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01-14-2010, 12:39 AM   #1
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What's the purpose of "Pancake" lenses?

Just curious, but I've seen the very thin, pancake lenses on ebay, along with normal sized lenses of the same focal length.

So I was just wondering what advantages/disadvantages the pancakes lenses have, and why would anyone want them in place of a regular type lens.

01-14-2010, 01:03 AM   #2
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Advantage: they are more compact. While the DA 40mm is only available as a pancake (and in fact stems from the classic M 40mm/2.8), the other two 'pancakes' (I'm quoting the term because I believe that only the 40mm is a true pancake) are similar to faster counterparts from the FA lineup, namely the FA 20/2.8 and the FA 77/1.8 limited.
Disadvantage: they are slower (in terms of aperture).

Optically, the DA limiteds, or pancakes as they're indeed sometimes referred to, are pretty high up- check the lens review database for more information on that

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01-14-2010, 01:10 AM   #3
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I actually don't know how a pancake is defined other than by small, thin size. So one advantage is from the size - they're small, so they're light and easier to carry.

From what I've seen in reviews, their resolution is also quite uniform across the frame. More regular lenses get very sharp in the center but are softer in the borders - pancakes seem to have very good resolution across the frame, but its peak is less than that of regular designs. Check photozone for some comparisons.
01-14-2010, 01:39 AM   #4
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The small size is an advantage for two reasons and I will use my DA 40 as an example:
1. When mounting the DA 40 on the camera people stay relaxed and "natural". It shows in the pictures. I tested the 16-50mm F2.8 and 50-135 F2.8 and noticed how people became a bit bothered when taking pictures of them.
2. With the small size of the pancakes it is easy to carry the camera by the strap and at the same time have 3 lenses in your pocket. No need for a big camera bag.

Kind regards
.lars

01-14-2010, 01:53 AM   #5
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Since you've heard about some, although probably not all of the advantages already I'll mention the only 2 downfalls of it.... that I can think of. Since I don't own one I'm just basing this on what I've heard
1. They're harder to focus manually, due to being soo close to the body.
2. Much easier to get your finger in the shot. I've seen this a couple of times in the lab, where I work.
Other than that, I understand that they're stellar lenses. I'd like to add one to my collection soon.
01-14-2010, 05:04 AM   #6
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The size and weight is the big plus for pancake-lenses in general.

Speaking of DA Ltd lenses, build quality and optical quality add to the pro's.


For travel or active adventure photography, you could go with a DA15mm on the camera, and a DA70mm in one pocket. In another pocket you could have spare SD-cards and a couple of batteries.
01-14-2010, 06:49 AM   #7
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It is the size and weight which is the biggest advantage, and I am starting to REALLY apopreciate the sizes of lenses which wasn't even a factor for me only a few months ago.
01-14-2010, 07:07 AM   #8
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Easier to hide them from your wife

01-14-2010, 07:14 AM   #9
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I believe what makes them optically better is they become much simpler designs.

Note that the regestry distance for a pentax camera is 46.4 mm. That is the distance from the film.sensor surface to the lens mount.

Therefore a 40mm corrected optic can be made very simple if it is not extending outward excessively from the mount, but kept close to the natural focusing point.

This is why pancakes are so small.

With less elements and optical corrections, compared to a typical 40 mm lens that may extend 40-50 mm beyond the lens mount, as others have noted the performance across the entire frame is much better,
01-14-2010, 07:20 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by jeryst Quote
Just curious, but I've seen the very thin, pancake lenses on ebay, along with normal sized lenses of the same focal length.

So I was just wondering what advantages/disadvantages the pancakes lenses have, and why would anyone want them in place of a regular type lens.
with the Kx, it fits inside ladies purse?
01-14-2010, 07:23 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by pcarfan Quote
It is the size and weight which is the biggest advantage, and I am starting to REALLY apopreciate the sizes of lenses which wasn't even a factor for me only a few months ago.
I've come to feel exactly the same way. Even my Sigma 17-70 feels somewhat cumbersome now

I tolerate the DA12-24 because of the extreme wide-angle it gives (ssshh, don't mention the DA15 - I tell myself it's not wide enough anyway), but I'll pick a small prime anytime I can. My common "go to" kit is now the K-7 + DA21 + FA35 + FA77. The last two are not pancakes, obviously, but they're still relatively small). It all fits in small shoulder bag (Lowepro Nova 160).
01-14-2010, 07:35 AM   #12
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Yes, that's a good point!

QuoteOriginally posted by vizjerei Quote
Easier to hide them from your wife
01-14-2010, 08:46 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Recercare Quote
The small size is an advantage for two reasons and I will use my DA 40 as an example:
1. When mounting the DA 40 on the camera people stay relaxed and "natural". It shows in the pictures. I tested the 16-50mm F2.8 and 50-135 F2.8 and noticed how people became a bit bothered when taking pictures of them.
2. With the small size of the pancakes it is easy to carry the camera by the strap and at the same time have 3 lenses in your pocket. No need for a big camera bag.

Kind regards
.lars

+1 on both points. I find that my smaller primes tend to bring me more unique shot opportunities because of this.


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01-14-2010, 08:57 AM   #14
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I've been wondering about this as well. The advantage is obviously that they are small, but doesn't IQ suffer from this? I mean, I can't imagine Pentax stuffs all the expensive glass in the larger lenses just for fun. I'd think there is always a compromise... then again, I don't know much about optics.
01-14-2010, 09:07 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Scrib Quote
I've been wondering about this as well. The advantage is obviously that they are small, but doesn't IQ suffer from this? I mean, I can't imagine Pentax stuffs all the expensive glass in the larger lenses just for fun. I'd think there is always a compromise... then again, I don't know much about optics.
The ``pancakes'' (DA 40 and DA 70) are sharp and contrasty across the frame. The only slight weakness is slightly more vignetting.
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