Best Pancake Lenses of 2021 – Complete Guide

| Last Updated: June 30, 2021

Digital Camera HQ is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Pancake lenses are a must-have for every photographer out there. Whether you are a professional or hobbyist clicking photos as an enthusiast, this lens is something you need to keep at all times in your pockets or camera back. Yes, pockets! These lenses are known for their small size, light build, and low weight that easily allow them to be carried around. They also don’t weigh like a burden when mounted on a camera. 

Moreover, pancake lenses come at really low and affordable prices. But despite everything, they have no compromise on quality. For beginners to professionals alike, these lenses are the best pick to keep, carry around, and experiment with for photography. 

Let’s get into the details of each aspect that makes these lenses stand out so much that they have become a popular favorite amongst all. We’ve included a selection of the finest pancake lenses the market has to offer, allowing you to assess each and pick the best one. 

Comparison of the Best Pancake Lenses

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Full time manual focusing capability with motor
  • AF stepper motor runs very quiet
  • Inner focus system for better control
View Latest Price →
  • Compatible with a variety of Digital cameras
  • SP coating will protect lenses from scratching
  • Ideal for light photography with creative depth
View Latest Price →
  • Best for the Money
  • Wide 63 degrees vertical viewing angle
  • Auto focus as well as manual focus support
View Latest Price →
  • Best Pancake Lens For Micro Four Thirds
  • Fisheye lens body cap included for variety
  • Lenses made from all-glass materials
View Latest Price →
  • Best Sony Pancake Lens
  • Much better image quality with 20mm wide angle
  • Made with durable materials to last longer
View Latest Price →
  • Best Fuji Pancake Lens
  • Slim and compact design for easy use and portability
  • Electron beam coating for much clearer picture quality
View Latest Price →
  • Best Canon Pancake Lens and Best 24mm Pancake Lens
  • Wide viewing angle for full frame picture option
  • Can be used with most APS cameras
View Latest Price →

How Do I Choose a Pancake Lens? 

While most pancake lenses offer a similar set of features and attributes – which makes them pancake lenses, there are still a few things you should consider and do a check on before you are set on buying one. These include:

Size

Pancake lenses are small and compact, just like the breakfast food that gives them their name. They don’t protrude out much, which makes them much less of a burden on the front end of the camera. But if you find a big lens being sold as a pancake lens, then it loses its meaning right there, as every pancake lens should be small and compact.

Weight

The weight of the lens is as important of a contributing factor as the size. If a pancake lens brings too much weight with itself, it will hardly be of use. Pancake lenses are ideally lightly built and lightweight.

Focal Length

A pancake lens will ideally be a wide-angle lens with a normal focal length of around 40 mm. This is because of the build of the lens itself. If a greater focal length is required, it calls for more glass, which can only be housed in a much bigger lens than a pancake lens.

Review of the Best Pancake Lenses

You now know the features a pancake lens must have and how to choose one. Now, have a look at our cherry-picked selection of the finest lenses. Each of these stands out as the best pancake lenses in the market. We can assure you that whatever you pick will boost your photography experience to the max.

Best Overall:
Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM

Canon Cameras US 6310B002 EF 40mm f/2.8 STM Lens - Fixed Black

PROS

  • Features a super spectra coating
  • Has a quiet motor when functioning
  • Very sturdily built with a solid metal mount
  • Smooth rotation on the focusing ring enhances its functionality
  • Provides remarkable image quality that rivals those of pricier, larger lenses

CONS

  • Wide-open shots may lose focus sometimes, giving blurry results
  • Not reliable for videography scenarios where sound quality has a major role

What Recent Buyers Report

Almost every buyer out there has loved the lens for what it has to offer. Being cheap in price compared to others in the market makes the buyers expect less from it, but the results from it blow them away. The lens has been tested and used by buyers for various purposes, and they show signs of utmost satisfaction in most scenarios.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The lens has a place in our hearts as it has offered a lot for a very small price. It carries a very high-quality metallic build, which makes it a lot sturdier and long-lasting than plastic lenses of similar potential. 

Moreover, even though the usual metallic design variations of a product are known to be bulkier and heavier, that is not the case with this lens. It carries a lightweight, slim design that makes it easier to carry and manageable. The design specifications make the lens irresistible for almost everyone – and it is affordable, so it’s worth a try. 

Bottom Line

For the price it comes at, the lens has a lot to offer in terms of quality output. It is sleek and compact in design, staying true to being a pancake lens. With no compromise on delivering masterpiece shots, this lens might be the best one from our pick to go for. 

Runner-up:
Pentax DA 40mm f/2.8 XS

Pentax DA 40mm f/2.8 XS Lens

PROS

  • Has a fast autofocus
  • Completely lacks the irritating fringing
  • Provides excellent sharpness in its results
  • Light and small build makes it convenient to carry

CONS

  • Being a 40 mm prime, it lacks zoom and wide-angle
  • Autofocus does not always deliver as sharp images as manual focus

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers report surprisingly satisfying reports regarding this lens. Almost all of them have gained a lot more from this lens than its monetary worth, making it another photographers' favorite. Buyers have fallen for the sharpness it delivers in its results, even on autofocus. Some even came to state that they wish they had found out about this lens sooner. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

The lens stands out from most others for its sharpness and crisp quality in its results. With the lightning-fast speed at focusing on an image for shooting on both autofocus and manual focus modes, the lens is great for taking portraits and local photography such as street photography. 

This high speed at taking a quality picture makes the lens stand out from the rest in our list. With all that to offer, this can make a fine pick for your camera. 

Bottom Line

Providing great quality with its sharp image results while being affordable for all photographers, amateur and experienced alike, the lens is a fine choice to go for. A slim, weightless design adds up to ease your handling of the camera, allowing you to take better and more pictures with its fast clicking on the go.

Best for the Money:
YONGNUO YN 35mm f/2

YONGNUO YN35mm F2 Lens 1:2 AF/MF Wide-Angle Fixed/Prime Auto Focus Lens Compatible with Canon EF Mount EOS Camera

PROS

  • Comes with multi-coated glass elements
  • An ace at blurring out backgrounds in images
  • Picture quality is comparable to high-end lenses
  • Comes with a built-in range of f2 to f22 aperture
  • Provided with a convenient switch to switch from auto to manual focus

CONS

  • Autofocus is noisy
  • Focus is comparatively slower

What Recent Buyers Report

According to several buyer reviews, the lens provides incredible quality in the photos clicked. It is on par with higher-end, pricier lenses that make it stand out. The focus, though slow, is bearable and adds decent sharpness to the image quality. For the price it is at, buyers say it is worth the purchase.

Why it Stands Out to Us

What makes this lens stand out is the multi-coated glass element that it comes with. It provides sharpness in imagery and enhances the focus by blurring out all the components in the background. The lens's quality is further enhanced with the multi-coated glass elements that maintain the color of the image captured by reducing lens flare and ghosting effects. 

Altogether, the lens is a decent choice to add to your collection of photography gadgets as a professional or even as a first buy for a beginner.

Bottom Line

Overall, the pancake lens notably stands out from other lenses in the market, particularly because it delivers great results despite the cheap cost. It offers an array of features that would add decent quality to your photos and make it a great choice for professionals and amateurs alike.  

Best Pancake Lens for Micro Four Thirds:
Olympus M.Zuiko 9mm f/8

Olympus M.Zuiko 9mm F8.0 Fisheye Body Cap Lens BCL-0980 for Micro Four Thirds Cameras

PROS

  • Provides the perfect balance of the fisheye effect
  • Has a micro four-third system, specifically designed for mirrorless cameras
  • Deep focus positioning allows for better results when working with distant objects
  • Gives the photographer a decent range with a much faster aperture compared to others
  • Lens matches the 140-degree human field of view better as compared to other wide-angle lenses

CONS

  • Does not deliver remarkable sharpness in imagery indoors
  • Not suitable for a low light environment, particularly for video making

What Recent Buyers Report

Customers seem to have a great liking to this product as it has a wide array of features to offer. People tend to call this lens a gem that is both affordable and delivers a great amount of quality. It brings a fisheye effect without the extra stretching or unnatural edges that most other wide-angle lenses do. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

This product is designed to be perfect for wide-angled, fish-eyed shots without the flaws that ruin them, making it one of the best choices out there for the purpose. And that too, in an affordable range. It matches the human field of view much better than wide-angle lenses in a similar range or higher up, making it stand out from the rest. 

The lens is a master at working with objects in the distance with the deep focus position that allows it to produce spectacular results. For these features and more, such as excellent sharp shots of inadequate lighting, this camera lens is a neat pick and a perfect fit for your collection. 

Bottom Line

This is a good lens that is specially designed to meet certain modes. It’s a top-tier pancake lens for most photographers. It is definitely worth the price, which itself is low and not too hard on your budget.  

Best Sony Pancake Lens:
Sony E 20mm f/2.8

Sony SEL-20F28 E-Mount 20mm F2.8 Prime Fixed Lens

PROS

  • Works like a charm for videography
  • Provides smoother, more natural defocusing
  • Comes with well-designed spherical elements
  • Design suited to counter against several monochromatic aberrations
  • For selective focusing, a seven-bladed diaphragm adds to a satisfying bokeh quality

CONS

  • Front of the lens does not rotate
  • Not very suitable for a low light environment

What Recent Buyers Report

People who have bought this lens already applaud its quality since it allows them to capture high definition images on the go. Besides photography, it serves its purpose great as a video recorder, too. Those who have invested in this product found all of its features to be right up to the mark.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The lens is exceptionally good for shooting both photos and videos, which makes it stand out from other pancake lenses. It has several design elements that allow it to counteract any possible monochromatic aberrations, such as astigmatism and field curvature. This adds up to its excellent output provided in its super-high-resolution shots. 

All these features make the lens a decent pick for any photographer to further enhance his experience at shooting sights, scenery, and other landscapes. It is definitely worth the purchase if you are looking for quality at a good price, especially for videography and filming. 

Bottom Line

All in all, this product is ideal for making videos and provides excellent quality for standard photography as well. If you are into these, then look no further, as this might as well be the perfect pick for you.

Best Fuji Pancake Lens:
Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8

Fujifilm XF27mmF2.8 - Black

PROS

  • Easy to carry and work with
  • f/2.8 aperture allows it to work in low light conditions
  • Design elements provide greater sharpness and precise renders
  • Takes photos the way your eyes see them with a focal length of 41mm
  • High torque, DC coreless motor provides enhanced autofocus that is quick, precise, and super responsive

CONS

  • Somewhat noisier than other lenses
  • Slower at focusing in a low light environment

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers are very satisfied with the output this lens gives for its price. It provides excellent sharpness in images and is often said to be fun to work with in photography. The autofocus works like a charm at capturing sharp and contrasting images. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Fuji pancake lens is one that gives you a sharp output with nice contrasts in your images to enhance them. It comes with a compact and lightweight build that makes it easy for you to carry and take pictures on the go. 

The autofocus is excellent with high speed and performance thanks to the design that incorporates a high torque, DC coreless motor, which allows you to capture that moment in time with precision. 

Moreover, it has a focal length of 41mm that matches the one in your eyes, allowing you to capture images the way you see them. Try not to hold back from buying this one, as it packs a punch!

Bottom Line

All in all, this lens made to provide excellent contrasting quality shots and the sharpest results, making it definitely worth the purchase. Since it is not too pricey on your pockets, you should add this one to your collection.

Best Canon Pancake Lens and Best 24mm Pancake Lens:
Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM

Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM Lens

PROS

  • Incredibly lightweight in its build
  • Smooth focusing for better video recording
  • Fast enough to catch water drops in mid-air
  • Unobtrusive construction adds to it being an assistant on your travels
  • Superb out-of-focus detail and color balance provided by its circular aperture 

CONS

  • Manual focus is found to be noisy

What Recent Buyers Report

Photographers found this lens to be the perfect fit to add to their cameras while keeping the bulk away. As per reviews, the lens adds a lot of quality as it brings detailed shots and an excellent balance of colors with its circular aperture. It is a perfect lens for those who travel and work indoors.  

Why it Stands Out to Us

With an incredibly lightweight build that makes it easy to carry around on the go, the lens is perfect for capturing scenery, nature photography, and astrophotography. Weighing around 125g, the lens will not make its presence felt as a burdening weight on the front end of the camera. The compact and sleek, easy-to-carry design gives it an edge over others. 

Moreover, the lens is the best of both worlds, as it works like a charm indoors as well. With all that added to the quality it provides, it makes for a decent pick for any photographer out there.  

Bottom Line

The lens is excellent for both indoors and outdoors as it works well in a variety of lightings. It is also an ideal product for not one but many purposes, making it a decent addition to your collection.

Best Nikon Pancake Lens:
Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8D

Nikon AF FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8D Lens for Nikon DSLR Cameras

PROS

  • Aspherical design for reduced aberrations
  • Exceptional at being lightweight and compact
  • Delivers sharp portraits that capture every detail
  • Ideally designed to be suited to travel photography
  • Beautifully blurs out backgrounds, giving excellent focus

CONS

  • Not a zoom lens 
  • Does not autofocus on its own with some models

What Recent Buyers Report

For many photographers who are starting as novices and amateurs, this is a starter, regular lens that serves its purpose of providing quality photos and imagery. It works like a classic as it provides a fast aperture and sharp results that allow it to capture images in excellent detail.  

Why it Stands Out to Us

The pancake lens works exceptionally well at providing incredible quality to the user in its output, with crisp, clear photos that carry every detail. It is a strong lens that is both compact and easy to carry with you on the move and helps you get those moments captured on camera in the finest, sharpest of quality. 

While it does lack the autofocus with a certain few models, it still brings quality photos to the table with its manual focus that delivers quality like a charm. The lens is a decent pick to go for if you are looking for one that delivers high quality at a reasonable, affordable price. 

Bottom Line

To sum up, this is an excellent pancake lens that outperforms for its price with quality photos and is a master at capturing detail. It has a compact build and decent speed, which makes it one of the best lenses to pick from.

Best Olympus Pancake Lens:
Olympus M.Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ Lens, for Micro Four Thirds Camera (Black)

PROS

  • Compatible for MSC movies and stills
  • Comes with an optional autoclosing lens cap
  • Remote-controlled zoom available with its smartphone app
  • Ideally designed to be suited to photography on the go in scenic locations
  • A built-in 23x zoom range covers everything in sight, from portraits to landscapes 

CONS

  • Focus is comparatively soft
  • Optical quality is not on par with other models

What Recent Buyers Report

Most buyers state it to be an excellent addition to their camera gear collection. The zoom makes it a multipurpose lens that can capture images of all sorts. It adds up to be a nice addition to any portable camera while having capabilities that match those of higher-end lenses.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Olympus pancake lens stands out as compared to others for its exceptional zoom that allows it to capture many different types of photographs. Be it the automatic zoom feature or the remote-controlled zoom function for adjustment with a smartphone app; this lens has a lot to offer. 

These features make photography on the move a charm for travelers and tourists, and the lens is perfectly suited for everyday use of taking portraits and nature photographs as well. It is also lightweight and compact in design as well as a light on the pockets, making it a decent choice.  

Bottom Line

As a photographer, you can benefit from this lens as it is suitable for a variety of purposes, so you can carry one lens around instead of many. With its sleek design, low weight, affordability, and exceptional quality, it makes for a great investment. 

What is a Pancake Lens? 

A pancake lens is a camera lens that is slim and sleek in design that gives it a sort of pancake shape, hence the name. The design allows for it to be light in weight, compact, and does not put much of a burden on the front of the camera, allowing the photographer to work easily with the camera. 

Even though it is compact and light, the lens does not compromise on functionality. Pancake lenses, surprisingly, are nearly on par with higher-end lenses in terms of quality.

Comparison Overview 

Choosing between different lenses can be a daunting task. To choose the perfect lens, you must understand how different products compare to one another. Here is a comparison overview that will help you make your final decision.

Canon Pancake Lens 24mm vs 40mm

Both lenses come with their own sets of advantages and disadvantages. While the 40mm offers you an infinity zoom, the 24mm provides a round aperture that enables you to get sharpness and color contrasting in images. 

The 24mm has a slight upper hand with a better magnification factor of 0.27x, while the 40mm lens comes with a magnification factor of 0.18x. The 24mm is lighter too by around 5 grams and is a wide-angle lens.

40mm Pancake Lens vs 50mm

While the 50mm is a commonly chosen beginner lens, the 40mm comes with a few advantages of its own. It brings a slightly wider focal length and a narrower aperture at f/2.8. While both tend to be around the same price, the 40mm gets the advantage here. 

The 40mm is a better lens for street photography, while the 50mm is more suited to portraits. The latter has a very wide maximum aperture, but the former comes with excellent sharpness in its imagery and is more compact.

Conclusion 

In conclusion, a pancake lens is ideal to go for, whether you’re a beginner or an expert, a professional, an amateur, or a hobbyist. It is suited for a wide variety of applications and has been loved and made a success by buyers worldwide. You, too, can achieve this satisfaction in your photography. Go ahead, pick a lens from our list, and have fun taking shots on the go!

People Also Ask

There are several questions that people often ask when it comes to pancake lenses. Therefore, we decided to present a little FAQ section to answer some of your questions.

What is the Advantage of a Pancake Lens?

The pancake lens's biggest advantage is its design. It is portable and easy to carry and can be kept in your pockets while you are on the move. Moreover, such lenses are quite affordable.  

How Do I Protect a Pancake Lens When It’s Not in Use?

Your lens is prone to scratches and dust that can damage it severely. Therefore, storing your pancake lenses with the covers provided for them when they are not in use is important. 



Hi, I’m Andy. I’ve been taking pictures for just about as long as I’ve been old enough to hold a camera. I studied photography in community college after high school but was encouraged to follow a career path that was more stable. I do gigs here and there on the side but never took the leap to focus my efforts full-time. When Pam reached out to me through a mutual friend, I jumped on the opportunity to be a writer. Favorite type of photography: macro and street.