Why no 40mm pancake (or similar)?

Started Feb 9, 2018 | Questions
MOD Tom Caldwell Forum Pro • Posts: 37,698
Re: Can you handle the truth?
1

Guy Parsons wrote:

alex2b wrote:

Clear.

You nearly all agree that I should not want a pancake, as the multiple suggestions to just be happy with non-pancakes seem to imply. But I am not happy that there is no pancake 35-45mm pancake, as I made clear (why would I request for one...). At the same time I understand that lenses are usually not developed for small minorities.

I am still not convinced it can't be done, but if Panasonic and Olympus do their market research well, then they obviously have concluded already that there are far more of you than of me ;-/ .

Still, it's a pity; the compact m4/3 system would really benefit from this IMO.

Sadly it's now the bean counters who run the photography business and for Olympus at least they have realised that the market has shrunk. The low end has been swallowed by smartphones, so the future lies in high end products that have a higher profit margin. That may ensure survival.

So best forget about "pocketable M4/3" and go get some camera that does fit your pocket.

Regards.... Guy

Funnily enough the only real and truly pocketable cameras are those in mobile phones - and these are now getting larger every year.  Glad that we have larger pockets and that these creations are pretty well pocket-proof.

Pocketing any camera that has orifices where pocket rubbish can insinuate itself inside is risking minor disaster.  But of course like everything we insure against it only happens to a few - however there is no insurance policy for the odd case of pocket fluff.

Lots of talk about weather-proof sealing on camera gear but pocket proof sealing is another level for very small cameras and must only be the provenance of “underwater” cameras and those in mobile phones. Removeable lenses - collapsing lenses - battery doors - microphone and speaker outlets, all are suspect. At least with a removeable lens and sensor shake it is usually possible to remove dust reasonably easily.

I think that the financial scare that Olympus had some years ago must have seriously impacted on their camera body R&D and that the flow on from this might be the reason why the annual number of significant model releases has now dropped rather sharply.  Hopefully this was a temporary decision and that more R&D will now be found to allow the excellent popular models of some repute to be updated in due course. If it is amore recent phenomenon then it would be more worrying.

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Tom Caldwell

yellodog Senior Member • Posts: 2,224
Re: Can you handle the truth?
1

Guy Parsons wrote:

alex2b wrote:

Clear.

You nearly all agree that I should not want a pancake, as the multiple suggestions to just be happy with non-pancakes seem to imply. But I am not happy that there is no pancake 35-45mm pancake, as I made clear (why would I request for one...). At the same time I understand that lenses are usually not developed for small minorities.

I am still not convinced it can't be done, but if Panasonic and Olympus do their market research well, then they obviously have concluded already that there are far more of you than of me ;-/ .

Still, it's a pity; the compact m4/3 system would really benefit from this IMO.

Sadly it's now the bean counters who run the photography business and for Olympus at least they have realised that the market has shrunk. The low end has been swallowed by smartphones, so the future lies in high end products that have a higher profit margin. That may ensure survival.

So best forget about "pocketable M4/3" and go get some camera that does fit your pocket.

"Pocketable" and "high end" or even "high profit margin" are not mutually exclusive.

Regards.... Guy

MOD Tom Caldwell Forum Pro • Posts: 37,698
Re: It might all be about the economics

alex2b wrote:

Agreed. I stated something along these lines here . I fully understand that I am in the minority.

But the same logic applies when you look at the Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 and the Olympus 17mm f/2.8. The Pana-Leica 15mm and the Olympus 17mm f/1.8 make more sense to most customers. Still, these pancakes have been developed and especially the Panasonic 14mm is a real gem (I like the rendering and colors of the 17mm f/2.8 too, by the way). The order of development might have had some influence ;-). Incidentally, I own(ed) all four. Only the 17mm f/1.8 has been sold. The Pana-Leica 15mm lives on my Olympus E-M5 - although I am silently crying each time I look at the aperture ring.

I still think that the essence of a new mount system is to get as many cameras as possible sold to crete a market for the lenses that must in the end be the reason why a mount system will survive in the long run.

So in early days - sell reasonably priced cameras and mainly entry level lenses with a few high perfomaing expensive lenses laced in so that the mount system does not get a reputation as simply for low grade gear and entry level users.

But to make it more for professional users they will not only have to bring out lenses of professional standard and bodies to match.  This means expensive slow selling gear with big margins allowing it to be either small bench level production runs to be topped up by demand - or larger runs that can afford to be stored and sold off over many years.

Some of Canon’s EF lenses were designed and first sold in the 1980’s and even then were often based on even earlier FD mount designs.  But they keep on expanding their range of lenses on offer and cannot possibly be continuously making all of them (even Canon).

So some of the most exotic and expensive M4/3 lenses are most likely only made in small batches to a demand - in that manner there is no need to ever seriously discount them to clear slow selling stocks.  It was only fairly recently when Olympus announced that they were no longer selling 4/3 mount lenses.  At their RRP these very excellent lenses could be bespoke custom made almost on demand in lots perhaps as low as 5 units at a time.

On the other hand a mount system would strive long-term to plug every available lens-type hole in their market.  Consequently when some spare cash pops up allocated for new lens market hole plugging someone might say brightly “there is no 40mm pancake style lens for the M4/3 system - how much would it cost to design and make (say) 200 units to fill up that gap”.  Done, build 200 units, publicise them a bit, sell 50, put the rest into a store and the product catalogue and wait while the level of demand soaks them up.  Selling like hot cakes? Make another 1,000 .....

Patience might be rewarded but I would not wait up ....

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Tom Caldwell

MOD Tom Caldwell Forum Pro • Posts: 37,698
Re: Conclusion: I seem to be the only one ;-)

alex2b wrote:

Clear.

You nearly all agree that I should not want a pancake, as the multiple suggestions to just be happy with non-pancakes seem to imply. But I am not happy that there is no pancake 35-45mm pancake, as I made clear (why would I request for one...). At the same time I understand that lenses are usually not developed for small minorities.

I am still not convinced it can't be done, but if Panasonic and Olympus do their market research well, then they obviously have concluded already that there are far more of you than of me ;-/ .

Still, it's a pity; the compact m4/3 system would really benefit from this IMO.

You are quite right.  But I don’t think that the tenor of the responses was running against your flow - merely pointing out what was available already and not necessarily as pancake.

It might be interesting that the Canon EF 40mm f2.8 is a very good lens and I have one and use it on M4/3 with Metabones adapter - I still have Canon dslr bodies but to all intents and purposes they are retired and my EF lenses are now exclusively for use on the M4/3 mount.

The issue that has already been mentioned indirectly is that the Canon EF 40mm can be used on M4/3 as an 80mm fov eq lens but as designed it was meant to be capable of being a 40mm fov lens on a FF sensor - or alternatively about 60mm fov eq on an aps-c sensor.

Canon also makes a very similar 20-something-mm focal length EF pancake lens that I am not very familiar with (obviously).

In its intended fields of use it is more fov-eq to either 20mm or 30mm lenses on a 4/3 sensor taking in the crop factor.

What this seems to be saying is that in fact there are not that many 40mm FF fov pancake lenses about and that Pentax seems to have been the chief purveyor of pancake lenses of miscellaneous focal lengths.

I also point out that the very minimal focus ring of at elast some of the Pentax pancakes is not the most pleasant way to use them for MF duties - but it can be done of course.

MF is always much nicer with big wide smooth acting focus rings with well geared but not too long a focus throw.

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Eric Nepean
Eric Nepean Veteran Member • Posts: 4,285
Konica Hexanon 40mm F1.8

This is considered a pancake on it's native mount, but one you add the Konica to M43 adapter, its a bit long for a pancake.

But its an excellent lens avaliable for cheap; I found it fits very well on my GM1 and GM5.

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Cheers
Eric

uRebel Rob Senior Member • Posts: 1,537
It's the mount: No mirrorless pancake > 35mm on any mount
1

Lets look at all the mirrorless pancake lens on all mounts (I'm probably missing some MF lenses), sorted by FL, and including the percentage of the FL over the flange distance:

Lens (% FL / FFD)

  • 14mm mFT (73%)
  • 16mm Samsun NX (63%)
  • 16mm Sony E (89%)
  • 17mm mFT (88%)
  • 20mm Samsun NX (78%)
  • 20mm mFT (104%)
  • 20mm Sony E (111%)
  • 22mm EF-M (122%)
  • 28mm Leica M (101%)
  • 28mm Meike mFT (145%)
  • 30mm Samsun NX (118%)
  • 35mm Leica M (126%)

The two with the longest FL also have the longest flange distances (25.5 and 27.8mm).

Even FF and APSC lenses aren't past 35mm.

The Meike 28mm is MF. It's also the highest FL/FFD ratio of these ML lenses (28/19.75 = 145%).

DSLR/SLR pretty much mirror the ML pancakes (if we remove the Pentax), except shifted about 15mm longer FL:

  • 24mm EF-S (55%)
  • 25mm Oly FT (65%)
  • 28mm Nikon F (62%)
  • 40mm EF (91%)
  • 45mm Nikon F (99%)
  • 50mm Nikon F (110%)

I couldn't find the Nikons in DPR database, so they're probably old? MF?

Canon only has two pancake lenses. One is FF/APSC, and one is APSC only.

There are a couple third party 20 and 21mm pancakes, but MF; I didn't include them.

As noted in other posts, the EF-S protrudes in to the camera body. This "cheats" the FFD limit, but the EF-S specs allow this, and is why it can't be mounted on a FF EF body.

And the Pentax pancakes are the exception:

  • 21mm Pentax K (46%)
    Widest AF pancake on any DSLR mount. Widest FL / FFD ratio of all AF lenses. (There are 20 & 21mm MF third party lenses, though).
  • 40mm Pentax K (88%)
    The XS version is the thinnest lens with AF and adjustable fstop: 9mm. Even works pretty well with FF. (I own the XS model)
  • 43mm Pentax K (95%)
    Fastest FF pancake lens (f/1.9), only behind the panasonic 20mm. (There are some f/2.0, though.) High IQ FF lens.
  • 70mm Pentax K (154%)
    Longest pancake lens, by FL and by percentage. Works pretty well with FF. (I own it)

TL;DR:

All in all, m43 is in pretty good shape for pancakes. Of all the mounts, only Pentax has more AF pancakes than m43. We also have the fastest with the 20mm/1.7. And IQ of the 20mm is also excellent.

I think the 28mm meike is about at the "easy and good IQ" limits of m43's flange distance, but it's MF.

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peppermonkey Veteran Member • Posts: 4,910
Just give us a set of decent pancakes
2

Doesn't need to be too fast. F/2.8 even f/4 depending on the focal length.

Doesn't need to be great optically, just good enough.

No extra buttons or aperture rings or other fiddly bits, just a plain lens will do.

Just a set of good pancakes (or otherwise tiny for the focal length) and another Panasonic GMx camera to go with it.

Like the equivalent of the M39 Voigtlander 15mm f4.5, 25mm f4, 35mm f2.5, 75mm f2.8. a tiny set of good lenses.

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jf_tea Senior Member • Posts: 1,226
The Pana 20 and 14 are smaller than the 3 Pentax pancakes.
2

jeffharris wrote:

alex2b wrote:

I used to think that as well, because neither Panasonic nor Olympus went beyond 20mm, but then I realized that Canon makes the 40mm pancake. If they can do it, why would the masters of lens size reduction not be able to do so?

Pentax makes a line of crêpe-thin lenses that make the 20mm and 14 f2.5 look obese.

By coincidence, I happen to have those 5 lenses : Pentax DA40, FA43, DA70, and, Panasonic 20 and 14mm. Those two Panasonic lenses are smaller than the 3 Pentax, in all directions.

And, I like all of them. Though I prefer the FA43 over the DA40

By the way, there is a thinner Pentax 40/2.8 pancake. It is the DA 40/2.8 XS which was the kit lens of the K01, a Pentax APS-C mirrorless camera.

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peppermonkey Veteran Member • Posts: 4,910
Love the Voigtlanders...

jeffharris wrote:

alex2b wrote:

Thanks. enossified pointed that out in a response below as well.

I just compared the optical designs of the Pentax 70mm with the Panasonic 20mm, and it seems that the Pentax has 6 elements, while the Panasonic has at least 7. Both are real pancake designs (no trickery in the Pentax). Interesting...

If you're into adapted manual lenses, Voigtländer makes a 40mm f1.4 ($449) and a slightly larger 35mm f1.4 ($629). Both have Leica M mounts.

https://cameraquest.com/voigtlen.htm

Scroll down…

I have the 35mm and love it. Excellent image quality, Color signature and rendering (100% Voigtländer!!!). It's really fun to use. The focal length is great for street shooting, too. To top that off, it looks really cool!

Love my Color-Skopar 35mm f2.5, Snapshot-Skopar 21mm f4 and with your recommendation, also picked up the Color-Heliar 75mm f2.8.

And just recently the Super Wide-Heliar 15mm f4.5

I think I'm pretty much set focal length wise. Albeit, I generally use them for my Bessa R instead of my MFT cameras...

And no, don't have any of the M-mount lenses...don't have that much $$$ lying around

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Hubert
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mg_k Veteran Member • Posts: 3,207
Re: Why no 40mm pancake (or similar)?
1

alex2b wrote:

I am not convinced. If you can create a 40mm pancake for a full frame camera, how would it be impossible to do that for a far smaller m4/3 sensor?

Answer is simple - moving forward they don't want to sell such a lens.

Firstly a pancake design is an optically compromised design, something's got to give to achieve the small compact size.

As a result most people aren't prepared to pay much on these lenses, especially with its inherent slow aperture.  Priced too high (say $300+) and they will become shelf warmers.

Priced too low and they don't make enough profit.

To survive bigger, heavier and more expensive pro lens is where money's at.

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TomFid Veteran Member • Posts: 3,098
Re: Conclusion: I seem to be the only one ;-)

Loga wrote:

Hi Alex,

I am with you. I love my 14mm f2.5 pancake, and recently I acquired a Meike 28mm f2.8, also a pancake, albeit a manual one. I would have really loved if Panasonic or Olympus made a few more small lenses, and my dream would have came true if they made a manual lens series, like my Meike 28mm f2.8. Making them small would be even easier without autofocus, not to mention they could be cheaper. A lineup like 14, 17, 25 and 40mm, all manual focus, f2.8 wide open, and pancake. The problem is that no other company does this, however they should only match the mount (and the focus distance scale)

If flange distance is the limit, it should be possible to make collapsible lenses,  which would also be easier with manual focus. A nice, manual extension with a smooth helical mechanism would be cool.

mkaresh Regular Member • Posts: 140
Re: Why no 40mm pancake (or similar)?
2

Maybe this was implied in the discussions of flange-to-sensor distance + lens focal length, but it seemed to me that people were thinking of this relationship incorrectly.

I don't think the appropriate metric is the ratio, but is instead focal length - flange focal distance FFD).

A key thing to remember: focal length is measured to the sensor, not to the flange.
If the flange is farther from the sensor, as in an SLR, then the lens can be shorter for a given focal length, as more of the focal length occurs within the (thicker) camera body.
It follows that SLRs can have pancakes with longer focal lengths than mirrorless cameras can.

Sensor size probably doesn't affect this. A larger sensor requires a larger diameter lens, not a longer lens, for a given actual (not FF-equivalent) focal length.

Also realize that focal length isn't measured from the front lens element or the rear lens element. For normal lenses it's measured from somewhere between the two. For wide angle (retrofocus) lenses it can be meaured from behind the rear element (so the lens is longer than the focal length). For telephoto lenses it's measured from ahead of the front element (so the lens can be shorter than the focal length).

Theoretically a 40mm telephoto lens could be quite compact. But the glass required necessarily takes up some space, so there's a tradeoff that tends to only make sense for lenses with long focal lengths.

And all of this said...if we assume that the Pentax 70mm pancake comes close to what is physically possible, then 70mm - the difference in FFD should yield what is possible with the m43 mount with a pancake. 70 - 45.5 + 19.25 = 43.75.
So, yes, a 40mm m43 pancake should be possible, if pricey

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peppermonkey Veteran Member • Posts: 4,910
Ooooh nice

WhiteBeard wrote:

jeffharris wrote:

alex2b wrote:

I used to think that as well, because neither Panasonic nor Olympus went beyond 20mm, but then I realized that Canon makes the 40mm pancake. If they can do it, why would the masters of lens size reduction not be able to do so?

Pentax makes a line of crêpe-thin lenses that make the 20mm and 14 f2.5 look obese.

That 40 F2.8 sure is tiny although it may benefit from Pentax's "screw-drive from camera" auto focus which could enable a more compact lens. It adapts to a µ4/3 body (losing AF along the way) with an adapter that sadly seems bigger than the lens itself...

Pixco Adjustable Aperture Lens adapter suit for Pentax K mount DA lens to Micro 4/3

Didn't realize there were adapters for k Mount that you can change the spiritap with. I should look into it.

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Jouko Senior Member • Posts: 1,591
No doubt it could be done

Oly had the Zuiko 40mm F2 pancace for OM-mount... Konica had the 40mm F1.8...  Both small and with high IQ. Still working even with new digibodies as a short portrait lens.

With F2 or smaller (F2.8) the dimensions could be made tiny, and for ergonomics you really don't need too many rings on the lens now - no F-stop ring, no room for zoom ring (!) and just a narrow ring for MF. If they can do pancake zooms they can do this.

But. The 42.5/ 45 mm lenses are great and still selling well. Is there a real need for this kind of lens from the marketing point of view?  Maybe those 45 designs are now old enough for an upgrade or a new pancake lens. My vote for the F2.

Cheers!

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OP (unknown member) Regular Member • Posts: 263
Re: Thanks for your suggestion!

Astrotripper and you mentioned this lens. I was unaware of its existence. It has a native mount (so no lengthening by adding an adapter), which makes it even more interesting. This lens seems to have been designed for APS-C, so I would suppose that Panasonic or Olympus could design an even smaller version of it (although a focus motor would need room somewhere...).

I read that It comes in at 102 grams, and the price is very low. The few reviews I have found are favorable. I have no problems with MF, as I like the implementation in the GM1 very much (far far better than the E-M5), because it has a dedicated MF-button and a clear way to judge focus with the magnifier and the focus.

Thanks for your suggestion and thanks for sharing a photo of the lens on your camera, which enabled me to judge its size. I will order one.

Now, if they will create a 40mm version of this, I am really sold!

timo Veteran Member • Posts: 5,425
Re: Why no 40mm pancake (or similar)?

enossified wrote:

Pentax has a 70/2.4 pancake for APS format (105mm equiv). It's the only pancake I know with a longer than normal focal length.

Most pancakes use the classic 4-element Zeiss Tessar design, so are limited to about f2.8. The Pentax has 6 elements which is pretty amazing...and despite the appearance it is AF. It's also $500!!!!

It's also a very good lens.

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jeffharris
jeffharris Veteran Member • Posts: 9,317
Re: Why no 40mm pancake (or similar)?

WhiteBeard wrote:

jeffharris wrote:

alex2b wrote:

I used to think that as well, because neither Panasonic nor Olympus went beyond 20mm, but then I realized that Canon makes the 40mm pancake. If they can do it, why would the masters of lens size reduction not be able to do so?

Pentax makes a line of crêpe-thin lenses that make the 20mm and 14 f2.5 look obese.

That 40 F2.8 sure is tiny although it may benefit from Pentax's "screw-drive from camera" auto focus which could enable a more compact lens. It adapts to a µ4/3 body (losing AF along the way) with an adapter that sadly seems bigger than the lens itself...

Pixco Adjustable Aperture Lens adapter suit for Pentax K mount DA lens to Micro 4/3

Do you know how well that lens adaptor works? Or how accurate the aperture is?

Those lenses have always been kind of drool worthy! The 43mm and 70mm lenses especially! Too bad they’re designed for DSLRs and not for modern cameras. 😉

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Osa25 Senior Member • Posts: 1,750
Re: Why no 40mm pancake (or similar)?
1

jeffharris wrote:

alex2b wrote:

I used to think that as well, because neither Panasonic nor Olympus went beyond 20mm, but then I realized that Canon makes the 40mm pancake. If they can do it, why would the masters of lens size reduction not be able to do so?

Pentax makes a line of crêpe-thin lenses that make the 20mm and 14 f2.5 look obese.

True. But bear in mind that on M43 you need f2 or less to begin being useful as a prime lens ie one lens all day. F2.8 is more daytime territory.

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Son of Thunder
Son of Thunder Regular Member • Posts: 467
Re: Why no 40mm pancake (or similar)?
1

40mm is mid-tele in m4/3. They have 20 mms pancakes which is 40mm in full frame

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David 247
David 247 Veteran Member • Posts: 3,306
Re: Why no 40mm pancake (or similar)?
1

Dennis wrote:

Because they're making it for a mount with a much longer flange distance. Put the Canon 40mm on an EOS-to-m43 adapter and it's not really a pancake lens any more.

Indeed. Many do not consider the flange distance or the fact that the DSLR pancake lenses are designed for thicker bodies, therefore the longer distance from rear element (also flange distance) compensates for the longer focal length.

Perhaps a visual will help. Below is an Canon Rebel with the 40mm 2.8 canon lens. Next is the OMD-EM1 with the Panasonic 20mm F1.7 lens and then the Panasonic 14-14 compact zoom lens.

Note both the thicker body and the longer lens flange of the Canon. Both allow it to accommodate the longer 40mm lens in a compact form, because the lens is farther away from the sensor focal plane. The OMD body, is much thinner then the Canon and also lacks the additional lens flange length. This allows it to have a compact lens of 20mm in a much smaller size from the Canon. Now an alternative for Olympus-Panasonic is the Panasonic 14-42 compact zoom. For carrying purposes it is no larger then the Olympus with the 20mm lens. But when in use the lens extends out, especially at 40mm and would be about the same length from lens front to sensor as the Canon with 40mm.

In other words, Canon can make their 40mm, because the distance from the lens focal point to the sensor is much longer then the lens focal point to sensor for the Olympus (or Panasonic) cameras. The little Panasonic zoom extends out when powered up. This also applies for the very compact Olympus 14-42mm EZ (compact) lens. It collapses for storage but extends for use. Hope that explanation is clearer then mud and helps some.

As previously stated, it is about lens flange distance. You could put Canon on an MFT camera using an adapter, but then the adapter is creating the longer lens flange distance.

So since the poster is concerned about pocket storage, the longer APSC (canon, Nikon, Pentax, etc,) lens flange allows for making a compact 40mm, but due to the thicker body and longer ledge flange, it is no longer pocketable.  (presuming a very large pocket like a jacket or coat.). From the optical center of the 20mm lens on the Olympus, to the sensor, focused at infinity is already 20mm.   Add another 20mm to the lens for 40mm, and it then has to extend out approximately another 20mm from the optical center or in other words it will be longer, in order to make up for the shorter lens flange.

The longer lens flange on most APSC and Full Frame bodies (Thicker bodies) allows for the making of a longer small compact lenses if wanted.  But when you have a very short flange to begin with, there comes a point where the lens must be longer to accommodate longer focal lengths, enough to offset the longer focal lens flanges of bigger bodies.

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"The only good camera is the one you have with you when opportunity provides."
Videos: https://www.youtube.com/user/davidwendelrobinson
BLOG: Through David's Eye: https://throughdavidseye.wordpress.com

 David 247's gear list:David 247's gear list
Panasonic FZ1000 Olympus E-M5 II Olympus 9mm F8 Fish-Eye Body Cap Lens Olympus 12-40mm F2.8 Pro Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 Pro +5 more
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