If you want to capture stunning professional quality photos with your Canon camera but don’t have the deep pockets or the funds available for the professional grade lenses it is still possible. You read that right – you don’t need professional spec lenses to capture professional looking photos since there are budget lenses available that will do the job.
Here are my top three inexpensive and budget lenses for Canon cameras that will capture high quality, sharp, bright and vibrant photos. And the best bit is none of them will break the bank.
Canon 40mm f2.8 STM lens
There was a time when the first lens on this list of inexpensive lenses would have been the Canon 50mm f1.8, however since buying the Canon 40mm f2.8 STM pancake lens as a discreet and take anywhere lens the Canon 50mm f1.8 lens is now off the list.
Even though I had the Canon 50mm f1.8 (and it was, and still is, a very good lens) I wanted a budget lens that was smaller and lighter but had at least the same image quality, or better if possible. After a bit of research and hitting the internet forums I discovered a lens that kept coming up tie and time again, and that was the Canon 40mm f2.8 STM lens.
All the reviews I read were positive, all of the sample photos I saw looked pretty good, and all in all it seemed a good lens. There were, of course, some negative comments about the lens but fewer than I would have expected about a budget lens, which could only be a good thing. The Canon 40mm f2.8 lens is only a few pounds more expensive than the 50mm f1.8, so I thought it was well worth a punt and ordered one from Amazon.
When the 40mm f2.8 STM lens was delivered and I took it out of the box I have to say that I was surprised about the build quality. Owning the 50mm f1.8 (another Canon budget lens), I was expecting a plastic and cheaply made lens but the 40mm f2.8 isn’t like this. The 40mm f2.8 lens felt strong, sturdy and well made, so it was off to a good start. The other thing I instantly noticed was the size of the lens and how tiny it was. The 50mm f1.8 (which is a small lens itself) dwarfed it, so I was very happy with the physical size and dimensions and knew it would be ideal as a take anywhere lens.
The image quality of the 40mm f2.8 STM is far superior to that of the 50mm f1.8. Images taken with the 40mm f2.8 are sharper, crisper, brighter, more vibrant and better all round. The 40mm f2.8 doesn’t have the f1.8 aperture of the 50mm but then I have never found this to be a problem as I often found the depth of field at f1.8 to narrow to get everything I want to in focus. I guarantee you will not be disappointed with the image quality of the 40mm f2.8 STM lens.
There was a time when I believed the Canon 50mm f1.8 was the best value for money lens, however my thoughts on this have changed. Now I own the Canon 40mm f2.8 STM lens I think this is the best value for money lens for Canon cameras period.
"The tiny Canon 40mm f2.8 STM lens"
Sample images using the Canon 40mm f2.8 STM lens
I was so impressed with the Canon 40mm f2.8 STM lens I decided to buy the Canon EF-S 24mm f2.8 STM lens for my 7d. This lens gives an effective focal length of around 40mm, and it is identical to the 40mm f2.8 lens in every way. With the Canon EF-S 24mm f2.8 lens crop sensor users can also benefit from, and enjoy a true 40mm focal length lens.
Canon 100mm f2.8 macro
Next on my list of inexpensive lenses for Canon cameras is the Canon 100mm f2.8 macro lens. This is not the L series macro lens with image stabilisation.
I bought the Canon 100mm f2.8 macro lens several years ago (before the L series IS version was released) and I was instantly stunned by the image quality and sharpness of this lens. Photos taken using this lens were tack sharp and second to none, and it was easily the sharpest lens I owned.
The build quality of the lens was very good, and whilst it wasn’t up to the same standard as the L series lenses I owned, it still felt tough, sturdy and well up to the job. Now I have owned this lens for several years, and given it quite a bit of abuse during those years, I can confirm it is a tough and sturdy lens that provides years of trouble free service.
When the Canon 100mm f2.8L IS macro lens was released the cost of the 100mm f2.8 macro lens went through the floor, as did the value of used/second hand copies so there are plenty of bargains to be had.
When the Canon 100mm f2.8L IS macro lens was released the thought of a weather sealed lens and a lens with image stabilisation was too good to miss. I like to get out in the wilderness and take photos of insects, so the weather sealing and image stabilisation would make my life a lot easier. As you’ve probably already guessed I bought the Canon 100mm f2.8L IS macro lens, and also tested it against the Canon 100mm f2.8 macro lens as well.
There’s no doubt about it the build quality of the L series macro lens is superior and the image stabilisation is awesome, but given the extra cost this is to be expected. The image quality of the L series macro lens isn’t that much different to the non L series lens, which surprised me somewhat.
If you go pixel peeping you can see the image quality of the L series lens is slightly better but if you look at a print it is virtually impossible to tell the difference in image quality. In the real world no-one goes pixel peeping so no-one would ever tell whether an image was taken using the L series macro lens or this lens.
The awesome Canon 100mm f2.8 macro lens
The Canon 100mm f2.8 macro lens is an excellent lens and one I highly recommend. You obviously can’t buy a brand new one but there are plenty of used copies about that are worth a look. Try searching eBay using the search box below.
Keen photographer addicted to cameras, lenses and everything photography related. Feel free to follow me in my photography ramblings, and if you have any thoughts, comments, queries or anything else to add I would love to hear from you.
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