So you got yourself a camera. That’s great! But you’re looking to upgrade from your kit lens into something that might give off a sharper or more interesting look. But they can be a pretty expensive investment. Can be, but doesn’t have to be. There are some good quailty lenses out there that can be aquired for pretty cheap, if you are willing to go the vintage route like I personally do. I will also recommend a modern mount lense as well. All these lenses can be aquired for less than $150 per lens.
Disclaimer: This article is going to include affiliate links to Amazon.com and Ebay. If you decide to use these links to buy something, I will recieve a commission at no additional cost you.
1.The Nifty Fifty. (50mm F1.8) Available in Canon EF, Sony E, Canon FD, and other mounts
No matter what camera you use. Canon, Nikon, Sony, Panasonic. Modern or Vintage. There is a likely chance that there is a lens at 50mm with a F-Stop of 1.8 (Which brings in a lot of light) that can fit it. . 50mm has been my go to lens to use for shots where I want a shallow deph of field (blurry background) and want a middle ground between wide and telephoto. Admittingly, I have mostly used the F1.4 version of Canon 50mm for things like weddings, but if I had to decide all over again, I’d probably save a couple hundred and go with an F1.8 Version (Not the Canon EF Version cause I personally don’t care for how small the focus ring is on it). You easily find them on ebay for under $100. Heck, I’ve seen a number of them go for barely over $50. So picking one up for your kit should be a no brainer. Although, the Sony E-Mount lens is closer to $200 new, but fortunately 7artisans makes one for Sony’s E mount for $90.
2.Vivitar 19mm F3.8 Available in M42, Pentax K Mount, and others.
This one I’m going to streatch the rules a little bit because the price for how much it goes for on ebay will depend on the mount itself. I personally own the M42 mount version of it and was able to get it for under $100. I also did a video review about if you’re interested in watching it.
This lens ends up being my go to for talking head stuff in my youtube videos, and I ended up using it quite a bit on my short film: The Robotic Horseman. Note to self: Just release the short film already!
3.Mir 1B 37mm F2.8 Available in M42 Mount
This is another lens I found myself using a lot for not only my short film: The Robotic Horseman, but also an ad for a show I’m involved in: The Early Late Night Live Show. I love this lens, but there are a few things about it that do frustrate me. But first: What I like about it. It has a fast stop of F2.8 (Not as fast as a nift fifity, but still pretty good), it has a nice pleasing look to it, and it has a long focus throw. Which is perfect for getting focus exact. Now for the downside. Most lenses has the aputure control near the body of the camera and the focus ring near the front of the lens. It is reverse on this lens and when I was using it on my canon T3i, it was a little frustrating to set it up to a follow focus. I don’t have that problem anymore since upgrading to the Sony A6400, but it’s still something to keep in mind.
4.Canon FD 35-105mm F3.5 Available in Canon FD Mount
This one is only recommended if you use a mirrorless camera due to the nature in which the lens has to be adapted for modern cameras. Out of all the vintage lenses I’ve gotten to mess around with, this has quickly become one of my favorites due to the versatility it offers if using it on Sony’s E mount, or any other mirrorless mount for that matter. If I ever do a lens guide for under $500, one lens I recommend all day would a 24-105 due to the zoom range is can cover with a constant aperture. This lens is basically a vintage version of that. Although it does some quirks to it I’m planning on mentioned on a future video about this lens. (So subscribe to the Thorndike Productions Youtube Channel in you’re interested in that.), it is very versatile for the price and zoom range and I’m glad I bought it.
But after everything is said and done, what matters is how you use this lens, so make sure to go out and make the investment worth wild.