📸 Snap More, Spend Less: Best Cheap Lenses to Buy [2023]

Jun 5, 2023 | Photography Tutorials

 Do you still believe that top-tier lenses always empty your wallet?

Let’s shake things up.

It’s time to debunk myths and explore a world where stellar quality doesn’t mean emptying your savings.

Dive in as we unveil budget-friendly lenses that pack a punch.

Best Budget Lenses

In an age where technology is advancing at breakneck speeds, the realm of photography isn’t left behind.

Cheap doesn’t mean compromising anymore. Let’s delve into why affordable lenses are not just a trend, but a revolution:

Modern Manufacturing: Today’s lens-making processes have become more streamlined and efficient, bringing down costs without sacrificing quality.

Wider Accessibility: Everyone deserves the chance to capture stunning images. Affordable lenses democratize photography, making it accessible to budding photographers everywhere.

Versatility: Many cheap lenses now come with features and capabilities that rival their high-end counterparts, proving you don’t need to spend big to shoot diverse styles.

Experimentation: Not ready to invest in an expensive specialty lens? Affordable options allow you to try out different focal lengths and styles without a hefty commitment.

Remember, it’s not the gear, but the eye behind it that makes a shot truly magical. Cheap lenses are just tools that prove this point, over and over again.

Top Cheap Lenses for Every Photographer

#1 Everyday Affordable Camera Lenses

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8

It does a fantastic job of focusing and capturing the light as long as you aim your crosshairs right on your target.

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The Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM, often referred to as the “nifty fifty,” is an everyday gem.

When I first tried it out, its compact size and incredibly sharp images immediately stood out.

The wide f/1.8 aperture allows for fantastic low light performance and dreamy bokeh, making it not just ideal for day-to-day shooting but also perfect for capturing those spontaneous, magical moments.

The STM motor ensures silent and smooth autofocus, a bonus when shooting videos.

For its price point:

The value it offers in versatility and image quality is unmatched.

#2 Compact Lenses for the World Explorer

Sony 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens

This lens has beautiful renedring and keeps the aberration at a minimum and since this is a light and compact lens it can be used without tripod.

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During my travels, the Sony FE 28-70mm quickly became an indispensable tool in my kit.

A step up from the standard kit lenses, it provides a versatile focal length that ensures I’m prepared for nearly any situation, from capturing the vast expanse of landscapes to zooming in on architectural details or candid street scenes.

The Optical SteadyShot stabilization is a godsend when shooting in dimly lit environments or when on the move.

Despite its budget-friendly tag:

The lens delivers sharp, vibrant images that require minimal post-processing.

Its robust build quality ensures it can stand up to the demands of frequent travel, making it a trusty companion for the avid traveler.

#3 Cheap Lens for Sports & Wildlife Enthusiasts

Sigma 100-400mm f/5-6.3 Lens

Reach new heights in photography with Sigma's 100-400mm f/5-6.3 lens; perfect for wildlife and sports, offering superb reach and exceptional clarity.

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From my time spent capturing swift birds in flight to action-packed sports moments, the Sigma 100-400mm has been a revelation.

It’s remarkably light for its range, making hand-held shooting a breeze, and the Optical Stabilization system does wonders in reducing camera shake, a prevalent concern with telephoto lenses.

The autofocus is snappy, and while not the fastest in the class, it’s reliable even in challenging lighting conditions.

Images come out sharp with delightful bokeh, adding that professional touch to the photos.

For those hesitant to invest in pricier telephoto lenses, this Sigma lens is a fantastic entry point without compromising too much on quality.

#4 Cost-Effective Choice for Portraits & Close-Ups

Olympus 45mm f/1.8 Lens

One of the things I like is the wide aperture that allows a lot of light to enter the sensor. It also comes in handy when creating extraordinary defocused backgrounds.

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The Olympus 45mm f/1.8 opened up a new realm of portrait photography for me.

The sharpness it delivers, paired with a creamy bokeh at f/1.8, renders subjects beautifully against smoothly blurred backgrounds.

Its compactness belies its power, and the fast aperture also makes it a go-to for close-up shots, revealing minute details with crystal clarity.

Shooting portraits with this lens feels intimate, drawing attention to the nuances of facial expressions or the intricate patterns in a subject’s attire.

An affordable lens that consistently delivers professional-grade results.

Brands on a Budget: Cheap Lenses Across Different Brands

#1 Canon Without the Cost: Top Budget Pick

Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 Lens

I was able to get awesome-looking shots and lock a focus on the subject 2 inches away. The focus system is extremely responsive.

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When I first attached the Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM Pancake lens to my camera, I was taken aback by its diminutive size.

But any underestimation vanished the moment I clicked my first shot. The clarity, color rendition, and overall image quality were outstanding.

Its compact design made it perfect for street photography – unobtrusive, lightweight, and quick.

The wide f/2.8 aperture performed admirably in low light, while the STM motor was whisper-quiet.

For Canon enthusiasts on a budget:

This little wonder is an essential addition to the kit.

#2 Nikon’s Wallet-Friendly Wonder: Top Pick

Nikon 35mm f/1.8G Lens

Capture stunning detail with Nikon's 35mm f/1.8G lens; optimal sharpness, stellar low-light performance, and bokeh mastery await.

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The Nikon 35mm f/1.8G lens became an instant favorite from the first use.

Portraits, landscapes, indoor events – it mastered them all with grace. At f/1.8, it offered a beautiful depth of field, making subjects pop against soft backgrounds.

During an indoor event:

The lens’s low light prowess truly shone through, capturing moments without necessitating flash.

Its focal length provides a natural field of view on DX cameras, closely resembling the human eye, making photos feel inherently genuine and candid.

It’s a versatile masterpiece that doesn’t dent the wallet.

#3 Sony’s Sensational Savings: Top E-Mount on a Budget

Sony 50mm f/1.8 Lens

This is a prime lens from Sony that has premium abilities such as sharpness and high low light performance and it's great for people on budget.

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As a loyal user of Sony mirrorless cameras, the Sony E 50mm f/1.8 OSS never disappointed.

Whether I was snapping portraits, landscapes, or spontaneous moments, the results were consistently impressive.

With its f/1.8 aperture:

Bokeh was creamy and dreamlike, making subjects stand out brilliantly.

The Optical SteadyShot (OSS) stabilization was a godsend when shooting in dim settings or capturing moving subjects.

It’s a lens that strikes a balance between affordability and performance, making it an invaluable asset in my E-mount collection.

#4 Fuji and Friends: Top Lens Deals from Diverse Brands

Fujifilm XF 27mm f/2.8 Lens

Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 is a light lens, weighing only 77 grams. The wide aperture does a decent job of letting light to the sensor.

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The Fujifilm XF 27mm f/2.8 was my trusty companion on many a city escapade. This pancake lens, with its sleek profile, was the perfect mate for my Fuji camera, maintaining a low profile while delivering on image quality.

Wandering city streets:

The 27mm focal length offered a wide enough view to capture bustling scenes, yet tight enough to hone in on specific subjects.

Its colors and sharpness encapsulated the vintage charm Fuji is known for.

It’s not just a lens, but an experience, making every outing an exciting photographic journey.

Honorable brand mentions:

Panasonic Lumix G 25mm f/1.7: A prime lens perfect for the MFT user, it delivers crisp images with outstanding color, even in lower light. Compact and robust, it’s an affordable must-have for street and portrait photography.

Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC DN for Sony E-mount: A prime lens with a fast aperture, it’s known for its sharpness, making it a favorite among Sony mirrorless users on a budget.

Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD for Sony E-mount: A versatile zoom lens that punches above its weight, delivering sharp and crisp images across its focal range.

Tips & Tricks for Buying Cheap Camera Lenses

3 camera lenses on a table with light behind in a camera and lenses shop, tips to buy

Navigating the labyrinth of camera lenses on a budget can be a daunting task. How do you ensure that affordability doesn’t compromise quality? Here’s a concise guide to aid you in this quest:

Know Where to Shop

Authorized Dealers: Always start by checking the websites of official retailers or the camera brand itself. They often have sales, refurbished items, or older models at discounted prices.

Local Camera Stores: Don’t overlook brick-and-mortar stores. They might have in-store promotions, used lenses in great condition, or the ability to haggle on prices.

Online Marketplaces: Websites like B&H, Adorama, and Amazon are popular for a reason. They frequently offer deals, user reviews, and a wide selection. Just be wary of third-party sellers and always check their ratings and reviews.

Inspect Before You Invest

Check for Physical Damage: Especially for used lenses, look for any scratches on the glass, dents, or other physical anomalies.

Test the Lens: If possible, try the lens on your camera. Check for autofocus speed, clarity, and any issues like lens creep.

Ask About Warranty: Even for budget options, a warranty can be a lifesaver. Always inquire if one is available, and consider purchasing an extended warranty for peace of mind.

Do Your Homework

Research Reviews: Before purchasing, read user and professional reviews. This can give you insights into real-world performance and any potential issues.

Compatibility: Ensure the lens is compatible with your camera model. Some lenses are designed for specific mounts or sensor sizes.

Know the Return Policy: Make sure you can return or exchange the lens if it doesn’t meet your expectations. Always keep the original packaging until you’re certain you’re keeping the lens.

Recognize the Trade-offs

Aperture: Cheaper lenses might not have extremely wide apertures. Decide if you can compromise a bit on low-light performance for the sake of your budget.

Build Quality: Some budget lenses might be made of less durable materials. If you’re a casual photographer, this might be fine, but for heavy use, consider investing a bit more for durability.

Consider Buying Used

Reputable Sellers: If going the second-hand route, buy from well-known and reputable camera stores or platforms with buyer protection.

Check Lens History: Ask about the lens’s history. How old is it? Has it been dropped or repaired? A well-maintained lens can serve you as well as a new one.

Investing in lenses is as crucial as investing in a camera body, if not more so. By being discerning, doing due diligence, and knowing where to look, you can score excellent deals without sacrificing quality.

After all, great photography isn’t about the most expensive gear, but how you use it.

FAQs on Affordable Lenses

What 2 lenses should every photographer have?

Every photographer’s needs can vary based on their specific niche, but generally, it’s recommended to have:

A Standard Prime Lens (e.g., 50mm): Known as the “nifty fifty,” this lens is versatile, often has a wide aperture, and provides a field of view similar to the human eye. It’s great for portraits, street photography, and even landscapes.

A Zoom Lens (e.g., 24-70mm or 18-55mm): These lenses are versatile, covering wide-angle to short telephoto ranges, making them suitable for a variety of scenes, from landscapes to portraits.

Where to buy cheap camera lenses?

Cheap camera lenses can be found at:

Authorized dealers or the camera brand’s official website (look for sales or refurbished items).
Local camera shops (especially for used lenses).

Online marketplaces like B&H, Adorama, and Amazon. Just ensure you’re purchasing from reputable sellers by checking ratings and reviews.

Which camera lens is cheapest?

The cost of lenses varies greatly based on brand, focal length, aperture, and other factors.

However, the “nifty fifty” or 50mm prime lenses are often among the most affordable and provide excellent value for their price.

Which company lenses are cheap?

Third-party manufacturers like Sigma, Tamron, and Tokina often offer lenses at prices more affordable than major camera brands. They provide quality, multi-system compatible lenses without breaking the bank.

Meanwhile, brands like Canon, Nikon, and Sony also have budget-friendly options in their range.

Why are camera lenses so expensive now?

Camera lenses are intricate pieces of technology that require precision in manufacturing. Reasons for high costs include:

Complexity of Design: Modern lenses often have numerous glass elements, each requiring precise engineering.

Materials: High-quality glass and coatings are expensive.

R&D Costs: Companies invest heavily in research and development to innovate and improve lens performance.

Manufacturing Tolerances: The precision required in lens manufacturing means higher production costs.

Is it worth buying second-hand camera lenses?

Absolutely, provided you take certain precautions:

Always inspect the lens for any signs of damage or wear.
Test the lens on a camera before purchasing, if possible.
Ask about its history and any warranties or guarantees.
Buy from reputable sellers or platforms that offer buyer protection.

Do you really need expensive lenses?

Not necessarily. While expensive lenses often offer advantages in build quality, aperture size, and optical performance, many affordable lenses deliver excellent results. The best lens is one that fits your specific needs and budget.

Does a good lens make a difference?

Yes, a good lens can make a significant difference. While the camera body captures the image, the lens affects sharpness, clarity, depth of field, distortion, and color reproduction.

Investing in a quality lens can elevate the overall quality of your photographs, regardless of the camera body you’re using.

Final Thoughts: Making the Right Lens Choice

In the vast world of photography, it’s clear that the camera body isn’t the only element that defines the outcome. Lenses play an equally, if not more crucial role in how a photograph turns out.

As we’ve highlighted, going for affordable lenses doesn’t mean compromising on quality.

In fact:

Budget-friendly lenses offer tremendous value for both budding and experienced photographers, allowing you to capture beautiful, sharp, and vibrant images without breaking the bank.

While it’s tempting to believe that a heftier price tag equates to better quality, many affordable lenses prove this notion wrong. They are reliable, versatile, and, when used right, can yield results comparable to their pricier counterparts.

As you venture further into your photographic journey, we invite you to explore other related guides and articles on our platform.

Dive deep, learn more, and remember:

It’s not always about the gear, but the vision, passion, and story behind the lens. So, start clicking, and let your creativity flow without any financial constraints holding you back!

📸  Snap More, Spend Less: Best Cheap Lenses to Buy [2023]
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📸 Snap More, Spend Less: Best Cheap Lenses to Buy [2023]
Discover 2023's best affordable lenses. Elevate your photography without breaking the bank. Dive in for top-budget picks and expert tips!
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Disclaimer: "As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases."

Edward Avedon

Edward Avedon

Professional Photographer

I’m Edward Avedon, a seasoned professional photographer with over 7 years of experience and the co-founder of the renowned LensesPro blog. Currently, I am furthering my knowledge as a student at Columbia University in the heart of New York, USA.






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