The Essential Budget Lenses for Every Canon Photographer

The basic, essential lenses every Canon photographer could use in their kit

Photography is a wonderful thing; pick up any camera and any lens and with them you can capture the world, for just a moment, to be preserved as long as the medium which holds it survives. It is a timeless, though under-appreciated, a gift to the future. But if you are new to photography, or maybe just new to having a dedicated camera (upgraded from your smartphone, for example) you may be wondering what lenses you need for your new Canon camera.

Well, it’s just your luck that this post is all about that; the essential lenses for your Canon camera system. So, if you are ready, let’s jump on into it…

The biggest rule of photography is that there are no rules. As long as you have captured the image you were attempting to capture, then you did it right – regardless of what some mouth breather screams at you through the clanking of his keyboard echoing off the walls of his mother’s basement. So take the following list of ‘essential’ lenses as some suggestions, because there are many many options out there that you could use to create your art and pursue your passion. These are essential only in that most photographers will find a good use for them in their work.

OK, so with that disclaimer out of the way, let’s get going on this look at the essential lenses that virtually every Canon photographer should have.

Canon 50mm f1.8 STM

If you know anything about photography then this lens being at the number one spot will likely not be a surprise. 50mm lenses are among the most versatile focal lengths commonly available to your average photographer and the Canon’s 50mm f1.8 STM is superbly affordable. This is really a no-brainer for virtually every Canon photographer. The only reason you shouldn’t have this lens in your kit is if you have another 50mm lens already.

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Canon 85mm 1.8

This one will also probably be a somewhat obvious choice to some. The 85mm has long been one of the preferred focal lengths for portrait photographers. In addition to that, it is also a relatively affordable telephoto prime lens with great versatility  – excluding small rooms and tight spaces. But even then, tight, detail shots can easily be achieved with a lens like this.

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Tamron SP 35mm f1.8

You may be surprised to see a third party lens on this list, but honestly, this Tamron is the better buy over the Canon 35mm f2 IS in our experience. After 50mm, 35mm is one of the most versatile and used focal lengths out there. Be that for portrait photography, landscapes, street, etc. The combination of fast aperture AND image stabilization means that this lens is a beast in low light situations for any purpose, but especially portraiture where the subject is not moving much.

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Tamron SP 24-70mm f2.8 G2

Again, another third-party option. We almost put the Canon 24-70mm f4 here, but again, the Tamron is the better buy with the faster aperture and Tamron’s excellent image stabilization technology. This lens is honestly right up there with the Canon f2.8 version but comes at a much cheaper price point. This one should be considered for sure, no doubt unless you absolutely need the Canon version.

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So, there you have it, our picks for the essential lenses for every Canon photographer. Depending on your specialty you could add or subtract options on this list – for example, a sports photographer likely has little use for the 35mm lens, but has a ton of use for a 70-200mm or a 300mm prime. Alternatively, a wedding photographer may find this list to be pretty dead on.

The moral of the story is to know what you want to shoot and let that guide your decisions when it comes to lens purchases. It makes no sense to go out and buy a lens you are never going to use, or never going to use to its full potential. So think about what you want, why you want it, why you need it, and how you will use it. If you can’t come up with an answer for each of those questions then chances are you don’t need that lens.

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.