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In November of 2014, Canon introduced us to its newest member of their low-cost prime lens family, the EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM pancake lens. Canon gave us the 40mm version in 2012, and hoped to up the stakes by adding a wide-angle version this past year.
Sitting at the extreme end of what can be considered wide-angle, the EF-S 24mm (full-frame equivalent of 38mm on an APS-C sensor) does so in the form of a small, light, and inexpensive prime lens that is easily accessible to all Canon enthusiasts.
The first features that will strike you about the 24mm are its inconspicuous qualities; the lens is incredibly thin at only 2.75 inches, and weighing under five ounces. Street shooters wanting a wider angle of view will be pleased at how reserved the profile of this glass is, as it makes even a large camera body appear smaller, and less noticeable.
In addition to being visually unobtrusive, the STM (stepping motor) feature of this lens allows for faster, and much quieter autofocusing, compared to the USM (ultrasonic) motor system used on many other lenses. Manual focus is available in full, and Canon maintains this lens is capable of a minimum focusing distance of six inches.
For filter users, the lens uses a standard 52mm fitting, and will accept all filters of that size. Also keep in mind that as this lens is part of Canon’s EF-S line, it cannot be used on full-frame systems, such as the Canon 6D, and will only fit APS-C (crop sensor) cameras.
As far as my personal experiences with the lens, they were generally very positive, despite my preconceived worries about image quality that were bolstered by rather mixed pre-release reviews. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the 24mm pancake performed admirably well in this area, giving me very sharp and accurate photos throughout the full range of aperture stops.
The shot above showcases the clarity of the 24mm pancake. The beachgoers far to the back of the frame are sharp, details are well-defined, and I was still able to create a soft blur on the sand directly in front of the camera.
The image above highlights how well the 24mm pancake handles blurring and bokeh at wider apertures, especially for a wide-angle lens. I usually take this shot with my 50mm f/1.8, but I wanted to see what the 24mm could do. The foreground blurring, sun glare, and porch details were all handled in a pleasant manner.
Textures are captured very accurately with this lens, as you can see with the water in the picture above. Ripples and the smoothness of the surface translate well also, and great tonal range helps define the lake from front to back.
Colors are deep and accurate, as shown in the photo above. Other than sharpness, noise reduction, and a bit of contrast adjustment, this image is as it appears right from the camera. I didn’t have to go crazy with the noise reduction, and had a great looking image even with sensitivity set at ISO 1250.
Obviously, being a wide-angle affair, this lens doesn’t produce bokeh or blurring as easily or smoothly as my 50mm f/1.8. This isn’t an issue as I’m usually doing landscape shots using a smaller aperture.
This little jewel is available (at the time of this writing) for $149.00. I’d highly recommend giving this lens a try, especially if you’re in the need of a backup at this focal length, or even an affordable wide-angle starter lens.
Have you shot with the 24mm f/2.8 STM? What did you think? Share your experiences with us below!