If you found this page hoping for a long technical review of this lens, you have come to the wrong place. I’m a photographer, I don’t have the time to take photos with this lens in every different lighting condition and with various props in the background showing sharpness, vignetting, etc.
So instead, I’m going to show you a few images of the lens and give you my impressions after working with it for a month.
The first time I used the Canon 40mm Pancake I was blown away. I normally hate small glass. Nothing annoys me more. So I didn’t have high hopes. And f2.8 is not exactly a fast lens. Not compared to the 50mm f1.4 anyway.
The lens looks a little odd on most cameras. I actually like it better on my 1Ds Mark II than on my 5D Mark II. I think it looks rather silly on the 5D, whereas the 1Ds Mark II is such a beautiful, stunning camera that the 40mm Pancake doesn’t take anything away from it.
But those are just looks. How does it perform? Well, take a look at the images below to find out.
The Canon 40mm f2.8 Pancake with a box of matches. This lens is tiny!
The Canon 40mm f2.8 Pancake next to the Canon 50mm f1.4 lens. Even dwarfed by this small, fast lens.
The Canon 40mm f2.8 Pancake sits on the Canon 1Ds Mark II. A great bit of kit. Feels very solid in the hands and is lightning fast. Perfect for street photography.
This photo was taken in a graveyard in Edinburgh in very low light. Look how it just pops those highlights and the shadows look amazing.
A self portrait taken with the Canon 40mm f2.8 Pancake and my Canon 1Ds Mark II in Edinburgh.
In the photo below you can see how sharp this lens is. It is a crop taken from the self portrait above. And although my eye is out of focus because I just stuck the camera in front of my face and pressed the shutter, my eyebrow is razor sharp. You can even see the dandruff. HA!
The Canon 40mm f2.8 Pancake is the perfect camera for street photography. Lightning autofocus, with a small, discreet lens. Shooting from the hip feels totally natural.
The minimum focusing distance on the Canon 40mm f2.8 Pancake is 0.98 feet. Making it great for getting in tight.
The above images are just a sample of the shots I’ve taken with this lens since I bought it. Needless to say, I am extremely happy with it. But, like any good review I must create a pros and cons list. So here you go.
• Very fast autofocus with Canon’s new STM motor.
• Extremely accurate manual focus. I love the smoothness of the ring. Small, but manageable.
• Sharp, sharp images.
• Light and agile.
• Feels like an L lens. Solid and smooth.
• Price – $199 is an absolute steal. I would get this over the 50mm f1.8 any day of the week.
• In order to get the lens to go back into the barrel after it’s extended to focus you have to have the camera turned on. Otherwise it will just spin and spin.
• f2.8 is not fast enough for me. Especially when I use the 1Ds Mark II most of the time and it isn’t the best at high ISOs. Not an issue with today’s cameras.
Hmmm… suddenly I can’t think of anymore cons. I’d like to say there are more reasons not to buy this lens, but there simply isn’t. It’s an awesome lens. Not just for the price… period! I would buy it if it was twice the price. I do have to point out that I wouldn’t use this to shoot a wedding unless pressed. But that is because I own the very capable Canon 35mm f1.4 and in my mind, there has never been a better lens. Except for the Canon 70-200 f2.8 L IS, which I’ll be reviewing shortly. There just isn’t any reason for me to bring the 40mm Pancake along as it’s too wide for portraits (for my tastes) and not wide enough to capture all the data needed in a wedding reception. But for street photography, travel photography, some landscape and just a general light, fairly fast lens, this simply can’t be beat.
I highly recommend anyone thinking about getting this stops thinking about it and just buys it. You won’t regret it.
A few days ago I did a post called, “My Top 5 Cameras to Date”. And on March 2nd Canon finally announced the successor to my #1 camera of all time, the Canon 5D Mark II, aptly named the Mark III. Canon’s newest DSLR is one of the most anticipated cameras of all time. But was it really worth the wait? It’s been over 3 years since Canon released the Mark II to a hungry crowd of photographers looking to upgrade from the venerated Mark I. The Mark I was leaps and bounds beyond anything any camera manufacturer had produced up until then, in that price range anyway. A full frame 12.8mp camera for under $3,000. It was unheard of.
And then Canon made even that look like a silly disposable, by releasing the Mark II. An elegant, powerful machine that every photographer in the world wanted. It opened up a whole new world with it’s full HD video capabilities and TV shows like House were suddenly being filmed with a DSLR. In the last 3 years I have seen more photographers with the 5D Mark II than with any other camera. It has been a very big success for Canon and like anything that is loved and adored by people, change is often hard. So it’s no surprise that most people feel extremely lukewarm about the new Mark III.
There aren’t any really mind-blowing changes to the new Mark III. It sports a 22.3mp sensor, better weather sealing, (which I wanted), a new DIGIC 5+ image processor, 6 frames per second, a higher ISO range, a new 61 point autofocus system, in-camera HDR mode and multiple exposure mode, (finally!). But that’s about it.
If you looked at the leap in technology from the Mark I to the Mark II you would be supremely disappointed looking at the small changes from the Mark II to Mark III. Couple that with Nikon’s announcement of the D800 and it’s massive 36mp sensor, which is also $500 cheaper and there might be cause to have mixed feelings about the new Mark III.
But I disagree. I think this is the way camera manufacturers should be doing it from now on. We now have all the megapixels we can handle. Our lenses can hardly stand up to the challenge that these mammoth sensors are giving. I think it’s time the camera manufacturers take a lesson from Apple. With each release Apple gets better, but they only ever release vastly re-designed products every once in a while. Instead they choose to refine, refine, refine.
So although the Mark III doesn’t look like a game-changer and certainly isn’t the camera that we were all waiting for, it is definitely a better camera than the Mark II and a vast improvement over the Mark I. I for one am thankful that Canon didn’t make the ne plus ultra of cameras, I really can’t afford another 2 camera bodies, which is what I need as a pro wedding photographer. But in time, when this has been out for a couple of years I’ll pick a couple of them up for half the price they are now and I’m sure my images will only improve. For now, I’m going to continue to use my Mark II, the previous “best camera ever made.”
Below is a list of my top 5 cameras. I created this list because I’m always being asked which camera system I use and what camera is my favorite. Of course, owning so many cameras and different brands has given me a useful insight into their various flaws as well as their capabilities.
My top 5 cameras:
5. Canon 1V – yes, this is a film camera, but there is a reason I’ve included this in the list, remember, I didn’t call this; My Top 5 Digital Cameras, film counts too. The 1V revolutionized what was soon to become a dead industry, film cameras. The 1V was a mammoth camera. It had amazing weather sealing and with the battery grip attached it reached continuous shutter speeds of 10 frames per second. Wow! I wanted this camera for years until finally, in 2005 I was able to buy it. And I owned it for all of three months before selling it and buying the next camera on the list.
4. Canon 1D – this was the first pro digital camera Canon ever made. It sported a meager 4.15mp sensor, but it was leaps and bounds beyond anything that had been produced up until that point. I remember first seeing the 1D in Edinburgh during the summer of 2001 and I was mesmerized. It was built like a tank, weather sealed to death and actually created super images, although at 4.15mp those images couldn’t be enlarged very much.
3. Leica M8 – just before I became a pro photographer I decided that my favorite type of photography was travel photography. Well, my camera at the time, the Canon 1D Mark II N was just too heavy and unnecessary for that. So I purchased a camera system that I had heard good things about since I began shooting in 1997, Leica. Until this point I had only used one once, but I remember falling in love. The quality was mind-boggling! So I bought one. $5,500 later, without a lens, I was the happiest man alive. The Leica was small, sleek, took amazing photos, except when pushed beyond 1600ISO. It was everything I wanted in a camera! Until I had to shoot something that was moving. And then the manual focus and rangefinder system was the bane of my life! So, I traded it for one of these…
2. Nikon D300 – one of the best cameras ever made! Solidly built, reasonably priced, big, bright 3 inch LCD screen, sensor dust cleaner. This was the love of my life for about 18 months until I finally decided to go pro and I knew I needed something a little better… if there was such a thing. Oh yes, there was and is…
1. Canon 5D Mark II – I haven’t been able to find the numbers online but I’m pretty sure this must be Canon’s best selling SLR of all time. When this beauty came out there was a massive waiting list. In fact, two years after it came out suppliers were still scrambling to keep them in stock. The Canon 5D Mark II is quite simply the finest camera I’ve ever used. With a whooping 21.1mps this creates huge files. It is razor sharp, feels amazing in the hand and isn’t too heavy to carry around all day long. But, there are some flaws, well one actually, I wish it had more weather sealing. And if that’s the worst thing I can say about it that must be a good thing!
What’s great about this particular list is that these are are still amazing cameras and all can be picked up on eBay for much less than new. If you’ve ever wanted to try a professional grade camera but just couldn’t afford a new one, why not pick one up used? You’ll be amazed at the difference it creates in your images and in your professionalism as a photographer.
In the world of technology news this is actually quite old, but I wanted to get it out there for my readers. On February 7th 2012 Canon announced that they would finally be updating the long awaited successor to the hugely popular Canon 24-70mm f2.8 L lens. The 24-70mm f2.8 L II will sport a sleek new design, better optics, more compact body and lighter weight. Anyone who has ever owned the original 24-70mm 2.8 L will undoubtably appreciate the smaller size and weight, it was a monster lens. I had to sell my second copy because it was just too heavy and big for what I do. I need speed and agility to capture weddings in an unobtrusive way and the old 24-70mm was anything but discreet and agile.
An update is certainly due as the original 24-70 was released in 2002. Just as the digital revolution was beginning. Today’s optics just can’t handle the large file sizes that camera manufacturers are producing, 21, 24 and soon (with Nikon’s new D800) 36 megapixels, lenses now need to be way sharper than they did in 2002. It’s only natural that Canon took its time to produce this lens. I hope it lives up to the hype and delivers what the current 24-70 can’t. We’ll have to wait until next month to find out. But with a price tag rumored to be much more than the current edition it will have to be good to get the current owners to switch. One thing to note is that the new 24-70 does not have Image Stabilization, which was definitely on the top of everyone’s list when asking Santa for a new 24-70 from Canon. Not sure what the thought process was there, but perhaps it would of been too expensive for most.
As well as an updated 24-70 Canon has also said it’s going to update the even older 24mm f2.8 and 28mm f2.8. Incorporating Image Stabilization into both, this is sort of a strange move for Canon. Wide angle lenses aren’t known for needing IS as camera shake isn’t prevalent. Rumors have begun to fly that Canon is producing these lenses to please the film makers out there looking for a bit more than is currently offered. Going on specs alone, I’m pretty excited about all of these lenses and can’t wait to try them
You think you like Nikon? Meet my uncle, Scott. Since switching from Canon to Nikon he has been a one man Nikon-purchasing machine. If it’s got Nikon printed on it, he’s got it. Well, almost. I know a lot of photographers that are loyal to their camera systems, but I’ve never known anyone to be so loyal. It’s really great to see.
Hat? – CHECK!
Camera and multiple lenses? – OF COURSE!
Sweatshirt? – GOT IT!
Camera bag? – YUP!
Lens cleaning clothes? – UH HUH!
Patches? – YES, SIR!
Pins? – GOT THAT RIGHT!
Camera armor? NO QUESTION!
Member of the Nikon Fan Page on Facebook? – ABSOLUTELY!