📸 Snap More, Spend Less: Best Cheap Lenses to Buy (2024)

Jan 13, 2024 | Photography Tutorials

Why spend a fortune when affordable gems are at your fingertips?

In today’s fast-paced, tech-driven world, the realm of photography is bursting with options. And guess what? 

You don’t need to empty your savings to capture those perfect shots.

With cheap camera lenses making waves in the market, we’re here to debunk the myth: higher price doesn’t always mean superior quality.

Best Budget Lenses

These budget-friendly wonders can transform your photography game from candid street shots to sweeping landscapes.

Dive in, and let’s uncover the magic behind cheap lenses that promise to elevate your frames without weighing down your wallet.

Editor's Choice
Best Runner Up
Budget-Friendly

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G Lens

Neewer 35mm f/1.7 Lens

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

It's compact design and silent autofocus enhance its usability, delivering sharpness and artistic depth to your images.

Capture stunning images with remarkable depth and clarity, thanks to its wide aperture.

5.0
4.8
3.5
Editor's Choice

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.

5.0
Best Runner Up

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G Lens

It's compact design and silent autofocus enhance its usability, delivering sharpness and artistic depth to your images.

4.8
Budget-Friendly

Neewer 35mm f/1.7 Lens

Capture stunning images with remarkable depth and clarity, thanks to its wide aperture.

3.5
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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Ah, the nifty fifty! I remember the joy of clicking my first portrait with this lens.

The Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM is the dream lens for every budding portrait photographer.

This lens offers a beautiful bokeh, ensuring your subjects pop against dreamy, blurred backgrounds. 

It’s lightweight, making it an effortless companion on long photo walks. But, on the downside, it sometimes hunts for focus in dimly lit environments.

Pros

  • Fantastic Value for money
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Stellar bokeh for portrait photography
  • Quick and primarily silent autofocus

Cons

  • Occasional focus hunting in low light

#2 Best Runner Up: Budget-Friendly Prime Lens You’ll Love

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G Lens

It's compact design and silent autofocus enhance its usability, delivering sharpness and artistic depth to your images.

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This lens often makes everything poetic. The Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G is versatile and can turn everyday moments into art.

It offers a natural field of view, resembling what the human eye sees, making your photos feel intimate and genuine. 

It’s excellent for portraits, landscapes, and everything in between. However, its plastic build, while lightweight, does feel a bit cheap.

Pros

  • Natural and versatile focal length
  • Impressive low-light performance
  • Swift autofocus mechanism
  • Delivers sharp and vibrant images

Cons

  • Plastic-y build

#3 Budget-Friendly: The Ultimate Cheap Prime Lens

Neewer 35mm f/1.7 Lens

Capture stunning images with remarkable depth and clarity, thanks to its wide aperture. Experience the joy of manual focus, adding a personal touch to every shot.

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This was my introduction to the cinematic world. The Neewer 35mm f/1.7 is an inexpensive gem that surprised me with its performance. 

Its all-metal build and smooth focus rings made it feel more expensive than it is.

Images are crisp with an excellent blurred background.

Yet, the lens flare can sometimes be a bit much, especially when shooting against light.

Pros

  • Excellent Value for its price
  • Solid metal construction
  • Smooth manual focus
  • Sharp imagery with good contrast

Cons

  • Pronounced lens flare

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

Panasonic LUMIX G 25mm f/1.7 Lens

This versatile lens brings your subjects into sharp focus while beautifully blurring the background, adding a touch of artistry to your photos.

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Shooting with the Panasonic Lumix G 25mm f/1.7 ASPH feels like having some magic in my camera bag.

It’s the ideal blend of portability and performance. Its bright aperture captures details even in dim settings.

However, the plastic mount, while keeping it lightweight, can feel less sturdy.

Pros

  • Excellent sharpness and contrast
  • Bright aperture for low light
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Fast autofocus

Cons

  • The plastic mount feels less robust

#5 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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A true street photography gem! The Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM is slim, pancake-style, and perfect for on-the-go shots.

From bustling markets to serene alleyways, this lens has helped me capture the essence of many cities. 

Its wide-angle view ensures you get all the benefits.

Although the f/2.8 aperture is decent, I sometimes yearn for more when shooting in the golden hour.

Pros

  • Ultra-slim and highly portable
  • Excellent for street and travel photography
  • Wide field of view
  • Good sharpness across the frame

Cons

  • It is not the brightest lens in low-light situations

#6 Capture More for Less: Top Affordable Wide-Angle Lens

Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6G Lens

Unleash your creativity and bring your photos to life with its wide-angle versatility, allowing you to tell stories through your lens like never before.

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The Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 10-20mm has been a reliable friend for those expansive landscapes and architectural marvels.

This ultra-wide-angle lens gives a dramatic perspective, which adds a punch to photos. 

The VR (Vibration Reduction) ensures even handheld shots are steady. Conversely, the variable aperture can be limiting when the light gets sparse.

Pros

  • Ultra-wide perspective
  • VR for better handheld shots
  • Good Value for its price
  • Can capture dramatic scenes effectively

Cons

  • Variable aperture limits low light capabilities

#7 Cinematic Brilliance on a Budget: A Lens Worth Exploring

Rokinon Cine CV35-N 35mm T1.5 Lens

Unlock your creativity with this lens. Dive into a world of cinematic possibilities and capture moments with stunning clarity and beautiful depth of field.

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The world of cinema on a budget? The Rokinon Cine CV35-C 35mm T1.5 made it possible for me.

This lens has a de-clicked aperture ring, ensuring smooth exposure transitions.

The image quality is cinematic, with a touch of softness that adds a filmic allure. However, manual focus can be a challenge for beginners.

Pros

  • De-clicked aperture for cinematic smoothness
  • Great bokeh and depth of field
  • Solid build
  • The sharp center is even wide open

Cons

  • Fully manual – not ideal for beginners

#8 Picture-Perfect Savings: Best Telephoto Lens That Won’t Break the Bank

Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/4.0-5.6 R Lens

Capture stunning moments with ease, from breathtaking landscapes to intimate portraits. Experience the joy of photography like never before.

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The Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/4-5.6 R has been a game-changer in my micro four-thirds kit for those faraway shots.

Capturing wildlife or distant scenes becomes a joy with this lens. 

The zoom range is impressive for its size. But be prepared to deal with slower apertures at the telephoto end.

Pros

  • Impressive zoom range
  • Compact for its capabilities
  • Decent image stabilization
  • Good image quality throughout its range

Cons

  • Slower aperture at the telephoto end

💡 The Unique Value Proposition of Budget Lenses

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

Dive into the world of photography, and you’ll quickly realize it’s not just about snapping pictures; it’s about storytelling. Now, imagine telling captivating tales without breaking the bank. That’s the beauty of budget lenses.

While high-end lenses with their fancy specs often steal the limelight, budget lenses quietly offer a set of unique advantages. They open doors for beginners, allowing them to experiment without hefty investments. 

They also challenge seasoned photographers to get creative within certain limitations, pushing the possible boundaries.

What truly sets budget lenses apart? Their ability to democratize photography. No longer is the art confined to those with deep pockets. With affordable lenses, everyone can capture moments and weave narratives, from a college student to a retiree.

Yes, there may be some trade-offs, but the essence of photography lies in the eye of the beholder, not just in the price tag of the gear. 

And in this age of innovation, the gap between premium and budget is narrowing. Today, a budget lens doesn’t mean compromising quality; it’s about finding Value and making photography accessible to all.

So, as you embark on your photographic journey, remember the best stories are only sometimes told with the most expensive tools. Sometimes, they’re captured with a heart full of passion and a lens light on the pocket.

🔍 Real-world Pros and Cons of Cheap Camera Lenses

The allure of affordable camera lenses is undeniable, but like all things, they come with highs and lows. Let’s get real and delve into the tangible benefits and drawbacks one might experience with these lenses in everyday scenarios.

Pros:

  • Accessibility: For many, photography is a passion waiting to be explored. Cheap camera lenses make this art form more accessible to beginners and hobbyists, allowing a broader audience to start their photographic journey.
  • Portability: Typically, budget lenses are lighter and more compact. This makes them the go-to choice for on-the-move photography, whether street, travel, or spontaneous family events.
  • Less Financial Risk: An accidental bump or fall won’t lead to a heartbreak of the same magnitude as it would with a luxury lens. There’s peace of mind in knowing replacements or repairs won’t be as costly.
  • Innovation: With a growing demand for affordable camera gear, manufacturers are pushing the envelope to provide impressive features even within budget-friendly products.

Cons:

  • Build Quality: While not universally true, some cheap camera lenses may compromise build quality, using more plastic components that might not withstand heavy wear and tear.
  • Optical Limitations: Premium lenses often have advanced visual designs, leading to sharper images and better control over chromatic aberrations. Budget lenses might sometimes hit different marks.
  • Fewer Features: Things like weather sealing, image stabilization, or ultra-fast apertures might be reserved for pricier counterparts. This means making inevitable trade-offs when choosing budget over premium.

In conclusion, cheap camera lenses bring photography within reach for many, leveling the playing field. However, as with all things, understanding their strengths and limitations ensures you make an informed decision tailored to your needs. After all, photography’s true essence lies in the story being told; often, it’s the photographer, not just the gear, making all the difference.

🛒 Tips for Buying Cheap Lenses: Maximizing Value

Choosing an affordable camera lens can be as exciting as picking a high-end one. But how do you ensure you get the most bang for your buck?

Here are some actionable insights to guide you:

Research, Research, Research: Before purchasing, spend time reading reviews, watching video demos, and comparing specs. This will help you identify the best budget lens for your photographic needs.

Prioritize Your Needs: Determine what’s non-negotiable for you. Is it image sharpness? Low-light capabilities? Or the focal length? Knowing what you can and cannot compromise will narrow your choices.

Buy from Reputable Sellers: When looking for bargains, purchase from a trusted source. This minimizes the risk of counterfeit products and ensures a genuine warranty.

Consider Second-hand: Good quality, pre-loved lenses can often be found at a fraction of the price. Check platforms like eBay or local camera shops, but always verify the lens’s condition before buying.

Test Before Buying: Try the lens in-store or rent it for a day. This hands-on experience will clarify its performance and if it fits your style.

Check Compatibility: Ensure the lens is compatible with your camera body. Not all lenses fit all mounts, so double-check to avoid any disappointments.

Future-Proofing: Think about your long-term photography goals. If you plan to upgrade your camera body in the future, consider how your lens choice today might impact your future gear decisions.

By following these tips, you can make a well-informed decision, ensuring that your chosen lens fits your budget and meets your photography aspirations. Happy shopping!

FAQs: Answering Your Burning Questions

What two lenses should every photographer have?

Every photographer’s kit should ideally include:

A Standard Prime Lens (around 50mm): This offers a perspective close to the human eye and is versatile for portraits, street, and everyday photography.

A Wide-angle Lens (24mm or 35mm) is perfect for capturing landscapes, architecture, and tight spaces.

Where do you buy cheap camera lenses?

Affordable camera lenses can be purchased from:

Official Brand Stores: Often have periodic sales and discounts.

Reputable Online Retailers: Sites like Amazon, B&H Photo, and Adorama offer many options.

Local Camera Shops: Great for hands-on testing before buying.

Used Gear Platforms: Websites like eBay or KEH can offer good quality second-hand lenses.

Which camera lens is the cheapest?

The cheapest camera lens often varies by brand and promotions. However, the 50mm f/1.8, often called the “nifty fifty,” is generally affordable across major brands like Canon, Nikon, and Sony.

Which company lenses are cheap?

While most renowned camera brands offer budget-friendly lenses, companies like Yongnuo, Neewer, and Meike produce cost-effective alternatives compatible with brands like Canon and Nikon.

Why are camera lenses so expensive now?

Camera lenses are pricey due to factors like:

  • Advanced optical design and engineering.
  • High-quality materials ensure durability.
  • Research and development costs.
  • Features like weather sealing, image stabilization, and fast apertures.

Is it worth buying second-hand camera lenses?

Absolutely! Buying second-hand can be a cost-effective way to obtain high-quality lenses. Ensure to verify the lens’s condition functionality, and if possible, purchase from a trusted seller with a return policy.

Do you need expensive lenses?

Not necessarily. While pricey lenses can offer superior build quality and features, many affordable lenses provide exceptional Value and image quality, catering to various photographic needs.

Does a good lens make a difference?

Yes, a good lens can significantly influence image sharpness, color reproduction, bokeh, and low-light performance. While the camera body is essential, investing in a quality lens often has a more pronounced effect on image results.

Conclusion

Navigating the vast world of camera lenses, especially on a budget, can seem daunting. But with the proper knowledge and a keen eye, you can find gems that won’t break the bank. 

Remember, photography is as much about the vision as the gear. So, whether you’re starting your journey or looking to expand your arsenal, there’s a lens out there that’s perfect for you.

Have further questions or insights to share? Drop a comment below, and I’ll get back to you in a day or two. And if you found this article helpful, remember to explore our other pieces for more photography insights and tips. Happy shooting!

BEST RECOMMENDATION:

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.

Check Price

Disclaimer: "As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases."

Stacy WItten

Stacy WItten

Owner, Writer & Photographer

Stacy Witten, owner and creative force behind LensesPro, delivers expertly crafted content with precision and professional insight. Her extensive background in writing and photography guarantees quality and trust in every review and tutorial.

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