Panasonic launches new LUMIX S 26mm pancake lens

Alongside the launch of its new LUMIX S9 full-frame mirrorless camera, Panasonic also announced a new full-frame Leica L mount lens. However, while the camera packs some new cutting-edge tech, the new LUMIX S 26mm is a super stripped-back manual lens.

What is a pancake lens?

The LUMIX S 26mm is a compact lens with a form factor often called a pancake lens. Pancake lenses are much shorter than they are wide, making them very flat and round, hence the name. The short length also means that a pancake lens adds very depth to your camera body.  In addition, pancake lenses have a simple optical design which means they are very lightweight. This makes them great to leave on your camera body, so it is always ready to go.

Fixed aperture

The LUMIX S 26mm lens has a fixed F8 aperture. You read that right, you can’t adjust your exposure by changing the aperture. It’s always F8. Combined with a relatively wide focal length, the aperture means that you are going to struggle to get a shallow depth of field with the LUMIX S 26mm lens. When you are 10 feet away from your subject, your depth of field will cover from five feet to infinity. However, the lens does have a close focus distance of only 9.8 inches (24.9 cm), which gives you a depth of field of only a few inches.

Optical construction

Panasonic LUMIX S 26mm pancake lens white background
Image courtesy: Panasonic

The LUMIX S 26mm lens is constructed with five lens elements in five groups. This also includes one UED (Ultra Extra-Low Dispersion) lens element to reduce ghosting and lens flare. The 26 mm focal length also delivers a wide field of view of 80 degrees. As well as the fixed aperture, the LUMIX S 26 mm is a manual-focus only lens. It’s not even compatible with lens filters and front lens caps. However, you do get a lens that’s only 0.7 inches (18.1 mm) deep and weighs a feather-light two ounces (58 g).

What we think

The LUMIX S 26mm pancake lens is an interesting concept. Some photographers like to leave pancake lens on their camera instead of a body cap. It protects your camera in the same way but means you are always ready to take a shot. Panasonic also says that the lens is designed for the “simple enjoyment of manual shooting with creative composition and exposure.” It can be an interesting discipline to work with a manual prime lens in this way. You have to move your position if you want to reframe your shot. You also have to develop a different relationship with the available light when you can’t change the aperture to control exposure. In addition, the Lumix S 26mm lens effectively turns the new S9 into a pocket-sized compact camera. If you are prepared to embrace the limitations of the lens, that could be a lot of fun.

Pricing and availability

The LUMIX S 26mm F8 pancake lens will launch in tandem with the LUMIX S9 in late June 2024. It’s currently available for pre-order at $198.

Pete Tomkies
Pete Tomkies
Pete Tomkies is a freelance cinematographer and camera operator from Manchester, UK. He also produces and directs short films as Duck66 Films. Pete's latest short Once Bitten... won 15 awards and was selected for 105 film festivals around the world.

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