Canon Patents a Number of Pancake Zoom Lens Designs for the EOS M System

Canon EOS M Lens Patents January 2014

Canon Watch has posted a couple of new lens design patents from Canon, that show concepts for  zoom lenses for the EOS M mirrorless system. The lenses in question are an 18-40mm f3.5-5.6, and 18-55mm f4-8, a 10-20mm f4-5.6 and a 9-18mm f4-5.6. The interesting part about these lenses is that, according to the description, they’re supposed to be pancake lenses.

Now, these wouldn’t be the first pancake zoom lenses we’ve seen. In fact, there are already a couple of standard kit zooms out there that come with a rather slim profile. Most recently, Panasonic introduced the tiny 12-32mm kit lens for the GM1 Micro Four Thirds camera, but even before that the company had the Lumix G X Vario 14-42mm PZ. Sony has a 16-50mm pancake kit zoom for its E-mount cameras, Samsung has a 20-50mm zoom for the NX series, and finally there’s an 11-27.5mm zoom for Nikon’s 1 system.

These are all standard zooms, with focal lengths ranging between 24mm-equivalent and 84mm-equivalent. So judging from focal length and aperture size, both the 18-40mm and 18-55mm lenses look like probable concepts for pancake lenses. We’re not so sure about the 10-20mm and 9-18mm concepts, though, as these would be very wide angle lenses (starting at 16mm and 15mm respectively) and would thus have to feature a retrofocus design, which doesn’t really lend itself at a pancake construction.

However, the minuscule Panasonic 12-32mm for example uses a simple but effective trick: it is only really a pancake lens when it’s in its inactive, collapsed state. When extended so that it can actually be used, it is as long as any other lens of comparable focal length range. So when we assume that these two wide-angle zooms would employ a similar mechanism, then they might actually sport a rather slim profile in their collapsed state.

As always, these are just patents, which doesn’t mean that we’ll ever get to see any of these lenses actually be made. However, the simple fact that Canon files patents for EF-M lenses means that the company is still committed to its EOS M mirrorless system, which in the end can only be seen as a positive sign.

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