Now and then–pretty often, actually–when I go somewhere with the family I want to bring a camera, but the bulk and weight of a big dSLR with a lens attached seems like too much. Plus, my daughters complain that the lens whacks them in the head too often when I swing the camera down to my side! I should probably get a good pocket-sized point-and-shoot for those occasions (the only decent one we have is old and big), but I just love the image quality (and low-light performance) of a dSLR. So when I saw Canon had announced a pancake lens (the just-released 40mm f/2.8 STM) for their dSLRs I was intrigued. After seeing the price and some initial impressions of its performance and sharpness, I just had to order one. Why is it called a pancake lens, you might ask? Well, look:
This thing is tiny for a dSLR lens, I’d say less than half the length of even Canon’s 50mm f/1.8, which is already a fairly small and light lens. At 40mm this one gives a little wider view than the 50mm, which is good. The maximum aperture of f/2.8 isn’t quite as fast, but still pretty reasonable under most circumstances. I’ve only had the lens for a few days so I haven’t used it a whole lot, but my initial impressions are that it’s a sweet little lens–nice and sharp. The focusing system is a little unusual–it offers full-time manual focusing, but the focus ring doesn’t directly focus the lens, instead it triggers the electronic motor to drive the focus, which is quite different from every other lens I own. Not too big a deal, and I think the idea behind it is to provide smoother focus changes when shooting video, so that may be a cool feature.
So now I have a tiny (but sharp!) lens I can attach and go, without too much more bulk (and with a lot more image quality) than a point-and-shoot. I don’t know if it will make an appearance in my professional work very often, but for just walking around I definitely think I’ll get a lot of use out of it!
And now I think I can sell my old Canon 50mm f/1.8–any takers? 🙂