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What is a pancake lens?
In DSLR forums, I see the term pancake lens, or pancake prime. What is that?.

Thanks in advance...

Comments (5)

A "pancake lens" is a very short (flat) lens that barely extends from the camera body. Typically, these are slightly wide normal lenes.... like this 40mm Pentax....

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MartyPanasonic FZ7, FZ20, FZ30, LX2Olympus C4000, C7000.

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Comment #1

BigBen08 wrote:.

In DSLR forums, I see the term pancake lens, or pancake prime. Whatis that?.

Thanks in advance..

The Pentax 40mm shown above is an extreme example. Pentax also makes a 21mm and 70mm pancake in it's current DA Limited series..

The advantage of these pancakes is excellent build and image quality in a small, light, unobtrusive package. They also have image qualities (rendering) which are not obvious from looking at measurements and specifications..

The DA Limited pancakes currently feature 21, 40, and 70mm lengths with additional lenses recently announced. Pentax also offers FA Limited lenses which are not pancakes but still physically small. The FA Limited's are 31, 43, and 77mm focal lenght. A combination of three of those Limited series lenses is a nice travel kit. I highly recommend them if compact fixed focal length lenses is your style...

Comment #2

Mrxdimension wrote:.

BigBen08 wrote:.

In DSLR forums, I see the term pancake lens, or pancake prime. Whatis that?.

Thanks in advance..

The Pentax 40mm shown above is an extreme example. Pentax also makesa 21mm and 70mm pancake in it's current DA Limited series..

The advantage of these pancakes is excellent build and image qualityin a small, light, unobtrusive package. They also have imagequalities (rendering) which are not obvious from looking atmeasurements and specifications..

The DA Limited pancakes currently feature 21, 40, and 70mm lengthswith additional lenses recently announced. Pentax also offers FALimited lenses which are not pancakes but still physically small.The FA Limited's are 31, 43, and 77mm focal lenght. A combination ofthree of those Limited series lenses is a nice travel kit. I highlyrecommend them if compact fixed focal length lenses is your style..

I wonder why pancakes are noted for image quality. Could it be because they don't have many elements (fixed focal length, moderate aperture)? I have always found that lenses with a small number of elements make crisper images than ones with a lot. Tessars (4 elements) and the 5-element Nikon medium teles (85 and 105mm) are legendary for image quality..

It is said that coating technology has progressed to the point where 15-element lenses don't lose any light but I don't quite accept that..

So, I've never used a pancake lens but I think I want to..

Leonard Migliore..

Comment #3

Leonard Migliore wrote:.

Mrxdimension wrote:.

BigBen08 wrote:.

In DSLR forums, I see the term pancake lens, or pancake prime. Whatis that?.

Thanks in advance..

The Pentax 40mm shown above is an extreme example. Pentax also makesa 21mm and 70mm pancake in it's current DA Limited series..

The advantage of these pancakes is excellent build and image qualityin a small, light, unobtrusive package. They also have imagequalities (rendering) which are not obvious from looking atmeasurements and specifications..

The DA Limited pancakes currently feature 21, 40, and 70mm lengthswith additional lenses recently announced. Pentax also offers FALimited lenses which are not pancakes but still physically small.The FA Limited's are 31, 43, and 77mm focal lenght. A combination ofthree of those Limited series lenses is a nice travel kit. I highlyrecommend them if compact fixed focal length lenses is your style..

I wonder why pancakes are noted for image quality. Could it bebecause they don't have many elements (fixed focal length, moderateaperture)? I have always found that lenses with a small number ofelements make crisper images than ones with a lot. Tessars (4elements) and the 5-element Nikon medium teles (85 and 105mm) arelegendary for image quality..

It is said that coating technology has progressed to the point where15-element lenses don't lose any light but I don't quite accept that..

So, I've never used a pancake lens but I think I want to..

Leonard Migliore.

I don't tend to think of it quite in the same terms you outline. I think fixed focal length lenses (primes) are made to do one thing very well with few compromises. Zooms are more versatile but balance quality, size, and cost..

As for lenses, if you know what a Tessar type is you're not a newb. I think if you can make lens coatings that make light loss negligible on a 15 element lens the same coating is that much better on a lens with less air-glass surfaces. I think this is one factor in favor of fixed focal length lenses, high contrast and good color rendition..

Some manufacturer's target good specs on MTF lens tests. Others shun metrics and design for what looks good to the human eye. A Leitz or Zeiss lens may not test the best on a chart but they do have a character. Similarly the Pentax limited's have character that cannot be expressed by numbers..

Most importantly for me I like the Pentax Limited's for the following reasons:.

1) fixed focal length forcing me to move and think about composition2) character of rendering an image regardless of how the MTF metrics appear3) excellent coatings leading to high contrast and good colors4) less expensive than Leitz or Zeiss at near the same quality and rendering.

5) probably most important the physical size is small so it's light and compact to carry and not intimidating to subjects. A 21mm pancake, a 43, or 77 limited looks much different to a subject having their photo taken than an 18-50 or 16-45 zoom.6) Pentax is increasing their offering of premium fixed focal length lenses.

7) The FA series of primes are faster than f/2 at the expensive of a bit larger size. Not quite pancakes, but not large..

I suppose I'm not in the mainstream, but small fixed focal's fit my style...

Comment #4

Sure , modern day coating made light transmission really good, at least the like of 98% or more , but with every air/lens surface give you some light lost and lost of contrast / acutence, the math eventually add up..

Franka -..

Comment #5

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