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Canon EF 50mm 1:1.8 II vs Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM: Which to get?

Clash of the Minuscules

March 3rd, 2013

The Canon 50mm 1.8 "Plastic Fantastic" is an interesting lens. With its sub 100 USD price, basically anyone should pick it up just to see what it's like to shoot with a fast prime. However, since Canon introduced the 40mm 2.8 pancake lens, the 50mm may no longer be the obvious choice for a reasonably priced second lens. I happen to have both now, but which one would I have chosen if I could choose today? Read on for a (subjective) comparison between the two.

The 50mm next to the 40mm mounted on the Canon 600D.
The 50mm next to the 40mm mounted on the Canon 600D.

Introduction

When Canon introduced the 40mm pancake lens, I was a bit confused. A more compact lens sounded great, but why 40mm? It's not a normal lens on full frame or crop sensor. Also, the aperture was a mere f/2.8 compared to f/1.8 of the cheap 50mm. At almost twice the price and without any features like optical image stabilizer, it seemed like a pretty weak product - possibly saved by the attractive compact format. Now, the price has dropped a bit, and I broke down and ordered the 40mm. So let's put the 40mm and the 50mm head-to-head to see which one wins!

Build Quality

Usually I wouldn't feel that the build quality is very important; as long as the lens delivers it could be made out of styrofoam for all I care. However, the build quality of the 50mm is absolutely terrible so I need to make an exception. It once got stuck on the camera body, and it once literally fell apart - the inner part containing the front element just fell out. Luckily it could be forced back in but you start to understand why this thing costs so little.

The 40mm on the other hand, feels incredibly solid for its size. The metal mount is not just a nice touch; it most probably helps preventing the stuck-on-body situation I had with the 50mm.

The 40mm with the metal mount to the left, the 50mm with its damaged plastic mount to the right.
The 40mm with the metal mount to the left, the 50mm with its damaged plastic mount to the right.

Maybe you wonder what "STM" means? STepper Motor, apparently - a technology that enables near-silent focusing. It is audible, but more quiet (and pleasant) than the noise of the 50mm. Interestingly, the focus is by-wire: The focus ring is actually not physically attached to the focusing mechanism, but uses a sensor to control the motor. This has the side effect that the lens must be mounted on a camera, and the camera must be switched on for manual focus to work. Oh well.

Size matters

Being a pancake lens, it's obvious that an advantage of the 40mm is its small size.

The 40mm lens mounted on the Canon 600D.
The 40mm lens mounted on the Canon 600D.
The Canon 50mm. Still very compact, but about twice as long as the 40mm.
The Canon 50mm. Still very compact, but about twice as long as the 40mm.
As a comparison, the kit lens. And remember that this lens is actually also considered fairly compact.
As a comparison, the kit lens. And remember that this lens is actually also considered fairly compact.

Non-scientific, subjective walkaround testing results

I brought the two lenses with me and went for a photo walk.

On focal lengths and shutter speeds: The shots were taken with a Canon 600D, which is a crop sensor camera. That means a smaller sensor is used than on a full-frame camera, and the focal lengths therefore are 1.6 times longer. So 50mm actually equals 80mm and 40mm equals 64mm. To avoid camera shake, the rule of thumb is focal length "equal to" shutter speed: The 50mm then needs 1/80th of a second on this camera, and the 40mm 1/64th.

The 40mm at f/2.8. Note the bokeh in the background to the right.
The 40mm at f/2.8. Note the bokeh in the background to the right.
The 50mm at f/1.8. Not so sharp, but huge bokeh shapes.
The 50mm at f/1.8. Not so sharp, but huge bokeh shapes.
At f/2.8, the 50mm produces pentagon-shaped bokeh.
At f/2.8, the 50mm produces pentagon-shaped bokeh.
Typical situation: Shoot a building. The 40mm is a bit tight, but managed to get the whole tower and the bird on the branch to the right.
Typical situation: Shoot a building. The 40mm is a bit tight, but managed to get the whole tower and the bird on the branch to the right.
The 50mm often feels too long, like in this situation.
The 50mm often feels too long, like in this situation.
The 40mm is a quite good lens for street photography.
The 40mm is a quite good lens for street photography.
The 50mm allows you to get closer to people without actually having to physically move closer, which could be an advantage but also a bit of cheating.
The 50mm allows you to get closer to people without actually having to physically move closer, which could be an advantage but also a bit of cheating.

Macro

None of these lenses are macro lenses, but let's see how well they perform.

The 40mm can focus around 30 cm from the subject.
The 40mm can focus around 30 cm from the subject.
The Canon 50mm does not come quite as close.
The Canon 50mm does not come quite as close.
This shot was taken at aperture f/1.8 and we can see how vignetting creeps in and how the text is less sharp than the above image. This is not only due to the shorter depth of field; the lens just isn't sharp at f/1.8.
This shot was taken at aperture f/1.8 and we can see how vignetting creeps in and how the text is less sharp than the above image. This is not only due to the shorter depth of field; the lens just isn't sharp at f/1.8.

More Sample Shots

For more shots taken with the 40mm, check out the Image Gallery.

Conclusion

So if I would start anew and were to choose between the two lenses, which one would it be? To sum it up:

The Canon 50mm 1.8: Pros

  • Cheap
  • Fast (by one and a half stop - however the image quality suffers at large apertures)

The Canon 40mm 2.8 STM Pancake: Pros

  • Very small
  • Razor-sharp, even at 2.8
  • Quiet (but not silent) auto focus
  • Good build quality
  • More usable focal length
  • Focuses reasonably close

I feel that the 50mm cannot produce good quality until around f/2.5 or so, weakening its main strong point - the f/1.8 aperture. So while the 50mm is a good choice, I would shell out a little (very little extra, actually) for the 40mm. I also feel more comfortable with a lens that is less likely to just fall apart.

So for me, the Canon 40mm 2.8 STM Pancake is the winner.

Post Script

That said, I still feel that both lenses are a bit awkward to shoot with, because of the focal lengths.

50mm works very well on a full frame camera, simply because it is a normal lens and it feels natural to shoot at that focal length. However, full frame cameras are rather expensive. So would you really shell out over a thousand dollars on a camera body, and then less than a hundred on a lens? I hope not. A hundred dollar lens would probably go together much better with the popular and cheaper APS-C (crop sensor) cameras. Hovever, such a camera would need a 30mm (or so) focal length, and no such cheap lenses exist. 40mm works better than 50mm though in my opinion, without getting too expensive. So we are slowly getting there - 10mm at a time. ;)

From the left: Tamron 18-270 Di II VC; Canon 18-55 kit lens; Canon 50mm 1.8; Canon 40mm 2.8.
From the left: Tamron 18-270 Di II VC; Canon 18-55 kit lens; Canon 50mm 1.8; Canon 40mm 2.8.

Update: I just compared the sharpness of the above lenses, make sure to check it out: Quick Sharpness Comparison

Shameless affy links


April 23rd, 2013 06:07
rich

thanks erik, it's been decided. im going to buy 40mm dis month. - rich

April 23rd, 2013 21:11
Erik

Hi Rich,

excellent choice! ;) Feel free to post back here after trying it out, I would really like to know what you think about it.

April 30th, 2013 15:33
Maritza

I've been searching like a mad women for a lens I can use to take Birth pictures for a friend. Not knowing the lighting situation i need a lens that is good in low light and that i can capture great fast pictures without having to walk out of the room or be on top of the mother... What do you think of the 40mm in this situation?
Thank you!

April 30th, 2013 22:47
Erik

Hi Maritza,

first of all: There is no such thing as a perfect lens - stop looking! ;)

That said, if you are on a crop sensor, the 40mm is a quite good choice. It should get you close enough for detail shots without you having to move too close, and it is still wide enough to capture both mother and child. Also, you will probably want to stay out of the way as much as possible, and you will not find a less intrusive lens than the pancake.

The not-so-fast 2.8 aperture may seem like a weak spot, but newborns tend to move very little so it should hopefully not be a problem.

By the way, check with the hospital in advance to make sure photography is not a problem. Also, some doctors are fine with flash use, which could come in handy.

Good luck!

May 1st, 2013 12:06
Maritza

I went ahead and ordered the 40mm... I'm exited to see what it can do.
Thank you so much for getting back to me Erik.

May 1st, 2013 16:23
Erik

That's great! I hope it lives up to your expectations. :)

May 2nd, 2013 14:55
Rita

Hey Erik!
I'm getting into newborn photography, specially at home (as i don't have a studio) and actually I've seen a tutorial that advice the use of a 50mm prime lens. But after reading this post I'm confused! Maybe it's just this specific 50mm that it's not very good as it's really cheap compared to other 50mm I've seen.
Do you think to get started I can use this 50mm or it's just a bad investment?
Is there any other lens that you advice for this kind of photography?
Thank you so much,

Rita

May 2nd, 2013 17:21
Erik

Hi Rita,

I would say it has a lot to do with personal preference, and what camera you have. I have seen people recommending everything from 28 mm to 85 mm for this purpose.

Personally, I find the 50 mm a bit too tight for many situations, especially indoors - but that is on a crop sensor camera, which makes it an 80 mm. This can be a good thing though if you prefer to stand further away from your subject. Try shooting at the long end of the kit lens to see if that focal length suits you, just to get a feel for it.

On a full frame however, the 50 mm focal length is quite versatile. Considering its price, the image quality is excellent. If you want to go professional, you might want to invest in something higher-grade though.

Hope this helps somewhat!

May 2nd, 2013 21:14
Rita

Still don't know what to choose! :) Too many options, too little knowledge!! If I ask you which one would you recommend to start with? Of course I would love to go professional, but that's still far in the future i guess! And my camera it's a canon 600d... if that helps. And I've got the kit lens, and a tamron 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 (if) macro.
Thank you so much for your help!

May 2nd, 2013 21:58
Erik

I have the 600D myself, and while both lenses have good optics, I find the focal length of the 40 mm much more usable. This, combined with the compact format, makes it a great walkaround lens.

Still, the 50 mm is cheaper, and also faster. And the focal length is great for portraits, with its large aperture allowing for nicely blurred backgrounds.

The choice is yours. ;)

May 2nd, 2013 23:23
Rita

Thank you so much! :)

May 12th, 2013 23:30
Joel

Hey Erik, I do a lot of night photography and automotive photography also is the 40mm lens as good without the bokeh because I usually like my backgrounds in focus with the cars. what do you think?

-T3i

May 13th, 2013 23:05
Erik

Hi Joel,

well, that's basically three questions, so let's split it up:

1. Night photography: With an f/2.8 aperture and no optical image stabilizer, it's a bit slow for handheld night shots. Better bring a tripod.

2. Cars: If you mean car shows with a lot of people and little space, the 40 mm might prove a bit too tight. Some rough numbers: With the 40 mm, to shoot a 4 meter (13 ft) long object (small car), you will have to move back around 6 meters (20 ft). The kit lens at 18 mm needs only half the distance. The 40 mm makes a great lens for detail shots though.

3. Getting everything in focus: Sure, the 40 mm can do it. But a shorter lens can do it better. Anyway, you can experiment with the DOF calculator to see if 40 mm is the focal length for you:
http://dofmaster.com/dofjs.html

Hope this helps!

May 14th, 2013 00:30
Joel

Thank you Erik for your the reply and yes this really does help me out! take care

May 22nd, 2013 06:53
Huang

hi, kindly allow me to ask few questions :)
I own 600D as well and one of my lens is the 50mm f/1.8.
However, lately I rarely use 50mm because it can't focus quick and to myself, the result is not so crisp especially at f/1.8.

what is your opinion about 40mm for my issues above? can it replace my 50mm with way more accurate focus and sharp result?

thanks in advance
Huang

May 22nd, 2013 07:17
huang

sorry, I forgot to ask 1 more question.

I also have tamron 28-75 f/2.8, which also cover the focal length of canon 40mm. if you were me, do you think it's worth it to have them both?

once again, thanks.

May 22nd, 2013 23:48
Erik

Hi Huang,

I never had any focusing issues with the 50 mm. The 40 mm does feel slightly faster though, and definitely more quiet. Not enough to warrant buying a new lens only for this reason in my opinion (unless you do sports photography or something). If sharpness is the bigger problem, simply try stopping down to 2.8. It should be sharp enough, and still as fast as the 40 mm. Give it a shot.

The Tamron is a nice lens and definitely more versatile focal length-wise than the 40 mm prime. Unless you feel the biggest problems are size and weight, just keep using it.

The interesting thing about primes is mostly that they force you to think differently about how to get the shot - you cannot just lazily stand around and zoom. But whether this is good or not is up to you. ;)

June 13th, 2013 08:01
Chris

Thank you Erik for your review.

If possible let me know your thoughts about portrait uses. Which one would you recommend, or how you would use both to optimize portraiting performance ?

Thanks

Chris (Canada)

June 13th, 2013 23:51
Erik

Hi Chris,

on a crop body, the focal lengths of both lenses are good - many say around 80mm (35mm equivalent) lenses make the subject look their best.

The 50mm, with its slightly longer focal length and larger aperture, would be able to make the subject stand out more, since the background will be more blurred. Great for outdoor shots.

Obviously, portrait photography is more than just having a suitable lens. Maybe I'll exeriment a bit and write an article or two about it someday.

June 14th, 2013 03:52
Chris

Hi Erik,

I just stumbled across this in doing some research. I'm purchasing a canon 60d and have been looking at 3 lenses. I shoot mostly street, low light still, urban landscapes. I'm looking at the 50mm 1.8, the 40mm 2.8 pancake, and a tamron 17-50 which do you feel would work best?

June 14th, 2013 19:03
Erik

Hi Chris,

for any kind of landscape photography, be it urban or not, you will benefit from the larger field of view of the Tamron. The 40mm and 50mm are great for street (ie people) photography though - partly because they force you to think different about your shot, requiring you to move around to compose, and because they are small and light to carry anywhere.

But if I had to choose only one lens of those you mention, it would probably be the Tamron. The image quality should be good, and such a zoom lens comes in handy very often.

June 16th, 2013 04:27

This article makes lens hunting so much easier! Thank you so much for the input Erik! Im gonna pick up the 40 mm now! :)

June 16th, 2013 13:37
Erik

Hi Jonathan,

glad to be of help. Have fun with the lens!

July 18th, 2013 14:50
Apurva

Hi Erik,

Can you tell me whether the 50mm f/1.8 is significantly faster than the 40mm pancake?

I basically want one of the two for my low light photography as my second lens.

Thanks.

July 19th, 2013 14:42
Erik

Hi Apurva,

since f/1.8 is one and a half stop faster than f/2.8, the 50mm will enable you to cut your exposure times by more than half if shooting open compared to the 40mm.

July 20th, 2013 07:32
Apurva

Thank you very much, Erik.

You're doing a get help to people like me. :-)

July 23rd, 2013 09:41
Peter

Hello Erik!

I thought this review was superb!

One quick question: I will be leaving to Rome/Venice/Florence next week, and I was planning to buy a new lens for the trip. I will be shooting monuments, landscapes, and art. I will also shoot a couple videos here and there of the family...which lens (of the two above) do you think would be best for my personal uses. I'm leaning toward the pancake but have heard different opinions. Thanks!

July 23rd, 2013 19:11
Erik

Hi Peter,

thank you for the kind words!

As you probably already have understood, I tend to lean towards the 40mm. It's small and sharp and difficult not to like.

However, you might feel a bit limited by the fixed focal length. 40mm (and 50mm) is great for detail shots and should also work well for art, but a shorter focal length would probably be more useful when shooting landscapes. Also, for videos, the 40mm is good but it lacks an image stabilizer which helps a lot to reduce shake.

Consider getting the 40mm and then, keeping things on a budget, simply bring the kit lens along. It's light, has a useful focal range and optical image stabilization. Aperture and image quality may not be great, but that's what the 40mm is for.

Hope this helps.

July 23rd, 2013 20:45
Peter

If you were to choose between...

1. The 40mm 2.8 STM
2. Canon - EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II
3. Canon - EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III
4. Canon - EF-M 22mm f/2 STM Standard Lens
5. Canon - EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II
6. Canon - EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III USM

Which one would you choose for the purposes that I will use. Thanks.

July 23rd, 2013 21:43
Erik

Hi Peter,

what kind of camera do you have? Because lens number 4 (the 22mm) is using the EF-M mount and is not compatible with "standard" Canon SLRs.

I think you could benefit from something that is a bit wider than the 40mm, and the only lens that does that from those you listed is the kit lens (number 5 in the list). On a budget, the kit lens is a safe choice in many situations, but it may not have the best optical quality.

The rest are rather long zoom lens, which seems less useful for what you intend to use it for.

Above, Chris asked whether a Tamron 17-50 is a good option... and I think it is! Consider adding it to the list. ;)

July 23rd, 2013 21:44
Peter

If America, it is called Canon Rebel t2i

July 23rd, 2013 22:32
Erik

Ah, the T2i. It's called 550D here and is similar to the 600D, which is what I am using. So I guess what I stated above applies.

July 24th, 2013 04:33
Peter

Hey Erik,

Just picked up my new pancake lens! So far, I think it's a great addition to my camera. I do have one quick question, and it's probably a stupid question but please bear with me since I am just starting DSLR's and am quite old and not too good with technology, 85 and still going strong! The 40mm lens does not zoom at all, is that how it is supposed to be? Or am I doing anything wrong? Thanks so much for your help!

-Peter

July 24th, 2013 08:55
Erik

No, you are not doing anything wrong. :) The 40mm is a prime lens, not a zoom lens - it has a fixed focal length. Zoom lenses may provide more flexibility, but prime lenses are usually lighter and have better optical quality.

Shooting with a prime lens may be difficult sometimes, but it also forces you to think differently about the shot - it takes more than just standing and zooming.

Keep shooting with it, it is certainly very rewarding.

July 24th, 2013 10:09
Peter

Thanks Erik!

Leaving tomorrow to Venice!

-Peter

July 26th, 2013 16:54
Damián

Danke!
Du hast meine kaufentscheidung positiv beeinflusst.

August 2nd, 2013 00:05
Gab

Very good review! THANKS! I learned that neither the 40mm nor the 50mm was for me. I'm glad to have the picture samples with a crop camera!

August 4th, 2013 20:15
Ahmed

Hi, Erik!

Firstly, thanks for this wondeful article. :)

Secondly,
Which one you would choose for video shooting? (for Canon EOS-M)

1- EF-M 22mm f/2
2- EF 50mm f/1.8 II (with EF Adapter)

August 4th, 2013 22:36
Erik

Thanks Ahmed! :)

For video, the 22mm should be more quiet while focusing, unless you stick to manual focus. Also, 22mm is a quite convenient focal length and you will not have to back off as much as with the tighter 50mm, especially if shooting indoor. I also feel that using the EOS-M with an adapter in part defeats its purpose.

The 50mm has a very shallow DOF so it will allow you to isolate subjects very effectively, more so than with the 22mm. Looks cool if that's your style. Otherwise, I would go for the 22mm with the EOS-M.

August 6th, 2013 13:10
Ian

Thanks for your comparison. Plastic fantastic is so weak and ugly that i cannot let me buy such a piece of shit. EF 50mm 1.4 is much better but overpriced twice. So I decided to get one nice 40mm. Good built quality and sharp lens. And one more thing that 40mm have 7 blades diaphragm versus 6 blades on 50mm. It means more round bokeh

August 21st, 2013 16:10
Bruna

Hey Erik!

I have a canon t3 (1100d) and i still have doubts between getting the 50mm or 40mm lens. I want to be able to get night shots, but I don't know if it's worth to get the 50mm because of the quality of the mount and the sharpness of the 40mm. But as I said, f/1.8 is quite better for night shots. Can i get an advice for that? :)

August 21st, 2013 16:48

So awesome that you compair with photos and everything. I'm gonna go for 40mm now! :D

August 21st, 2013 17:35
Erik

@Bruna:

Guess that depends on the type of shot. For cityscapes, both lenses are too long and you are probably better off with the kit lens and a tripod. For other types of shot, you will probably want as much light as possible. I have found even the 1.8 to be barely enough for shooting people in a poorly lit restaurant, so I would say try the 50 mm.

@Marielle:

Thank you, and have fun with the lens! By the way, if you just like comparing photos in general, you might be interested in this comparison between DSLR, cell phone and compact:

http://www.erikmoberg.net/article/dslr-vs-cell-phone-camera-vs-digicam

August 26th, 2013 05:30
Vivek

Hello Erik,

Really a nice article comparing both the lenses. I've been using 18-55mm kit lens on my new 600D since last 2-3 months however I've noticed that most of the photos (60%) are not sharp as I'd have liked. Like others on this thread, I am also confused about 40mm /or/ 50mm. I mostly do portraits and close-ups so based on the discussion I feel I should go with 40mm. Can you shed some light on how sharp (in %) is 50mm as compared to 18-55mm kit lens? Also how sharp (in %) is 40mm as compared to 50mm? So this way we'll have a better idea of sharpness for all 3 lenses. Thank you.

My flickr id is vivsaby

August 30th, 2013 00:47
Erik

Hi Vivek,

good comment! I should really compare the sharpness more carefully. However, it's a bit of work and worthy a blog post on its own. I will see what I can do.

September 2nd, 2013 06:01
Vivek

Thank you Erik. I look forward to reading your new blog post. Have a nice week ahead.

Vivek

September 9th, 2013 14:02
james

Hi Erik ,
Loved the way you keep things simple and explain stuffs which most other websites fail to do .I have a similar question like Vivek has--
Which lens should i go with my canon 60d- canon 50mm 1.8 or canon 40mm f.2.8 ? I need lens for the below reasons

1)Street photography
2)Outdoor portraits
3)Landscape /outdoor photography

James

September 9th, 2013 22:00
Robin S.

Hello,
I'm really confused...
I own a canon eos 650D and i don't know which one to choose..

The 40mm f/2.8 stm or the 50mm f/1.8 II?

I want to use it for portrait/landscape/street.

Which one should i get?

Robin

September 9th, 2013 23:02
Erik

Hi Robin, hi James,

seems like you are both asking the same question! The 650D and 60D are similar in many ways, so this should apply to both:

Portrait: Either will do, but the 50mm has a slight edge thanks to a shallower depth of field which isolates the subject. Also, the resulting focal length on a crop sensor camera is around 80mm, ideal for portraits.

Street: The compactness and wider field of view makes the 40mm the better choice in my book. Some may still find it a bit too long though.

Landscape: You're better off with the kit lens! Both lenses are too short for this purpose. Still, you can use either of them and software stitch the shots later. There might be better programs out there, but I sometimes Microsoft ICE which works for me:

http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/redmond/groups/ivm/ice/

Hope this helps somehow. ;)

September 9th, 2013 23:13
ruud

So if i read the comments...
If i would walk around in the city and just want to shoot pictures of people and other interresting stuff and i would like to do a little portret of people and animals inside and outside.

I can better get the 40mm above the 50mm right?

Or am i wrong?

Ruud

September 10th, 2013 13:07
Dave

Same question as Ruud, please help us.

Greets,
Dave

September 10th, 2013 18:15
Erik

Hi ruud, hi Dave,

sure! As I see it, the 40mm should get the job done better. The 50mm feels too tight for such situations (unless you are on full frame). If you plan on shooting animals in low light, the 2.8 aperture might be too slow though - especially since animals tend to move when you don't want them to. A standard zoom lens (for flexibility) and an external flash gun (for quick shutter speeds) might serve you better in this case.

And also, there is no "right" or "wrong" here - it all depends on what you are comfortable shooting with. I know myself that I had the 50mm for quite some time without using it much, but the 40mm has basically stayed on since I got it - but that's just me. ;)

September 11th, 2013 21:17
lloyd

hi erik,
i just wanted to ask if this lens is better or same quality of canon 50 1.4??
im planning to buy 40mm but my friend suddenly sell his 50mm 1.4
so what you think 40 2.8 or 50 1.4?

September 14th, 2013 11:12
Erik

Hi lloyd,

tough one! I have not tried the 1.4 myself, but from what I have heard, the price difference to the cheaper 50mm 1.8 is hard to justify for many. If the price is right and bokeh is your thing, it might be worth going for though. It should be great for portraits.

If possible, ask your friend if you can borrow and try out the lens for a day or two - that should make the decision easier.

September 20th, 2013 19:11
Erik

To Vivek (and everyone else),

I just posted a quick comparison between the 40mm, 50mm, kit lens, and the Tamron 18-270. It could provide some more guidance:

http://www.erikmoberg.net/article/quick-sharpness-comparison

September 25th, 2013 00:08
Tyrone

Hey mate I have a 600d and I am slowly getting into automotive photography would either of these else's be good for that I'm having a hard time finding what lense to go to next for car portrait shots. Thanks mate

September 27th, 2013 09:47
Erik

Hi Tyrone,

while both lenses have good optical quality, they might be a bit too tight. Detail shots would work well though. Please read my previous comment on this:

http://bit.ly/192lkLU

September 30th, 2013 21:18
Sally

Hi Erik,

I'm looking to get another lens other than my kit lens for the Rebel T2i that I own. I'm mainly wanting to use it to shoot newborn and child photography. I thought about just picking up the Prime 50mm lens since it's so inexpensive, but after reading your review I'm thinking the 40mm pancake lens is the way to go. In your opinion, which one do you think is better for newborn photography (mainly indoor) the 50 or the 40? And is there another "all purpose" lens that you can recommend I add that would also be good to have other than the kit lens and the prime lens? (I was thinking the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4, but feel it may be to heavy duty for what I need it for)

Thanks so much!

October 1st, 2013 21:01
razu

hi erik..

i want to do portrait/street photography. i want better bokeh and sharpness. i have canon 600D. cost is not my concern, i just want better quality of picture.
which will be better for me?

50mm f1.8 ? or
40mm f2.8?

October 2nd, 2013 19:45
Erik

@Sally: The 50mm is a must for any canon user according to some, so do feel free to pick it up! The shallow depth of field and the slight fuzziness fully open can really create some magic. Personally, I still prefer the 40mm though, mostly because of its more usable focal length and build quality.

For an all-purpose lens, consider the Canon 15-85. Its weight and zoom range should be more fit for an APS sensor camera than the 24-105, and it's cheaper (although still a bit pricey). You might want to google some reviews to see if it's for you.

@razu: I prefer the 40mm, it's very sharp and has rounder bokeh. It's also smaller and focuses more quietly.

October 7th, 2013 13:06
Sally

Thanks for the quick response Erik! You've been very helpful :)

October 23rd, 2013 18:21
Mitrava

Hi Erik

I have been using 50mm for a few months, until I dropped it and it parted into 2. I'm really into travel photography and 50mm hardly was of ne use as its angle was too narrow and if I focus an object close by the background is barely visible at 1.8 fstop. Though the 'object' comes out to b real awesum. Sharpness is an issue in long distance shots. And I find it too bright in daylight even at iso 100. For travel Its of no good. But for portraits its unmatched.
How's 40mm for travel, long shots, and how wide is it?

November 4th, 2013 11:48
kenneth

hello Erik,
i just really want your opinion about this.
Is 40mm is really a good upgrade from Canon 18-55isII?
or should i just stay in my kit lens?
what you think ?

November 6th, 2013 22:21
Adrian

War hilfreich und ich habe mich für das 40mm entschieden..
Schön, einen Frankfurter im Internet zu entdecken (zumindest Fotos aus Ffm)
:)

November 13th, 2013 20:08
Erik

@kenneth: The 40mm is sharper and faster, but it lacks optical image stabilizer and also zoom. In that sense, it's not a pure upgrade since there are tradeoffs. If you think the 40mm will suit your needs, by means, go for it. But if you feel that zoom and IS are important, consider a quality zoom lens instead.

@Adrian: viel Spaß mit dem Objektiv! Bin mittlerweile umgezogen, war aber eine schöne Zeit in FFM. :)

December 1st, 2013 16:16
Rusty

Very helpful review! 40mm is the one for me!

December 28th, 2013 08:26
Logan

Thanks so much for this...im strapped on budget and i just needed a lens that can stay on my 60d. I have a zoom,but it's too heavy for walk around and the 50 is just too tight, i was looking for a review that actually has photos from cropped sensor bodies..thanks so much for this. (I have a 50 1.8 and im trading it for a 40 for the "little" extra wide) thanks again.

December 28th, 2013 13:07
Erik

Hi Logan,

I hope the 40mm has what you are looking for. Since I got it, it has stayed on the camera much longer than the 50mm ever did - definitely a good sign.

December 30th, 2013 17:15
Zajden

Thanks a lot !! Really nice blog you have there

January 5th, 2014 16:06
Jane

Thank you so much!!

This thing with canon 50 mm also happened to me. It just fell apart. I got very sad because I had it only for 5 days and at that time I went for a vacation, so I couldn't take photos.
After your article I realized that it wasn't my fault and thank you for good advice!

January 6th, 2014 10:40

I have a canon 550D
i have the basic 18-55 mm lens
i'm more into portrait and nature photography as you may see on my page
i plan to buy another lens to enhance my photography in these two areas
also i need lens with which i get good bokehs
which lens do you think i should go for ?

January 6th, 2014 14:14
Erik

@Zajden: thank you, glad you like it!

@Jane: yes, the build quality of the 50mm is very poor. Luckily, after mine feel apart, I was able to push the two pieces back together and it has been working since.

@Aniruddha: the 50mm has a focal length suitable for portrait photography on your camera and offers great bang for the buck. Just be careful not to drop it! The 40mm should also work well, but will not be able to blur the background as much. For nature photography, neither is very suitable. You will probably need a good quality zoom lens that's wide enough for landscape shots. The Canon 15-85 is a good general purpose lens that should work well for you. Have fun!

February 13th, 2014 01:40
Glenn

Thought I'd chime in with my recommendation for those with full-frame cameras. If I'm indoors, the 50 is on due to it's larger aperture. If I'm out and about, it's the 40 due to the size. I feel the loss of aperture is a fair trade for the compactness. That said, for most portraits I prefer my 85/1.8 or the 50 in a pinch because to 40 distorts faces too much. So, as you can see, there's a place for both lenses with a full-frame body. I had a cropped body before and used the 40 for a walk-around normal lens and the 50 for my portraits.

February 18th, 2014 11:22
Sanchit

Hi Erik,

Firstly, great article!!

I have a Canon 600D too and as it is evident I am confused between the 50mm and the 40mm lens.

I do a lot of low light photography, pet photography(my dog is my fav. subject), children photography (during their workshops, in side a room and loads of movement) and landscapes.

I have the standard 18-55 and 55-250mm lenses, could you suggest which one of the two 40mm and 50mm will be more suitable for my photography style?

Thanks!!

March 9th, 2014 01:34
David

Very informative. Thanks.
On the street shot of the bike with the 40, what was the aperature?

March 9th, 2014 19:58
Erik

@Sanchit: Sorry for the late reply! Neither the 40mm nor the 50mm is very suited for landscape shots, but both are good for portraits, especially on a crop body. You may benefit some from the faster aperture of the 50mm if you shoot in low light and want to freeze action. Otherwise, keep the lenses you have and get a flash instead (preferably one with a swivel head for light bouncing).

@David: thank you for your interest in this article! The aperture in that shot is f/2.8, with a shutter speed of 1/400th, at ISO 100.

March 18th, 2014 11:29
Bob

I am a insect lover and i love to click insects only...Can you suggest that which lens give a better satisfaction for insect photography????

March 18th, 2014 15:01
Erik

Hi Bob,

in my opinion, neither can focus close enough to be used for serious macro photography. Also, macro lenses are typically a bit longer, usually equivalent to 100mm. But if I have to choose one over the other, it would be the 40mm since it can focus a bit closer as shown in the macro shot in the article. Hope this helps!

March 21st, 2014 14:33
Emiliano

Hi Erik,

Great page!

I need your opinion here.

I have been recently robbed and now I'm purchasing my equipment again and think I think about buying two lenses (primes).

50mm 1.8+85mm 1.8 (I read great thing regarding the 85mm and I had the 50mm with nice results, but think that 85mm and 50mm will be some kind of "close")

40mm 2.8+85mm 2.8 (I read nice things regarding the pancake and think even it is slower it has the half focal lenght than the 85mm which is also faster).

Also, I really like models, beauty and "people" shooting so think that 40mm + 85mm will be a good option to shoot close portraits and mid body photos.

What do you think?

Thanks and greetings from Argentina :)

March 21st, 2014 14:37
Emiliano

Oh, I have a 60D and the kit lens.

March 21st, 2014 16:34
Erik

Hi Emiliano,

sorry to hear you got robbed, hope you are OK!

About the lenses, if you have used the 50mm before and liked it, I see no problem picking it up again. The focal length is great for portraits on a crop body and it can produce a very shallow depth of field to make the subject stand out. But I understand what you mean, and also feel that the 50mm and 85mm might be a bit close. So if you are getting the 85mm anyway, I also think the 40mm would be the better companion. The compactness is also a nice plus.

However, personally I feel that 85mm is a bit to long on a crop sensor for portraits. Have you considered the 50mm for portraits, and using something 30mm-ish for full body shots or as a walk around lens?

March 21st, 2014 18:08
Emiliano

Thanks!

Any recomendations for 30mm?

March 22nd, 2014 02:58
Erik

Canon has a 28mm f/1.8 and Sigma a 30mm f/1.4, either one should probably be okay in your case. By looking at some reviews, it seems that many lean slightly towards the Canon. Both lenses cost more than the 40mm pancake, but the price point is still within reason.

Please be aware that I don't own either of these lenses, or the 85mm! You might want to read some reviews before blindly following my advice. ;)

March 30th, 2014 22:17
abhijeet

hi
i have canon 60d with 18-55 and 55-250.
pls help me to choose lenses .
i like to click in house or street photography.and some time function pics.
so, suggest me for buying the lenses 50 mm 1.8 or 40 mm 2.8 stm.
i got sharper also.

March 31st, 2014 16:47
Erik

Hi abhijeet,

the kit lens you already own, the 18-55, is pretty OK for indoor and landscape much thanks to is reasonably wide angle. Neither of these two lenses are very wide and may be awkward to use. For street however, I would prefer the 40mm for more compactness. As already mentioned, it's also very sharp. Hope this helps!

April 2nd, 2014 21:27
abhijeet

thank u Erik..

April 7th, 2014 10:13
Agness

I got totally confused. I am going to by the Canon EOS 600D + the 18-55mm lens, BUT would also love to have a lens for portraits. I like taking pictures of individuals and mainly outdoor. Sooo, my question is whether it is worth buying the 50mm lens (for shoulder and full-length photography)/ Thank you in advance.,\

April 7th, 2014 22:29
Erik

Hi Agness,

the 50mm can create a nice, blurry background with its shallow depth of field, so is great for portraits. And it's cheap too! Start using the kit lens first (at the long end), if you feel that it doesn't deliver on portraits, the 50mm is a cheap upgrade and usually well worth it.

April 8th, 2014 09:11
Agness

Thanks a lot! :)

April 8th, 2014 14:21
Pardeep

Hi Erik,
I have Canon 600D and 18-55mm and 55-250mm lense. But I want a lense for a portrait photography,or fashion photography. I know both these lense are actually not meant for this. But still I want your suggestion on this. I read the review, but still in a confusion regarding 50mm or 40mm.

May 15th, 2014 08:50
Chinmay

Thank you so much Erik!!! Going with 40mm...

May 15th, 2014 14:42
Vineet

Well, Erik thanks for the full fleged decription. :) both the lenses have amaZing aperture. Well I'm use to shoot short films and now want to go ahead with lot of low light photpgraphy. I have tried my hands on 50mm (though I don't own it.)
As per my experience. 50mm will give you perfect results as you desire when there's more light.
So, as per my requirement what do you suggest, 40mm or 50mm? I own 550D with kit lens and i'm thinking to also buy 75-300mm lens:

May 16th, 2014 23:06
Erik

@Pardeep: The 50mm is a good portrait lens, feel free to go ahead and get it! ;)

@Chinmay: Glad I could help! :)

@Vineet: If you tried the 50mm and liked it, maybe that's a good choice already? You could consider the 40mm if you want more compactness and better build quality, and don't mind the slower aperture.

May 17th, 2014 13:52
Vineet

Okay. Well then i'll go for 40mm as well. Thanks for the advice.
Can you also guide me with 55-250mm f4-5.6 and 75-300mm f4-5.6 one? I have heard 75-300mm is not good. But i'll surely be missing the extra 50mm if I go for 55-250mm!

May 31st, 2014 12:50

Hey, I currently own a 50mm f/1.8 and I demoed the 40mm f/2.8 STM in a store and I really liked the bokeh that the 40mm gave as well as the general image quality and build quality. But I'm worried about the difference between 2.8 and 1.8, especially given my 40D's pathetic ISO performance at 3200. The 1.8 allows me to do night shooting at ISO1600 but will the 2.8 be suitable for me?

May 31st, 2014 18:02
Erik

Hi Lee Joonmin,

good question, and I can't seem able to make up my own mind about this!

Maybe you could check the EXIF (metadata) of some of your old shots and see if there might have been room for another stop and a half - maybe your shutter speeds were faster than you think, or the ISO lower. You probably want to stay at a shutter speed of 1/60th to be safe, combined with a f/2.8 aperture and ISO 1600. If you are already pushing it at f/1.8 (lets say ISO 1600 and 1/30th), then f/2.8 might be tough. But also note that the shorter focal length helps reduce camera shake slightly at slow shutter speeds, as described in the article.

June 18th, 2014 06:56
Nitish

Hi Erik I use a Canon 550D and already own a 50mm f/1.8 but I'm not very content with it as the angle of view is a problem when I want to get closer to the subject which usually is my wife and kid. I love to shoot portraits with the softer blur and good bokeh. Which lens would you advise me to go for. I was thinking of 28mm f/2, 40/mm f/2.8 and 35mm f/2. My dire need is portraits and couple shoots producing the softest blur and great bokeh. Also suggest me if any other lenses are better of than I mentioned above around the same budget. Thank you.

June 21st, 2014 23:18
Erik

Hi Nitish,

while I like the 40mm, I have the feeling it might be a bit too long in your case - and I am afraid I don't have any hands on experience with the other lenses you are considering. I do have an old 28mm lens though, and I find the focal length quite useful so personally I would look into that. By the way, have you considered the Sigma 18-35 f/1.8? That way, you have a quite flexible solution and don't have to stick to a single focal lenght.

July 20th, 2014 21:14
dimgeo

Dear Eric
I have the canon 550d with 18-55 kit len and i would like to upgrade my equipment so as to work as a photographer in a club's events in my town.Which of the two lenses do you suggest and why;
Thank you for your time!

July 23rd, 2014 18:59
Erik

Hi dimgeo,

well, as always, it depends! The two lenses are not dramatically different; both have a fixed focal length and are good for portraits. While image quality is good with both, the fixed focal length is often limiting. Try setting the kit lens to 40 or 50 mm and see what it's like. If it feels comfortable, well, I prefer the superior build quality of the 40 mm. If you will shoot in dim light, the large aperture of the 50 mm will probably serve you better, however.

July 23rd, 2014 19:13
dimgeo

Thank you for your quick response! I used to use external flash for my job so your i tring to find the most value for money new equipment.I think that 40 mm might be my solution,what do you think?

July 23rd, 2014 19:24
Erik

I am very fond of the 40 mm and not trying to make a secret out of it! ;) Hope you like it as well.

August 7th, 2014 19:29
Andrew

Hi Erik. I dont have a question but I just want to say thanks for all your help! I am amazed at all your responses for each and every person/ situation. You are helping people capture beautiful memories. So thank you. :)

August 7th, 2014 19:39
Erik

Hi Andrew,
thank you for the kind words! Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. ;)

August 16th, 2014 06:53
Chan

i have 1100d . which one will be better . 40 mm ya 50mm?

August 16th, 2014 09:17
Erik

Hi Chan,
The ISO performance of the 1100D is not all too shabby, so I think I would have gone for compactness instead of speed, meaning taking the 40mm. If you feel otherwise (you probably have the kit lens already - does it feel slow in the short end?), the 50 mm would enable faster shutter speeds.

August 20th, 2014 06:21
Andrei

@Nitish, the EF 85mm f/1.8 is an excellent choice for portraits and is not that expensive.

September 24th, 2014 05:58
Anthony

In your opinion when lens do you think would work better for glamour shoots in tight locations. bedrooms, bathrooms, living rooms, or even suites?

September 25th, 2014 23:09
Erik

Hi Anthony,

A shorter lens is usually more convenient if you have little space, but also will be less flattering to the model. You might want to get the cheaper 50mm and then a flash gun for off-camera flash - it might get tight, but at least you have good light!

October 30th, 2014 17:37
Amin

Great article!

November 4th, 2014 06:39
Mithun

Hi Erik,

Thanks for a detailed article. I was in a confusion which one to buy , but now i have decided to go with 40mm.

Once again thanks :)

November 11th, 2014 18:42
Neto

Hi Erik

How about the new Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM Pancake?
In a Canon eos 100d, what would be the main/best use of these lens?
1) Canon EF 50mm 1:1.8 II
2) Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM pancake
3) Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM Pancake

November 11th, 2014 19:57
Erik

Hi Neto,

today, I think I would rather go for the 24mm. I like the 40mm, but my main gripe is the slightly too long focal length. 24mm on a crop body should be very versatile. Anyway:

1. Lots of bokeh. Good for portraits and isolating subjects.
2. Good for travel thanks to small size and build quality. Also good for portraits.
3. Just as small as the 40mm. Better for general use and as walkaround lens because wider, less so for portraits.

I don't have the 24mm so I'm guessing a bit here. But it certainly looks pretty good!

November 12th, 2014 00:45
Neto

Thanks a lot Erik!
So, the 24mm or 40mm pancakes are a good complement to canon 18-55 is stm original kit? For a amateur guy who likes street photo, travel photos And some landscape...

November 20th, 2014 17:31
Luisa

Hi Erik,
Thanks for the review. I have one quick question, I just bought my canon t5i recently, (the one with the 18-135 lens) so far it has been good, but I want to take portrait pictures the type where the background is blured, I feel I can`t get that with the one I own, Im new at this so I dont know if its the lens or Its just me not knowing how. Can you help me with this and is the 40mm the one for this types of picture, would it be a good purchase for what I want? I appreciate if you can get back to me asap because Im about to buy it and Im all the way in colombia so I wont be able to return it if it doesn work for me.!!! Thank you so much!

November 20th, 2014 17:36
Luisa

sorry, Also, for night shots I havent been able to take clear pictures at night with my 18-135 unless I have the flash on and I dont think the pictures look good with flash, is the 40mm good for that?
thanks

November 20th, 2014 20:29
Erik

Hi Luisa,

don't worry, getting used to new equipment takes time! You can try a few tricks with the lens you already have for more blur:

1. Make sure the mode dial is in Av (aperture priority) mode and that the aperture is fully open - meaning the smallest possible number.
2. The further the subject is from the backdrop, the stronger the blurring effect.
3. Use longer focal lengths. At 135mm, the effect should be more noticeable. Try shooting twice with the same composition, one at the shortest focal length (18mm) and one at the longest (135mm).

For night shots, stick to a large aperture and a short focal length and make sure the optical stabilizer (IS) is on. Consider using a tripod, or improvise one - for example, put the camera on a rock and use the 2 second timer.

The 40mm is good for portraits and should give you a little more blur. It is, however, only marginally faster than the 18-135 and it lacks IS, so it is not a given choice for night photography.

Hope this helps!

November 21st, 2014 15:08
Neto

Erik
Fpr you, the 24mm or 40mm pancakes are a good complement to canon 18-55 is stm original kit?

November 21st, 2014 20:46
Luisa

Im so glad you answered, thank you very much!!!

December 9th, 2014 07:26
j

excellent comparison, made the decision so much easier. thank u Erik.

January 2nd, 2015 21:40

Hello Erik,
first of all,I'd like to thank you for the reviews and photo samples,very professional!Could you please give me an advise for my case - I am a painter and I'd like to take "print-size" photos of my paintings. So my studio is very small (about 4x 4,5 m) and I am wondering which kind of lenses to choose.My camera is Canon 60D, the other lenses I have is Canon 17-55/2.8 Thank you very much in advance!

January 3rd, 2015 12:54
Erik

Hi Drago,

thank you! You will want to avoid distortion as much as possible, so you would probably want a fairly long quality lens, and you should stand back as far as you can. Also, a tripod helps. You might want to experiment with the lens that you have to find out far you will able to stand back and how long the lens can be (it also depends on the size of the paintings). If 50mm feels OK, you can get away with the cheap Plastic Fantastic - it should produce very little distortion and stopped down a bit, it is razor sharp.

January 3rd, 2015 13:35
Drago

Many thanks for answering,
I tried one Plastic Fantastic and the result is..hm,ok.I think in the center it's sharp as hell, but at the corners it isnt what I want.My biggest paintings are 60x40 cm, so the 2-3 meters from target is an excellent distance
for shooting, with a solid tripod that I use. So, you said 40mm is sharp in whole picture and I am really interested in it.The bad thing is that I can't find one for test shoots, just have to blind-buying it...

January 3rd, 2015 13:43
Erik

It interests me as well. I might try to set up such a shot. Subscribe to the comments using the RSS feed to make sure you don't miss it. :)

In the meantime, you can have a look at this article where I compare the sharpness between different lenses:

http://www.erikmoberg.net/article/quick-sharpness-comparison

January 3rd, 2015 14:26
Drago

I checked it and it seems that 40mm is sharpest))) Would be really cool if you set up some shots (painting or some similar object in a room) - this will help me for sure.For this moment my sympathy is going to 40mm)))))))

January 4th, 2015 21:34
Erik

Hi again Drago,

I made you the comparison! The article pits the 40mm, 50mm and the kit lens against each other, shooting a 72x52 cm picture from 2-2.5 meters. Hope it helps:

http://www.erikmoberg.net/article/experiment-shooting-art-with-cheap-lenses

January 5th, 2015 17:06
Drago

Wow,Erik,thank you very much, really appreciate it!!!!! Love the shoots, it made sense for me. I am still in 40mm, despite of distortion.It can be correct easily with photoshop.

January 5th, 2015 23:42
Erik

No problem. :) Hope the lens works for you!

January 8th, 2015 09:59
Drago

Hey Erik,
what about Canon 50mm/1.4? Did you ever test this lens?

January 8th, 2015 21:05
Erik

No, never tried it. Your mileage may vary, but many reviews say that the 1.8 is about as good as the 1.4. Here, for example: http://www.slrlounge.com/school/canon-50mm-prime/

January 9th, 2015 13:06
Drago

Thanks a lot, my friend,it's very helpful !

February 3rd, 2015 07:26
lizzy

Hi,

I have a 550 d and am looking to click some candid shots of a child and also if possible to use the same for some macro photography of nature and minute objects .

do correct of i am wrong but having lot difficulty in selecting one of teh two lenses discussed here

currently i have a kit lens and 18-55 and a 55-270 lens

February 6th, 2015 18:35
Erik

Hi, lizzy

hard to say! Neither of the lenses here are particularly great for macro. The 40mm might have an edge because it focuses a bit faster, and you can also let the lens auto-focus and then adjust the focus manually without changing any settings. This can be useful if the subject is moving around a lot.

You already have some decent gear there, think about what is really missing. If you like the flexibility of a zoom lens, you might want to stick to your guns. If you need more light and more bokeh, either of these should be good fun.

February 26th, 2015 08:29
Ray

Hi,

I recently got the 600D, kit lens, and the 50mm/1.8 lens, but I feel like it is too long for indoor shooting. I still have the option to return it, would the 40mm or the 24mm pancake be a better option?

This is my first DSLR and I'm still new to photography. Perhaps the kit lens would be good enough? What do you think?

February 26th, 2015 21:16
Erik

Hi Ray,

the 50mm definitely feels awkward indoors with an APS size sensor. But if you are aware if its limitations, it can be both fun to use and produce great results, especially for portraits. That said, the 24mm will most probably be more versatile. If you find yourself shooting close to the short range of the kit lens most of the time, the 24mm should provide better quality in a smaller package. Otherwise, just keep experimenting and learning with the 50mm. It might be a challenge to use sometimes, but in the right situation and some practice, it certainly delivers.

March 26th, 2015 16:44
Albertho J.

Thanks a lot... I was undecided between the two lenses, buy now I know for sure which one is the better choice...

April 18th, 2015 00:54
Dale

Hi,

I have a Canon 70d and was wondering which lens is better for

April 18th, 2015 01:07
Dale

(Cont.)...for photographing my young kids who are, as expected, on the move all the time - 40mm or 50mm? I've had the 50mm for just under a year and have been very happy with the pic quality, although I have struggled getting the focus right on a few occasions (blurred or not focusing on more than one subject - I shoot on automatic and scene - portrait). Yesterday I dropped the 50mm lens, hence the decision to replace it with the same lens or try something a little different (40mm).

I look forward to hearing from you.

April 19th, 2015 12:53
Erik

Hi Dale,

subjectively, the 40mm tends to hunt for focus a bit less and also, it can take a bit of a beating! Unlike the 50mm, which fell apart after I dropped it - luckily I was able to push it back together again. So I think the 40mm might be a good option for you. Hope this helps!

June 5th, 2015 11:51
Dip

Hi Eric,
Congratulations on the excellently written article. I need an advice from you. I have a Canon 1000D with 18-135 IS Lens. Additionally, I have a 40mm 2.8 STM with it. I generally prefer Street/General photography. Plz suggest me whether should I stick with the 40mm or look for the 50mm 1.8 or the 24mm 2.8? Moreover, can you please through a brief light about the merits of 24mm, 40mm and 50mm? Expecting a quick reply.

June 6th, 2015 11:03
Erik

Hi Dip,

thanks! Well I think it depends on your shooting style and where you feel the 40mm lacks. If you feel that it's too tight, the 24mm might be a better choice. With 24mm, for street photography, you will need to get closer to your subject, which might be a good thing. With the 50mm you may have to step back a bit, and it will also give a more shallow depth of field. However, the 50mm is not quite as compact, and has a sub par build quality.

June 6th, 2015 20:02
Dip

Dear Eric, thanks a lot for the reply. Well, as far as Portrait is concerned which one is better between the 24mm 2.8 and 40mm 2.8?

June 6th, 2015 20:06
Dip

Dear Eric, please refer to another query of mine. What are the main differences between the Canon 24mm 2.8 and 40mm 2.8? Is 40mm good enough to be used with 1000D?

June 6th, 2015 20:07
Erik

The 40mm should be more flattering, as faces will look thinner. The shorter 24mm will distort faces a little, leading to big noses and the like.

June 6th, 2015 20:21
Erik

And the 40mm is a very good and sharp lens - not only considering its price point - and it works quite well on my 1000D.

June 7th, 2015 06:50
Dip

Dear Eric, thanks a lot for the reply. I prefer to stick with my 40mm 2.8 :-) Thanks a lot, once again.

June 7th, 2015 20:15
Dip

Dear Eric,

One more :-) Is there any need to use UV Filters with Canon Lenses? Personally I don't believe in these UV Filters. If I don't use them will the lenses get deteriorated? Please reply

June 7th, 2015 22:10
Erik

Hi Dip,

I don't use UV filters and I don't see a good reason to. It might provide some protection, but so does a lens cap. Also, be aware that some (cheaper) filters can worsen the image quality quite a bit. Hope this helps!

June 8th, 2015 19:36
Dip

Dear Eric, Thanks a lot once again! :-) Thanks a lot for your lovely co-operation.

June 8th, 2015 20:29
Erik

Glad to be of help!

July 4th, 2015 08:59
Nastik

Hello Sir Please suggest me a good lens between 40mm-50mm for my canon 70d
uses Product shoot leather bags and mobile covers

July 6th, 2015 19:14
Erik

Hi Nastik,

either one discussed in this article should do, but I tend to lean towards the 40mm (as you might have noticed).

July 6th, 2015 20:24
Prasun mondal

hi,
I am bit confused between 50mm 1.8 STM and 40mm 2.8STM.
Price wise both are same. Functionality wise i was shooting with my 60D at 50mm and 40mm with my 18-135 , but it did not seem to a lot of difference frame wise.
while comparing both the lenses the 50mm 1.8 STM appeared to be sharper beyond f4 till f11.
there seem to be a strange magenta glow on the corners in the 40mm 2.8 STM .
I shoot everything from closeup to landscape to portrait. for me sharpness is the priority. i had made up my mind to go for the 40mm but now i am more inclined to the 50mm.
please help me out.
thanks.

July 8th, 2015 19:31
Erik

Hi Prasun mondal,

the corner glow might be due to vignetting at large apertures, which is quite common. It should go away at f/4 or f/5.6 or so. Either way, if you have already tried the two lenses and liked the 50mm better, why not simply go for it? At the end of the day, both lenses are actually quite similar.

August 16th, 2015 01:05

Thanks very much, you answered the exact question I needed answering. I am now going to get the 40mm to go with my 600D. Excited to try it out. Thanks for taking the time to post this.

November 6th, 2015 18:50
Larry Miller

I shoot with the Voigtlander 40mm/F2 pancake Aspherical lens. A truly outstanding lens. Sharpness that's unreal with a "Leica" look in the pics it produces. Kudos to the Voigtlander group for making this lens...

November 13th, 2015 06:33
vimal rajpurohit

Hiii
Erik its vimal from india .i want to ask that which one is better for potrait as eell as architectural photography.

November 13th, 2015 18:05
Erik

Hi vimal rajpurohit,

both are pretty good for portraits on a crop body. The 50mm will give you more background blur so it might be a better choice in some situations.

For architectural photography, none of these will really cut it as they are quite narrow and have no fancy features such as tilt-shift. However, either one will do fine to capture the small details - just be aware that none of these is a proper macro lens. The 40mm gets a bit closer than the 50mm though. Just make sure to also bring a wider lens along!

November 16th, 2015 12:56
Mark

Hi Erik
Im a begginer in photograpy and our family loves to travel and we want to take pictures with us and on our background are the place weve visited, we want to carry 1 lens when we travel, what do you recommend?

November 16th, 2015 22:30
Erik

Hi Mark,

neither of these really suits your needs. I once brought only the 40mm on a trip abroad, which I thought was a bold and creative move, but it ended up being only very limiting. It often feels either to long or too short. If you are just starting out, use the kit lens for a while. 18-55 is a useful range and it will help you to get the shot almost every time.

December 1st, 2015 01:43
jakub

hi there!

nice article, well done !

I was just wondering if u had any chance to compare new STM version with 40mm one?

regards
jakub

December 4th, 2015 21:16
Erik

Hi jakub,

afraid not! It looks quite attractive though. If you want to sponsor me, feel free to send me one in the mail. I will make sure to give it a thorough review. ;)

January 13th, 2016 21:43
Vicky

Hey Eric, I make videos for youtube and I was looking to purchase a new lens. I'm confused however, which lens would be better for that kind of shooting; indoor makeup videos. I also use the rebel t5. Would either of the lenses be compatible?

January 17th, 2016 22:13
Erik

Hi Vicky,

either lens should work just fine with your camera. As you understand in the article, the lenses are quite similar, with more or less the same pros and cons.

It should be noted, however, that image stabilization may be of interest when shooting handheld video. You might want to use a tripod when recording video since neither of these lenses have optical stabilizers. You can experiment with this yourself by using the kit lens (which I assume that you already have) and switching IS on or off to see the difference.

February 2nd, 2016 11:56
Sid

Dear Erik,

I would like to say you are doing great job. Its such a eye opener for beginners like me.I had question in my mind but found answers from one of your replies above.

Thank you so much Erik :)

May 18th, 2016 17:39
Sanjay Sagar

Hi Erik,
I have bought a 40mm STM after reading your review and I am so happy to see the superb performances as well as image quality of this cute little honey of a lens. Today this lens has been my workhouse and I love to use this lens. Its my darling lens. Thanks for the review.

May 18th, 2016 21:27
Erik

Hi Sanjay Sagar, hi Sid,

glad to be of help! I have a few lenses, but the 40mm still stays on the most - for good reasons!

July 17th, 2016 09:40
Manjit

Hi Erik

Was planning to buy the 50mm for my 700D, however after your review the 40mm will be in the collection soon.

Thank you for the excellent comparison and review.

November 23rd, 2016 23:37
Jasna

I am just about to purchease Canon 750d with 18-135 lense as a kit - so no experience in DSLR area.
Yet my kid is in speed skating (poor lights, fast movement) and I have been warned that aperture of 3,5 will not satisfy my needs. That I need at least 2,8. Lenses with zoom and 2.8 aperture are very expensive. So I am thinking about fixed lense. I plan to be around 30 m away from the kids I want to take pictures of.

Which of the two 40 with 2,8 or 50 with 1.8 is better for me?

Thanks for good article!

Jasna

November 26th, 2016 14:11
Erik

Hi Jasna,

happy you liked the article! Between the two, the 50 mm is probably better since it's faster and the longer focal length lets you get closer to the subject. It might still be a bit short though, and like you mention, a fast (and long) zoom lens would probably be better - but the wallet definitely disagrees!

November 27th, 2016 07:52

Hi Erik,
Thank you for this beautiful insight.
I have Canon 600D accompanied by 18-55mm & 55-250mm.
I was confused about a 50mm or a 40mm.
It appears to me that 40mm is the right choice.

February 23rd, 2017 09:12
Sami

sir, can you please tell me which lense between canon ef 50mm f1.8 STM and canon ef 40mm f2.4 STM will be better for making the best bokeh and for wedding photography?

February 27th, 2017 20:05
Erik

Hi Sami,

the 50mm will produce more background blur than the 40mm. You can actually tell from the shots of the leaves in the post above.

For wedding photography, it really depends - there is much more to it than just having a fast prime. Wedding shoots tend to be a tad chaotic - lots of stuff going on, limited time - and I think a good quality zoom lens might be the right tool for the job here, since it allows for more flexibility.

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