We want pancakes!

From dpreview.com : On Lenses For Small Cameras


The year 2009 will surely be remembered by photographers as that which finally saw the long-overdue arrival of the large-sensor compact system camera. Indeed ever since compact digicams were first introduced, the obvious next step seemed to be to develop the basic concept with larger sensors and interchangeable lenses; so much so that the only real question has been, what’s taken so long?

But now that Olympus and Panasonic have blazed the trail with the likes of the E-P1 and GF1, and Samsung has shown its hand in the shape of the NX10, it seems only a matter of time before all of the major manufacturers jump on board and produce their own competitors in this potentially lucrative new market segment. But while we’ve certainly been pleased to see these new cameras, we’ve been less impressed by the lack of imagination shown by the initial lens ranges. So in a (probably futile) attempt to steer the manufacturers in what we think is the right direction, here are our suggestions for what they should be making.

Read the rest of the article here.

I couldn’t agree more, this article expresses exactly how I feel about these marvelous new cameras from Panasonic and Olympus. The Oly Pen is a great camera but its potential is far from realized, thanks to the lack of great pancake or prime lenses. Manufacturers are obsessed with reaching out to the masses who don’t know a cheap zoom from a glass bottle, and are losing out with the real market – professionals and enthusiasts who do not blink at spending big money for great, and compact lenses.

3 Replies to “We want pancakes!”

  1. I believe this is an intermediate camera between consumer level point&shoots and half-frame DSLRs. It has a 2x crop factor whilst, say, the Nikon D300 has a 1.5x crop factor. Putting it another way, it has a sensor that is about a quarter of the size of a full frame whilst the Nikon D300 type of cameras is about half the size of a full frame(35mm).

    I think what it boils down to is the size of prints one desires. The above is a great camera if one doesn’t want to have large prints, or doesn’t need too much control. Lens range might also be important to some – like myself. But then again, if all one wants are small prints or digital copies, then even the above is a quite the overkill.

    Interesting though. I thought the above might be a good replacement for, say, a Nikon D300, but given the small lens range and relatively small sensor size, I wouldn’t consider that, and especially given the high price.

    But i really have to wonder how much quality prime lenses are going to deliver given the small sensor size of the camera. And i wonder if the small sensor size might just serve as a ‘bottleneck’ that would not be able to maximise prime lenses.

    Interesting post. Thanks.


    cameras used: Nikon FA, F4, F5, F6, D700, Mamiya 7II.

  2. Hi Ed,

    Yes, the choice of camera often depends on what results one desires from it. But for the Micro 4/3 cameras, they happen to fall into a rather grey zone. I have two digicams for maximum convenience and an EOS 5D for quality visuals, but I bring my Oly Pen out most frequently these days because it hits the sweet spot between quality and convenience.

    I hardly print any of my photos yet the Pen will allow nice A4 or A3-sized prints. Indeed, it’s sensor is not as big as I’d like it, or as noise-free, but the great thing is that it provides a leap in quality above digicams, thanks to superior color rendering and the pancake lens offers real low-light shooting capability.

    When I was younger and a pro photog, I used to think I’d only use high-end dSLRs for every photoshoot, even casual family stuff. But now that I’m older, less energetic, any camera that provides good quality is good enough! For the record, I don’t find digicams “good enough”, but they’ll do when I have two kids in tow and a heavy bag to lug around.

  3. Hey Ian, for micro 4/3 cameras, should I be getting pancakes specifically for 4/3 sensors? Otherwise, there’ll be distortion right?

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