Canon 40mm vs 50mm

Canon 40mm vs 50mm

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Canon 40mm vs 50mm

Most photographers choose a 50mm prime lens as their first lens following the kit lens that came with their camera. But there is another option in the form of the Canon 40mm prime. This has a slightly wider focal length and a narrower aperture at f/2.8, and is a similar price to the 50mm 1.8 lens.

So, why would you choose a Canon 40mm? Read on for the full reviews of the Canon 40mm vs 50mm, including Canon 40mm lens sample images. If you’re short on time, look below for the quick lowdown.

Canon 50mm vs 40mm Quick Lowdown

Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM Lens


  • Best Lens for Street Photography
  • Best Lens for Everyday Use with a Crop Sensor (APS-C) Camera
  • Very Sharp Images
  • Close Focusing
  • Quick and Quiet Autofocus
  • Very Small
The Canon 40mm pancake lens is an excellent choice if you are using a crop sensor (APS-C) camera, as the apparent focal length will become 64mm. The maximum aperture of f2.8 allows for a shallow depth of field while also remaining razor sharp, unlike the 50mm 1.8 lens. This is the preferred lens for street photography due to its small, unobtrusive size, quiet and fast autofocus, and sharpness.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens


  • Best Lens for Portraits
  • Very Wide Maximum Aperture
  • Best for Full Frame Cameras
  • Cheap
The Canon EF 50mm F1.8 STM lens is of a similar quality to the 40mm pancake lens, but nonetheless offers exceptional value for money – this is the only Canon 50mm lens available for less than $100, and has been known as the ‘nifty fifty’ thanks to this low price and its performance. The depth of field and low light capabilities make this more suited to portraits than street photography. If you are not selling photos professionally, or you are on a strict budget, this lens will be good enough for you in most situations.

Canon EF 50mm f 1.4 / 1.8 Review

For the full review of the Canon 50mm lenses, take a look at the 50mm 1.8 vs 1.4 Canon page.

Canon EF 40mm f 2.8 STM Review

Canon 40mm 2.8 Review

 Best Lens for Street Photography 

  • Pros:
  • Excellent image quality
  • Very sharp
  • Very good autofocus
  • Relatively cheap
  • Cons:
  • Front element is unprotected, so you get lens flare in bright environments
  • No lens hood provided
  • Less good for portraits due to maximum f/2.8 aperture


The Canon 40mm f 2.8 STM makes an excellent street photography lens due to its high quality optics, very small size and near-silent autofocus. The Canon 40mm lens price is currently around 50% more than the comparable Canon 50mm 1.8 lens, but as long as you are not primarily interested in shooting portraits and still life pictures, the 40mm pancake lens is the better option. This is particularly true if you are using a crop sensor camera (APS-C).

On the downside, the 40mm lens can have a problem with lens flare, due to the front element being completely unprotected. With the relatively cheap price, this is no lens hood provided. You can buy a Canon 40mm lens hood for a few dollars, and this is highly recommended if you are going to be regularly shooting outside.

Canon 40mm Lens Sample images

There a few Canon 40mm pancake sample photos below, taken at various apertures. Note the sharpness and excellent image quality.


Below are Canon 40mm 2.8 sample images. Although the f2.8 aperture is not as wide as the 50mm f1.8 maximum aperture, you can still use the lens to take fantastic pictures of the stars, like the one below.


Which is Best Canon 40mm or 50mm?

Out of the Canon 40mm or 50mm, the best lens for you will depend on how you intend to use it. If you are regularly shooting portraits, then the Canon 50mm f1.8 lens is ideal for you. If this is a large part of your photography life and/or you want to move towards selling photos in this area, then you may want to consider the much better Canon 50mm f1.4 lens. Read the full comparison here.

If you are more into street photography, or you are shooting portraits for fun on a cropped sensor (APS-C) camera, then the Canon 40mm STM would be the better option for you.

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