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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

First Impressions: EF 40mm/2.8 STM

Canon occasionally has massive sales on their refurbished equipment. I'd been eyeing the 40mm/2.8 for a while, and when the price dropped below $100, I gave in to the temptation and bought it. There are a few reasons to have done so:

  • It's smaller and lighter than my EF 50mm/1.8 II.
  • It's got better focusing, since it's sporting the newer STM motor.
  • I finally broke my Sony RX100, and needed a camera. Rather than replace the RX100, I figured my EOS 5D2 is a much better camera and just needed to become smaller and lighter to make it easy to carry. For $100, I could buy a lens and still have left over to replace the compact camera in the future.
The size and weight together made me more willing to carry my 5D2 around --- with my ancient Galen Rowell Chest Pouch, I can now carry the 5D2 on the triplet and ride it, do a hike, and then ride back without feeling like the weight of the world was on my shoulders. I could carry Boen in a backpack or on my shoulders and still carry the 5D2 with the 40mm attached. I did not even attempt to carry a second lens, though I did carry a small fill flash.

I recently brought it along on a hike with my family. My wife brought along her EOS M3 with the 22mm/2 STM, and we shot in similar lighting situations. From the focal length point of view, both lenses are in the same ballpark (22mm * 1.6 = 35.2). 
EOS 5D/40mm 2.8 STM

EOS M3/22mm 2.8 STM

What's interesting is that the color palette on the EOS M3 looks a little more saturated to me (this is using Lightroom to process the RAW files). In both cases, the camera produces sharp images, though as you might guess the 5D2 wins simply on the basis of being faster to react to changing situations.

In practice, having only one focal length can be liberating --- after a while, you get used to the field of view of the lens and you can frame shots quickly. And in the age of Lightroom and easy cropping, there's no real reason to need a longer focal length up to about 3X the focal length of your main lens: modern SLRs have so many mega pixels that you can crop 50% of the picture and it'll still be usable.

The 5D2 with the EF 40mm is still about one and a half times the weight of the EOS M3, so for big trips where I'm space/weight constrained I'm still likely to stick to the EOS M3; I'm unlikely to ever just carry the 5D2 for a Tour of the Alps, for instance.. But for situations where I just want to have a camera? I now have one less excuse not to use my EOS 5D2 where before I'd just bring the compact and live with missing shots while waiting for it to turn on.


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