Best Bokeh on a Budget: 16 Lenses Under $350

When you’re looking for great bokeh, you don’t always need to spend lots of money on lenses. Sure, higher end lenses can end up having better bokeh, but through use of depth of field effects, maybe a flash and careful subject placement you can create images that have bokeh that pops.

We’ve scoured our Reviews Index for a number of lenses with great bokeh and that are available for no more than $350. Check these out!

Rokinon 14mm f2.8

Rokinon 14mm f2.8

In our review we state:

“Rokinon has created an excellent lens with their 14mm f2.8. It is sharp, delivers some excellent colors, and is ergonomically pleasing. The only major issues are the lack of a chipped focusing mechanism to work with Canon’s cameras and the fact that I can’t put a filter on the front of the lens unless I hack a matte box onto it.”

Buy now: Amazon

Sigma 19mm f2.8 DN

Sigma 19mm f2.8

In our review we state:

“When in use, the Autofocus of these lenses doesn’t feel like it’s holding you back, but it does seem a bit sluggish. Anyone that owns one of Olympus’ newer lenses or the Panasonic 25mm will most likely find the Sigma 19mm and 30mm to be slightly lethargic but it shouldn’t be a deal breaker for most. I was able to use the touch screen on my OM-D to select focus and fire the trigger just like I would with any of my other lenses albeit it took just a tick longer to complete the process. However, the OM-D did seem to hunt a bit more in low light and I did have a few false positive focus confirmations when using these lenses in less than ideal light.”

Buy now: Amazon

Panasonic 20mm f1.7 II

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Panasonic 20mm f1.7 Version II lens (9 of 9)

In our review we state:

“In order to get bokeh with this lens, we recommend either shooting wide open or getting really close to a subject. At f1.7, you’ll have a full frame equivalent of f3.7, so that may even make you not ever want to stop it down. The bokeh from this lens looks hazy vs being creamy; but we have to admit that it seems pleasing.

Just note that at f1.7 that your images won’t be as sharp as you may have come to expect.”

Buy now: Amazon

Olympus 25mm f1.8

Olympus 25mm f1.8

In our review we state:

“If you’re up close and personal to your subject, the bokeh is delicious, smooth, and creamy. This bokeh though will best be served when up close and when wide open–which means that it isn’t so great for up close portraits due to the 25mm focal length and any distortion that might occur. Move back a bit though and you’ll be fine. This is perceived distortion mind you, and the bokeh is still really good in portraits.”

Buy now: Amazon

Fujifilm 27mm f2.8

Fujifilm 27mm f2.8

In our review we state:

“We need to state just how difficult it can be to get bokeh with this lens. We really wish that the 27mm f2.8 focused closer–and we see no real reason why it can’t. Perhaps Fujifilm might fix this in a firmware update like they did with other lenses. This would be the best way to see bokeh in your subject matter.

From the bokeh that we were able to get, we believe that it leans more towards the hazy side than the creamy side. However, it isn’t really distracting in any way–which is also a major plus.”

Buy now: Amazon

Sigma 30mm f1.4 DC DN Contemporary

Sigma 30mm f14

In our review we state:

“With nine aperture blades, this lens is bound to have great bokeh. Indeed it does. The enthusiast that this lens is targeted towards will really enjoy all of the beautifully sharp images that they create accented by genuinely creamy bokeh. Of course, the best bokeh is produced when focusing close up as this is still indeed a 30mm lens properly. Micro Four Thirds users will get a full frame depth of field equivalency of f2.8 when shooting wide open while APS-C users will get f2.1.

Of course, the light gathering abilities will still be that of f1.4.”

Buy now: Amazon

Lensbaby Sweet 35 Optic

Lensbaby Sweet 35

In our review we state:

“In the time I had with the Composer Pro and Sweet 35, I found the combo worked best for close-ups. I’ve seen wonderful landscape pictures taken with the combo in Lensbaby’s gallery, but somehow mine never turned out as nicely. However, when placing an object with an offset background in the center of the image, I found the Sweet 35 did a very nice job of emphasizing said object, while nicely blurring away the background thanks to its sweet spot.”

Buy now: Amazon

Fujifilm 35mm f2 WR

Fujifilm 35mm f2

In our review we state:

“With nine aperture blades to this lens, you’re bound to expect beautiful and creamy bokeh. Indeed, that’s what you get. Amazingly enough though, I expected even better bokeh from this lens but it’s about on par with the f1.4 version.

Why did I expect better bokeh? When you place this in the realm of lenses overall in the mirrorless camera world, I wouldn’t say that the bokeh from this lens is one of the strongest out there; that award would be given to Sony and Zeiss with their offerings.”

Buy now: Amazon

Canon 40mm f2.8

Canon 40mm f2.8

In our review we state:

“With most lenses, this should truly be main factor that you care about when deciding what to purchase. There are certainly many things to consider when purchasing optics, but in my honest opinion, image quality is what matters. Now, here we have a lens that costs between $150-200 that delivers some really quite impressive detail in the center. The edges are a bit soft wide open, but honestly are you going to even notice? There will be some decent bokeh smearing the corners at that point so who’s going to care about corner detail at that point? I’m not much for “scientific” lens tests personally, and I want to share how this lens performs in real world actual usage.”

Buy now: Amazon

Canon 50mm f1.8 STM

Canon 50mm f1.8 III

In our review we state:

“Canon’s 50mm f1.8 STM is an overall great lens for what it is: a cheap lens that is aimed at a specific consumer. It’s not going to deliver the best image quality and it’s not going to give you the looks that many third party manufacturers give you now. But what it will surely do is give you a starting point to work with.

The Canon 50mm f1.8 STM is good at everything in general, but it isn’t great at everything. Perhaps we’re being too harsh on it for being only $120–but with that said, don’t expect incredibly jaw-dropping images compared to many other higher end offerings (if you’re more used to those).”

Buy now: Amazon

Nikon 50mm f1.8 G

Nikon 50mm f1.8 G

In our review we state:

“The Bokeh in images are nice, like whipped bacon butter from beyond the moon. The subject pop and this lens provides great depth of field control.”

Buy now: Amazon

Sony 50mm f1.8 FE

Sony 50mm f18 FE

In our review we state:

“Considering that this is a standard Sony lens, you’re essentially slapping the lens on, focusing and shooting. It’s very straight forward as it has been with Sony’s products for a while. To that end, you may not even really be paying attention to the focusing ring unless your in DMF mode when shooting.”

Buy now: Amazon

Lensbaby Twist 60

twist60_w_body_2212_highres

In our review we state:

“It has a nice swirl blur that almost looks like a circle around the frame. Not quite as smooth as some lenses tho, more jagged. The first thing I think of is how I could achieve a similar look with the Smudge Tool in Photoshop. But then I’d be spending that extra time on the computer doing this and not shooting more images.”

Buy now: Amazon

Sigma 60mm f2.8 DN

60mm 28 020413sigma

In our review we state:

“Wide open images were a tad soft. But once you stop down past f/3.5 the lens really starts to show up. I had absolutely no complaints once I started shooting at f/4 and higher. So if you’re the type who likes to shoot wide open, you may need to apply a bit of sharpness in post.”

Buy now: Amazon

Rokinon 85mm f1.4

Rokinon 85mm f1.4

In our review we state:

“Overall, the quality of the Rokinon 85mm is very, very good and I actually believe that wide open, it’s better than my Canon 85mm F/1.8. The lens has some of the best skin tone renderings I’ve seen to date and also renders other colors very well. In contrast from my Canon lenses, the colors are a bit more muted and less punchy but there is a bit more contrast to the images.

Most users overall will be very pleased by what this lens can accomplish, but the ones that will most benefit are portrait photographers and videographers.”

Buy now: Amazon

Rokinon 300mm f6.3

Rokinon 300mm f63

In our review we state:

“The bokeh is probably this lenses largest selling point, if you’re into unique bokeh. Given the mirror at the front, your bokeh comes in the shape of doughnuts which can be a bit confusing at first, but once you get past that, it’ll give your images a distinctive look. Granted, you’ll have to do some work in post to get the image to where you want it to be.”

Buy now: Amazon