words & image source/photographer : Eksovichea Tito Hak

In a word...impressive.

This lens is extremely crisp and sharp. It was eye pleasingly contrasty and punchy on the colours front when I needed it to be without my having to necessarily drop into the menu settings to change picture style settings. (Almost as if it knew what I wanted without my having to tell it/set it).

Even without a lens hood It handled a number of daylight backlit situations near a window and a certain amount of glare quite well in being able to retain a decent amount of distinguishable dynamic range on subjects at the fore whilst still looking contrasty. (Where as other older Canon lenses I've used would show a more indistinguishable and uniform shadowy shaded tone across the  subject(s) at the fore to also be more adversely affected by glare). Obviously it would handle even better with a lens hood at certain angles.

It was also bright and crisp without making the picture soft when I needed it to be for certain picture styles too. (Again as if it knew exactly what I was going for based on the lighting conditions without my having to necessarily drop into the menu settings to change picture style in order to make it more likely to be that way).

A constantly VERY sharp lens even at the largest aperture of f2.8. Potentially even sharper when stopping down a little.

On the build front it feels extremely well made and solid. (Not at all flimsy or cheap).

Its not an L lens but...

Its optical performances has been likened to top end L lenses costing in excess of 500 and 1000GBP. Having tested the Canon 40mm EF pancake (which you can pick up for around 100 to 150GBP depending on where you buy) all I can say was my eyeballs were blown away and craving more.

The STM focus system is quiet, but nowhere near as quiet as a Canon's USM lens focus system. However the STM system is much smoother at focus transitions than USM, making STM much more ideal for video focusing.

Its an EF lens, meaning that it will give you a 40mm viewing angle on a Canon dslr that has a full frame sensor. If you're using an APS-C crop sensor Canon dslr, it will give you a viewing angle of 64mm. But even with the slightly reduced viewing angle the image quality is still excellent and extremely crisp.

An excellent all rounder prime lens with excellent image quality. If you love your Canon dslr and taking pictures with it whilst wanting to keep things a lot more weildy for  general shooting purposes, this is a must have prime lens, and as we should all know by now, prime lenses tend to be optically much superior than zoom lenses for sharpness, certain colour properties aswell as brightness and speed for those equipped with much larger apertures. Although I'm personally of the reckoning that the 64mm viewing angle on a crop sensor body might generally be a little too overly restrictive for architecture and lanscapes purposes, and it will probably be a bit of a chore for street photography too although not impossible, which might limit its use to portrait snaps if you're not willing to deal with the relatively limited viewing field for a crop sensor. People with full frame Canon's (6D, 5D MKII and 5D MKIII owners) will obviously benefit from the full 40mm viewing angle which will set you in much closer to a traditional 35mm street photo viewing angle.

Its also a very recent 2012 addition to the Canon dslr lens line-up, meaning that its primed specifically for digital sensors.

Other stuff about this lens - The STM focusing system is completely electronically controlled from within the lens. Meaning that without power the focusing cannot be changed or altered. This means that you won't be able to use the lens manually with a NEX camera via a none electronic EOS lens to E-mount adaptor. You'll need a smart/electronic EOS to E-mount lens adaptor.

You might also be interested to know that the this lens is included in the official Canon 2013 winter cash back offer which you can get up to 100 to 200GBP cash back (with bonus cash back) if you combine 2 item purchases included in the offer selection. They don't have to be bought from the same place either. Check the website for the full terms and conditions, but one crucial point that you might want to consider is that in order to qualify for cashback it has to be bought from a UK retailer which does not include eBay or Amazon. The cut off date for received applications is the 24th of January 2014 so you best hurry if you want to catch the offer.