The smallest and bestest: the Canon 40mm f/2.8 STM

Panos Voudouris
4 min readJan 16

I’m currently a bit in a phase where I just find big photo equipment annoying. It is big, heavy, a pain to lug around, it drags you down, tires you as you walk about. Just…not nice. And then, something comes along that is refreshing: the pancake Canon 40mm f/2.8 is one of those.

On my ancient EOS 300 (yes the pop-up flash is broken)

A tiny little lens, a minuscule one. There has been a bit of a trend nowdays where lenses are ever better, faster, sharper, more…expensive, more premium. Size and weight have taken a back seat as a requirement, everything gets bigger and heavier. Well…boooooriiiiing.

The Canon 40 is none of those things. It is tiny, it is light, it is cheap, it is slow (f/2.8), it is slow (to focus…well not that slow actually). And it is sharp.

Tiny! The hood is on too.

When I put it on a EOS 300 (yes the film one), it weighs less than most lenses or bodies weigh alone. It fits in my jacket pocket (admittedy it is a big pocket). When I put it on something like a Canon 6D, it still fits in that same jacket pocket. The depth of the 6D is effectivly the body itself, the lens hardly sticks out beyond the grip.

It is also a “normal” lens, 40mm is more “normal” than 50mm. So you get a very natural perspective. You can photograph people, land/cityscapes, whatever you want. It feels like there is more space than a 50 but does not look “wide” like a 35 starts to be, unless you get really close (and this lens can focus really close).

It is the perfect walk about lens. I have done a number of trips with just the 40 (actually two 40s, this Canon one and the Voigtlander 40/2 Ultron SL which is just as small but a stop faster and manual focus) and never felt like I missed anything. I certainly didn’t miss the weight!

So, the smallest Canon EF lens gets this small “review”. The end. Here’s some photos with it. Thanks for reading.

Kashan, Iran, EOS 3 + Portra