Customer Review

113 of 138 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Is it really good?, September 7, 2012
This review is from: Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM Lens (Electronics)
Few months ago, I purchased the 40mm pancake after reading all of its good reviews. My experience with this lens is that it did produce sharp and good color indoor pictures as many reviewers have pointed out. The rate of focusing was also pretty good in my opinion consider its relatively cheap price. So I was very happy and excited about this lens. However, my initial excitement turned into disappointment when I took the lens outdoor to begin taking pictures with it. Almost all of the outdoor pictures are soft. When I reviewed these pictures with DPP, the focus points of all the pictures are correct. They are where I wanted them to be. The problem is that the focused areas are soft, but the areas that are outside the focused points are sharp. This seems to me that this lens is either having a back or front focus problem. I don't know if this focus problem is the same that Canon mentioned in their website in which it is mentioned that the lens will fail to focus when it is moderately touched. I understand there is a firmware update that can fix the problem, but the problem with the firmware fix is that it will only work on newer camera models such as 5D MK III. For other older models, the lens needs to be sent back to Canon for fixing. Why would someone want to buy a new lens knowing that it potentially has to be sent back to the factory for repair?

Another aspect of this lens that causes concern to me is the mount. Yes, the mount is metal, which is very good. However, when I tried to mount it to my 7D, I needed to apply some force in order to make it turn and lock in place. I don't have this problem with the 28-135 kit lens that I have. The 28-135 turns smoothly and locked in place easily. Now think about this: with this tight fitting, will it cause unnecessary wear to the mounts of both the lens and camera? I don't care much about the lens' mount. After all, it is only a $200 investment, but I can't say the same for the camera. If the camera needs replacement, I can't imagine how much it will cost.

Considering these two factors, I returned the lens to avoid getting stuck with it.

I would also like to point out that I will not call this a review, but rather an account of my personal experience with it. I hope this will help you to make your purchase decision.

[UPDATE: Nov 10, 2012]
Because of the $50 price drop, I decided to give pancake a second try.

This second sample doesn't have the updated firmware (which I hoped for, but didn't came true) as the serial number indicates. Regardless of the absent of the updated firmware, this second sample seems to be better than the first one that I had. The mount is not as stiff, but still needs a little strong twist than normal in order to lock it. The sharpness is also better, but this improvement came with a caveat. I get very tart sharp picture only when I use the single center focus point. When I use any other focus modes or points other than center one, the sharpness is just OK, and sometime it is just plain soft. I know this softness problem is not with the camera because it doesn't happen when I use the 28-135.

I want to change the rating to 3.5, but this rating isn't any available. And for these two samples that I got, I don't think this lens fix the 4 star rating. Sorry, pancake...

I am now pondering whether I should return this and try a next copy again. If I do, I will update the review with the experience that I will have with it. Thank you for reading.
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Tracked by 6 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 38 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 26, 2012 2:59:26 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 26, 2012 2:59:48 PM PDT
D Taylor says:
big-Huge-GIANT +1

I agree with you, this lens just does not meet expectations for a Canon prime lens. Granted, it's only $200 but for half of that one can get a 50 1.8 and meet expectations for a $100 lens. I purchased my lens based on the awesome reviews, now it's going back. To each his own, but there is better "bang for the buck" out there...

Your points of contention are spot-on and I can attest to each of these facts presented on my 60D.

Posted on Oct 21, 2012 7:37:25 PM PDT
Tim Z says:
I think most of the premium, besides the size, on this lens is due to the STM feature. If you are using it primarily to take pictures or using it on another camera besides the t4i, then you probably be better off getting another lens.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 22, 2012 9:02:23 PM PDT
curious says:

First of all, thank you for your comment.

I have been keeping track of reviews of this lens by other people. One thing I did notice is that people have been getting very good image quality from this lens. While the small size and its STM focusing mechanism are bonus, but I believe the image quality is the primary factor of its good review. Another thing I also notice is that these good reviews did not only come from people who use T4i, but also 7D, 5D MK II and III, etc. So I don't believe this lens will perform well only on a T4i. As a matter of fact, the most recent (from Oct 21, 2012) good review is from someone who uses it on a 7d. Also, interestingly, there is a negative review (from Oct 8, 2012) that came from a user that has a T4i.

In conclusion, I don't believe this lens is primary designed for T4i. The problem that I had has something to do with a bad batch or something. This is the reason why I emphasized the review that I wrote should not be viewed as a review, but rather my personal experience with it. Obviously, there are other people that have much better experience with it than I do. Or perhaps, their standard of lens elevation is different than mine.

Posted on Nov 22, 2012 10:41:44 AM PST
CGScammell says:
I use this lens with my Canon 7D and have no issues mounting it. IQ is excellent. It's a tad slower than Canon's plastic 50mm 1.8 lens, but it's also made much better.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 8, 2012 12:56:15 PM PST
Guy Hacco says:
Is it possible that something on the camera end might be the issue? Maybe try a firmware update or maybe a reset to factory settings.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 8, 2012 6:20:00 PM PST
curious says:
Hi Guy,

Thanks for your suggestion.

I don't think anything is wrong with my camera as my other two lenses (28-135 and 70-200L F4 IS) are perfectly fine. Images come out from these two lenses are sharp regardless which focus points I use. The mount of these lens are also fine, they are just right - not too tight or loose.

Perhaps the problem that I have with the 40mm is because I set my expectation too high. Images from this lens are fine as long as I view them in "fit to screen ratio". When I view them in 100%, its shortcoming becomes apparent. Images that are taken with the center focus are quite sharp, but not so when other focus points are used.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 22, 2013 6:12:57 AM PST
edal says:
Probably IQ problems come from lack of IS, which your other two lenses have. Quality may come with higher shutter speeds...

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 25, 2013 11:59:52 PM PST
curious says:
Thanks edal for you comment.
I actually have the same thougths as yours. The soft image is probably the result of lack of IS and the fact that I don't have a rock solid steady hand. A faster shutter speed can be a solution to shooting in outdoor, but then it may not be useful when taking picture indoor with low light. So I guess this lens may be a good one if it is going to be used with a tripod when low light demands slow speed and large aparture. It is probably an OK lens giving its low price range, and I still don't think it has high quality that is comparable with the L series like other reviewers have mentioned.

Posted on Feb 2, 2013 8:40:16 AM PST
Ryan Reyes says:
I had this lens for lens then 6 months and i mainly use it as food lens. I take with me to restaurants on my 5d. I had the same locking problem except it had to do with the focus, the camera wouldnt pick up the lens unless i gave it a good twist. Now my lens will not focus on minium focus distance and it makes this jam noise. Im going to exchange it.

I bought this lens for $200 and now its $149. For the quality you get esp at 2.8 is awesome for its price. surprisingly sharp wide open, but after F8 there is a major fall off esp if you take landscape shots.

Good for close distance (0.98mm) and quick shots and ive done some portraits with it and loved it.

Posted on Feb 6, 2013 5:43:10 AM PST
Is everyone going nuts! Why not just buy a tried and true Canon 50mm F/1.8 lens and have faster speed and great sharpness for about the same money? The size difference does not matter,
a DSLR is not a little mirrorless camera. Small is not always the best choice for photographers who actually make pictures!
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