Lens Sizes and Nicknames

Categorization is always a useful construct, so I’ve come up with a simple version for the Z-mount Nikkors so as to help you get a handle on relative sizes. In order from smallest to biggest:

  • Pancake — a lens that is extremely short in length, so much so that its length is far shorter than its diameter. Pancake lenses don’t stick out past the front of the hand grip on the Z bodies. Examples: 26mm f/2.8.
  • Muffin — a lens that’s squat and about the size of a muffin. Length is longer than a pancake, and thus the lens may stick out a bit from the front of a hand grip, but not enough so as to be a worry. Some muffins collapse for travel to be smaller muffins and maybe even near pancake. Examples: 28mm f/2.8, 40mm f/2, 50mm f/2.8 MC, 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR DX.
  • Mug — a lens that’s about the height of a typical coffee mug (most mugs are actually measured in capacity, e.g. 8-10 ounces of fluid). Length will be in the 4-5” range, therefore. Some mugs only qualify when collapsed for travel and become longer in use. Examples:  18-140mm f/3.5-6.3 VR DX.
  • Thermos — a lens that's the size of a small thermos (e.g. 16-20 ounces). Length is going to be closer to 7-10" overall. Example: 70-180mm f/2.8. Fat thermos: the 85mm f/1.2 S, because its barrel is so wide.

Once a lens gets beyond my thermos size, you’re going to be looking for specific measurements and weights, I’m sure, as you start finding that you have bag limitations that clearly come into play. I don’t think it useful to nickname the truly big lenses. 

Looking for other photographic information? Check out our other Web sites:
DSLRS: dslrbodies.com | mirrorless: sansmirror.com | general/technique: bythom.com | film SLR: filmbodies.com

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