The Five Small, Affordable, Prime Lenses Every Photographer Should Start With

Pro quality prime lenses anyone can afford for DSLR and Mirrorless cameras.

Whether starting out in photography or a seasoned pro, every photographer deserves pro grade, primes lenses that won’t make you broke. Here are some of our top picks for small, pro-grade, prime lenses that won’t break the bank.

Canon 50mm f1.8 STM (Canon EF)

When Canon revitalized their classic “nifty fifty” in the form of the Canon 50mm f1.8 STM, they took a decent lens and made it great. It’s small enough that you won’t really noticed it on your Canon but bright enough to use in low light situations while rendering nice looking bokeh.

Pro tip – If you’re shooting an APSC camera, the Canon 50mm f1.8 STM is perfect for portraits.

In our review we state:

“Of all the cheap 50mm lenses made, Canon’s “nifty fifty” has always reigned supreme as the niftiest thanks to both image quality and affordability. Very recently, however, the company chose to update its formula for the lens. The Canon 50mm f1.8 STM is a lens that, like its predecessors, is still priced rather affordably and also performs very well for the price point. In every single way, this lens is a step up and improvement from the previous version and with that in mind, it will surely serve a new generation of budding photographers very well.”Read our review

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Fujifilm 23mm f2 R WR (Fujifilm X Mount)

If there was such a thing as a modern classic lens for X-mount cameras, the Fujifilm 23mm f2 R WR would be it. Sharp with fast AF for both stills and video, plus weather sealing, make this a must-have first, prime lens for Fuji shooters.

Pro tip – you should be able to learn your camera’s basic functions in a weekend.

In our review we state:

“The Fujifilm 23mm f2 R WR is a lens designed to go along with the company’s weather sealed bodies. It lives alongside the 23mm f1.4 R and works in conjunction with the 35mm f2 R WR. It’s also at a shockingly lower price point than its larger aperture cousin despite having the ability to survive a rainstorm with ease. With nine aperture blades and some of the most pleasant aperture and focusing rings I’ve ever felt, it’s bound to be a hit for many.” Read our review

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Nikon 50mm f1.8 G

Nikon shooters don’t need to be jealous of the Canon 50mm f1.8 STM thanks to the excellent Nikon 50mm f1.8 G. Consider the 50mm f1.8 G as Nikon’s classic “nifty fifty”.

Pro tip – A near perfect portrait lens for APSC sensor bodies, the Nikon 50mm f1.8 G works great on full frame bodies as well.

In our review we state:

“These lenses have always been the old faithfuls of Nikon’s lens line because they reproduce a similar field of view to a human eye. In April 2011, Nikon announced this updated version of its classic 50mm f1.8 D. It recently came into my possession. I have been using it a great deal. At first, I avoided this lens, the Nikon 50 f1.8D worked fine. Frustratingly I have to admit, I should have tried this lens earlier. The Nikon 50mm f1.8 G is a pleasant surprise to users of the older lens. While I adore the feel, the noise, and overall use of the Nikon 50mm f1.8 D, the G is a satisfying change and well thought out. Let’s see why.” Read our review

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Panasonic 15mm f1.7 (Micro Four Thirds)

Micro Four Thirds has the widest variety of lenses of all Mirrorless systems and yet the Panasonic Leica 15mm f1.7 stands out for it’s creamy bokeh, sharpness, and small size.

Pro tip – Use the Panasonic Leica lenses on Panasonic bodies for advanced features like usable aperture ring and Leica color profiles in firmware.

In our review we state:

“The Panasonic 15mm f1.7 lens is a small, well designed lens for the Micro Four Thirds camera system–and we dare say that it is our favorite autofocusing lens for the system, too. Designed to be almost a pancake but with a wide f1.7 aperture, it pairs very nicely with some of the system’s medium to smaller cameras. With nine elements in seven groups and seven aperture blades, it’s a fairly simply designed lens, but whatever magic Panasonic put into it makes the lens sing with pure image quality.” Read our review

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Rokinon 35mm f2.8 FE (Sony FE Full Frame E Mount)

There’s not many pro-grade, small primes for Sony Alpha cameras but the Rokinon 35mm f2.8 FE is one you need to look at. Sharp, small and affordable with that classic 35mm focal length.

Pro tip – With the money you’ll save getting the Rokinon 35mm f2.8 FE compared to other pro-grade primes, you can get a second Rokinon prime.

In our review we state:

“The Rokinon 35mm f2.8 FE comes in at a significantly more affordable price point than what Sony’s offering is–and the only major difference is its lack of weather sealing vs it’s Sony counterpart. In fact, that’s the only difference most people may consider besides marginally slower autofocus performance. The lenses even look alike in some ways; they’re pretty much the same size but with different casings. But Rokinon has brought out autofocus abilities with the Rokinon 35mm f2.8 FE–making this the company’s first autofocusing lens for the Sony full frame E mount system. Indeed, it fills a niche of the photography market that is not really saturated; a place for good, affordable lenses of the Sony FE camera space.” Read our review

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