Skip to main content
Best Affordable Lenses

The Best Lenses Under $500 of 2022

Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission.

Best Affordable Lenses

Why trust Reviewed?

Reviewed's mission is to help you buy the best stuff and get the most out of what you already own. Our team of product experts thoroughly vet every product we recommend to help you cut through the clutter and find what you need.

Learn more about our product testing
1
Editor's Choice Product image of Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G
Best Overall

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G

If you're shooting a Nikon DSLR and you want a top-notch portrait lens, it's hard to do better than the AF-S 85mm f/1.8G. Read More

2
Editor's Choice Product image of Sony E 50mm f/1.8 OSS

Sony E 50mm f/1.8 OSS

An excellent companion for everyday shooting, with a fast aperture that lets you shoot in low light. Since most Sonys lack in-body stabilization, the optical stabilization in the lens comes in handy. Read More

3
Product image of Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G

Not quite as affordable (or as sharp wide open) as the f/1.8G, but has superior bokeh and just as sharp stopped down. No matter what Nikon you shoot with, this lens should be among the first you grab. Read More

4
Product image of Sony E 35mm f/1.8 OSS

Sony E 35mm f/1.8 OSS

A bit pricier than the similar 50mm f/1.8 OSS, but the more flexible focal length is a better choice for general-purpose work. Gripes aside, a fantastic all-around lens that provides great value. Read More

5
Product image of Fujifilm Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8

Fujifilm Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8

If you’re married to Fuji’s X-series camera and desperate for something more portable, the XF 27mm f/2.8 will do the trick. Read More

After looking into multiple lenses under $500, the data is clear: if you want the best lens you can buy under $500, your best bet is a prime lens. While the right pick will depend on if you're shopping for a Nikon (affiliate link), Fujifilm, Sony, Canon, or Olympus/Panasonic Micro Four Thirds camera, the answer is almost always a prime.

Just because you don't have an arm and a leg to spend on building out your camera kit doesn't mean you deserve prime lenses with poor optical design or bad build quality, and we've given these picks close scrutiny to make sure they pass muster.

Our big takeaway? That you don't have to break the bank to get excellent performance from your favorite interchangeable lens camera. Whether you prefer a modern mirrorless camera or a tried-and-true DSLR, these lenses are the best ones under $500.

Editor's Note

The recommendations in this guide are based on thorough product and market research by our team of expert product reviewers. The picks are based on examining user reviews, product specifications, and, in some limited cases, our experience with the specific products named.

Best Overall
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G

If you're shooting a Nikon DSLR and you want a top-notch portrait lens, it's hard to do better than the AF-S 85mm f/1.8G. While the pricier f/1.4 has smoother bokeh and shallower depth of field, the f/1.8 arguably has better image quality, is cheaper, and is lighter. It's a perfect storm of portrait goodness that outperformed the 85mm f/1.4 in our lab tests, and at under $500 it won't break the bank, either.

Product image of Sony E 50mm f/1.8 OSS
Sony E 50mm f/1.8 OSS

Sony's E-mount family of lenses includes some options aimed at the lower-end APS-C bodies like this 50mm f/1.8 OSS lens. Relatively compact, we thought that this prime was an excellent companion for everyday shooting, with a fast aperture that will let you shoot in low light. Since most Sony cameras go without in-body image stabilization, the optical stabilization inside the 50mm lens should come in handy.

Product image of Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G

The 50mm lens (or something equivalent to it) is the gold standard for every lens system. Nikon knows: it's got seven different 50mm lenses currently. That's crazy. If you just want the best bang for your buck, skip the others and get this. It's a true pro-grade slab of glass that costs less than $500. That's rare, and every Nikon owner would be wise to snap this up and make it the centerpiece of their kit.

Product image of Sony E 35mm f/1.8 OSS
Sony E 35mm f/1.8 OSS

Sony’s E-mount mirrorless cameras have been excellent performers for years, often providing the best price-to-performance ratio in the entire digital camera market. But since the system debuted in 2010, the brand's lens selection has left something to be desired. While competing systems offer a slew of sharp, fast prime lenses that are great in low light, Sony had relatively few options.

Product image of Fujifilm Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8
Fujifilm Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8

Perhaps the best thing about mirrorless cameras like Fujifilm’s renowned X-series is getting the quality and performance of a DSLR in a compact form factor. While the pursuit of smaller proportions has led manufacturers like Olympus, Panasonic, and Nikon to design cameras with smaller image sensors (and thus smaller lenses), Fuji bet big on APS-C sensors—the kind used in most DSLRs.

Meet the tester

Reviewed Staff

Reviewed Staff

Contributors, Writers, Editors

@reviewed

The Reviewed staff is based in the heart of Cambridge, MA. Backed by our knowledgeable writers and rigorous test labs, we're working hard to make sure you can make the right decisions about what to buy.

See all of Reviewed Staff's reviews

Checking our work.

Our team is here for one purpose: to help you buy the best stuff and love what you own. Our writers, editors, and lab technicians obsess over the products we cover to make sure you're confident and satisfied. Have a different opinion about something we recommend? Email us and we'll compare notes.

Shoot us an email