Who Wants Pancakes?

There are so many lenses for sale these days, from the $16,296.95 Nikon AF-S 800mm f/5.6 FL ED VR superlens, all the way down to a lens one of my students showed off recently, a camera body cap which holds the lens taken from a disposable film camera, on sale for $19.99.

The Lumix 14mm f/2.5 "pancake lens" is shown on my well-used Lumix GH2.
The Lumix 14mm f/2.5 “pancake lens” is shown on my well-used Lumix GH2.

One lens I’ve kept my eye on for nearly a year since I got ahold of a second-hand Lumix GH2 is a so-called “pancake lens,” so named due to its flatness, a Lumix 14mm f/2.5.

I have several lenses in this class, all small and lightweight, so I watched, but didn’t buy, this lens until a Black Friday sale offered it for less than $100, so I finally relented.

This 14mm fits on a Micro 4/3 camera, and is a standard wide angle.

It weighs less than two ounces. According to random Internet sources, that is the weight of a tennis ball, two slices of bread, two AA batteries, 50 jelly beans, and so on.

The Lumix 14mm f/2.5 stands in front of my other pancake lens, the Fujifilm 18mm f/2.0. Because of different sensor sizes between Fuji's APS-C and Lumix' Micro 4/3 means the lenses provide a very similar angle of view.
The Lumix 14mm f/2.5 stands in front of my other pancake lens, the Fujifilm 18mm f/2.0. Because of different sensor sizes between Fuji’s APS-C and Lumix’ Micro 4/3 means the lenses provide a very similar angle of view.

The lens is so small on the camera, I can’t really get my usual (and correct) left-hand-under grip, which is okay, since there is only one control, a focus ring, on the lens anyway. I tried it out, and found it was very awkward to try to manually focus it.

I threw it over my shoulder for a couple of dog walks, and the photos I made with it look pretty good. They are sharp, especially at the largest aperture, f/2.5. (For what it’s worth, almost all lenses are “sharp” at f/11, so being sharp “wide open” matters.)

Maple leaves in the front yard show off the 14mm's angle of view, sharpness, and subject separation.
Maple leaves in the front yard show off the 14mm’s angle of view, sharpness, and subject separation.

I am not a collector. In fact, I honestly believe that if you don’t use something, you should think about getting rid of it. At least one friend of mine gives his older cameras and lenses to his kids and grandkids when he is done with them.

So what will be my prime focus (so to speak) while using this lens? I’d like to throw it in as a wild card, something I might carry as casually as we carry our phones, going to it when I want to be more spontaneous. I certainly have cameras and lenses that accomplish that, but all at a cost, my achy-breaky shoulders. Any time I can add capability while lightening my load, my body and my photography both win.

The Lumix 14mm f/2.5 is shown with some pennies for scale.
The Lumix 14mm f/2.5 is shown with some pennies for scale.

1 Comment

  1. That is a damn nice photo taken with the pancake lens. As you say, really nice subject separation. I love how it treats the background, nice and soft without going fuzzy. Great color. Sounds like you’ve got a real keeper at a decent cost.

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