The Best Lenses Under $500 for Your Mirrorless Camera

The best lenses under $500 are probably the ones you already have. In fact, if you’ve used your camera for a while now, we’d be shocked if you didn’t pick these up. There are a few things that make us happier than adding an affordable gem of a lens to your camera bag. And because we know that not everyone has over $1,000 to spare on their hobby or profession, we’re rounding up these little gems for you. Take a look, and dive in with us!

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Why Are These the Best Lenses Under $500?

Here are some tips on how to use this guide to the best lenses for under $500:

  • All the lenses in this roundup were reviewed by The Phobographer’s staff. Our ethics policies don’t allow us to talk about products we haven’t touched or reviewed in these product recommendation posts. With that said, we can say with certainty that these are the best lenses under $500 for your camera system. What’s more, all the photos in this post were shot by our staff.
  • We’ve chosen these lenses based on a few parameters: image quality, size, price, performance, and how impressive they are overall.
  • The best lenses under $500 for your camera system could also be the ones you already have. But we’re recommending these for a general myriad of uses.
  • A lot of the best lenses under $500 have weather resistance. But some don’t. This is a feature that has finally started to trickle down and be made available to the masses.

Fujifilm 23mm f2 R WR: Fujifilm X Mount

Pro

  • Good image quality
  • Seriously and surprisingly fast focus. This lens is officially Fujifilm’s fastest.
  • Fast focus on the X Pro 2, X-T2 and even the X Pro 1. The latter completely shocked me.
  • Nice colors
  • Compact size
  • Weather sealing
  • Turning the aperture ring feels nice and smooth until the clicks come in. It’s a tactile experience that’s just lovely.
  • Sharp images
  • Fairly nice bokeh
  • Affordable price point

Cons

  • Something about this lens just doesn’t have the magic the 23mm f1.4 R does.

In our review, we state:

“The best thing about this lens has to be the color rendition. As always, Fujifilm’s color rendition is second to none in part because of the Fujifilm film profiles built into the camera. But then consider that this is a high quality lens and you’ve got a winning combination.”

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Canon RF 35mm f1.8 IS: Canon RF Mount

street photography

Pro

  • Small
  • Lightweight
  • Fairly fast to focus
  • It’s a lens designed to always be on your camera
  • Image stabilization (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.
  • Pretty affordable at $449 regularly.

Cons

  • We would have gladly paid more money weather sealing.

In our review, we state:

“Photographers will be happy to know that the Canon 35mm f1.8 USM IS RF is very simple to use, and it’s also very digital in its design. When I say this, I mean that there is no focusing distance scale on the lens. As a result, I can’t really recommend it for street photography as that is an essential part of use. However, for anyone who wants to use it in full autofocus mode, go right ahead. Most of the time I used it as a fun lens on a camera I always wanted to have around me. The small size of the Canon 35mm f1.8 USM IS RF lends itself to this scenario very favorably. So if anything, most photographers will be happy to just use it as a macro to shoot random hangouts with friends while others will enjoy using it for more serious things.”

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Nikon 40mm f2 Z: Nikon Z Mount

Pro

  • Durable, incredibly so!
  • Beautiful image quality
  • I like the colors.
  • Autofocus is great, but the smarts on the cameras aren’t so much when it comes to subject detection. However, it’s solid in the studio
  • Nice bokeh
  • It’s a 40mm!
  • Bro, it’s $299.99. Like, this is THE IMPULSE BUY lens from Nikon.

Cons

  • Autofocus on the Nikon z6 II is much improved, but still falls behind other brands for stuff like street photography.

In our review, we state:

“The Nikon 40mm f2 z isn’t doing anything genuinely innovative per se. However, they’re offering the smallest autofocusing 40mm f2 lens on the market. They’ve added incredible weather sealing despite being slightly conservative with their own statements on this. Better yet, they’ve done this at a crazy low price point. 40mm lenses have finally seen a rise in popularity. But the Nikon 40mm f2 z is a study in how to do it right.”

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Tamron 35mm f2.8: Sony E Mount

Pro

  • Compact (although the Sony 35mm f2.8 Zeiss is still smaller)
  • Lightweight
  • Class-leading weather sealing
  • Excellent image quality overall
  • Very affordable (only $349)

Cons

  • Plasticky build quality
  • Low light autofocus can be a tad slow

In our review, we state:

“Shooting with the Tamron 35mm f2.8 Di III OSD is very straightforward. Mount it onto your Sony camera, turn your camera on, dial in your settings, and you’re off to the races. Thanks to the 7.4oz/210g weight, it won’t feel front-heavy when attached to Sony a7/a9 series camera. The only form of manual control the lens offers is the focusing ring. As mentioned earlier, the focusing ring could use more tension. It comes in handy when shooting long exposures and manually focusing on infinity or other distances. On the other hand, Team Autofocus will have nothing to worry about.”

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Panasonic 50mm f1.8 Lumix S: Leica L Mount

Pro

  • Beautiful image quality
  • Fast focus to get the first target
  • Weather sealing
  • Small size
  • Lightweight
  • Incredibly affordable for what it is

Cons

  • I wish it were metal
  • Not so fantastic and reliable autofocus tracking, but good for one shot. When it hits, it nails it.

In our review, we state:

“Of course, this is a nifty 50, so it’s easy to use. Put the Panasonic 50mm f1.8 S on any L-mount camera, and it should perform very well. There’s a focusing switch on one side. So, make sure you don’t accidentally hit this. But in all my time using the lens, that didn’t happen.”

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Panasonic 20mm f1.7 II: Micro Four Thirds

Pro

  • Pretty darn sharp when stopped down, but not so much wide open
  • Fast to focus on the GH4, not so much on the OMD E-M5
  • Very film-like color rendition
  • Distortion is fairly low
  • Nice build coupled with a low profile design

Cons

  • Wish it were sharper wide open

In our review, we state:

“If you’re a fan of film, then realize this lens somehow or another renders images with less contrast and not as saturated as we’re used to seeing. If you’re a fan of sigma lenses, consider this one to be the opposite of that. However, it works for the lens overall and Panasonic’s RAW files are versatile enough where this can be saved.”

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