Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM Lens – The Macro & Landscape Pancake

The Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM lens.

The box for the Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM lens.

Since my visit to France last year, I have been getting into photography as a hobby more and more. I enjoy capturing moments, places and scenes, to share and to remember. Shortly after returning from my vacation, I picked up Canon’s EF 40mm f/2.8 STM1 pancake lens and have really enjoyed it. It’s a fun portrait’ish lens that is incredibly small, yet quick to focus and snaps really sharp images – especially considering the $150 price. But, in a lot of ways, it’s just a smaller and less sharp version of the EF 50mm f/1.8 lens 2 (“thrifty fifty”) that I have as well. To be fair to the 40mm, it is still a great lens, and, with the very quiet STM autofocus motor, it is also hands-down better for video. What neither the 50mm or 40mm are great at, however, is macro and landscape photography, which are two focus’ I wanted to explore. Enter Canon’s new EF-S 24mm STM lens.

The Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 pancake lens.

The Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 pancake lens.

If you own the 40mm pancake, this lens feels practically the same. For those without experience, the 24mm is a plastic build, but never feels flimsy or cheap. It is a solid piece of equipment. I believe that both the 40mm and 24mm pancake lens feel more substantial than the thrifty fifty. The main difference here is that the 40mm is an EF lens and is compatible with Canon’s high end full-frame cameras. The 24mm pancake is an EF-S lens, limited (relatively speaking) to Canon’s Rebel line all the way through their not-completely-insanly-high-priced cameras. This is not a big deal for me. I really enjoy photography, but have been satisfied with the results from my Rebel T4i to the point where I don’t foresee spending $2,000+ on a better camera.

Overlooking Laguna Beach, out to Santa Catalina Island. Full-auto - ISO 100, f/9, 1/320.

Overlooking Laguna Beach, out to Santa Catalina Island. Full-auto – ISO 100, f/9, 1/320.

Like it’s 40mm brethren, Canon’s 24mm pancake is extremely small and light, making it a pleasure to work with. I took it out on a hike in the Laguna Hills recently, and was impressed with the shots it took. The 24mm pancake does not have any image stabilization, but is fast enough to compensate for most shaking, unless it’s dark. The glass seems so tack sharp for a $150 lens, it’s a great value.

Laguna Canyon, looking east towards Irvine (and NW towards the LA smog). Full-auto - ISO 100, f/9, 1/320.

Laguna Canyon, looking east towards Irvine. Full-auto – ISO 100, f/9, 1/320.

The STM motor is quick, and quiet – again, practically the same as the 40mm. That said, all of Canon’s STM motors are not created equal. I find STM on both the 40mm and 24mm to be very, very quiet, while STM on the 18-135mm is dead silent, and a wee bit faster. Given you could buy a thrifty fifty, and both 24mm and 40mm pancake lens for the price of the 18-135mm, the difference isn’t altogether surprising. It’s no knock on either of the pancakes, as I rarely if ever hear the STM motor when playing back videos shot with them.

Afternoon, inside, with curtains open and regular house lights on. Full-auto - ISO 100, f/9, 1/320.

Afternoon, inside, with curtains open and regular house lights on. Full-auto – ISO 100, f/9, 1/320.

Landscapes aren’t the only fun you can have with the 24mm pancake. With a minimum distance from the subject of just 6 inches, it also makes a nice little macro lens too.

Full-auto - ISO 100, f/9, 1/320.

Full-auto – ISO 100, f/9, 1/320.

So far, I’ve been pretty impressed with how the 24mm handles challenging light situations. I wish I had this lens while I was in France, it would have been great inside of cathedrals, chateau’s, etc. For travel, I think the Canon 24mm pancake lens, paired with the 18-135mm STM, would be a knock-out combination. Walk-around with the 24mm on the body and it would be great for light, quick and easy street photography. Although I’ve only had the 24mm pancake lens for a couple of weeks, I have throughly enjoyed my time with it and look forward to using it to explore new areas of photography.

Canon EF-S 24mm STM pancake lens3

Pros:

  • Inexpensive, but does not feel cheap.
  • Very small and lightweight.
  • Solid image quality, and nice bokeh, considering the price.
  • Great for landscape, macro, architecture and street/travel photography.

Cons:

  • While great at many things, it is not truly outstanding at any of them. This is a jack-of-all-trade’ish lens.

Verdict = Recommended.

References   [ + ]

1, 2, 3. Amazon Referral Link

Mike Knotts

Mike Knotts was born in 1968 in a small town in southern Indiana. Even when very young, Mike showed a love for all-things technical and sci-fi. Moving with his family to California in the early 80's, he eventually graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a degree in History. Rather than put that to good use, Mike continued to pursue his passion for technology by working for early, regional ISP's in the mid 1990's. He currently resides in the Pacific Northwest, where he works as a project manager for an Internet startup. Mike is a co-founder of Geekometry.

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