The Best Budget Lenses for Canon Photographers

Canon is still far and away the most popular camera brand in the world, and so there is no doubt some of you are probably looking for a new lens to add to your kit. But, there are so many lenses available for the system, both Canon-branded and those made by third parties. What are the best budget lenses for Canon right now?

We have a giant master list of what we feel the best budget lenses are for every system, and you can find that here, but in this post we wanted to highlight our picks for the best budget lenses for the Canon EF/EF-S system. 

Canon Brand Lenses

As we noted above, there are a ton of lens options out there for Canon cameras, both produced by Canon and produced by other companies. So we have broken this list up into two sections, Canon brand lenses and third-party lenses to make it easier for those of you who have a preference one way or the other.

Canon 50mm F1.8 STM

It’s been a while since the 50mm f1.8 was updated, but this year Canon finally did it and added in a brand new STM motor. It focuses much faster, more silently, and it has a bit better image quality. Plus, the feeling of it is much better as is the ergonomic design. If you’re looking for a cheap 50, then you’ll be very hard-pressed to beat this one. (Read Our Review of the 50mm F1.8 STM | [amazon_textlink asin=’B00X8MRBCW’ text=’Buy One’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’45b8f70c-7335-11e7-b61d-712077bcfe44′])

If you need an even better deal, the older Canon 50mm F1.8 will save you a little more money, and alternatively if you have a little more budget the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00009XVCZ’ text=’Canon 50mm F1.4′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’ce3d8a86-7335-11e7-ab94-51e374190761′] is also a good option.

Canon 100mm F2.8 Macro

Known as one of Canon’s sharpest lenses, users will appreciate the versatility available with using a lens like this. One can go from shooting portraits, to macro products, to the fine details at a wedding, and to even sports shooting when put in a cropped sensor body like a 7D or a 50D (available at a rebate at the time of writing this article). One really can’t go wrong with the Canon EF 100mm f2.8 Macro USM.

Canon 85mm F1.8 USM

This is my second favorite lens in my camera bag. The Canon EF 85mm f1.8 USM allows for super sharp portraits, headshots, and even candid moments when shooting events or a wedding. What’s great is that you have telephoto reach without having a really large lens (which tends to attract attention), therefore making the photographer more discrete and also allowing them not to disturb their subjects.

(Read our Review | [amazon_textlink asin=’B00007GQLU’ text=’Buy One’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’4bd601a4-73c4-11e7-9f9d-d19c051f7d1f’])

Canon 35mm F2

The Canon EF 35mm f2.0 is a great lens for events or photojournalism type shooting. This lens excels in capturing environmental portraits, and also for giving a real feel for what the vibe is like at an event. Combined with a flash, it can be great on the dance floor of a party and it delivers sharp results with wonderful color.

The lens has since been updated to a new version with IS built in. It’s quite a nice piece of glass but a bit more pricey.

Canon 40mm F2.8

For years, Canon users have been asking for a pancake lens. Though it took them a while, the Canon 40mm f2.8 is the company’s answer to that challenge and from our review, it seems well worth the wait. The 40mm f2.8 is sharp edge to edge, focuses quickly and is extremely affordable. It’s more than earned its right on this list.

Canon 55-250mm F4-5.6 II

Though we never formally reviewed the 55-250mm f4-5.6 II, we used it many times with the Rebel cameras and were pleasantly surprised at how sharp the image quality is. For a small lens that is bundled as a kit option, you’ve got a heck of a sharp optic most people could be forever happy with. ([amazon_textlink asin=’B00EP71ETU’ text=’Buy One’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’d9424d09-73c2-11e7-b04c-53e99900fb51′])

Third Party Lenses

Third party lenses used to have a pretty bad reputation in the general photography community, but that stigma has largely changed over the last five years or so thanks to companies like Sigma, Tamron, Tokina, and Rokinon/Samyang upping their game in terms of both image and build quality. If you want to save some money, we can recommend the options below as being great options, especially after considering price to performance.

Sigma 50mm F1.4

Sigma has updated their 50mm f1.4 to be included into their Art series of lenses, but that doesn’t mean the first version is a slacker. In fact, we’d argue it is the best 50mm f1.4 lens available to Canon users if you’re factoring in budget. This one is even better than Canon’s own. (Read Our Review | [amazon_textlink asin=’B0018ZDGAC’ text=’Buy One’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’8abdd147-73c0-11e7-b731-d768d604ad6f’])

Tokina 11-16mm F2.8

One of the biggest complaints about this list used to be its lack of zoom lenses. If you’re looking for one, then consider the Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 offering. It’s perfect for APS-C users who want wide angle photos–which means your landscapes will look that much more epic.

([amazon_textlink asin=’B007ORX8ME’ text=’Buy One’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’01553df2-73c3-11e7-a650-d13b0f1e16d7′])

Rokinon 14mm F2.8

If we had to choose a single wide angle prime to stick with it would be Rokinon’s own 14mm f2.8. With a wide field of view at 14mm and an f2.8 aperture, there is no reason not to spring for this lens. Sure, it’s manual focus only, but if you’re using a lens like this then you’re usually focusing out to infinity anyway.

(Read our Review | [amazon_textlink asin=’B003VSGQPG’ text=’Buy One’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’774516c0-73c4-11e7-aa3f-e306c2d76866′])

Tokina 12-28mm F4

Of any of the wide angle zoom lenses we’ve tested, this one had to be the most fun. Mount it on a camera, put the camera on a tripod and get to the nearest coastline to shoot the sun as it’s about to go down. The colors, sharpness, and price of this lens are all very pleasing.

(Read our Review | [amazon_textlink asin=’B00DHWUSC8′ text=’Buy One’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’174e9df4-73c1-11e7-bb72-3d53581832c3′])

Rokinon 85mm F1.4

If you want an f1.4 lens designed for portraits, this is the most affordable one to get. Wide open, the lens is a bit soft. But once you stop it down a bit, it begins to sing with sharpness. Like other Rokinon lenses, it is manual focus only. But man, that bokeh is glorious.

(Read our Review | [amazon_textlink asin=’B0025EWXEU’ text=’Buy One’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’342483a6-73c1-11e7-a7a9-7f0d6df17a8e’])

Sigma 30mm F1.4

APS-C camera users who want a fast 50mm field of view (approximately) will be super surprised by Sigma’s new 30mm f1.4 offering. What’s even cooler is that you can use it on a full frame camera–but don’t expect the image quality to be just like that of an APS-C camera’s due to how this lens was designed.

(Read our Review | [amazon_textlink asin=’B00BQXL8BU’ text=’Buy One’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’bbb73ded-73c1-11e7-a4c3-b58c84af6064′])

Looking for more?

These are just our picks for the top budget lenses for the Canon system in general, if you are looking for good lens options with a specific photographic specialty in mind we highly recommend checking out some of our other lens recommendation posts like: Perfect Portrait: Best Portrait Lenses For Canon under $1000After The Kit: 5 Killer Lens Upgrades for CanonThe Best Lenses For The Canon Rebels, 80D, and 7D Mark II, and The Best Lenses For The Canon 5D Mark IV.

If you are looking for more budget recommendations for another system make sure and check out our full listing, here.

Anthony Thurston

Anthony is a Portland, Oregon based Boudoir Photographer specializing in a dark, moody style that promotes female body positivity, empowerment, and sexuality. Besides The Phoblographer, he also reviews gear and produces his own educational content on his website.