What Is A Canon Pancake Lens? (Everything You Need to Know)

Lenses come in different sizes, each built with specific capabilities by several brands. There is a lens for whatever a photographer might have in mind, from shooting underwater to shooting an insect less than an inch in size. One among the many types of the lens within the broad lenses manufactured by Canon is the Canon pancake lens.

The term “pancake” is completely descriptive within the term “pancake lens” and so has nothing t do with your favorite snack. These lenses are unique and despite their rather obvious difference from other types of lenses, they are shockingly useful and they produce amazing features.

In this article we shall be discussing the definition of pancake lens, characteristics and what they are best used for. The cons will also be discussed to help you judge whether or not you need one. Finally, we will look at some popular pancake canon lenses.

What Is a Canon Pancake Lens?

A Pancake lens is refer to an unusual design and likely the pancake lens is shorter than its’ wide. Another word we can say,  A pancake lens is an informal name given to thin, and flat camera lenses. There is no hard and fast rule on the exact dimension a pancake lens should fall within to be referred to as a flat lens. However, these are lenses that are called pancakes because of how flat they are.

What Is The Characteristics Of A Pancake Lens?

So, what makes the pancake what it is? How come, with its thinness, it still happens to function properly? In this section, we shall be looking at the properties of a pancake lens(which all pancake lens share)

01. Most Pancake Lenses Are Prime Lens

More pancake lenses are prime lenses than zoom lenses. Understandably, zoom lenses come with features, and need a  required thickness for their zooming capabilities. However, the thinness of a pancake lens does not allow for the required functionality needed for them to be zoom lenses

Prime lenses on the other end come with a fixed focal length making them perfect for pancake lenses. Hence, all  pancake canon lenses are prime lenses. 

02. Pancake Lenses Are Often Wide Angle Lenses

Wide-angle lenses are perfect for taking pictures with a wider point of view. These lenses are noted for having smaller focal lengths compared to other types of lenses. So, by functionality, pancake lenses are wide-angle lenses.

In terms of size, wide-angle lenses come with focal lengths measured at 35mm and below, which is more or less the size of some pancake lenses. This specific character of pancake lenses comes in handy in their functionality as we would see in the net section.

03. Pancake Lenses Are Light Weight

Being thin means pancake lenses are generally lighter compared to other lenses. Also, they come with no extensions or features that are common with other lenses, and this also reduces their weight even more. They are so light, you can fit a couple iN your pocket. 

The thinnest pancake lenses come in the form of body cap lenses. Bodycap lenses are termed so because they are so light they also function as the body cap cameras need for protection. These body cap pancake lenses however produce poor images largely.

04. They Are Cheaper

Being built thin, and lacking some of the technologies common with high-end cameras only means pancake lenses are way cheaper. They are easier to build, less complicated and easy to maintain. You don’t need a deep pocket to get a pancake lens.

What Are The Uses Of Canon Pancake Lens?

The first impression you will get from a pancake lens is that it is limited in usage or that it will produce the worst quality of images. And you will be wrong. Pancake lenses are very useful, and are even used by some professionals.

01. Replacement For Kit Lens

All new DSLR/SLR cameras come with a kit lens. Kit lenses are usually the cheapest zoom lens product of a camera brand. They are not durable, can be complicated to maintain(because of how their change in zoom affects aperture), and are known for not-so-great quality pictures.

You are not expected to use your kit lens for long before upgrading. The best alternative especially if you do not have a thousand dollars and above to pay for a prime lens is to go for a pancake lens. So, when you buy a new Canon DSLR/SLR or Mirrorless camera, it is better if you just ditch the kit lens and go for a pancake lens.

02. Travel Photography

The lightness of a pancake lens makes them perfect for travel photography, especially when you do not want to pack heavy. This is one of the reasons why they are quite popular. A pancake lens fitted into your camera(compact camera) can easily be put into a small bag.

The quality of the pictures produced is also amazing. The Canon 40mm Pancake Lens is an amazing lens that produces sharp pictures. Any form of a citation with is easy to correct. The out-of-focus background of pictures you take with it is also amazing. Canon EF 24-105mm f/4.0 L IS USM Lens the best for your travel photoshoot.

03. Street Photography

Street photography often requires you to sometimes shoot without calling the attention of your subjects. You also need light gadgets that will allow you to move swiftly among crowds without fear of bumping into people with your bag loaded with a DSLR camera and big lenses

That said, a Canon pancake lens is the best option for street photographers. The fact that they are light, easy to install, and produce good pictures will come as an advantage to you. With a pancake lens, you are fully equipped to hit the best street photography with Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM lens.

04. Landscape Photography

One of the requirements for landscape photography is a wide-angle lens. The reason for this is obvious. When you have to shoot a field or a mountain range with the rising sun in the background, you need a lens that can capture the width of the entire scenario.

Fortunately, all pancake lenses are wide-angle lenses. Hence equipped with a pancake lens, you can take some amazing wildlife pictures. Another advantage is that being light means you can stabilize the camera with your hands when you are without a tripod. Canon EF 40mm pancake lens is the best for landscape photography you can use.

Cons Of A Pancake Lens

Pancake lenses come with a lot of pros, most of which have been discussed in previous sections. However, they come with a few cons you should be aware of. 

  • Canon Pancake lenses cannot compete with high-end Canon lenses. Where you can get amazing pictures with your pancake lens, other lenses come with features that put them ahead of the pancake lens.
  • If you are into macro-photography, and telephotography your pancake lens isn’t the right lens for you. They are neither built for extreme magnifications nor zoom.
  • Pancake lenses even though can be used with DSLR cameras with big bodies, they are best suited for Canon Compact cameras and Mirrorless cameras. 

Popular Canon Pancake Lens 

  • Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM: A full frame lens, it weighs 130 grams and its thickness is less than an inch. This is an amazing Canon pancake lens.
  • Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM: The Canon EF-S 24mm is designed for an APS-C camera(meaning it is not a full frame). It is lighter than the Canon EF 40mm and weighs 125 grams

To Conclusion

Canon pancake lenses like other pancake lenses are amazing. What they lack when compared to higher ends lenses is well balanced in terms of their price and functionality. These are lenses that birth professionals and beginners will find quite useful at different times of their carer.