The Official Canon 40mm f/2.8 STM Review
There has been a lot of chatter on the videographer airwaves recently about the desire for a new, versatile lens with a silent focusing system. With the new Canon EOS Rebel T4i Digital SLR Camera boasting an innovative autofocus system that operates while recording, it only makes sense that the annoyance of a noisy autofocus motor should be silenced in a clandestine coup.
Canon announced it’s new EF 40mm f/2.8 STM pancake lens without making waves. It’s no L-series lens, though the sharpness betrays that (Read on for more on that), and at first glance there isn’t anything that would make you want to gather your friends and yell “WOLVERINES!!!” at the top of your lungs. But as with every revolution, the beginning whispers will turn into a roar.
At 4.6 ounces, you may mistake the pancake lens for a body cap… Only body caps don’t have glass that give a Canon EF 24-70 L-series lens a run for its money. Of course the L lenses will have superior optics, but testing on a Canon 1D Mk. II N showed lightning-fast focusing and tack sharp pictures, even wide open at f/2.8. For the film-junkies, the 40mm focal length on full-frame bodies will bring nostalgia for the rangefinders of old. And for the beginners, novices, and pros that use APS-C sensor cameras, it brings you close to the standard 50mm lens. And while not completely silent, it certainly shows steps toward improvements that will benefit videographers in many ways. As always, in order to achieve the sound quality that you desire, it is recommended to use an external mic, such as the Azden SGM-X Shotgun microphone.
Did I mention it’s small? The total length of the lens is 0.9”, making it as unobtrusive as lenses come. This is great for the up and coming street photographer, who wants to capture the moment without making a scene. And while shooting with a two pound Canon 1D-series body isn’t necessarily “stealthy,” it’s a blessing not having to carry around bulky lenses that can slow you down. The focusing ring is small, but definitely workable. Photographers with larger hands may find it easier to use fingernails to focus, instead of the whole finger. Countering this minor potential “problem” is the accuracy of the autofocus. Combine this with the Canon EOS 5D Mk. III Digital SLR Camera, and you have a recipe for greatness. This is truly a wonderful lens and a must-have for every photographer. And with the price tag of only $199, even broke college students can afford this without sacrificing their next months supply of ramen.
With the foreseeable success of this lens, Canon will hopefully be scheming up more STM-driven lenses like the 18-135mm STM that is included in a Canon EOS Rebel T4i kit to add to their arsenal. And with this lens at your disposal, when a renegade cowboy asks you if you’re feeling lucky, you’ll be able to answer confidently. “Yes, yes I am.”
All in all, Canon has given us a renewed hope that maybe the best things really do come in small packages.
Veston di Donato
I started photography in high school, shooting sports for the yearbook and newspaper. From there it has become my passion, and has opened up many doors in my life. My focus has drifted towards automotive photography, which pairs well with my love of cars and bikes, and my ever-present "need for speed."