Congrats on getting your first mirrorless camera! We’re sure that you can’t wait to get out and create with it. It’s more than likely that your camera came with a kit lens or two. While these lenses are fine to start with, you’ll soon outgrow them. Not sure where to turn next? Don’t worry, we’re here to help you decide what prime lenses you should buy first.

We know. The lens market is a daunting one. There are so many options to choose from and some of the prices can be pretty scary. However, many prime lenses on the market offer much-improved optics over those found in your kit lens and they won’t break the bank. Below, we’ll talk about affordable 24mm, 35mm, 50mm and 85mm primes that will help you take your photography to the next level and we’ll link to the lens options we highly recommend for most of the popular mirrorless camera brands.

Why buy prime lenses?

This is a very good question. Ask any photographer who has been around for a while and they’ll tell you that prime lenses not only offer superior optics compared to zoom lenses but that they will also help you become a better photographer faster. Why? Because you won’t be able to rely on a zoom to get the shot. You’ll need to think about angles, positioning and image composition a lot more than you would with a prime. Because of this, you’ll develop your photographer’s eye much quicker than you would by using zooms.

Prime lenses also open up many doors than zoom lenses thanks to their faster apertures. You can get affordable prime lenses with apertures as fast as f/1.8 that will allow you to create bokeh and that will make shooting in low light situations easier as well. There are just so many pros to prime lenses. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t add prime lenses to your kit. They compliment zooms so well.

24mm prime lenses let you capture the world around you

If you find that you use your kit lens on the wider end of things, you’ll likely find that 24mm primes lenses will be a good match for you. These prime lenses are small and lightweight. They also have incredibly sharp optics which makes them great for genres like documentary photography, architecture, landscapes, cityscapes, environmental portraits and more. Thanks to the fast apertures of these lenses you can even use them to create astrophotography as well. They’re a handy lens to have around.

  • Sony E mountTamron 24mm f/2.8 Di III OSD: Small, light, weather sealed and has great optics or under $200! It’s hard to go wrong with this choice.
  • M/43Olympus 12mm (24mm equiv) f/2.0: Small (just 2.2 inches), all metal build, bitingly sharp and fast to focus. It’s perfect for micro four-thirds shooters.
  • Nikon ZVILTROX 24mm f/1.8 Z. Full autofocus compatibility, bright f/1.8 aperture, nicely constructed and under $450.
  • L MountSigma 24mm f/3.5 DG DN: Gorgeous construction, all metal, aperture dial, incredibly sharp, some weather sealing (available for E mount too). See our full review.
  • Fujifilm XFujfiilm 16mm f/2.8 R WR (24mm equiv): Weather sealed, vintage styling with aperture dial, fast and quiet autofocus, under $400! It’s a steal!

35mm primes are perfect for every day photography

prime lenses

Do you want one lens that will let you do it all? A 35mm prime will be a good choice for you. 35mm prime lenses can be used for landscapes, cityscapes, portraits, events, weddings, documentary and food photography. They’re also the perfect lens to use for everyday photography. You can photograph virtually anything with a 35mm prime. They are typically small, light and offer bright maximum apertures. The options below are all razor-sharp, they focus fast and they’ll let you experiment with many genres of photography.

  • Sony E mountTamron 35mm f/2.8 Di III OSD: It’s fully weather sealed, has great optics and is a fast focuser! It’s also under $200!
  • M4/3Olympus 17mm f/1.8 (34mm equiv): This lens is a stunner. It’s tiny, it’s a fast focuser, it’s crazy sharp and can focus as close at 9.8 inches. It’s under $400!
  • Nikon ZNikon Z 35mm f/1.8 S: This lens is a little pricier but it’s hard to beat. It’s wonderfully constructed, it’s weather sealed and offers extreme sharpness
  • Canon RFCanon RF 35mm f/1.8 IS Macro: As close to L series as you can get. This lens is a gem. It’s sharp, it has macro capabilities, fast/silent focusing and it’s under $400!
  • L mountSigma 35mm f/2 DG DN: Another all metal lens from Sigma. The 35mm f/2 DG DN offers protection from the elements, it has brilliant optics and is fun to use. Read our full review.
  • Fujifilm X23mm f/2 R WR (35mm equiv): This lens doesn’t disappoint. It’s fully weather sealed, has the gorgeous Fujifilm retro style, it’s blazing fast when autofocusing and it creates nice bokeh.

50mm primes offer a natural field of view

prime lenses

A good nifty fifty should be in every photographer’s arsenal because they offer a natural field of view. What you see with a 50mm prime is roughly what we see with our own eyes. They’re great for street photography, portraits and beyond. Like the other primes listed, these lenses are extremely sharp, they offer bright maximum apertures and because of the extra compression that’s created, you can make some beautiful bokeh with them. On top of this, 50mm primes are some of the most affordable around.

  • Sony E mountRokinon 50mm f/1.4: This lens is a stunner It has fast autofocus motors! You’ll be creating incredibly sharp images with buttery bokeh in no time! It’s under $400!
  • M4/3Panasonic Lumix 25mm, f/1.7: Small (2 inches long), it’s light (0.31lbs), it has a bright aperture and its lighting quick thanks to its stepping motor. It’s under $150!
  • Nikon ZNikon Z 50mm f/1.8 S: I love this lens. It’s everything a nifty fifty should be and then some. Read all about it in our full review. Oh, it’s under $600!
  • Canon RFRF 50mm f/1.8 STM: Talk about a bargain. This cracker of a lens is under $200. It’s one of my favorite mirrorless nifty fifties. So much fun! Read our full review.
  • L mountPanasonic 50mm f/1.8 S: Panasonic full-frame L mount weather sealed prime lenses are brilliant. Sharp, light, fast, well made and affordable (under $450)! What more could you need?
  • Fujifilm XXF35mm f/2 R WR: The 35mm (50mm equivalent) lens of the Fujifilm holy f/2 trinity is great! It looks stunning, creates gorgeous images and costs less than $400.

85mm primes will take your portraits to a new level

Do you want to take your portrait photography to the next level? If so, it’s hard to go wrong with any of the 85mm prime lenses listed below. 85mm primes are perfect for portraits because they create just enough compression to give your subjects flattering facial features. You can create gorgeous head and shoulder and headshots with tons of subject separation (bokeh) with ease.

  • Sony E mountSony 85mm f/1.8: This might just be one of the best bang for your buck portrait lenses on the market! You couldn’t ask for more at this price (under $600)
  • M4/3Panasonic 42.5MM, f/1.7: Panasonic makes stunning lenses that won’t break the bank. This one is sharp, contrasty, creates gorgeous bokeh and costs under $400!
  • Nikon ZNikon Z 85mm f/1.8 S: Another winner from Nikon! This 85mm prime is brilliant in every way. It’s one of the best budget portrait lenses on any mirrorless platform.
  • Canon RFCanon RF 85mm f/2: With IBIS, you can get up to 5 stops of stabilization. It doubles as a macro lens, and the control ring lets you customize it to your shooting style. It’s under $600!
  • L mountPanasonic Lumix 85mm f/1.8 S: This is a wonderful lens. It’s tack sharp, it renders gorgeous colors, autofocus is fast and accurate and it’s wallet friendly (under $600). Read our full review here.
  • Fujifilm XViltrox 56mm F1.4 f XF with autofocus (84mm equiv): There are some great budget lenses for Fujifilm cameras and this one from Vilrox is one of them. It has great autofocus capabilities, a super bright f/1.4 maximum aperture which creates beautiful bokeh, and it’s nice and small. Affordable? You bet! It’s under $350!