Replace Your Canon Kit Lenses with These Great, Yet Affordable Lenses

Kit lenses are okay for a while, but you’ll be amazed at how much your images will improve with these affordable lenses.

If you got your hands on a Canon camera over the holidays, there’s a good chance it came packaged with a kit lens or two. These kit lenses are great for a little while, but you will soon find they can hold you and your creative side back rather quickly. We have put together a shortlist of affordable lenses (first and third party options) for Canon cameras that won’t put a hole in your wallet and will seriously impress you. Check them out after the break.

Don’t get us wrong; kits lenses can be pretty good, but trust us when we say there are affordable lenses out there that will blow kit lenses away optically and from a build quality standpoint as well. The great thing with Canon is that they have built a substantial library of EF-mount lenses over the past 30 years or so, and their new RF mount lenses for their Mirrorless cameras are great as well. In this article, we are going to focus on lenses that are incredibly affordable (well under $1,000 in most cases). Don’t let those prices fool you: these lenses are outstanding, and they will be the perfect lenses to help you grow your collection of glass.

Rokinon 14mm F2.8 AF (Canon EF)

rokinon lens guide

This ultra-wide option from Rokinon will please landscape and cityscape photographers, and those who want to try their hands at astrophotography. It’s small, weather-sealed, has outstanding optics, and is priced right. Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Sharp output
  • Accurate autofocus in most situations
  • The clear, crisp color that we’ve come to expect from Rokinon
  • Bokeh when needed
  • Weather sealing

Cons

  • A few inconsistencies with the autofocus at times

Buy now: $599

Canon 22mm F2 STM (EF-M)

This pancake lens will be the perfect companion for those who use one of Canon’s EF-M mount cameras like the M50 or M6 II. It’s very small, lightweight, has excellent optics, and has a fast aperture. This 35mm equivalent lens is perfect for street, documentary, environmental portrait, event, and many other genres of photography. Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Sharp output
  • Nice bokeh
  • Pancake size is perfect for a camera like this
  • Fast aperture, which the EOS M5 really needs
  • Lets the M5 fit into your pocket

Cons

  • Slow autofocus

Buy now: $229

Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 (Canon EF)

concert photography

The Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 (a 28.8-56mm equivalent) lens is one of my favorite affordable lenses for APS-C cameras, hands down. If you own one of Canon’s Rebel cameras, or an 80/90D, or a 7D II, for example, just go and buy it. It is one of the sharpest lenses ever made for APS-C cameras. Thanks to the constant aperture, it is like have multiple prime lenses in one package. Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Damned good build quality
  • Super sharp wide open
  • The fact that you’ve got wide to normal focal length range at a constant f1.8 blows our minds
  • Fast to focus
  • Perhaps the absolute best concert photography lens that anyone can get their hands on

Cons

  • APS-C only; but that isn’t really a con. Sure, everyone wants a full-frame version.
  • Positively nothing else

Buy now: $619.98

The Canon EOS R with the EF to RF adapter and the Sigma 35mm f1.4

Pro Tip: Do you have a Canon EOS R or an EOS RP and wish you could use some of these affordable lenses on your Mirrorless camera? If you do, don’t fret, because you totally can. The EF to RF mount adapter from Canon is a must-have for anyone who owns this camera. It will allow you to use any EF mount lens on your Mirrorless body, and that means your lens options just increased significantly. Pick one up (only $99) and use any EF lenses you wish.

Canon 35mm F2 IS

Thie 35mm prime lens is an absolute gem thanks to its excellent build quality, it’s outstanding sharpness, and the gorgeous bokeh it can produce. We went as far as saying that this could be the best wedding or event lens for any photographer on a budget. It’s that good. Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Excellent build quality, it feels better than the L version
  • The addition of IS is a nice touch
  • Fast aperture
  • Fairly compact size
  • Excellent image quality
  • Beautiful bokeh
  • Perhaps the absolute best lens for every wedding photographer on a budget

Cons

  • A tad more pricey than we’d like it to be

Buy now: $549

Canon RF 35mm F1.8 USM IS

street photography

Just like the 35mm listed above for EF mount cameras, the RF 35mm f1.8 is simply a must-have if you own either Canon EOS R or EOS RP. In a word, this lens is stunning. It could quite easily be L Series glass. This lens may be one that gets put on your camera and left there for long periods. 35mm lenses are perfect for almost every genre of photography, and this one is a genuine bargain. Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Small
  • Lightweight
  • Fairly fast to focus
  • It’s a lens that is pretty much designed to be always on your camera
  • Image stabilization, which is very much needed in the system
  • Gorgeous bokeh
  • Sharp enough for most uses but not as sharp as most L glass I’ve seen and used. Still, it’s a shocker

Cons

  • We would have gladly paid more money for Canon to weather seal this lens

Buy now: $499

Canon 50mm F1.8 STM

50mm prime lenses canon

This lens, ladies and gentlemen, is the one lens I suggest every Canon owner buys right off the bat. If you are new to photography and you want to see what all the fuss about primes is about, this is the one lens you should grab. It’s $125, it’s small, light, sharp, has a fast aperture, and it’s very versatile. That price, though! How can you go wrong? 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

Cons

  • For those of you who care about this a lot, purple fringing is still a problem, but it can easily be fixed during post.

Buy now: $125

Pro Tip: If you are just starting out with your Canon camera and you want to get the most out of it, but you don’t want to spend hours pouring over the boring manual, we highly recommend you check out fast start guides. These guides will show you how to get the most out of your camera in no time at all. There are guides for the EOS R, the 5D4, the 7D II, and just about every Canon camera you can think of. Go and check them out.

Canon 85mm F/1.8 Lens

affordable lenses

The 85mm f1.8 from Canon is another lens that has become legendary, and for good reasons. This lens is a portrait lovers’ dream, and it is quite honestly unmatched at this price point when it comes to the images it can produce. The Bokeh is creamy and smooth, it focuses as fast as lightning, and there is great sharpness across the aperture range. Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Razor-thin depth of field, and sharp wide open
  • Great color reproduction
  • Fast to focus
  • Great build quality

Cons

  • There are hints of purple fringing, but it can easily be fixed during post.

Buy now: $299

Canon 24-105mm f4 L IS USM II (EF Mount)

affordable lenses

If you want to jump right into the really great stuff when you replace your kit lenses, and you have the funds available, it’s hard to go wrong with the 24-105 f4 L IS USM II. This was my first piece of L series glass when I was a Canon shooter, and to this day, it is still one of my favorite lenses. Canon’s L series lenses are a cut above the rest, and they will stand the test of time. You’ll get great image quality, excellent build quality with weather-sealing, image stabilization, and more. Honestly, all Canon shooters should own this lens. Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Weather sealing
  • Sharp image quality
  • Useful range
  • Image stabilization
  • Locking mechanism
  • Better feel than the original
  • Not too incredibly saturated images
  • Better image quality than the original

Cons

  • Sigma and Tamron might be able to match this lens

Buy now: $789.59

Canon RF 24-105mm f4 L IS USM

affordable lenses

The RF Mount version of the 24-105mm is terrific as well, and again, it should be owned by all who have picked up the Canon EOS R or the EOS RP. The versatility of this focal range is fantastic. This lens is built tough, the optics are insanely good, and so is the built-in stabilization. If you want a do it all lens for, under a grand, this is the one to reach for. Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Nice image quality
  • Fast-focusing abilities
  • Fantastic image stabilization
  • Weather sealing that’s very good
  • Fairly portable

Cons

  • We really a 24-120 would have been better
  • We’d love to be able to lock the lens at various focal lengths

Buy now (renewed): $818.99

Brett Day

Brett Day is the Gear Editor at The Phoblographer and has been a photographer for as long as he can remember. Brett has his own photography business that focuses on corporate events and portraiture. In his spare time, Brett loves to practice landscape and wildlife photography. When he's not behind a camera, he's enjoying life with his wife and two kids, or he's playing video games, drinking coffee, and eating Cheetos.