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I've always liked the thought of having a super-thin ("pancake") lens for my Canon DSLR, for when I just want to take my camera out with as little bulk as possible. I'm not even too concerned about the focal length: I find I'm always more creative when I'm working with constraints. A wide aperture (f/2.8 or wider) would be good though.

So, does such a thing even exist and if so can anyone recommend one?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Voigtländer Ultron 40mm f/2 is available in Canon mount. Photozone review praises its build quality and dislikes its rough bokeh. There's also 20mm Color Skopar SL II, but it's almost a stop slower than what you asked for, f/3.5. Photozone review describes it as well-built, but optically a little soft and vignetted when wide open, decent from f/5.6 to f/11.

With an adapter, you could use Pentax Limited line lenses. I can personally vouch for the 40mm f/2.8. An even smaller (and cheaper, APS-C coverage) XS version of it was announced recently, but it could be awkwardly tiny to use with manual focusing on a Canon body. But that's probably somewhat true for any pancake lens. Missing any way to control aperture of an adapted lens is probably a more important factor steering away from this option.

Update: Canon now produces the EF 40mm f/2.8 STM pancake lens:

Canon 40mm f/2.8 STM Pancake Lens

Features (quoted from Canon's product page) include:

  • Portable pancake design
  • Smooth, quiet STM focusing when shooting movies on compatible cameras
  • Fast f/2.8 maximum aperture for low-light shooting
  • Close focus to 0.3m
  • Fast, quiet AF for pin-sharp results

Plenty of sample images can be found in this Flickr group.

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Thanks for the detailed answer and links, Imre. –  Mark Whitaker Mar 21 '12 at 9:48

Does the Canon 50mm F1.8 get close enough for you? Its pretty small, and only $100

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To complete the set of Canon lenses under 5cm (2" long) there is also the EF 28mm F/2 and 35mm F/2. –  Itai Mar 18 '12 at 1:51

I've secretly lusted after a Pentax body just because of the available of pancake lenses. :)

A Rebel and a 35/2 or 50/1.8 will be the smallest and lightest Canon option that retains autofocus.

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