Happy Pancake Lens Day!

Happy Fat Tuesday, Pancake Day or Shrove Tuesday!

In honor of this sweet day, I am reposting a review of a favorite go-to lens, the Canon 40mm f/2.8 STM ‘pancake’ lens.  My review was originally posted in February 2013 and since then I’ve grown more attached to this lens. It is a reliable lens that gets the job done with consistently good results. I rarely leave home without this lens. If you have a Canon dSLR and don’t have this lens, I strongly recommend adding this lens to your kit. Costing between US $150 – 200 dollars, it is an economical workhorse for both new and advanced photographers. To be clear – I freaking LOVE this lens.

For non-Canon photographers, Kai Wong talks about his Top 5 pancake lenses on Digital Rev. Heh, Naughty Forty, indeed.

And now the review:

The Canon 40mm f/2.8 STM lens is especially delicious addition to your camera kit.


Took the lens out for a test drive at Longwood Garden conservatory in the midst of Orchid Extravaganza. I set the f-stop at 2.8 and strolled around the conservatory snapping pictures.  The lens nicknamed ‘pancake’ for its compact size in comparison to other prime lenses. Though its size makes it less obtrusive for street photography, it does look a bit silly when paired with a hefty dSLR. However, I did feel more comfortable photographing people with this lens then with any of my other lenses.

The photos I captured during my conservatory walkabout were anything other than silly. The lens was quick to focus and did well in the variable lighting of the conservatory. I did notice some slight vignetting along the edges of the photos. The bokeh is excellent for this lens at f/2.8.  The focal length of 40mm gives slightly more area for composition. However,  I was shooting with a cropped sensor camera. To get a better appreciation of this focal length, I need to slap this lens on my Rebel SLR and go for another photowalk.


Orchid at Longwood Garden

All photos in this review were taken with the Canon 40mm f/2.8 and uploaded to Flickr via LightRoom. I did not apply any LR edits the photos, what you see is precisely what I photographed with this lens.  Feel free to click on the photos and check the images in full resolution.


Strolling violinist at the Conservatory in Longwood Garden

This lens retails about US$150 at Amazon.com making this a reasonably priced prime lens to add to your collection. This lens would be a great addition to your full frame dSLR as its 40mm focal length close matches the 35mm full frame sensor. The compact size and light weight of this lens makes it a great choice for street photography or fun photo walks.


White Orchids


I’m quite happy with my purchase of this lens and look forward to using this lens on a future full frame Canon dSLR.

UPDATE: Here are a few sample images taken at various places with the Canon 40mm f/2.8 in 2013.

Chesapeake Bay

There is a clear view from anywhere.

Civil War Child

Baby reenactment or just a baby being a baby.

Philly Cycling Classic

2013 Philadelphia Cycling Classic participant charging up Lemon Hill.

Do you have a favorite pancake or prime lens? Let me know in the comment section.

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  • Tania


    I’ve been checking out your work and well done, my friend. Have you visited Hawk Mountain? The 600mm would be perfect for that location.

    As for a tripod, the answer is yes and no. I have used a tripod for for flower pictures in the Conservatory and also have walked around and snapped photos. Far too often when I break out the tripod, I attract attention. Mostly I’m okay with the interaction but there were a few times when I had to politely tell the person to go away.

    The 40mm pancake lens is the bomb, Tony. I’ve yet to have a bad shoot with that little lens.

  • Tony Oleck

    very nice Tania….I just got a 600mm lens for my Olympus….I’m into Bald Eagles in a big way and hoping this lens will give me the shots I’m looking for….question, do you use a tripod at Longwood for the flower shots? Very sharp pics

  • Trevor Hilton

    Love the new blog. It looks good, and doesn’t take as long to load as your old one.
    I’ve been wanting to get new camera for some time. Need to start looking on Craigslist for one.

    • Tania


      You comment is exactly what I was looking for with this new design – a clean, crisp and fast loading website. Also, there will NEVER be any auto play video or soundbites on this blog.

      I’d start looking at forum posts at http://www.dpreview.com in order to get an idea of what type of camera would best suit your needs. Also, Craigslist scares me!