Looking for cheap Canon lenses? With the rising cost of living affecting everyone across the UK, it’s getting harder and harder to find the spare cash to spend on new photo gear, and you could be forgiven for thinking that photography just isn’t something you can afford right now.
We’ve put this guide together to help out those who are feeling the pinch. These are our picks of the ten best affordable lenses for Canon users – lenses that will give you an array of different perspectives and shooting options, all without breaking the bank. Every lens on this list comes in below the £499 mark – and many are considerably cheaper than that. What’s more, these are all lenses that our staff really rate, and ones we think more than justify their price tags.
We’ve divided this guide up by lens mount, of which Canon currently offers three:
Canon RF lenses - These are lenses for Canon’s newest flagship mirrorless system, the EOS R cameras. You might have assumed that these lenses would invariably be ridiculously expensive, but this isn’t the case – Canon has done an admirable job of filling out the budget end of this range with some stellar affordable lenses. We’ve included lenses that will fit both full-frame and APS-C EOS R cameras, as well as an option specifically designed for the smaller sensor models (referred to as an RF-S lens).
Canon EF lenses - Canon’s venerable DSLR range is still ticking along, and has built up one of the biggest lens ranges in existence, with great options both from Canon themselves and from third-party manufacturers. We’ve included a few older lenses here that still deliver the goods for a fraction of the price they commanded on launch, and once again we’ve got options for both full-frame and APS-C.
Canon EF-M lenses - If you’re using one of Canon’s enduringly popular EOS M cameras, these are the best cheap lenses to kit yourself out with. The EF-M range isn’t the largest, but there are some interesting optics on there with unique features.
So, let’s save ourselves some cash and find out which are the best affordable lenses for Canon users…
Canon’s mirrorless RF-mount EOS R system has been in existence for five years now. In a way, this is both a long time and a short time for a camera system to have existed. On the one hand, five years is long enough for the firm to have had time to bed in and come out with a fantastic selection of lenses for users of all stripes (not to mention all budgets). At the same time, it’s not really long enough for there to be many older versions of newer lenses, which is often a great way to pick up a high-end lens for a bargain price.
Nevertheless, there are plenty of inexpensive options in the RF range, and we’ve picked out our favourites for the first section of the guide. Remember too that EF lenses can be adapted to work with EOS R cameras if you have the correct EF-EOS R adapter.
Canon RF 50mm f1.8 STM Lens
The Canon RF 50mm F1.8 STM Lens delivers high-quality images in a compact, light prime lens body. Featuring redesigned optics and an STM motor, the lens is exceptionally quiet, making it great for both photography and videography. The lens offers a fast and wide f1/8 aperture for sharply focused subjects and stunning blurred background effects. The wide aperture and 50mm focal length are great for creating impactful images at lower ISO. Pair it with an EOS R-series camera for everyday photography.
- Useful walk-around focal length
- Terrific sharpness for the price
- Very lightweight and portable
- No AF/MF switch
- No weather sealing
The long-awaited mirrorless successor to Canon’s famous nifty-fifty for EF-mount DSLRs, the Canon RF 50mm f1.8 STM is a lens that pretty much any EOS R user should consider for their kit bag. Incredibly light, it boasts redesigned optics that have improved sharpness compared to the DSLR version, and it’s hugely impressive just how sharp Canon have made a lens at this price point. Stop down to f5.6 or f8 for the sharpest results, or whack it wide open to f1.8 for shallow depth of field and dreamy bokeh.
The 50mm focal length provides a naturalistic perspective, neither too tight nor too wide, and is perfect for walking around and capturing everyday scenes. The stepping motor ensures that focusing is quick, accurate and near-silent, meaning the lens excels at street photography. Some may quibble with aspects of the physical design – the plasticky body in particular – but if you want a cheap lens that only weighs 160g, that’s the trade-off you have to make.
Samyang MF 85mm f1.4 Lens for Canon RF
Save £100, was £319
The MF 85mm F1.4 RF is a fast-aperture, manual-focus, short telephoto prime and is one of Samyang's first lensesfor the Canon RF mount. It produces incredible, vivid colours with soft, pleasing out-of-focus areas (bokeh). This lens provides a tool that creative photographers dream about. The MF 85mm F1.4 RF is designed with a bright F1.4 maximum aperture and is perfect for low light photography.
- Amazing value for money
- Bright maximum aperture
- Weather sealing
- Manual focus only
- On the heavier side at 730g
Canon has been rather guarded when it comes to allowing third-party autofocus lenses on its RF-mount. There are some signs this may be about to change, but for now if you want a third-party lens for an EOS R camera, you’re looking at manual focus only. If you don’t mind that, the Samyang MF 85mm f1.4 is a standout portrait lens that’s available for a much cheaper asking price than any Canon-made equivalent.
Hitting the 85mm sweet spot for portraiture, the Samyang MF 85mm f1.4 creates beautiful bokeh thanks to its eight-blade diaphragm and f1.4 maximum aperture. For throwing the background out of focus, or working in low light, it’s a dream of a lens. It’s robustly constructed too, with a weather-sealed chassis, and while this does add to the overall weight of the lens, it’s great for getting peace of mind while shooting outdoors.
Canon RF-S 55-210mm f5-7.1 IS STM Lens
Discover distant subjects in new ways thanks to the 3.8x zoom on this Canon RF-S 55-210mm f5-7.1 IS STM Lens. Suited to all kinds of travel and sports photography, this lens lets the details flood the frame with a twist of the zoom ring. Combined with the 4.5 stops of image stabilisation, and smooth AF performance, this lens is an impressively versatile option that will help users extend their reach.
- Designed specifically for APS-C bodies
- Powerful stabilisation (up to seven stops)
- Weighs just 270g
- No weather seals
- Aperture drops to f7.1 at long end of zoom.
This isn’t the cheapest RF lens for APS-C cameras – that honour belongs to the RF-S 18-45mm f4.5-6.3 IS STM. However, if you already have an APS-C EOS R camera like the EOS R50 or EOS R10, it’s quite likely you already have that lens, as it tends to be the one bundled in as part of the standard starter kit. So, we’ve instead opted for the Canon RF-S 55-210mm f5-7.1 IS STM as our pick.
Canon’s RF-S lens range is still a little thin, so it’s nice to see a lens as versatile as this for APS-C users, particularly as the range of cameras expands rapidly with new models like the EOS R100. A superzoom can be a challenge to use, but the sophisticated stabilisation system on the RF-S 55-210mm f5-7.1 IS STM is enormously helpful – when combined with a camera’s IBIS system, it can deliver up to seven stops of effective compensation.
Canon RF 16mm f2.8 STM Lens
Canon’s RF 16mm f2.8 STM Lens is a welcome addition to the esteemed RF lens lineup. This impressively compact and lightweight lens offers an ultra-wide-angle field of view and has been optimised for both photo and video applications. The lens is equipped with an advanced optical structure combined with a max. f2.8 aperture and quiet STM motor that results in a highly versatile, professional lens.
- Slim, pocketable construction
- Wide view is great for vlogging
- Fast, reliable autofocus system
- No weather seals
- No built-in stabilisation
A welcome addition to the RF-mount lineup, the Canon RF 16mm f2.8 STM is a compact and lightweight lens offering an ultra-wide-angle field of view. Optimised for both photo and video applications, this 16mm f2.8 lens is incredibly versatile and well-suited to mid-level Canon mirrorless systems. It is further equipped with an advanced optical structure combined with a maximum f2.8 aperture and near-silent STM motor, resulting in super-smooth AF performance and all-round adaptability.
This allows for additional creative freedom when experimenting with depth of field, with this affordable Canon RF-mount lens lending itself to everything from landscape photography to high-end vlogging.
Optical quality is generally very good. If you were to turn off the automatic distortion correction functionality in EOS R cameras then you’d notice some pretty significant barrel distortion, but the solution is to simply not do that. It is worth being aware though that the low price of the lens means it skimps on some features like weather-sealing and built-in stabilisation.
Canon’s EF mount has a long, storied history, having originally made its debut back in the 1980s in the days of film SLRs. It’s a big, sprawling system, with loads of fantastic lenses available both new and on the second-hand market. There are also lots of third-party options too, with manufacturers like Sigma and Tamron releasing compelling alternatives to the Canon-made optics. If you’re a Canon DSLR photographer, you’ll never be short of a good lens.
We’ve included both EF and EF-S lenses in this section of the guide – EF-S lenses are designed specifically for DSLRs with APS-C sensors, and won’t work with full-frame models. EF lenses, on the other hand, will work with both types, though larger ones may feel a little unbalanced on a smaller APS-C body. Some of the lenses in this section are a good few years old, but they all have two things in common – they’re cheap, and they produce fantastic images.
Canon EF-S 10-18mm f4.5-5.6 IS STM Lens
Save £25 when bought with selected Canon cameras
The Canon EF-S 10-18mm f4.5-5.6 IS STM Lens delivers a minimum focusing distance of 0.22m; allowing for exaggerated perspectives as you get closer to the subject. The lens is fitted with a 4-stop optical image stabiliser that makes the most of the lens shift-type system. This detects and corrects camera shake, facilitating great image quality even when shooting handheld in low-light conditions. The included stepping motor technology provides near-silent, continuous focusing for smooth and quiet video capture. Furthermore, all of these features are packed into a neatly compact and lightweight, ultra-wide-angle zoom lens.
- Useful wide zoom range
- Solid for close-ups
- Four-stop stabilisation
- APS-C only
- Not weather-sealed
A fine choice for when you want to get as much into the frame as possible, this lightweight wide-angle lens provides an effective focal length of around 16-29mm on the APS-C bodies for which it’s designed, suiting it to landscapes, architecture and interiors among other subjects.
The fact that it’s designed specifically for APS-C bodies allows it to be relatively compact and light, and it benefits from the company’s STM technology for fast focusing and quiet operation during movie recording. Be aware though that it isn’t compatible with full-frame EF DSLRs, meaning it may not be worth it if you plan to upgrade in the near future.
The four-stop image stabilisation system lends a hand when capturing images handheld at slower shutter speeds, while a 22cm minimum focusing distance means you can get close up to subjects and still maintain a wide-angle field of view. If you don’t need a lens that’s also compatible with full-frame cameras, this wide zoom is well worth adding to your shortlist.
Sigma 105mm f2.8 Macro EX DG OS HSM for Canon EF
The Sigma 105mm f2.8 Macro EX DG OS HSM is a high performance, large aperture medium telephoto macro lens that comes with an Optical Stabiliser (OS). The lens helps users to maintain an appropriate distance from the subject of their photos while still being able to take close-up images. It features SLD glass elements that provide fantastic control of aberration as well as a floating inner focus system that allows for high rendering throughout the focusing range. It is a true macro lens with a 1:1 magnification that produces stunning images.
- Terrific sharpness
- Outstanding macro-shooting capability
- 3-year warranty
- Canon counterpart has better autofocus
- … but not much to criticise otherwise!
With a 1:1 magnification factor, this Sigma lens qualifies as a 'true' macro lens, and is suitable for full-frame and APS-C Canon DSLRs. Its SLD glass controls aberration, while the Sigma's Hyper Sonic Motor also provides high-speed autofocus. If you prefer to do things manually, there is also full-time manual focus override.
With a generous f2.8 maximum aperture, especially considering the telephoto focal length, the Sigma 105mm f2.8 Macro EX DG OS HSM allows users to pick out their main subject in pin-sharp focus with a stylishly blurred background. Also on board is Sigma's Optical Stabilizer, which provides correction worth up to about four stops.
Creating a true macro telephoto with a large maximum aperture for a price like this is an amazing achievement – while getting a Canon-made lens equivalent will get you USM autofocus, most macro shooters will likely be using manual focus anyway.
Canon EF 50mm f1.4 USM Lens
The Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM lens is a must-have lens in your arsenal. The ‘nifty-fifty' has always been a versatile and useful lens to have and this one is no exception. It provides a pin sharp image and has a bright f1.4 aperture, perfect shallow depth of field and for low light conditions. All of this in a compact and rugged shell - This lens is a workhorse and will stand the test of time. It is suitable for both full-frame and APS-C DSLR camera bodies.
- Not much pricier than f1.8
- Very lightweight and portable
- Full-time manual focus override
- Not weather sealed
- Autofocus loses accuracy at large apertures
Canon's EF 50mm f1.4 USM lens is as compact and sturdy as the f1.8 version, but thanks to its larger maximum aperture it can create a shallower depth of field in images and is more capable in low light. Given that it's also available for a great price, it definitely merits inclusion here.
This is something of an oldie of a lens, dating back a couple of decades. You won’t find modern features like built-in stabilisation, but it’s a solid lens that handles the basics well. The ultrasonic motor (the 'USM' of the title) ensures fast focusing, with full-time manual focus override available if you prefer to make precise adjustments yourself. And indeed you may wish to do so, as it’s an older system and can sometimes be a little hit and miss, particularly when you’re working at the widest aperture settings.
Versatile and durable, at a size you can take everywhere, the 50mm f1.4 lens can swiftly become so reliable a companion that you wonder how you ever did without it.
Lensbaby Spark 2.0 Lens for Canon EF
The Lensbaby Spark 2.0 Lens builds on the original 2004's Lensbaby and effectively combines the original's unique process of focusing and tilting with an internally adjustable 12 blade aperture and compatibility with any of the 15 Optic Swap optics introduced by Lensbaby since 2008. It is also the first flexible Lensbaby lens body that is compatible with mirrorless system cameras. Add a little bit more mystery and magic into your photographs and movies with this flexible body lens and its unique squeeze to focus interface. Anyone can use this lens, from beginners to professionals, and experience the magic that the Lensbaby Spark 2.0 brings to any production.
- Unique “sweet-spot” focus effect
- Beautiful, dreamlike bokeh quality
- Tactile handling experience
- Particular “look” won’t suit all situations
- Requires fully manual operation
For something a little different, and an escape from the ongoing wars of who's got the sharpest lens, why not try a Lensbaby optic? These lenses are designed with priority given to creative expression and character rather than technical perfection, and the Spark 2.0 is a shining example of the firm's trademark tilt-shift look.
By physically bending the lens, you can manually set the point of focus in an image, and surround it with stylised blur that gives your images a dreamlike effect. Bokeh is the name of the game, and the 12-blade aperture on the Lensbaby Spark 2.0 ensures that its images are immediately striking.
The unique squeeze-to-focus mechanism also makes the lens fun and tactile to use, and the results you get are always striking. The lens is compatible with full frame and APS-C cameras, so users of all Canon DSLRs can try out the distinctive experience of Lensbaby photography.
Canon’s EOS M cameras may not be as glamorous as its full-frame flagship EOS R models, but they are enduringly, hugely popular, regularly selling gangbusters across the globe. The lens range is fairly small but plays to the series’ strengths, with lots of compact optics that provide a great deal of shooting flexibility in a small package. As the EOS M cameras are popular with vloggers, many EF-M lenses also boast video-friendly features like silent focusing.
EF-M lenses tend not to be too expensive, but some are cheaper than others. We’ve picked out a couple that we reckon provide great value for money, and would both work as an excellent choice of second lens for those looking to upgrade from the kit zoom.
Canon EF-M 28mm f3.5 Macro IS STM Lens
The Canon EF-M 28mm f3.5 Macro IS STM lens is the first macro to join the EF-M range and a world's first to feature built-in LED lights. Designed for EOS M users looking to explore the world of macro photography, this compact, lightweight lens offers a 45mm field of view (35mm equivalent) and has a true magnification ratio of 1:1, meaning the object you are shooting appears life size in your image. The pair of built-in miniature Macro Lite electronic flash units on the front of the lens illuminate close-up subjects, making it great for food and flower photography, as well as small objects with intricate details like jewellery.
- Unique built-in macro light
- Useful manual focus override
- Plastic lens mount
- Equiv. 45mm focal length quite short for macro
Sometimes, the best thing we can do is shut up for a change and let the customer reviews do the talking. So, here’s a shout-out to user “Ajaan Nick” from Cambridge, who purchased their Canon EF-M 28mm f3.5 Macro IS STM in early 2023 and wrote the following review, quoted here in its entirety:
“I bought this a month ago and was so excited that I took a photo of a nut.”
That pretty much says everything that needs to be said.
Seriously though, if you want to shoot macro on EOS M cameras, this lens is pretty much your only option, so it helps that it’s a great little optic. We particularly like its unique built-in LED light, allowing you to throw a little extra illumination on your close-up subjects when you need it.
The equivalent focal length is 45mm. This is a little short for macro lenses, which tend to cluster around the 100mm mark, so bear in mind you’ll have to get pretty close to your subjects.
Canon EF-M 55-200mm f/4.5-6.3 IS STM Lens
The Canon EF-M 55-200mm f/4.5-6.3 IS STM lens with EF-M mount is designed to bring you closer to the action. The lens is equipped with a 3.5-stop optical Image Stabiliser (IS) which prevents blur caused by camera shake and Canon's advanced Stepping Motor Technology (STM) to ensure smooth, quiet focusing when shooting movies. Its versatile zoom range brings distant subjects closer - great for wildlife, sports and travel photography. This lens is compatible with Canon's EOS M range of compact system cameras.
- Very light for such a big zoom
- Decent stabilisation
- Reliably snappy autofocus
- No weather seals
- No physical switches on barrel
This lens may offer a large telephoto zoom range, but it’s surprisingly light and dinky, as befitting the EOS M camera range. As such, the Canon EF-M 55-200mm f4.5-6.3 IS STM is an excellent travel lens, its effective 88-320mm focal range making it easy to bring distant subjects into sharp focus. You’re also helped along by the built-in stabilisation, which provides 3.5 effective stops of compensation. That may not sound like much compared to newer lenses, but it’s great to have in a pinch and is a useful way to eke a bit more life out of the lens when the light starts to fade.
This is a pretty simple lens – the barrel isn’t weather-sealed, and there are no physical switches to speak of. This means if you want to switch from manual to autofocus, or activate or deactivate stabilisation, you have to delve into the camera’s menus.
Canon EF-S 18-55mm f4-5.6 IS STM Lens
With a weight of just 215g, the Canon EF-S 18-55mm f4-5.6 IS STM Lens is a compact, standard zoom lens that's suitable for general purpose photography. It features a 4-stop image stabilisation system to prevent blur caused by camera shake, and a Stepper Motor (STM) autofocus for fast and quiet focusing. Its Super-Spectra Coating reduces flare and ghosting, delivering high-quality, clear images.
Sigma 30mm f1.4 DC HSM A Lens for Canon EF
The Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC HSM is a fast aperture f/1.4 lens with an angle of view similar to that of human vision. From 40cm (15.7") minimum focusing distance to infinity, this prime lens creates very sharp, vivid and detailed images and is suitable for cameras with an APS-C sensor. From an early stage, flare and ghosting are thoroughly measured to establish the design which is resistant to strong incident light such as backlight. Sigma's Super Multi-Layer Coating reduces flare and ghosting, and provides sharp and high contrast images even in backlit conditions. The HSM (Hyper Sonic Motor) provide quiet, high-speed auto-focus shooting, as well as full-time manual focus override, which is important for videographers and those who require precise control. The lens is ideal for beautiful bokeh, snap shots, portraits, landscapes and more.
Canon EF 50mm f1.8 STM Lens
The Canon EF 50mm f1.8 STM lens is the successor to the incredibly popular 50mm f1.8 II. Extremely compact and lightweight (160g), the lens features an improved optical design and stepping motor (STM) technology. Its wide f/1.8 maximum aperture and standard 50mm focal length makes it ideal for a wide variety of photographic genres, including travel, portraiture, and everyday creative snapshots.
Canon EF 85mm f1.8 USM Lens
The Canon EF 85mm f1.8 USM lens is a highly practical and creative medium telephoto lens. It features a bright, fast constant maximum aperture of f1.8, which delivers beautiful background blur and makes it ideal for shooting in low-light conditions. Its optical construction consists of 9 elements in 7 groups, with Super Spectra coatings to reduce ghosting and flare and produce sharp, clear images.
Samyang 8mm f3.5 Aspherical IF UMC Fisheye CS II Lens for Canon EF-S
The Samyang 8mm f3.5 Aspherical IF MC Fisheye CS II lens is designed to work with cameras that have an APS-C sensor. The lens delivers a 180-degree field of view and is great for special effects use where distortion, exaggerated perspective and extreme depth of field are desired. The construction of the lens is based on 10 elements placed in 7 optical groups. The lens features a removable lens hood which is designed to reduce flare to ensure maximum contrast and protect the lens from getting scratched. This lens is a manual focus lens and does not autofocus (AF).
How do I choose the right Canon lens for my camera?
When selecting a Canon lens, consider factors such as your photography style, budget, and desired focal length. Canon offers a wide range of lenses for different purposes, including wide-angle, telephoto, macro, and prime lenses. Additionally, check the compatibility of the lens with your camera model to ensure proper functionality.
What is the difference between EF and EF-S lenses for Canon?
Canon lenses come in two main categories: EF (Electro-Focus) and EF-S (Short back-focus). EF lenses are compatible with all Canon DSLR cameras, whereas EF-S lenses are designed specifically for cameras with APS-C sensor size. EF-S lenses are generally more affordable and compact but offer similar optical quality to EF lenses within their range.
What is image stabilisation (IS)?
Image stabilisation (IS) is a feature found in some Canon lenses that helps reduce camera shake and produce sharper images, particularly in low-light situations or when using slower shutter speeds. Canon offers two types of image stabilisation: in-lens stabilisation (IS) and in-camera stabilisation (IBIS). IS lenses have built-in stabilisation, while IBIS relies on the camera body's stabilisation system.
Can I use Canon lenses on other camera brands?
Canon lenses are primarily designed for Canon cameras and use the Canon EF or RF mount. However, with the use of lens adapters, it is possible to mount Canon lenses on some other camera brands. It's important to note that certain functionalities, such as autofocus and electronic communication, may be limited or not available when using Canon lenses on non-Canon cameras.
What does the "L" mean on Canon lenses?
The "L" on Canon lenses signifies the luxury or professional series of lenses. These lenses are known for their exceptional optical quality, durability, and advanced features. Canon's L-series lenses often incorporate high-grade glass elements, weather sealing, fast apertures, and superior image performance.