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Sharp portrait (40mm ~ 60mm) pancake lens?

Discussion in 'Adapted Lenses' started by New Daddy, Jan 24, 2011.

  1. New Daddy

    New Daddy Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 24, 2011
    I'm a newbie and just got my GF1, my very first interchangeable lens camera, just a week ago.
    Can someone recommend a sharp pancake lens in the 40mm - 60mm range? I've been going over the reviews of a few candidates - Konica 50mm 1.4, 1.7; Konica 52mm 1.8; Konica 57mm 1.4; Olympus 50mm 1.4, 1.8 - but was drowining in the sea of information.

    I have a couple of criteria:

    1. Sharp image: I understand that some people prefer soft image when taking portraits, but I prefer sharp image at wide open.

    2. Less than $80

  2. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    The Konica 40mm is tack sharp. It's a great portrait lens with mild compression.
    It's the smallest of the lot you posted.
  3. I'm not sure if any of the lenses you've listed are true 'pancakes'. The following link lists some of the pancake lenses available;

    Index of Pancake Lenses at Teeeeejirrrrr

    In your price range you'd be looking at the;

    Industar 50mm f3.5
    Minolta Rokkor 45mm f2
    Nikon Nikkor 50mm f1.8 E
    Konica Hexanon 40mm f1.8

    Pancake lenses may not be as sharp as a normal size lenses due to their compact design and generally fewer glass elements.
  4. Hikari

    Hikari Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 26, 2010
    None of those lenses are pancakes. They are simple single focal length lenses.
  5. New Daddy

    New Daddy Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 24, 2011
    Ok. My bad. I thought pancake = prime lens = single focal lens.
    I don't know where I got mixed up, but that was the conclusion I drew after reading the relevant Wikipedia articles.
  6. New Daddy

    New Daddy Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 24, 2011
    Is that a normal size lens? I can't tell from the stock photo. I don't mind normal size lens. I mean fixed-focal lens by "pancake".
  7. BrianK

    BrianK Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 20, 2011
    Lansing MI
    While none of those are pancakes, i just think its damm awesome that this quesiton can even be asked, a few years ago it would have been silly. :smile:

    Gotta love m43. Have fun with your GF1

    Check out this blog for good info on Legacy Lenses
    Ilia Koltsov - Micro 4/3 and legacy lenses

  8. Mellow

    Mellow Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 27, 2010
    Florida or Idaho
    But it's NOT sharp wide open--in fact, it's very 'ghosty' with low contrast at f/1.8. Tighten it up a little bit and I agree it's very sharp.
  9. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    The 40mm is very small, it's like a stuffed pancake....
    It's a real nice lens and can be had cheap......
  10. deirdre

    deirdre Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Aug 9, 2010
    Pancake = particularly small example of a prime lens.

    Here's four Voigtlander 35mm lenses; only the front center one is considered a pancake, but they're all prime (single focal) lenses. Image from Cameraquest.

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
  11. John M Flores

    John M Flores Super Moderator

    Jan 7, 2011
    I'm partial to Pentax:

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    Pentax-M 50mm F1.7 by john m flores, on Flickr

    For reviews:
    SMC Pentax-M 50mm F1.7 Lens Reviews - Pentax Lens Reviews & Pentax Lens Database

    The good thing is that the faster 50s - F1.2 and F1.4 - are more coveted. The little secret is that they are a touch soft wide open while the F1.7 is already quite sharp at F1.7. You should be able to find a copy for less than $50.

    You'll need an M43 - Pentax K adapter. Fotodiox sells for ~$30.
    • Like Like x 2
  12. New Daddy

    New Daddy Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 24, 2011
    Yes, as a matter of fact, that was the first place I looked at.
    But, probably because legacy lenses don't record EXIF info and people always don't remember what f stop they used, I couldn't really figure out from the sample pictures whether the lens was sharp at wide open.
  13. naturecloseups

    naturecloseups Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 10, 2010
    I have the Nikon 45/2.8 AI-P and it is very good.
  14. I see your point. It's probably a bit outside the scope of the Sample Image Archive to compare the minutae of lens resolution at set apertures, etc. However, as an example of the real-world application of the multitude of lenses you can mount on a m4/3 camera it serves it's purpose well.
  15. ebrandon

    ebrandon New to Mu-43

    Jan 21, 2010
    I think for portraits 40mm is too short, even on m43. Most "pancakes" (OM, Voigtlander, etc.) are 40mm lenses. So I think you'll have to give up on the "pancake".

    There are a lot of lenses that are (slightly) dreamy wide open like the OM 50 1.4, or Konica 57mm f1.2. Sounds like that kind of dreaminess annoys you and you want sharp from wide-open.

    In that case I suggest the Contax Zeiss 50mm f1.7 MM. It's almost a pancake, it's sharp and non-ghosty wide open, and it's inexpensive.
  16. jimr.pdx

    jimr.pdx Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    Dec 5, 2010
    ~1hr north of Portland OR
    Jim R
    Hard to find for $80, but seek a deal for the Pentax-M 40mm f/2.8. Mine was very sharp and compact, loved it in my film days - in fact I kept it for 8 years after letting my last PK camera go, just in case! I still kick myself for trading it away when I went with Sony dSLRs as two years later I'm a K-7 and G1 owner. Last I looked they had one at keh.com for around $100.. tempting, but I just picked up a 45-200 so I'm out of the game for a bit.
  17. Mellow

    Mellow Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 27, 2010
    Florida or Idaho
    I went through this same decision process a while back, and here are some of the things I learned:

    (a) Don't forget to consider the width of the adapter when thinking about how long an adapted lens is. The Konica 40 f/1.8, for example, will seem ridiculously small when you get it in the mail but by the time you've attached the AR->m43 adapter it's no longer 'small'. Still smaller than other legacy lenses, mind you (because the Konica adapter is thinner than most), but hardly what anyone would call a 'pancake' anymore.

    (b) The truth is, since really compact is impossible unless you use rangefinder lenses, don't worry about the size of the lens. IMO it's actually easier to hold and manually focus when the lens has some size and heft. Remember, you're left hand will be on the lens all the time, unlike a AF lens where you often just grip the camera. Having something substantial to grab on to helps.

    (c) With a Panasonic body you won't have IS either, so having a little heavier, more substantial lens might help you avoid shake.

    (d) The rangefinder lenses are smaller but I've never found one for less than $80. They were out of my budget, might be out of yours. [NOTE: please correct me if I'm wrong, I'd love to be wrong!]

    (e) You pay a premium for faster lenses, obviously, but think hard about whether you need them. I find that with a 50mm lens that f/1.7 or less (bigger aperture) produces too little DOF for portraits--I'm almost always stopping it down to f/2.8 or more. Still nice bokeh, but a lot more DOF and, more importantly, a lot sharper for most lenses. There ARE other advantages of faster lenses--easier to focus is a big one--but if you don't really need it, and don't plan on taking lots of portraits, you might be better served with a slower and much cheaper lens.

    For what it's worth, I ended up with a Zeiss Contax 50mm f/1.7, which I got a really good deal on (just a bit more than your budget). It's fabulously sharp at all apertures, even f/1.7. To be honest, it's probably more lens than I need but it's just so much fun to use--the way it snaps into focus in the VF is a thing of beauty--that I'm happy I own it. But there are probably dozens of lesser lenses that would have been just as good for my purposes.

    Good luck, you've discovered one of the joys of m43 ownership!
    • Like Like x 2
  18. Brian S

    Brian S Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Apr 11, 2009
    For an inexpensive fixed-focal length lens, the Konica 50/1.7 is reputed to be quite good.


    The black Dot is the performance of the lens being tested. Looks like at F2.8 it is close to the best of the bunch for the F1.7~F2 class. The Leica Summicron outperformed it, but will cost 20x as much money these days.

    I just received one, so will be testing it on the EP2.
  19. Brian S

    Brian S Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Apr 11, 2009
    Nikon test for comparison.
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