All About the Canon 40mm Pancake Lens
These short lenses have a long history. So-called because of their flat look, pancake lenses are primes made with thin glass. They have been a convenient carry-along for photographers for over 100 years. They are unobtrusive lenses with aesthetic appeal and are a longtime favorite in the mirrorless/Micro Four Thirds community. Canon has jumped on the bandwagon with its inaugural pancake lens: the EF 40mm f/2.8.
Most pancake lenses 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. While it’s certainly a great go-to for travelers looking to pack light, the technology of the 40mm is principally for video and will allow select Canon cameras 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.
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 in the Rebel series, the STM will impress, especially for the price.