Four Low Profile Pancake Lenses That Are Perfect for Candid and Street Photography

One of the best things about pancake lenses isn’t necessarily just their low profile, but the fact that they encourage you to carry your camera everywhere with you. That mean that at all times, you can be ready to capture candid moments as they happen in front of you. They’re not going to stick out in a crowd and the performance of many of them are really terrific.

So with that said, we’ve gone through our reviews index and looked at a number of great pancake lenses that we’ve tested.

Fujifilm 27mm f2.8 R

In our review we state:

“Luckily, we didn’t have much of a problem autofocusing with this lens. It is slightly faster than the much older Fujifilm 35mm f1.4 R in some situations, although you really have to be looking for the extra performance. Even in low light situations, as long as the reticule was placed over a high contrast area and dialed into being the right size we didn’t see much of an issue.”

Buy Now: Amazon ($449)

Sample Images

Sony 20mm f2.8

In our review we state:

“We’ve tested loads of Sony lenses, and although this isn’t the sharpest one that they make by a long shot, it’s still better than most of the company’s zooms. Of the APS-C E mount prime lenses, this lens is perhaps the softest and fast behind many of the f1.8 offerings. But this lens isn’t really about the numbers–or at least we think it isn’t. It’s more about an experience. It turns your Sony E mount camera into something that you can tote around nearly anywhere with you and it will give you good enough images to make you in awe of.”

Buy Now: Amazon (Usually $322)

Sample Images

Sony 28mm f2 FE

Editor’s Note: This is pretty darn close to being pancake…

In our review we state:

“The Sony 28mm f2 has incredible image quality, and it goes to show that folks that tend to snub their noses at Sony lenses should give them another look. The Sony 28mm f2 is not only sharp, but offers very good color, beautiful bokeh for a lens this wide, and very little in the way of image quality issues. Wide open, it will vignette a bit, but you can creatively embrace this. You’ll also face some distortion which will need to be eliminated in post-production or through camera settings. But that’s what you need to expect with a lens like this.”

Buy Now: Amazon ($448)

Sample Images

Pro Tip: Though it’s frowned upon by some photographers, try shooting from the hip. No one cares about how you got the image, they only care about the end result in street photography.

Panasonic 20mm f1.7 II

In our review we state:

“Over our review period, we’ve come to really appreciate the 20mm f1.7 II lens. It’s built and feels super solid with a metal exterior that works well with both the OMD EM5 and the GH4. When it comes to manually focusing though, you’ll only be working with a small sliver of a focusing ring. Granted, this lens isn’t weather sealed nor does it really need to be.”

Buy Now: Amazon (Usually around $267)

Sample Images

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.