Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Real Pancake

Side Note:

Thanks Fishtan for the compliments on your entry. I truly appreciate it.

The photos of the pancake and my ollie are taken with Kodak C875, which is half dead already, but still has enough life to work these few shots for me.

This entry is composed based on a special request by a lovely Kuching blogger, Rose Wong. I think quite a few of you must have gotten a little confused by the vagueness of my last entry, hence here, the truth about the pancake shall be revealed. No holding back, I promise.

I have recently purchased an Olympus Zuiko 25mm F2.8 lens, or more prominently known as, the pancake lens. Why the name pancake? Take a look at the pictures below, and you will understand.


OMG look it is round, slim and flat, just like a PANCAKE !!!

I know I must have contradicted myself, since I have been saying lately that i do not intend to push myself that hard in photography, not going to try too hard and of course, that also means not going to fork out my hard earned cash for adding on into my very limited collection of camera and equipments. Nevertheless, being there at the Olympus Stall at the PC Fair, I tried out the pancake on my Ollie... and I instantly fell truly, madly and deep;y in love with it.

If I am going to be serious about photography, there was no way I would have decided on this particular lens. Based on the professional reviews available from several online sources, most noticeably from DPreview (click), it is very clearly stated that the picture quality produced by this pancake lens may be quite decent, but it is no better than what the standard kit lens 14-42mm had to offer, which I already have. So the question still remains, why did I go for it?


Olympus' smallest ever produced lens + the world's smallest and lightest DSLR body = Ultimate Portability


You almost can't see the lens at the front !!

The answer stems all the way back during my old photo-taking dsys. I have always loved the convenience and ease of using a compact camera, being able to carry it to almost everywhere, and anytime. I do miss terribly those times, when taking pictures can happen at any moment, as long as I had my compact camera with me. Whenever I go out without my camera with me, I would feel as if I am somehow naked.. and incomplete. Unfortunately the ultimate sacrifice had to be made when I decided to plunge into the complicated world of DSLR, at the expense of leaving the portability of the compact camera behind, in the gain of more power and control a DSLR could offer.

Yes, a DSLR is waaay more capable in comparison to any compact cameras out there. A DSLR can outperform the compact camera in almost every aspects of photography, shooting performance, picture output and flexibility of controls, but seriously, let me ask you this, what is the point of having all the capabilities in a camera, if you could not even bring it with you? I believe great photo opportunities happen at times and places that are so random that you are least expecting them to be there in front of you. And I seriously need my Ollie to be there ready for me when I need to click away the shutter.


See the huge difference in sizes !!!


With the flat design of the pancake, it is possible to fit the camera + lens into a bag designed for semi-pro (or prosumer?) cameras.

That was the main reason I got myself the pancake lens. The tiny size, coupled with my world's smallest DSLR, Ollie (Olympus E410), prove to be an interesting combination. They are compact enough to fit into a camera bag designed for a semi-pro compact camera. This undoubtedly would provide me with plenty of freedom to move around, with such compact size and lighter weight.

I am not exactly considering myself to be in the serious photography category, or maybe not just yet. Of course there are times when photo-sessions must be planned and they require the functionabilities and capabilities or other lenses, and those times I shall chuck all my equipments into the larger bag which I used to drag around previously. On the other hand, if I were to just hang out with a group of friends in the middle of the night to have a few sticks of satays while sipping away teh tarik, you would not expect me to drag the huge heavy bag out would you? At normal days, I really wish my Ollie could be a carry-around camera, and with the pancake lens, this can actually happen.

So what else is there about the pancake?

1) Versatile focal length of 25mm (50mm equivalent in 35mm format).

Though this lens is a fixed focus lens, meaning it has no zoom option, but the focus distance is designed just perfect to suit general, everyday multi-purpose photography needs. It is wide enough for tight framed landscape shots and even decent enough to get close for portrait shots. 50mm lenses used to be the primary lenses used by the old days in photography, and it was claimed to be the best lens in function-ability range, until the craze of the zoom swept over.

2) A little bit of macro work.

the minimal focusing distance from the lens to subject is reported to be 20cm, but in actuality, just as reported by some online sources, it goes considerably closer, perhaps 17cm. The magnification factor is 0.38x, which is decent enough for a bit of macro photography in comparison to my standard kit lens.

3) Wider aperture

At wide open, the aperture is F2.8 for the 25mm focal length, which is approximately two stops lower than what what the standard kit lens had to offer in the equivalent 25mm at F4.7. This consequently means higher shutter speed can be achieved, shake can be minimized, which would be crucial for a non image stabilized camera body like mine. Of course it will not outperform what the ordinary prime lenses by other manufacturers have to offer, but hey, other prime lenses are waaaaaaayyy bulkier and heavier to start with.

4) Extreme mobility and Sheer portability.

Oh, have I not mentioned this already? Now, it is possible to bring my Ollie everywhere once again, due to the ultra slim and light-weight pancake lens.

5) Come on, you just gotta admit it, it is damned cute !!!

Here comes the sample shots. I have yet to really try it out, so better photos will come in future entries.




Looking at my archives in this blog, I must say that a huge chunk of my photography work presented in my entries over the years revolve mainly on three things: landscape, people, and food. I strongly believe that the pancake lens is more than capable in handling all these categories !!

With this pancakes, it is time to rediscover the joy of taking pictures with the compactness of a compact camera once again. No more excuses of me not having my camera with me because I am simply lazy to carry something so bulky and heavy.

Now who says DSLR is huge and heavy?


  1. haha so u have a new toy to play with robin!


  2. hey marcus,
    Ahahaha.... an addition to my precious Ollie !! woo hooo

  3. robin,

    glad to know that you have this new lens. i was reading dpreview reviews about it, that u buy the lens not for its image quality (although its decent) but for its ultimate portability. i would've recommended you the leica 14-50 f2.8-3.5 someone was selling on the forums for 600 dollars instead. yes, the image quality of a prime is quite good, but i'd go for one with a large aperture, eg. sigma30 1.4 to make the best use out of it. i think primes aren't for me. i'd rather have a good zoom lens and pay more for it.

    am loving the 12-60 every single bit. the sharpness of the wide angle at 12mm is amazing - something u've gotta experience for urself. oh well, the 14-54 is going to be on my shelf for a while. its a pity for me to let it go unused.

    according to adorama, the lens costs 250 usd aka. rm750 (i understand you'll be eating maggi mee for the next few months, is that right? :p). is that what you paid, or is it cheaper? where did you get it from in kl?


  4. btw. i almost got the pancake lens. i scrapped it last minute for the 50 f2. i figured that its macro capabilities and larger aperture were worth more to me than the time spent waiting for the pancake lens to arrive. i do use the 50, but not as often as i'd like it to be. the pancake looks cute on ur ollie, but not on my 510 and even more massive e3. :)

  5. hey brandon,
    aahaha i knew u had plenty to say. I was seriously considering the sigma lens, but I have heard horrors about it, the back focusing problem can be alarming, heavy chromatic aberration, and its not that cheap too, i would rather go for the Oly 50mm macro.
    But i for usability wise, i figure the pancake would be more suitable for me, since I have been using compacts for no less than 3 years.
    But so far the image quality of the pancake was nothing short of impressive. It comes out really sharp, and I also noticed that the focusing speed is slightly faster than my kit 14-42 lens.
    Yeaahhh... the pancake looks darn cute on my ollie !!!!

  6. abt sigma lenses, yes, alot of ppl have commented about them, but if u get a good copy, it works really well. it was actually highly recommended by one reviewer ( i think). i wouldn't mind getting one bt i think i'm a lazy bugger who prefers zoom lenses, so it works for me right now. out of my 6 lenses, 5 of them are zooms!

  7. hey brandon,
    I would actually prefer to get a zoom too, since the flexibility it provides would really benefit in composing the pictures. But I am not going to get a replacement for my lenses anytime soon, so anything new I am getting would be something not that I already have.
    I gotta make do with what I got at the moment. the pancake just gives me more freedom of taking along ollie with me. Gonna do some random shooting as I walk around the city this weekend.

  8. *hides somewhere*
    Psst.. psssttt... Why mentioned my name there?

    *LOL* Love your pancake. I've never seen such cute lens :)

    You know what? The first dslr that came to my mind was Olympus E-410 (aka your Ollie) too !!! That was my first choice, 2nd choice was Nikon D40 and the 3rd choice was Canon 400D.

    I went for the 3rd choice =.=

  9. hey ah lost,
    LOL haiyoooo why canon?? whyyyy??????

  10. canon has more lens choices, better low light performance, better resolution and noise control.

    ahlost, if u try out my 12-60 and 50-200swds on the e3, u'll know why i choose oly. tho lesser than ideal low light performance (without flash), focusing speed & 2 times reach with the SWD is amazing. now with the e3, both my camera body and lenses have weather sealing. needs to be felt hands on to be appreciated =p

  11. hey brandon,
    LOL... I think I know the reason why she got herself a canon, because every freaking person uses canon around her.

  12. olympus is the light! do not succumb to the darkness!!

    robin, we better make our own oly gang.. otherwise overrun by canon and nikon.. :p

  13. hey brandon,
    yeah i swear i will create an oly group so powerful that the canon and nikon users will tremble at our sight.. LOL... im dreaming again...

  14. birds of the same feather should stay together :p

    i think there's already an oly grp meeting up for teh tarik in kl. try to see this guy: mfahrur. he bought the 14-35swd f2 lens.. i think he's one of the few who has it in m'sia!

  15. hey brandon,
    do you have the link to that guy's site or something? LOL

  16. eh.. my canon terbalik la.. -_-

  17. hey allen,
    ada gaya mah !!

  18. don't think that guy has a website. he has a flickr tho - search mfahrur. despite his lenses, i think his pics are crap.. he's just got cash to burn i think.


    some pics from melb museum:

  19. hey brandon,
    I wish I have cash to burn too T_T