19 In Lifestyle/ Photography

Canon 40mm vs 24mm lens


When I bought my Canon 100D I got the 40mm lens as part of the package. After having used a rather large 18-55mm lens on my previous camera, I was thrilled to use the compact pancake lens. It was also my first time using a prime lens, a lens without a zoom. Here in Korea they say that if you want to use a prime lens you’ll have to get used to using the bahl-zoom; bahl meaning feet. So I’d been pacing back and forth to zoom in and out, but I found more often than not I’d have to back up as much as I could to get everything inside the frame. The problem was, that sometimes there simply wasn’t enough room to back up. There might be an obstacle such as a wall that makes it impossible to back up to take a picture. A few weeks later, Canon released the 24mm lens and I immediately knew that it was exactly what I wanted.


To give you an idea of the difference between the 40mm and the 24mm, I placed the camera at a fixed distance from my prop. I’m using a makeshift tripod with a box and a folded towel to angle it down towards the prop. If you take a look at the screens, you can see that the 40mm lens doesn’t capture as wide a view as the 24mm lens. Here are the resulting shots from the same distance away from the props:



As you can see, the wide-angle 24mm lens captures a lot more white-space around the props. Keep in mind though, that the 40mm is an EF lens while the 24mm is an EF-S lens. EF lenses can be used on both the cropped sensor (that the 100D sports) and the full frame cameras, while the EF-S lens was made specifically for the cropped sensor cameras. On a cropped sensor, the EF 40mm lens acts as 64mm lens and the EF-S 24mm lens  will act as a 38mm lens. I originally thought that because the EF-S lenses are made specifically for the crop body, that the EF-S lens would produce a 24mm effect on the cropped body. Unfortunately, the EF-S lens does not compensate for the crop of the sensor. Thanks to David for leaving a comment below and clearing that up!


Another reason why I’ve been running around with the 24mm rather than the 40mm is because I can get really close to the subject matter. As you can see, the 40mm needs a fair bit of distance between the lens and the object in order to be able to focus.

As you can see, I can get a macro shot of sorts with the 24mm where as I need some distance with the 40mm. It’s probably not going to be able to do extreme macro -filling the entire screen with flowers and bugs and what not- but it’s enough to be able to get some pretty lovely detailed shots when need be. So if you were wondering whether you should get the 40mm, the 24mm, I would wholeheartedly recommend the 24mm. With its wide-angle and macro abilities, the 24mm is a much more versatile lens than the 40mm. If you would like to see some photo comparisons please click here. You can find the lens on Amazon here.

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Your turn ♥ What’s your current staple lens? Have you ever used a prime lens before?

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  • Really interesting post, Kim! Not so much for the info on the lenses in my case, but because I try to avoid using prime lenses whenever possible lol. In fact, my go to lens that I use for practically everything is an 18-300mm. I love that I can get wide angle landscape shots and zoom right in to get close-up detailed shots without ever having to switch lenses, which I find a real nuisance. The only time I do switch is when I want to get those nice blurry backgrounds, then I switch to an f/1.8 lens.

    Do you not ever feel a bit restricted only having 24 or 40mm? Like when you want to zoom in to get shots of details on buildings or something like that? Or when you want to zoom in to eliminate certain parts of the background from your frame? I’d find it really tricky! :)

    • Kim

      At first it definitely took some time to get used to, but perhaps not necessarily a bad thing as it pushes me to find creative solutions. Between the optical viewfinder and the absence of zoom I almost feel like the lens becomes an extension of my body rather just a separate tool. Having to move my entire body makes me feel that much more involved in the experience of capturing a shot. But you’re right, there are times when I just want a certain detail and up to this point I’ve just been focused on getting a sharp shot and cropping later on.
      All the photos I took while in Europe were done with the 15-88mm and I know that I was definitely zooming in when I can. So perhaps I’ll start looking into zoom lenses before I travel abroad again. For the day to day staple though, I find that the compact nature of the pancake prime makes it more likely that I’ll bring my camera with me simply because I can fit it in my bag.

  • This is a really handy comparison, I have the 24mm and I think it’s a great lens, and as you said I found it so handy for when you can’t back up enough to get everything you want in the frame. It’s a shame that its an EF-S lens as now I can’t use it with my 5D which I’d really love to, and I sort of think I should have got the 40mm instead as they are similar in price but I already have a 50mm which keeps me entertained, so maybe one day!

    I’m a prime lens girl, I sort of feel that it’s not what the camera can do for you, but what you can do with the camera haha. If that makes any sense at all :P I also find I can get more comfortable with a set lens, and create more consistent shots. But that’s just me!

    • Kim

      Ahh, I got the 40mm as part of the bundle lens for the 100D. I’d like to try the 50mm sometime because everywhere I look I see praises upon praises for it! The thing that keeps me from really going after it is that I wonder if it’s worth spending money on a 50mm when I have the 40mm. Like whether the difference in the lenses is big enough to warrant the purchase. Although, I do wish both the 24mm and the 40mm were a tad bit faster.. :P

  • April Black

    Hi Kim! Great post! I’m comparing exactly those two lenses so it’s nice to read something in laymen’s terms as I just don’t understand all of the photography/science jargon. One thing I would have liked to have seen on your post though is a comparison of two landscape type shots instead of just the close ups. Otherwise, nice post. :)

    • Kim

      Hi April! I’m so glad you found this comparison helpful :D
      Yes now that you mention it, it would be nice if it had a landscape comparison wouldn’t it? Hmmm.. Thanks for pointing that out, I will have to think of a place where I’d like to do some landscape shots!

    • Kim

      Hey April, sorry this didn’t happen sooner but here are the comparison photos for the 24mm and the 40mm. It’s actually more of an architecture comparison that makes it easy to compare the difference of the frame, but I also included some scenery shots using the 24mm at the end: http://wp.me/p1WHdr-141

  • David

    “So on a cropped sensor, the EF 40mm lens acts as 64mm lens where as the EF-S 24mm lens was tailored for the cropped sensor and will act as a 24mm lens.”

    I don’t think you quite understand how ef-s works, an ef-s lens is designed only for crop bodies but it doesn’t change the physics, the field of view is still 1.6 times the focal length, the 24mm ef-s still has the crop factor of 1.6 and so gives a fov of approximately 38mm when used on APS-C. It’s wider than the 40mm with a fov of 64mm but to get 24mm fov on APS-C would need a 15mm lens.

    • Kim

      Ahh, thanks for clearing that up David. I’d misunderstood and thought that because the EF-S was designed for the cropped body, it was compensating for the cropped sensor. I will add an edit to the post and attribute the correction to you. Thanks!

  • Hi Kim. Thanks for your post. It really help me to decide between 24mm or 40mm. Good luck for your travelling activity :)

    • Kim

      Hi Anom, glad that this post was helpful in making your decision :) Hope you have fun with your new lens!

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  • Justan Roberts

    Hi Kim. Thanks for this. I really enjoyed reading about your observations between the 40mm and 24mm. I am still very much a beginner and trying to learn all the techno speak. I have just ordered a 24mm for my 100d and I look forward to testing it over the coming weeks. In my honest opinion, your blogs are really helpfull to me so thanks again.

    • Kim

      Hey Justan, I wouldn’t worry too much about all the techno speak while you’re a beginner ;) I think it’s easier to learn a little bit at a time as you experiment with different photo styles, rather than trying to cram it all in at once! I’m glad my comparison post was helpful for you! I got both because the 24mm didn’t even exist when I got my 100d, but once I saw the wide angle and the macro ability I knew it was exactly what I had been craving for while using the 40mm. Let me know what you think when you get your 24mm ;)

      • Justan Roberts

        Hi Kim. I picked up the 24mm lens at teh weekend but i can’t get it to focus on my 100d, either manually or on auto. Stupid question, but am I missing something obvious?

  • Richard

    hey kim.. good review for me as a noob in this kind of lenses.. your post really help me to decide.. i was so confused which one to buy between 24mm and 40mm.. and your post did help me.. the main problem is it’s hard to find 24mm here in Indonesia.. but looking forward for your other post.. please review fuji x70 if you had a chance to use it.. cheers

    • Kim

      Thanks Richard, glad my review was of help to you! Unfortunately I have not had a chance to use the fuji x70 so I’m sorry about that. Are you able to order the 24mm online perhaps? I would try contacting your local Canon dealer!

      • Richard

        i’ve found one last nite at online shop.. but still trying to compare with with others.. perhaps i could get cheaper one hahaha.. how must is it cost there, kim? it’s around $170 here

  • Cameron

    Great review, I have made up my mind and going to go with the 24mm :) thanks!