Best Prime Lens For All Budgets
If you've been shooting with a mirrorless or DSLR camera for quite some time, you would probably consider upgrading your lens since several photographers choose to try out the best prime lens after being accustomed to the kit lens. Also, getting one will help you to be more creative and give you more choices when clicking photos.
Plus, a prime lens has an unchangeable focal length. This means you can't zoom in or out while taking photos, unlike with a zoom lens. And since you can't zoom in or out, you'll have to think beyond the box to capture a fascinating picture.
When you compare a prime lens vs. a zoom lens, the former is less in size and offers better image quality and low-light performance. This is because prime lenses have larger apertures, whereas most zoom lenses have a narrow aperture range.
This is one of the primary reasons why photographers prefer prime lenses to zoom lenses. With that said, let me give you an insight into the best selling prime lenses available in the market and what type of photographs/videos you can take with them. So, without delay, let's get started.
Table of Contents
- 10 BEST PRIMES LENS REVIEW
- 1. NIKON AF-S NIKKOR 50MM F/1.8G LENS - BEST PRIME LENS FOR NIKON
- 2. CANON EF-S 24MM F/2.8 STM LENS - BEST PRIME LENS FOR LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY
- 3. NIKON AF-S NIKKOR 500MM F/5.6E PF ED VR - BEST PRIME LENS FOR TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY
- 4. CANON EF 100MM F/2.8L IS USM - BEST PRIME LENS FOR MACRO PHOTOGRAPHY
- 5. FE 35MM F1.8 LARGE APERTURE PRIME LENS - BEST PRIME LENS FOR VIDEO
- 6. CANON EF 50MM F/1.8 LENS - BEST PRIME LENS FOR CANON
- 7. PANASONIC 42.5MM LUMIX G LENS
- 8. SIGMA 85MM F/1.4 DG DN - BEST PRIME LENS FOR PORTRAITS
- 9. MEIKE 25MM F/1.8 LENS - BEST MANUAL LENS
- 10. NIKON NIKKOR Z 35MM F/1.8 S
- FACTORS TO CONSIDER WHILE PURCHASING A PRIME LENS
- FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
10 BEST PRIMES LENS REVIEW
1. NIKON AF-S NIKKOR 50MM F/1.8G LENS - BEST PRIME LENS FOR NIKON
FEATURES: Capture beautiful portraits, landscapes, and street photographs/videos with this nifty-fifty lens from Nikon. As the 50mm is a standard focal length, meaning neither wide-angle nor telephoto, it gives you the correct depth-of-field (neither shallow nor deep) and creamy bokeh. You can also use this lens with a DX mount camera to provide you with a 75mm full-frame equivalent.
DESIGN: When comparing the Canon 50mm F/1.8 lens with this Nikon 50mm f/1.8 lens, the latter seems to be more solidly built.
The lens is made of high-quality plastic with a weather-sealed gasket around the metal lens mount. I liked using the manual focus ring; it feels very smooth and is also easy to rotate.
Although the lens uses a Silent Wave Motor for autofocus, I notice some static noise during AF, which gets picked up by my camera's microphone. But in terms of AF speed and accuracy, it's perfect!
Furthermore, the lens has Aspherical G's Lens Element that practically removes chromatic and other forms of aberrations while aiming at the widest available aperture. Adding to it, the lens is coated with Nikon's Super Integrated Coating to improve light transmission efficiency and provide superior color accuracy and reduced flare.
PERFORMANCE: People who love having a sharp focus on the subject with a blurred background will love using this lens. The lens's fast aperture of f/1.8 will make your subjects look more clear and look distinguished from their surroundings.
I love using this lens for taking low-light photographs because its wide maximum aperture of f/1.8 gives you an ample amount of light in low-lighting conditions.
As per my use with this lens, I feel the lens is more beneficial for still photography than shooting videos. I say this I found the lens to suffer from slight focus breathing while shooting videos.
In terms of image quality with a full-frame camera like D850(45MP), the center sharpness remains excellent at every f-stop. However, the corners were slightly dim at f/1.8 - f/6. I don't see this as a disadvantage because the subject's face looks razor-sharp while the corners are dark. Doesn't it give a realistic feel! That's why I love using this lens for portrait photography.
If you wish to achieve good quality sharpness at the center and the corners, you can use the aperture between f/8 - f/11. This type of end-to-end sharpness is much needed for landscape photography.
With an APS-C camera like D5600(24MP), I found the lens maintains the overall sharpness when used between f/5.6 - f/11.
Overall, for a price point of 220$, it has many versatile features and allows you to work on various subjects. So, I claim this Nikon 50mm f/1.8G, the best prime lens for Nikon for outdoor and indoor photography.
2. CANON EF-S 24MM F/2.8 STM LENS - BEST PRIME LENS FOR LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY
FEATURES: This lens is a must-have wide-angle lens for all APS-C Canon cameras. Other than portrait photography, you can use the lens for almost any purpose. I consider the lens to be an excellent travel-friendly option because it is lightweight and extremely compact. The lens has a focal length of 38mm in terms of 35mm equivalent.
DESIGN: Not only that the lens is compact it is also very sturdy. The lens is made of metal and has an electronically coupled focus ring.
The STM tag indicates that the lens uses stepper motor technology for autofocus. I admit that the lens's AF speed is not very fast, but it's excellent in AF accuracy.
For giving a decent bokeh, there are seven circular diaphragm blades included in the lens construction. Two features that could have been included in the lens' design are an image stabilization feature, and a distance marked scale on the lens barrel.
PERFORMANCE: I used this lens on my M50 Mark II 24MP camera, and I noticed that the lens maintains its overall sharpness throughout the aperture range. The color contrast and resolution also are perfect even without turning on the camera's filter settings.
However, the corners seem to slightly off when used at f/2.8. But when used stopped down to f/5.6 - 11, the corner sharpness and resolution are excellent. This rightly proves the aperture thumb rule correct. If you're a beginner not knowing which aperture is the sharpest, I'll explain in detail in the factors to consider part given at the end of the article.
Getting back to the performance, I did hear some squashing sound while using AF in videos. But it isn't very loud, so I don't consider it a big mistake.
Like the Nikon 50mm f/1.8G, this lens gives flaring when used under direct sunlight. So, direct sunlight shoots with this lens is a big no.
Lastly, the lens has a minimum focus distance of 16mm, so you can comfortably shoot close-up shots with a decent level of sharpness with this lens.
That's about the Canon 24mm f/2.8 STM lens, guys. I hope photographers looking for a prime wide-angle lens for their 70d, M50, and other Canon's crop sensor cameras will not miss this deal. It is only $150 anyway, so grab one soon!
3. NIKON AF-S NIKKOR 500MM F/5.6E PF ED VR - BEST PRIME LENS FOR TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY
FEATURES: Hiking, wildlife photography, sports photography, and what not! Such a massive lens with vibration reduction and weather-sealed design. The unbelievable fact is that it weighs only 3.25 pounds which even the best super-telephoto lenses in the market don't provide.
When used with a DX mount camera, it will provide a full-frame equivalent of 750mm. Worth the price, guys! Please have a look at its design and performance mentioned below.
DESIGN: My Nikon 500mm f/5.6 PF lens looks very tiny next to the giant-looking 500mm f/4 Nikon lens. Thanks to the One-Phase Fresnel element included in the lens' design! As it is not very heavy, you can easily capture photographs and videos of fast-moving objects while shooting handheld.
You can use the lens in rain, snow, extreme cold, and humid conditions as the lens is weather-resistant. The PF element not only reduces the size and weight but also helps to tackle the chromatic aberrations.
PERFORMANCE: I feel this lens delivers razor sharp images as the 500mm f/4 lens. But unfortunately, the lens is not a good performer in low-light because it has a narrow maximum aperture of f/5.6.
If you're someone who likes a shallow depth-of-field and creamy bokeh, you will like the performance of this lens because that is what the lens gives you.
The reason behind mentioning this lens as one of the best one is because it is versatile. You can capture beautiful shots from a distance without getting close to the subject.
I like travel photography, and I was looking for a lens to capture sharp images of waterfalls, beaches, and mountains. And I'm glad this super-telephoto lens allows me to get that done.
If you love taking videos of motorbike races or car races, this lens is the best. As it also has a VR feature, so your videos are guaranteed smoothness throughout the duration of the clip.
Lastly, compared to the lenses mentioned above, this lens has a superior bokeh quality because it has a 9-bladed aperture mechanism inside. Simply Wow!
4. CANON EF 100MM F/2.8L IS USM - BEST PRIME LENS FOR MACRO PHOTOGRAPHY
FEATURES: Is macro-photography your area of interest, then probably this lens will enhance your shooting style. With a 100mm focal length and fast f/2.8 aperture, you can get really close to the subject. Also, there is a IS feature, so you don't have to worry about any camera shakes while shooting videos.
DESIGN: The lens weighs around 1.38 pounds which is pretty lightweight. Please don't consider the lens to be cheap because it is mainly made of plastic. The quality of the plastic used is high, and so you get a sturdy lens in a lightweight design.
It has a ring-type USM for autofocus. Hmmm. I'm surprised the AF speed is fast and also less noisy. I like it. Also, the lens barrel and the front element don't move while focusing, which is nice.
I consider this lens to be supreme for macro photography because it is entirely weather-resistant, be it any harsh conditions you're using it. Also, the manual focus ring is big and smooth, so manual focus override is very easy with the lens.
PERFORMANCE: I would like to start with its macro resolution. I used this lens with my Canon EOS Rebel T6i (24.2 MP) camera to focus a flower in my garden. The lens isn't very sharp at f/2.8. But, at f/4, the lens begins to gain sharpness, and when used at f/11 to f/16, the image is really sharp.
For macro photography, I like to use narrow depth-of-field techniques, so I focus it at 100mm f/32 and gradually zoom out the lens. This gets me covered with the entire frame perfectly.
I liked the image stabilization feature. It works great; I did not notice any blur or shakiness while shooting still photographs and videos.
Usually, a full-frame focal length of 90 to 105mm is considered the best focal length for macro photography. And this lens satisfies it by providing a 100mm Full-frame focal range.
There are not many lenses in the market that provide a large aperture for a long focal length. Surprisingly this lens has it, so use it for low-light shoots as well.
In full-frame Canon DSLRs like Canon 6D, the lens gives sharp corner-to-corner resolution when used between f/4 to f/16.
I use it at f/2.8 for shooting portrait photographs because it instantly gives me a shallow depth of field and a good background separation. This lens definitely deserves a big thumbs-up!
5. FE 35MM F1.8 LARGE APERTURE PRIME LENS - BEST PRIME LENS FOR VIDEO
FEATURES: Be ready to take your street photography to the next level with this 35mm Sony lens. This wide-angle lens gives a wide field of view and allows most of the scene to fit inside the frame.
You can use it to capture anything that requires a broad perspective, like group portraits, nature photography, etc. A wonderful indoor lens that can be used for taking good quality videos as well.
DESIGN: I really loved the lens! It looks cute and small, weighing only 280 grams. A good travel-friendly lens! When it comes to the build quality, the lens is made of metal, but sadly it doesn't have a weather-sealed gasket.
You get a focus hold switch along with an AF/MF switch on the side of the lens barrel. The focus ring is big and feels smooth, so you will have no issues while using manual focus.
I should say that this lens achieves a faster and also a silent AF when compared to the above lenses. It is all because of the linear AF motor present inside the lens.
PERFORMANCE: This lens has a wide aperture of f/1.8, allowing you to have good background separation as you get close to the subject.
You can also use the lens to shoot music videos at low light with slower shutter speeds and less ISO. Also, your footages will be bright because, as we know wider the aperture, the more the light enters the lens.
Another reason why videographers love this lens is that you hardly notice any focus breathing with this lens, which is something very nice!
In terms of image quality, the lens delivers a good level of sharpness and contrast when used between f/4 and f/8. I'm not telling you the image quality is poor at f/1.8, but I would say that at f/1.8, the center and corners sharpness are good, but there is a slight fall in the color contrast at the corners.
Overall, this lens is worth the price and also does not have any aberrations or distortion issues. However, use a tripod/monopod as the lens doesn't have an image-stabilization feature. If your Sony camera has in-body stabilization, then well and good!.
6. CANON EF 50MM F/1.8 LENS - BEST PRIME LENS FOR CANON
The Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 Lens is a great walk-around lens because it's small and compact. It's an outstanding prime lens for portraits, sport, and nighttime shooting, with an optimal focal length of 80mm on APS-C cameras and 50mm on full-frame cameras.
What I liked the most is that it stands out in low light and captures magnificent, sharp photographs and videos with splendid backdrop blur. All this is because of the circular 7-bladed aperture and a vivid maximal aperture of f/1.8.
Also, its new lens coatings and an improved lens arrangement aid the photographs to compel excellent color balance, as well as reduced ghosting and flare.
Every photographer desires to have a quiet autofocusing. To ensure the same, this lens comes with a Stepper motor. Even its manual focus changes are a breeze thanks to a new exterior and better focus ring positioning.
Now, talking about the other dominant features of the lens: It includes a robust metal frame, an increased minimum focusing distance of 1.15 feet, and a maximum magnification of 0.21 x.
Overall, one of the best lenses for photographers and moviemakers looking to extend their artistic possibilities with their EOS cameras.
7. PANASONIC 42.5MM LUMIX G LENS
Next in my list is the Panasonic Lumix 42.5mm f/1.7 power lens that will enable creative photographers to ignite their imagination and begin shooting delightful images.
The Lumix is a lens equal to 85mm for the micro four-thirds mount setup. The maximum f/1.7 aperture of the lens helps in selective focal imaging and also helps in low-light shooting.
The optical design includes an aspherical lens feature, which reduces chromatic aberrations and improves the photo's quality and color. The lens is also fitted with optical picture resistance (OIS) to offset the camera shake, which gives sharp transparent photographs.
Long aperture lenses can create an optimum shallow depth of the field-effect, and beautiful defocusing even during hand-held shoots. However, easily and religiously, the Lumix Power OIS (Optical Image Stabilizer) offsets a bluish to produce clean, super-clear shots even in low-light cases.
Finally, this lens's bright and wide f/1.7 aperture draws full light to create an impressive, more artistic picture with a beautiful bokeh environment. Furthermore, this lens is suitable for simple, informative, and expressive portraits in conjunction with a focal length of 42.5 mm.
8. SIGMA 85MM F/1.4 DG DN - BEST PRIME LENS FOR PORTRAITS
Get flattened portraits and excellent background separation from this Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG DN lens. This fantastic lens is designed for Sony E mount cameras. As 85mm is a short telephoto range, you can use the lens for nature photography.
The fast aperture of f/1.8 allows you to get beautiful portrait shots even in low light. I consider this lens the best prime lens for Sony E cameras because the longer focal length provides a shallow depth of field, allowing my portraits to look realistic.
Also, this lens has the best bokeh effect out of all the other lenses mentioned in this article. Thanks to the 11 bladed circular aperture mechanism! As magnesium alloy is used in lens construction, it is very sturdy and durable.
Lastly, there is a new feature included in the aperture ring design. It is nothing but a 'click switch' that allows you to choose between a clicked aperture control and de-clicked aperture control. Isn't that very interesting!
9. MEIKE 25MM F/1.8 LENS - BEST MANUAL LENS
The Meike 25mm f/1.8 Lens is a fabulous all-inclusive lens for Canon EF-M Mount Cameras. It's a manual focus lens that offers impressively high degree of sharpness and nearly full flare resistance.
The lens has a mount and an exterior made of metal. Also, the lens itself has multilayer coatings and is made up of seven components in five classes.
The Meike 25mm f/1.8 is a completely manual lens with a manual focusing ring and aperture setting on the lens. The lens has a very strong and robust feel to it. The frosted metal structure makes it dust and steam resistant, and the multilayer Nano-coating helps to eliminate flare or blurry illumination.
This lens is ideal for videography because of the tactile focus ring and the reliable performance in low-light situations. Focus pulling is a breeze with the full manual focus, and the results are quite impressive. Besides, the emphasis and opening rings have a very distinct feeling and are well spaced.
Lastly, the focus ring has notches similar to the Minolta vintage lens, and the opening ring has metal lines for grip. As a result, the learning curve for this lens is extremely short, especially if you're used to manual focusing.
10. NIKON NIKKOR Z 35MM F/1.8 S
Finally, another great indoor lens from Nikon for its Z mount cameras. This lens is also great for videos as 35mm gives a good talk-to-camera feel.
This wide-angle lens gets most of the scene covered in the frame as it gives a wide field of view. You can use this for vlogging purposes as the 35mm will not be like the camera is right in front of your face. Are you getting my point?
I use this lens on my Nikon Z 6II for family photography, street photography, and travel photography. You can comfortably shoot handheld still photographs, and videos as the lens is very lightweight (0.81 lbs) and has the famous 5-Axis Dual detect optical VR.
FACTORS TO CONSIDER WHILE PURCHASING A PRIME LENS
Now that you have got an idea about the different prime lenses and their benefits, I urge you to go through these factors mentioned below to know which prime lens will best suit your needs.
what type of photography/videography your interested in?
As I always mention in my articles, every lens has its pros and cons. Before you step out to purchase a prime lens, first analyze what type of shots you want to take.
I will mention, in a nutshell, the different focal length and their uses.
I have given the focal length in terms of the full-frame sensor. You can convert it into the APS-C and micro-four-thirds format using the crop factor. Also, note that the longer the focal length, the shallower the depth of field will be. If you wish to have a deep field of view, go for a lens that has a shorter focal length.
To get more information regarding the uses of each lens, go through my article on types of lenses out in the market.
Aperture is the opening of the lens's diaphragm through which the light enters the lens. So, the wider the aperture (small f-number), the more the light enters the lens. The smaller the aperture (large f-number) less the light enters the lens.
If you're going to shoot in the natural sunlight, a narrow aperture of f/5.6 - 6.3 is enough. But for low-light videography and photography, a lens with a maximum aperture of less than f/2.8 is a must.
I would say that the image sharpness depends on your shooting style rather than the lens your using. Only if you know how to focus the subject properly will you get sharp images.
You need to explore a lot with the f-number and determine which aperture value gives the best results. Generally, sharp images (sweet spot) results when used two to three stops from the maximum aperture. For example, if f/4 is the lens's maximum aperture, you will get the sweet spot or sharp images when used between f/8 and f/11.
You have to know which lens will suit your camera. Most users buy a lens that is not compatible with their camera and regret buying the lens. So, this is an essential factor to consider. Below I will mention what an FE, F, or FX lens mount mean and what type of camera can be used with the lens.
Likewise, Panasonic uses a Micro-four thirds lens mount. While using a full-frame lens on an APS-C body, make sure you take the crop factor of 1.5x/1.6x into account. Similarly, for micro-four third sensor format lenses, use a crop factor of 2x to find the full-frame equivalent.
IMAGE STABILIZATION / VIBRATION REDUCTION
If your camera doesn't offer any image stabilization/vibration reduction feature, please make sure that your purchasing lens has one.
This IS /VR feature is crucial for handheld shooting because it will help eliminate camera shakes and image blur while recording videos. Also, image stabilization is a must for low-light photography because it will allow you to work with slower shutter speeds and less ISO.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. Which prime lens is the most versatile?
I would say that the nifty fifty (50mm) is the most versatile lens because it can be used to capture anything, be it portraits, landscapes, or street photography. The reason being it gives a standard field of view and pleasant bokeh. It is a great walk-around lens that is also easy to use.
2. Do prime lenses have superior image quality than zoom lenses?
Yes, as you know, prime lenses have fixed focal lengths. This means they are designed for a specific purpose like landscapes, portrait photography, etc. Also, they have less diffraction as they don't have extra glass elements inside that moves to zoom.
3. Which prime lens is the best for a beginner?
A 50mm or a 35mm lens should work fine because you can explore a lot with these lenses, and they are also economical.
So, these were my choices of the top 10 best prime lens that you can consider purchasing. And technically speaking, you can use any of the above lenses to get an amazing picture quality. But while purchasing you must be aware of your requirements as everyone has different requirements and uses. Also, because the camera optics is usually expensive, it is better to research it thoroughly and then buy it.