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National Pancake Day: Paying Tribute to the Pancake Lens and IHOP, too
by Laura Hicks -  2/4/2013

Pancake lenses, named for their short barrel and thin design, have gained massive popularity with the MFT and ICL communities. Who wouldn't love their slim design, great focal length and wide-open apertures? Plus, they sound yummy, too!

February 5th is IHOP's National Pancake Day. Since the beginning of National Pancake Day in 2006, IHOP has raised over $10 million dollars to support local charities. This year, IHOP is giving customers a free short stack of pancakes and, in exchange, asking for a donation to help support Children's Miracle Network Hospitals.

Well, this had two effects on us: first, we got hungry and then, we got to thinking - about Pancake lenses.

Although pancake lenses have been around since the 1960's, it was the emergence of the compact mirrorless interchangeable lens camera that popularized this lens design. Known for their small size, these lenses come in a multitude of focal lengths.  Here's our round-up of some of the best pancake lenses money can buy.

Nikon: 1Nikkor 10mm f/2.8
The 10mm CX-format lens (27mm equivalent in 35mm format) was created for the Nikon 1 series cameras and can be used to photograph landscapes to group shots. It has a fast f/2.8 aperture and is the most compact lens of the 1 NIKKOR lens system. It is available in four colors: black, white, silver and red for just under $250

Samsung: 16mm f/2.4
The Samsung 16mm f/2.4 lens was created for Samsung's NX line of cameras. The lens (24.6mm in 35mm format) is perfect of all types of photography due to its flexible, wide angle of view. The built-in i-Function allows for one-touch access to your camera's manual settings such as shutter speed and aperture. All this functionality is available for about $350.

Olympus: 17mm f/1.8
The 17mm f/1.8 is a full-metal wide-angle, prime lens that was designed for the Micro Four Thirds line of cameras. This lens was created to photograph anything from landscapes to portraits. The lens has a super-fast aperture of f/1.8. The snap ring enables photographers to pan focus with a distance indicator. It is available for about $500.

Panasonic: 20mm f/1.7
Designed for the Micro Four Thirds line of cameras the LUMIX G 20 mm f/1.7 is compact and lightweight. The 20 mm length (equivalent to 40 mm on a 35 mm film camera) is suitable for wide variety of shooting situations like scenery and portraits. The f/1.7 aperture lends to images with a soft focus. The lens is available for about $350.

Sony: 20mm f/2.8
The Sony 20mm f/2.8 lens was designed for the Alpha E-mount camera and features an ultra-slim design. It has a wide angle of view (30mm on 35mm equivalent) and bright F2.8 aperture. It was created to produce excellent street photography images and portrait images for both still and video shooting. The lens will be available in April for about $350.


Canon: EF-M 22mm f/2 STM

EF-M 22mm f/2 STM was created for the EOS M digital camera. It has a bright f/2.0 aperture and was designed to create beautiful "bokeh" in portraits. It utilizes a built-in stepping motor for smooth and quiet AF when shooting video. A short minimum focusing distance of 5.9 inches allows you to get closer to your subjects. This lens is available for about $250.


Sigma: 30mm f/2.8 EX

This Sigma 30mm f/2.8 lens was designed for mirrorless ILC's. It has the equivalent angle of view as a 60mm lens (35mm equivalent focal length) on the Micro Four Thirds systems and 45mm (35mm equivalent focal length) on the E-mount system. This is a great focal length for portraiture and the f/2.8 aperture is fast and bright. It is available for about $200.

Talking about pancake lenses made me hungry. Since I love what the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals do for kids and I can't resist some warm pancakes, I'll be headed to IHOP ASAP. After reading this article, we hope you make it to an IHOP restaurant and donate to a good cause! Make sure to upload images from your pancake lenses to the DCR forum. We would love to see them!