Sony 20mm F2.8 Review | A Compact Pancake Lens

Although the Sony 20mm F2.8 is quite old at this point (releasing many years ago for the original Sony a6000), it’s still a fairly popular lens. However, it’s not image quality or autofocus that makes it great, but rather the extremely small and compact size.

So is this tiny little pancake worth paying for? Let’s dive into the review.

Looking for just a quick summary before jumping in?

Sony 20mm F2.8 (Summary)
255 Reviews
Sony 20mm F2.8 (Summary)
- Incredibly compact pancake lens
- Easily pocketable
- Decent autofocus
- Lackluster image quality
Black and white dog sitting in a field photographed with a wide angle.

Size & Weight: ridiculously tiny.

The Sony 20mm F2.8 is literally the most tiny lens I have ever used. Weighing only 2.4oz (69g) and measuring a diminutive .8 inches (20mm) in length, it’s just seriously mind-bogglingly small. Combined with the already small Sony a6000, it can actually slip into my pants pocket. I adore this.

Build Quality: meh.

Build quality isn’t all that great despite the still somewhat high pricepoint. The Sony 20mm F2.8 is made out of decently high quality plastic, but it lacks any sort of dust or splash protection, and the small size adds a bit to the “cheap” feel.

Sony 20mm F2.8 mounted on a Sony a6300.Credit to “skanter” on DPReview Forums.

Image Quality: decent.

The image quality of the Sony 20mm F2.8 is decidedly average. At most apertures, the frame is pretty soft edge-to-edge, but stopping down to F11 creates some pretty decent results. Don’t stop down much more than that though as diffraction will knock down the image quality quite a bit.

Bokeh is rather lackluster, but it’s also a wide angle lens with a tighter aperture, so there’s no surprise there. That being said, it does have a rather close focus distance of 7.9 inches (20cm) so you can get some decent bokeh on extreme closeups.

Optical Quirks & Flaws

The Sony 20mm F2.8 suffers from moderate distortion and vignetting, but these are both easily fixable either through in-camera JPEG processing or in a program like Lightroom. Flaring and chromatic aberration control isn’t great, so I’d avoid shooting into direct sunlight if possible.

A field with a gate photographed with a 20mm lens.

Autofocus & Other Features

Autofocus isn’t anything to write home about either. It doesn’t excel, but it isn’t bad either. Overall, it’s simply reliable and also very silent, which is a bonus for video shooters. Trying to manually focus is a bit difficult due to the tiny focus ring, but it is fairly responsive.

Sony sells two weird converters that are only compatible with a few lenses (like this one). First is the Sony .8x converter which allows the focal length to be slightly wider. Second is the fisheye converter which, as you’d likely guess, helps to create a fisheye effect. I haven’t tested either but I imagine they could be fun to play around with.

Flowers photographed with a somewhat wide angle lens.

My Final Thoughts & Alternatives

I’d like to preface this by saying I love small kits, but there’s other lenses that are simply so much better. First would be the Sigma 16mm F1.4, which is much larger but also ridiculously sharp with blazing fast autofocus.

Second would be the kit lens which, although rather lucklaster in terms of performance, is also incredibly small whilst being much more versatile.

Regardless, if you want an extremely small lens for your Sony a6000 series camera, the Sony 20mm F2.8 is kind of the only way to go. Considering this is the smallest lens I’ve personally seen on APS-C, it’s a solid pick if you’re ok with the rather average image quality. If you’re interested in picking it up yourself, I’ll include purchase links below. I’d buy it used. Thanks for reading! 🙂

Sony 20mm F2.8
255 Reviews
Sony 20mm F2.8
The Sony 20mm F2.8 isn't very sharp, but it's the smallest lens ever created for Sony APS-C cameras, which is a great selling point in itself.
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