The Discreet Pancake Lens

With the impending announcement of Canon's pancake lens, I thought it would be a good time to revisit this svelte class of prime glass.

So, what's the big (eh, small) deal?

olympus_17mm_pancake.jpg The Olympus 17mm f/2.8 pancake lens on a PEN Mini.

Thin is In

There's something cool about a lens that isn't much thicker than the body cap that replaces it. You feel like you're getting away with something. And the thinner the camera is to begin with, the more thrilling the pancake is mounted on it.

Light is All Right

Big zoom lenses add much weight to our camera kits. But put a pancake prime on there, and it feels like your camera has been on a diet. You can barely feel it tugging on your neck.

Bright in Low Light

The typical maximum aperture on a pancake is f/2.8. It's probably not the fastest glass in your bag, but it's a whole lot brighter than the kit lens and most of your zooms.

And in addition to all of this, pancakes are usually sharp and affordable. No wonder photographers like them so much.

If you want to learn more about these thin primes, take a look at this excellent article on B&H about pancakes.

And yes, I'm interested in the Canon version that seems to be waiting in the wings...


Loving the Panasonic 20mm f1.7

Great little lens - thin, light and bright.
Love that combination

Loving the DA Limited line from Pentax... The DA 21mm f3.2, DA40mm f2.8 & the DA70mm f2.4.. I would like to also throw in the DA15mm f4 UWA in a very small small package... All great lenses... They would go nicely with your K-5 Derrick!

Yes, I would especially like to play with the 15mm...