm pancake lens be used with the video function on the 60D and the 7D?

    Reply
    • I have the exact same question. I own a 60D and need to know if the SMT technology works on my camera.

      Reply
      • same question here; i own the 60D and am wondering whether the SMT will work for me.

        Reply
        • Canon STM lenses work with any EOS body. They are built especially for video, because they are fast, accurate and silent focus.

          Reply
  2. For right now, the new Stepping Motor Technology is only compatible with the Canon T4i. However, there are rumors that compatibility will expand to other models with firmware releases. We will keep you posted on when those get released.

    Reply
    • So a lens that only works with T4i, that’s just doody.

      Reply
      • Well, the continuous autofocus only works with the T4i, this is still a GREAT buy for someone who needs a good “any time” lens at a VERY affordable price.

        Reply
  3. I feel like item #3 is a bit misleading. The T4i will do continuous autofocus with any lens that is capable of autofocusing but it is the STM that will do this most smoothly and silently . To answer several questions above – The STM technology will work fine on ALL canon cameras but it will NOT make any of these cameras continuously AF during filming.

    Reply
  4. I bought one to use on my 5D Mark II and have done a couple of tests with it. The best of it is in the f4 ~ f8 range. I do like it, but I have a long time friend (and a Canon Explorer of Light) telling me that the 50mm f1.8 Mark II is optically a better lens. I’d prefer something in the 30-35mm range, but it’s ok.

    Reply
  5. For under $200, I’m going tp pick one of these up fairly soon. If it’s half as good as the now-famous “nifty-fifty”, Canon will have another winner on their hands. Also, Glad to see i can now pick-up lenses in Manhattan, saving me the $100+ in shipping and insurance. Good move!!!!!!

    Reply
  6. I own this 40mm STM lens and yes, it works with the Canon 60D – for video and stills – which is my current DSLR.

    Reply
  7. Will this less lens work with a EOS T300 rebel model?

    Reply
  8. will this lens work with the Cannon Mark I (considered the Classic D5)

    Reply
    • Yes. You can mount it and shoot with it just fine but the STM feature will not do anything for you on a Canon 5D original.

      Reply
  9. Hi ! Can I use this pancake lens to shoot some group photos ? Also, is it a good lens to use for indoor event photography ? Thank you very much.

    Reply
  10. Are pancake lens recommend for a film camera.

    Reply
    • There is no disadvantage but you won’t get the advantage of the STM feature.

      Reply

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