Is this the smallest, cheapest pancake lens EVER?

7Artisans 18mm F6.3 II Ultra-thin
(Image credit: 7Artisans)

Budget-leans manufacturer 7Artisans has just released quite possibly the smallest (and cheapest) pancake lens we’ve ever seen. Available for Sony E-mount, Fuji X-mount and Nikon Z mount APS-C cameras, this 18mm f/6.3 lens might not be the fastest lens but it does offer photographers a very cheap wide-angle solution. 

When mounted on the Sony A6400, Nikon Z fc or Fujifilm X-S10, it doesn’t look much bigger than a body cap. Weighing just 58g it’s incredibly lightweight, making it an ideal accompaniment to some of the best cameras for street photography or travel. And it's just $59 (£49 / AU$85)!

• These are the best APS-C cameras – pocket cameras that don't skimp on quality from Fujifilm, Sony and more

Taking the 1.5x crop factor into account, the equivalent focal length is 27mm but it’s worth noting it has a fixed aperture of f/6.8 – which is unsurprising considering its size. It has a minimum focusing distance of 30cm, is made up of 6 elements in 5 groups and has a 76° field of view. 

This 18mm optic is the lightest pancake lens we’ve come across by a pretty long way. Some of the best pancake lenses include the Olympus M.Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ, Olympus M.Zuiko 9mm f/8 Fisheye Body Cap, the Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM and the Fujifilm XF 27mm f/2.8 – and this one could be right at home, especially given the price. 

In an age when most new lenses seem to cost thousands of dollars, it’s refreshing to see one that costs so little, as it opens up photography as a hobby to so many people. You can’t expect exactly the same quality as more expensive lenses but, judging front the sample photos, they are sharp, bright, have little vignetting and color fringing, and for an f/6.3 lens you can even achieve a soft, blurred background when shooting portraits. Sounds like a winner for anyone who wants a new lens but can't spend a lot of money. 

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Hannah Rooke
Staff Writer

Having studied Journalism and Public Relations at the University of the West of England Hannah developed a love for photography through a module on photojournalism. She specializes in Portrait, Fashion and lifestyle photography but has more recently branched out in the world of stylized product photography. For the last 3 years Hannah has worked at Wex Photo Video as a Senior Sales Assistant using her experience and knowledge of cameras to help people buy the equipment that is right for them. With 5 years experience working with studio lighting, Hannah has run many successful workshops teaching people how to use different lighting setups.