Lots of photographers want cheap lenses. But some are just genuinely better than others and for great reasons too. Though more new photographers go for zoom lenses, there are tons of great prime lenses you should reach for. A great, and time-tested example is the 50mm lens. So what’s the best cheap 50mm lens for great photos? Well, we know because we’ve tested a bunch of them.
How We Chose the Best Cheap 50mm LEns for Great Photos
Here’s some insight into how to use this guide to the best cheap 50mm lens for great photos:
- The Phoblographer’s various product round-up features are done in-house. Our philosophy is simple: you wouldn’t get a Wagyu beef steak review from a lifelong vegetarian. And you wouldn’t get photography advice from someone who doesn’t touch the product. We only recommend gear we’ve fully reviewed in these roundups.
- If you’re wondering why your favorite product didn’t make the cut, there’s a chance it’s on another list. If we haven’t reviewed it, we won’t recommend it. This method keeps our lists packed with industry-leading knowledge. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
- For this roundup, we’re focusing on full-frame lenses. If you’re shooting with an APS-C camera, then other lenses might be a great choice. Those lenes are also far more affordable. But specifically, this guide is the best cheap 50mm lens for great photos using a full-frame camera.
- So what makes a camera the best cheap 50mm lens for great photos? We test lenses based on their ergonomics, build quality, focusing, and image quality. When it comes to build quality, we value durability. There’s also the idea of having a lens with a lot more character than being clinically sterile.
- The best cheap 50mm lens for great photos won’t necessarily be a lens that you get rid of after a while. We expect that you’ll use it for a while to come.
- Be sure to also check out our review of these cameras too!
The best cheap 50mm lens for great photos: Panasonic 50mm f1.8
The Panasonic 50mm f1.8 Lumix S is genuinely the best cheap 50mm lens for great photos. While there are more affordable options, we like this one for several reasons. First, it’s very lightweight. Despite it being so light, it’s also fully weather resistant. On top of that, it focuses very quickly though not very close. Finally, the image quality is also pretty decent. Obviously, there’s the price tag too.
Though they’re not as popular as other camera mounts, the L mount alliance has access to really beautiful lenses.
We think that photographers buying this lens will stick with it for several years.
- Beautiful image quality
- Fast focus to get the first target
- Weather sealing
- Small size
- Incredibly affordable for what it is
- I wish it were metal
- Not so fantastic and reliable autofocus tracking, but good for one shot. When it hits, it nails it
Specs table taken from LensRentals.
|35mm-Equivalent Focal Length||75mm|
|Angle of View||47°|
|Aperture Blades||9, Rounded|
|Extra Low-Dispersion Elements||1|
|Lens Type||Normal Range and Normal Range|
|Mfr. Model Number||S-S50|
|Minimum Focusing Distance||1.5feet|
|Ultra High-Refractive Index Elements||1|
In our review conclusions, we said:
The Panasonic 50mm f1.8 S is a pretty obvious choice for the Editor’s Choice award. Panasonic has done what loads of manufacturers have refused to. They’ve made a 50mm f1.8 that’s under $500 and boasts all the bells and whistles possible. The only other weather-sealed 50mm f1.8 is from Nikon, which is more pricey for arguably worse performance. But Panasonic did it! This thing has everything. It focuses quickly for photojournalism work (but not necessarily for street photography with enough reliability). It’s weather-sealed and lightweight. And most of all, it delivers good image quality.
3 Other Great Options You Might Think Is the best cheap 50mm Lens for great photos
Here are three other great options that photographers will enjoy. For some photographers, these might be the best cheap 50mm lens for great photos because of image quality, balance, or affordability.
CANON RF 50MM F1.8 STM
- Compact and lightweight
- Solid bokeh and color
- Great autofocus performance
- Lots of room for character
- Softer than other mirrorless primes, especially at the corners
- No weather-sealing
- Some minor color fringing
Our review concluded by saying:
Few mirrorless lenses cost less than the Canon RF 50mm f1.8, yet, the images certainly don’t scream budget lens. Bokeh is great, along with the color. Even the autofocus keeps up. And, that’s all wrapped in a very light, tiny lens.
Rokinon 50mm f1.4 AF FE
- Contrasty images
- Sharp photos
- Beautiful bokeh
- Metal feeling build on the exterior
- Autofocus that works pretty darned well
- Autofocus isn’t as fast as Sony’s
- Really wish it had weather sealing, but the price point isn’t really for that
- Pretty big
|Angle of View||47°|
|Compatibility||Full Frame and Crop|
|Lens Type||Normal Range|
|Low Dispersion Elements||0|
|Minimum Focusing Distance||1.48feet|
In our review, we state:
I’m in love with the Rokinon 50mm f1.4 AF FE, and that’s hard to do because I have an ongoing hatred of the 50mm focal length. Rokinon truly nailed it here. Want better build quality? You’ve got it, this lens has a metal exterior. Not only that, but it feels uniquely like a Rokinon lens and not like a Sigma, Tamron, or Zeiss. There is no weather sealing, but I’ll excuse that. Rokinon’s optics have always been top notch and this is no exception. The colors are bold, the contrast is there, the images are sharp, and the bokeh is gorgeous. All of this is thanks to the very good autofocus capabilities.
7ARTISANS 50MM F1.1
- 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 at $369
- There are these empty screw holes on the focusing ring. I’m afraid of stuff getting in there in the long run
- Full frame: yes
- Compatible camera mount: Leica M-mount
- Focal length: 50mm
- Aperture range: f/1.1-f/16
- Angular field of view: 46°
- Minimum focusing distance: 0.7m
- Number of blades: 12
- Lens design: 7 elements in 6 groups
- Aluminum body and copper core, Sonnar design
- Weight: 14.1 oz / 400 g
- The box contains:
- 7artisans 50mm f/1.1 lens
- two lens caps
- lens bag
- Pergear cleaning kit
- Sample photos: Xitek 1 | Xitek 2 | WXhaowen
In our review, we state:
Yup, there’s tons of bokeh here. The best bokeh from this lens obviously comes at f1.1 and when you’re focused closely to the subject. But given that this is a rangefinder lens, the closest focusing is around 3 feet. The bokeh is creamy, dreamy, gorgeous, there is so much to say about it that simply can’t be put into words. But in addition to that it’s also unlike any bokeh that I’ve seen before. Some say that this lens is a copy of a Voigtlander, but I’m not sure that I see that. Portrait photographers will surely be pleased here.