I went to Leo’s Camera here in Vancouver because it’s Alex Waterhouse-Hayward’s fave and because I wanted a look at the Leica M8. The Leica was sold out but I saw this lens I just had to buy. It’s adorable, now we’ll see how it works. [Update: Tossed in a couple of pictures.]
Prime Lenses · These days, most people take most of their pictures, either with pocket cams or SLRs, using a zoom lens. The term “prime lens” refers to any lens that’s not a zoom, and is usually applied to ordinary fixed-focal-length lenses that are neither telephotos nor wide-angles.
There’s a cost for that zoom technology; prime lenses are typically a little “faster” (which is to say, let in a little more light) and the glass is optimized for exactly one field of view, so you can expect a little more sharpness and vividness. Of course, you have to compose your shot by moving the camera around, and if it’s too far away you’re just not gonna get it.
But lots of photographers find something about shooting with a prime lens addictive, and I’m one of them. Pretty well all those recent Flower of the day shots were with a prime lens; to be precise, the very ordinary 50mm that came with the old Pentax film camera all those years ago.
Which got me some OK pictures, but it doesn’t do auto-focus and the glass is optimized for 35mm film not the 23.5x15.7mm CCD. It turns out that there’s progress in analog technology as well as digital; Pentax has a line of “DA” lenses that are optimized for their DSLRs and among other things are smaller.
The 40mm P-DA is tiny. It comes with this ultra-clever lens-cap/shield combo. The cap has a little secondary cap you can screw out, leaving the shield. See the pictures below, shot on top of a piano so half of the lens you think you see is reflection.
It seems minuscule on the camera; so cute you want to tickle it under its adorable little chin.
You can see why they call it a “pancake”. The whole rig is smaller and lighter. I’m off on a business trip next week and I think I’ll take the SLR along. Which is kind of the idea.
There’s also an amazingly small 70mm “pancake”; I tried it out in the store and was unconvinced; of course I’m used to the monster Tamron 70-210. Also it was twice as expensive as this little cutiepie.
Initial Verdict · The auto-focus buys time, which is terrific for shooting pictures of people especially kids. Flowers on the other hand hold still, so it doesn’t help much there. I don’t run the kids’ pictures, but here are a couple of flowers; first, the trillium you’ve already seen, now well into its fade-to-violet stage. Next, a flurry of forget-me-nots; nothing in the garden has quite so pleasing a colour to my eye.