Canon offers cheap pancake lens for modern DSLRs

Finally! Smaller and cheaper ($199) than the Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f2, but also f2.8. [EF 40mm f/2.8 STM Pancake Lens at B&H]


      1. You can get them for as little as $50 used. ;)
        Absolutely lovely for low-light event photography without flash.

    1. The fantastic 35mm 1.8G is arguably a better choice on DX, and about the same price. :)

      I’ve got both – when you look at the crop factor, the 35mm has about the same FOV as a 50mm did on (35mm) film, while the 50mm D is a bit too narrow (being closer to a classic 70mm). The 35mm G is also even sharper and has less veiling from in-image lights – and it will autofocus on cameras without the screwdriver connector (anything cheaper than the D7000), unlike the 50mm 1.8D.

      At $200 it’s marginally more expensive, but I’d definitely recommend it over the 50mm 1.8 D for anyone not on FX. (And if you can afford a D700 or D3/D4, you can probably afford the 50mm 1.4 AF-S at $400 or so.)

      There’s also a new 50mm 1.8G which is very much like the 35mm 1.8G (new, sharp, good coatings, autofocus on cheap Nikons) – but it’s still a less convenient FOV than the 35mm.

  1. I wonder how much thinner they could have made it without the AF/MF switch and a focusing ring.

    1. The AF/MF switch probably adds nothing at all. The depth of the glass elements is still the defining characteristic, and the switch is definitely smaller than the elements in that photo.

      The manual focus ring might be adding a tiny bit of height, but almost certainly there would have been something there regardless — you want a bit of extra stuff around the front of the lens, to protect both against sun glare and scratching.

      And in any case, this is a pretty professional-grade lens, in the sense that few amateurs are going to buy a fixed-length lens. So of course it’s going to have manual focus.

    2. Doesn’t matter, since few would buy a DSLR lens that couldn’t switch to manual focus.

      1. Though a rather large number of people won’t even use manual focus, as a huge number of us can’t actually tell just by looking.
        The one thing I miss about film cameras is the focusing prism.

    3.  How much doesn’t how thin it is matter when it has to hook up to a big fat Canon DSLR?*

      * not just a critic, a Canon DSLR user **

      **also a Barnack/Elmar user and soon to be epl1/vf2 user

      1. If I’m parsing your weird grammar correctly…

        Reducing lens size reduces camera size reduces camera weight reduces pain in the assness of carrying around huge DSLR with huge lens. I’m putting this on my wishlist.

  2. And?  Nikon, Pentax, Sony, and Canon all have low priced 50mm lenses (okay the Pentax’s is not *so* cheap).  Nikon made a 45/2.8 pancake lens, Pentax has their 40/2.8 pancake.  And, of course, 4/3 users have Oly’s  25/2.8 pancake and Panasonic’s 20/1.7 and 14/2.5 at their disposal.

    Let’s not forget Nikon’s old Series E 50/1.8. Much cheaper than anything mentioned above (paid $50 for my copy) and it’s downright tiny.

      1. I agree.  Most people that I know who have SLR/DSLR setups have far more money sunk into lenses than they do a body.  Most people don’t lightly switch from Canon to Nikon or to any other brand unless maybe they are just starting out.

  3. This seems a little pointless. With the “nifty 50” f1.8 lens being so much cheaper (less than half the price in the UK) you could just walk a little further away and save yourself £100 and get a faster lens…

    1. This lens is specifically made with video in mind, goes hand in hand with the t4i with the dual autofocus system, the lens is said to be “nearly silent”.

    2. This new lens has a much nicer build quality than the 50mm f/1.8 — metal lens mount instead of plastic, plus 7 diaphragm blades. Looks like the rest of the casing might be metal too.

    3. Canon’s got two Nifty Fifty lenses. A cheap, plastic piece of shit for $75 that does f/1.8, and a much better metal one for $300 that does f/1.4.

      I have the cheap, plastic piece of shit version and I absolutely love it. The autofocus sucks in good light and is worth than useless in low light, and I’m kinda surprised the damn thing hasn’t fallen apart on me yet. But it’s still far and away my favorite lens.

      But since I’m considering spending $300 to get nearly the same lens all over again, perhaps the bottom line figures don’t tell the whole story.

      1. Yeah, the plastic fantastic is a great lens. I myself find manual focusing to be a real nightmare, but autofocus just fine with it. The crispness of the images, wowza!

    4. 50mm is too long for many situations. I do a fair amount of shooting inside, and “just walking farther away” is often (actually usually) not an option.  Actually a 24mm prime would be best for me most of the time, but I could get away with 40.  50, no way.  I have a 50 and have probably used it 3 or 4 times in 4 years.

      1. A lot of what I use my 50 for is stage photography. In a smallish venue, I have to get halfway back into the crowd to get the entire band in the frame. I suspect those “extra” 10mm would be really helpful, and might be worth giving up some of that aperture for.

      2. This seems to fill one weird void in the Canon lineup I’ve been wondering about. Nikon realized a while ago that they should have a nice, cheap lens for APS-C sensors with about the same FOV as 50mm had on 35mm-film – and released a rather nice 35mm prime. Canon has a cheap and good 50mm, but on a small sensor that’s just not the same at all … this 40mm seems like it’ll more or less fill that weird oversight.

        1. I’ve always felt the same way. I got into the canon eco-system for video. I felt let down when I tried my friend’s nikon with a 35 f/1.8 DX lens. It’s a very nice lens, especially at it’s price. The closest competition from Canon is the 28 f/2.8 (260$), 35 f/2 (though it’s 350$) and this new pancake. While I love the idea of a tiny lens, I still feel Nikon has the upper hand for a standard prime on a crop body. If Canon can make a 30mm f/2 pancake under 300$, I’ll be doing cartwheels.

  4. If you ever need to visit 2008 you can get by with Olympus’ 25mm f1:2.8. Just sayin’.

    Although I think all 50mm prime lens are awesome; everyone, especially beginners, should have one.

  5. I’m just getting started in DSLR photography. I have the Cannon 50MM 1.8. What would this lens do that differs from the 50MM?

    1. It’s a little further back. A bit narrower (pancake). And its apature doesn’t open quite as far.

      I wouldn’t invest in a whole host of prime lenses (fixed-length lenses) if I were just starting out in SLR photography. It’s great that you have a 50mm — you’ll probably learn to compose better shots than if you only used the out-of-the-box 28-80mm (though that can also be very useful) — but I don’t think it would be worth having a bunch of similar ones until it becomes more serious for you..

  6. Seems 50mm on 35mm film would be roughly equivalent to the 90mm Sekor C lens I have on my Mamiya RB67 (which is medium format and has 6x7cm slides/negatives).

    I love that lens so much.

  7. I don’t understand these “pancakes”.  When the modern versions first started coming out, I was certainly intrigued.  Such a tiny prime in a desirable “do-everything” focal length sounded great.  When they first started landing on test benches, though, they turned out to be very old Tessar designs, repackaged.  They simply didn’t have very good optical performance.  This Canon may be different; the specs indicate it has one more element than the classic design previously used by Nikon (in fact, Ken Rockwell put the Nikon 45P on his “Nikon’s 10 Worst Lenses” list at ), Pentax, and others.  The B&H sales page has a line saying “Aspherical Element–High Image Quality” so I hope this thing turns out to be wonderful.  I would, however, wait until I saw some objective test data before I made the plunge.

    Of course, if it turns out to be as good, optically, as the Ultron with the added bonus of (continuous, video-usable) autofocus, then they deserve to sell well.

  8. Will this work on waffles also? Crepes? (PS – love my nifty 50. I may consider this if I ever get the hang of shooting video .)

  9. I was going to say I’m surprised by all the negative comments, but really now, how could I be.

    I have an Olympus E-P2 and the 20mm f/1.7 pancake lens from Panasonic. This is an amazing combo. The lens is sharp and it all works great (though my pixel-peeping days are behind me).

    When I started in digital I had a Canon Rebel XT. The cheap 50mm f/1.8 was my favorite as I started on film with a 50mm (Canon A-1), but with the 1.6x crop it was never wide enough, and it was physically too long on the camera to fit in a jacket pocket (the camera itself was small enough). OK, perhaps this lens ideally would be 35mm and f/1.8 or wider, but there are lenses like that already and clearly the f/2.8 compromise here is for size – and price. Especially if you’re really going to use it for video, this lens is perfect… for certain people.

    Canon make dozens of different lenses. Each individual Canon user will want/need only a small subset of these, even professionals, and will not see any use in most of them. I can of course understand why this lens in particular brings out the crowd who don’t see a point in form over function in any circumstances, just like in any comment thread about Apple :)

    I have a 40D and large lenses (like the 24-105 f/4L) and had them before the E-P2. But if I didn’t buy the E-P2 and tiny 20mm f/1.7 lens, I nearly would have given up photography completely because it was all getting way too bulky. Having high-quality stuff in a small package matters and that’s why this lens matters.

    1. I was one of the “thin lens BFD” crowd, but you make a compelling argument for their existence. Thanks.

  10. What canon are actually pushing here is the ‘STM’ part of the descriptor; Some new stepper-motor setup which is intended as a solution to a lot of the problems with traditional autofocus when using DSLRs for video.  Which is why this glass has landed along side the new T4i, and available bundled with it.  Sure it’s over twice the cost of nifty fifty.  But the numbers don’t tell the whole story.

  11. Hoping this is being released as a first step to a mirrorless camera I can put all my fancy glass on.  Btw, the MTF chart on this baby is super impressive, looks a good deal better than the nifty fifty:

    Also, I pre-orded today.

  12. Are any of these capable of zooming?  From what I understand, that’s the downside with these type of lenses.

    1. The old saying is “you zoom with your feet”.

      If a lens is described with two numbers, those are its minimum and maximum focal length. The lens that comes with the camera is commonly either a 18-55 or 28-80. A common zoom lens would be something that goes up toward 300. Mine is an absolutely terrible Canon 75-300, meaning that opened up fully wide, I still can’t take as wide a picture as I can with my 18-55 zoomed all the way in (75 vs. 55).

      If a lens is described with only one number, it’s a fixed focal length. This one is 40mm so it’s not terribly wide, but it would do okay for a party as long as it’s not in a small apartment.

  13. How cool that this lense probably won’t project  much more than the handle on a midrange DSLR, making it fit into cases without cutouts for a lense.  Or even a big pocket.  That increases portability tremendously. The DSLR becomes nearly as portable as a big point and shoot.

  14. I don’t know the Canon world as well as I should. Is this a full frame lens? I get that it’s works with the APS-C sensor with a 1.6 crop factor and something better. Does it work with the Cannon’s 1.3 crop factor and full frame or just 1.3 and 1.6?

  15. I have the 18-55 and 55-250  will this 40mm help me shoot better images of this performance I volunteer as historian on?

    The past 6 shows have been shot with my T2i and I am really starting to like what I get.  (Note: I am not allowed to use a flash during the show.)

    1. It would let in more light and be good for video but it might not work too well for that job. It’s a fixed prime with no zoom. Adjust your smaller zoom until it’s about 40mm and don’t move it. Could you shoot your show that way with that field of view? I assume you can’t climb through the crowd during the show. The field of view is about your field of view without moving your eye around. The lens would be very very sharp and you have 18 megapixels so you might be able to get a lot of shots as crops, that is take a wide picture with this prime and crop out a closeup.

      Your current closeups I’m thinking came from your long zoom and that is not doing too bad for you.

      Now if you could shoot your show at 50 think of getting a 50mm prime. It would let in even more light but might not be too easy to use for video.

      There are all sorts of other lengths of prime but 50mm is where the money approaches cheap and the quality is in the stratosphere. A prime of whatever focal length is good for the experience, extreme sharpness, shallow depth of field, and low light performance.

      1.  Thanks Dv. I don’t plan on using them for video. I can practice with the 18-55 and maybe rent a 40 or 50 to see. Great suggestions and thanks for taking a look.

  16. It looks like this lens ONLY does the continuous autofocus with the t4i. For those of us with older cameras, sans some sort of firmware update we won’t get that benefit. 

    As someone who uses my camera primarily for video, I would rather get a bigger lens with a focus ring I can easily grab and turn manually than a pancake at that point. Without a follow focus apparatus (and those are pricey) I’d prefer more size. Still it’s pretty cool. Wish the autofocus thingy worked on all cameras.

  17. Canon rumors has some MTF charts (a test for resolving power across the lens)  comparing the 40 mm to the two existing 5o mm primes.

    Actually looks like it has better performance than the classic plastic 50 at a cost of low light performance. For people asking, yes it will work on the full EOS line, both the crop factor sensors and the full frame. On the Rebels, Txi s and 60D/7Ds it will be equivalent to a 25 mm wide angle. Should be a really decent landscape lens on the smaller sensors.

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