9 50mm Prime Lenses with Performance That’s Bigger Than Their Prices

The performance of these 50mm prime lenses is higher than their low price tags would suggest.

From the very start of many journeys in our lives, we’re told, ” you get what you pay for.” Yes, this does ring true with some things: there is no denying that. But it doesn’t apply to absolutely everything. These 50mm prime lenses are (excuse the pun) a prime example of this. The budget (under $400) 50mm prime lenses we have listed in this roundup punch well above their weight. Honestly, they are good enough to not only be used by first-time prime buyers, but also by those who have been around the shutter a few times. Check out our favorite budget 50mm prime lenses after the break.

Captured with the affordable, yet high performing Olympus 25mm f1.8 (50mm equivalent)

We recently looked at premium 50mm primes lenses, but trust us when we say that all of the cheap 50mm prime lenses here are going to be able to deliver results that you can be proud of. There is a slightly oddball lens in this roundup in the 45mm Tamron f1.8, but it’s another stellar choice for those who are longing for this focal length. These lenses are sharp, their focus speeds are plenty fast enough, they render colors nicely, they control chromatic aberration and distortion well, and some even feature weather sealing (a feature seen on 50m prime lenses that cost much more). Check out our picks below, and don’t worry about how little some of these lenses cost. You’ll be super happy with any of them once you get them on your camera.

 

Canon 50mm F1.8 STM

 

50mm prime lenses canon

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Very sharp image quality when only slightly stopped down
  • Better image quality when shot wide open than previous versions
  • Nice bokeh
  • Small size
  • Silent focusing and manual focusing is much more simple
  • Better build quality than the previous model

Cons

  • For those of you who care about this a lot, purple fringing is still a problem

Buy now ($125): Adorama

 

Nikon 50mm F1.8 G

 

50mm prime lenses Nikon

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Small size, and lightweight
  • Great image quality
  • Very nice bokeh
  • Focuses surprisingly fast
  • The nice sized focusing ring

Cons

  • Slightly too much plastic in the build, but it still feels nice in the hand

Buy now ($196.95): Adorama

 

Sony 50mm F1.8 FE

 

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Pretty decent image quality
  • Affordable
  • Small
  • Fast to focus in good lighting

Cons

  • Autofocus in low light even with the a7r II is very slow
  • Autofocus is a bit louder than we’d personally like, though it’s still pretty quiet in real-life use

Buy now ($198): Adorama

 

Captured with the Fujifilm 35mm f2 (50mm equivalent)

Pro Tip: These budget 50mm prime lenses are great in many ways, but just remember that not all of them are weather sealed. The lenses that aren’t sealed should all endure a few light sprinkles on them, but anything more than that and you will need to protect them. If you want to continue to shoot in the rain or snow with them, grab some cheap yet useful weatherproof covers. These will allow you to shoot no matter what. Pick up a few and keep them in your camera bag or jacket pocket so you can be safe just in case.

 

Olympus 25mm F1.8 (Micro Four Thirds 50mm Equivalent)

 

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Super sharp wide open and stopped down a tad
  • Small and light
  • Fast-focusing performance in various lighting situations
  • Smooth bokeh

Cons

  • We wish it were a tad faster to f1.4

Buy now ($249): Adorama

 

Canon 50mm F1.4 Lens

 

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Incredibly sharp images can be produced with this lens
  • Nice overall bokeh
  • The lens feels nice in the hands despite the plastic build
  • Accurate color rendering, especially skin tones
  • The lens can resolve an insane amount of detail
  • Very little distortion
  • Affordable price point

Cons

  • The focusing ring can get a little sticky at times
  • Not the fastest focusing lens in the Canon line up
  • There is some vignetting present, but can be fixed in post

Buy now ($299): Adorama

 

7Artisans 50mm F1.1 (Leica M Mount)

 

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Very beautiful bokeh
  • Stop the lens down just a bit, and it will be tack sharp
  • Nice feeling in the hand
  • Works beautifully on M mount cameras and when attached to a Sony a7r III
  • This gorgeous lens flare
  • Fun to use
  • You get a rubber focus tab that you can paste on for yourself
  • Very affordable

Cons

  • There are these empty screw holes on the focusing ring. We’re afraid of stuff getting in there in the long run

Buy now ($369.90): Adorama

 

Captured with the Sony 50mm f1.8

Pro Tip: Regardless of how much you spend on your lenses, you absolutely must take care of them. Regular cleaning will help extend the life of your lenses, and honestly, it doesn’t take very long to show them the love they deserve. Give your lenses a quick wipe down with a soft microfiber cloth before each use as this will help ensure you have no debris on the front element. Go over them in more detail once per week. Your gear needs to be taken care of regularly, and you don’t have to spend a fortune to get an excellent basic kit either. This is all you need.

 

Fujifilm 35mm F2 R WR (Fujifilm X Mount 52.5mm Equivalent)

 

50mm prime lenses Fujifilm

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Great sharpness
  • Nine aperture blades make the bokeh as good as it can be
  • Small size
  • Weather resistance
  • The fastest focusing lens that Fujifilm has offered as of the publication of this review.

Cons

  • Just f2…a refresh to the 35mm f1.4 actually would have been more appreciated and pushed the system ahead overall

Buy now ($399): Adorama

 

Samyang/Rokinon 50mm F1.2

 

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Very, very sharp image delivery
  • Beautiful bokeh
  • Smooth focusing ring
  • Lightweight design
  • Affordable price point

Cons

  • We really think that it’s time for Rokinon and Samyang to give their lenses a metal body/exterior

Buy now Fujifilm ($399): Adorama

Buy now Canon M ($389): Adorama

Buy now M4/3 ($399): Adorama

Buy now Sony E ($399): Adorama

 

Tamron 45mm F1.8 Di VC

 

50mm prime lenses Tamron

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • When it’s accurate and it’s sharp, it’s incredibly so.
  • Nice bokeh
  • Weather sealing for an affordable price point
  • Nice handling of backlit situations.

Cons

  • AF performance with outer focusing points isn’t that great
  • Not incredibly sharp wide open, nowhere as sharp as the 35mm lens

Buy now Canon EF ($399): Adorama

Buy now Nikon F ($399): Adorama

Buy now Sony A ($399): Adorama