Four of the Best Value 35mm Lenses You Can Get

Four of the Best Value 35mm Lenses You Can Get

35mm lenses are great because they're so versatile, and are suitable for so many different scenarios and genres of photography. And the great thing is you can pick up some fabulous prime 35mm lenses for very affordable prices. Here are four of the best value ones on the market today. 

If you're anything like me, you love to explore all types of photography and hate to categorize yourself within any kind of constrictive boundaries. If that's the case, then you're always on the lookout for lenses that can be used in a wide variety of situations such as street photography, portraiture, landscape photography, architecture as well as many more. That's where 35mm lenses come to the fore in my opinion. They're not so wide that you start to get some wide angle distortion, but they're wide enough that they really do give you a lot of flexibility in the photographic and compositional choices you make when you're out shooting. However, perhaps because of their adaptability you tend to get a huge variation in prices between different lenses and different makers. So what are some of the best "bang for buck" 35mm lenses out there today?

Over on The Phoblographer, they've put a nice list together of four of the best your money can buy in terms of value, image quality, build, and weight. This is what they came up with:

  1. Fujifilm 23mm f/2 R WR. Note that although it's a 23mm lens, it becomes the equivalent of a 35mm when used on any Fujifilm X mount because of the 1.5x crop factor.
  2. Rokinon 35mm f/2.8 FE. Made for Sony mirrorless cameras, its price of barely $300 is its biggest attraction
  3. Canon 35mm f/2 IS USM. Great bokeh, IS and under $550.
  4. Tamron 35mm f/1.8 Di VC. Very fast, available for Canon, Nikon, Sony; around $600

Please click the link provided for more specific information. It's interesting to note how far third-party lenses have come in recent times and a lot of people are really starting to jump on board with makers like Tamron, Sigma and Rokinon.

If you're looking for a good, versatile lens that delivers consistently high quality and doesn't break the bank, you could do far worse than investing in a 35mm prime lens. These four here offer great starting points. Do you have any others you think should have made the list? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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49 Comments

Deleted Account's picture

Nikon 35mm F1.8G ED

"The Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G ED follows the footsteps of the budget-friendly enthusiast level line of f/1.8 lenses from Nikon. Its sharpness, microcontrast, color rendition and other optical qualities are very impressive for its price, making it another 'great value' addition to the already strong line of Nikkor lenses." ~ Nasim Mansurov

Rob Davis's picture

Yeah. If you care about AF performance it's always worth getting a Nikon branded lens. It's not that Sigma and Tamron can't do that well, but Nikon doesn't share it's AF data with them so they're all reverse engineered.

Deleted Account's picture

I thought Tamron had licensed it but Sigma hadn't. I don't have any problems with my Tamron lenses talking to my cameras but not in love with what they're saying. ;-)
No Sigmas. Nope. Nadda. Fuggetaboutit.

Rob Davis's picture

Ahhh it looks like you're right. It's Sigma that does this.

Matt Murray's picture

Even the DX 1.8 is pretty good considering how damn cheap it is. Surprised neither got a mention.

Deleted Account's picture

Agreed. Maybe the original article's author had no experience with either lens or Nikon as a whole so didn't think about them!? If I were to write such an article, I'd probably forget about Fuji, Olympus, Panasonic, et. al. Nothing wrong with them, just not on my radar.

Ricky Mckillips Jr.'s picture

Yeah for the price point and IQ, that Nikon DX 35mm is amazing. If I had to keep only one prime for my D500, it'd be the 35mm all day. I also shoot with my Fuji and the 35 f2 is a gem too.

Aaron B.'s picture

35mm is my goto lens for my D3400. However its technically the equivalent of a 53mm lens so I dont think it counts fully as a 35mm

Deleted Account's picture

Sorry but Rokinon is 600 usd not 300

Andy Day's picture

Well spotted. The link goes to the f/1.4 but should be pointing at the f/2.8. Will pass it on to the editors.

Iain Stanley's picture

Yes well spotted. Apologies for that. Will update the link ASAP.

Iain Stanley's picture

Fixed :)

David Pavlich's picture

I already own the Tamron and it pretty much stays on my camera.

Iain Stanley's picture

I'm fast beginning to use Tamron as my first go-to rather than Canon L's or anything else.

David Pavlich's picture

I bought mine when it first hit the market. What intrigued me is the 7 inch minimum focusing distance. But the more I used it, the more it remained on my camera. The Tap console hadn't been made yet, so I ended up sending it back to Tamron to have the firmware updated so that it could be used with the Tap.

Radit PU's picture

I also have Tamron, but there is a severe problem with chromatic aberration. Do I get defective items? Or just my technique when taking a picture.

David Pavlich's picture

This is a shot I did for a challenge about lines. It's a ho hum shot and done at f1.8 and it shows a little CA at the top center, but that's it. I didn't do a CA removal in Light Room, so I'm sure had I done so, that bit of fringing would have been eliminated. Suffice it to say, I haven't noticed severe CA.

Iain Stanley's picture

CA is a tough one. Some lenses purport to have none, yet they suffer CA in certain situations. Others are said to have terrible CA issues but turn out fine. Harsh light and scenes with heavy contrast put you at risk of CA

Ryan Luna's picture

I had a Canon 35 F2 IS for about a year. That lens is godly. 1-2 stops of vignetting at F2, but for portraits, that's fine. I used for landscapes as well, and at F/5.6 to F/11 it was the sharpest and best micro contrast lens i ever used....at the time.

Gion-Andri Derungs's picture

The Samyang/Rokinon 35mm f/2.8 FE is a great lens. It's in my opinion better than the Sony Zeiss 35mm f/2.8. It's half the price, the same size and quality. Only the AF is slightly faster with the Sony. I like this always-in-the-bag lens.

michaeljin's picture

Whil I agree that the Samyang 35mm f/2.8 is a great value and actually smaller than its Sony counterpart, the image quality is not the same.

Gion-Andri Derungs's picture

What in your opinion is the difference? In sharpness both are similar. I agree for the Bokeh, the Sony has the softer one. As you said, great value for the money. ;)

michaeljin's picture

The Samyang is about as sharp in the center of the frame, but it's less sharp mid-frame and in the corners. There's the bokeh difference, but that's a personal preference thing and I tend to keep my wide angles at around f/8 anyway so it doesn't matter to me. I also think that the Sony version produces better colors (again, a preference).

All in all, I don't believe that the Sony 35mm f/2.8 is worth anywhere near what it costs (it's actually pretty obscene what they're pricing that lens at given the competition), but it's definitely a better lens than the Samyang across the board.

_________

And important disclaimer here is that I've only tried one copy of the Samyang so it's entirely possible that the lens I tested was a bad copy. The company is known for having some QC issues that lead to a rather large variance in performance. If you do choose to purchase a lens from this company, you might want to get more than one and keep whichever one works best.

Rocco Eduardo Battista's picture

The Nikkor AF 35 F2 D is a true beast and it can be found used for 200 euros.

Martin Peterdamm's picture

it is not really sharp but the images it produces are magic, they have a unique 3d pop

Dana Goldstein's picture

Yes I was going to mention it! I switched systems but that was a hard one to give up. It has a real personality and shows the difference bt the older lenses that had character, and the cold, bloodless precision of newer lenses.

Jacques Cornell's picture

Rokinon 35/1.4 FE for Sony E-mount. Got one over the holidays for $500.

michaeljin's picture

Are we talking CHEAP or VALUE? I ask because I don't see how you can have a list of VALUE 35mm lenses without the Sigma 35mm ART. That thing punches WAY above its price.

Deleted Account's picture

In the case of Sigma, "value" is subjective. If you like to view photos at 100% and obsess over sharpness, absolutely. For everyone else, YMMV.

michaeljin's picture

Well, "value" is always subjective. The idea is that you're getting more for your money. In the case of a Tamron 35mm, are you actually getting more for your money or are you just getting your money's worth in the market?

In Sigma's case, you can argue that those ART lenses legitimately compete against lenses that are more than double their cost so there's a definite value argument to be had there. The lenses on this list are cheap, but I'm not really sure that they represent good value as far as "bang for your buck".

Frankly, if I was making this list, I'd probably be throwing in stuff like the NIKKOR 35mm f/2 D or other older lenses that you can pick up for cheap.

Deleted Account's picture

As subjective as photography gear is, due to the subjectivity of photography, I wouldn't attempt such a list. But if I did, you wouldn't see anything by Sigma or Sony, anywhere on it!!! :-D

michaeljin's picture

Personally, my list would either all be vintage lenses or, if I had to pick lenses currently available on the shelves new, there wouldn't be a single major manufacturer on the list.

You can't seriously make a "value" list and put up products that carry the Nikon, Canon, Fuji, Sony, etc. premium on them.

Almost by definition, value is going to lie in third party manufacturers.

Deleted Account's picture

I'm old and my vision sucks. The only manual focusing I can do is macro so, yeah...

Jeff McCollough's picture

I want to view my photos at 100% and see the cancer forming on people's faces haha.

Deleted Account's picture

:-) Maybe you can make extra money doing cancer screenings!

Jeff McCollough's picture

Good idea!

Iain Stanley's picture

Interesting point. Price will likely always be the primary factor when you talk "value", followed by other criterion. In regards to the Sigma Art question, it's an interesting quandary. Admittedly, I haven't used the Art 35mm but I do own the Art 50mm. Right now, I am extremely happy with it but holistically, do I think it's good value? At this point I'd have to say no.

Out of the box I had massive AF problems and missed focus issues (a very common issue for Art owners it seems). Thus I lobbed out $60 for the USB calibration dock and went through the 3 hour process of calibrating my lens at different distances.. Now it's absolutely perfect and I love it, but it's still $60 and hours of labour I'd rather not have expended.

Then you factor in the size and weight - I just went home from Japan to Australia for 3 weeks over Xmas/New Year. Unfortunately, I had to leave the Art 50mm at home coz it was too big, heavy and bulky for my travel needs and baggage allowance.

Make no mistake, the image quality is outstanding and when I'm home here in Japan it's always in my bag. But it's not a lens to travel with extensively and it had major AF issues to begin with so I'm not sold on its inherent value just yet. As I said at the beginning though, I can't comment on the 35mm which is a bit smaller and lighter than the 50mm.

Jeff McCollough's picture

I just bought the Tamron. Looking forward to working with it.

Iain Stanley's picture

Please let me/us know how it works out for you. I'm a happy owner of multiple Tamron lenses

Jeff McCollough's picture

I get it next week. I'll try to remember to reply here or DM you!

Benjamin Skrainka's picture

The Leica Summarit 35 mm f/2.4 is a relative budget in the Leica stable and produces stunning images for a fraction of the other lenses.

Chris Silvis's picture

Cropped sensored cameras subtract from the image. We should all know that. So heres a quick table on what a lense really sees with cropped sensors and the average price per mentioned lense.
35mm = 56mm, roughly $175usd
24mm = 38mm, +$550usd
20mm = 32mm, roughly $700usd

*all lenses are nikkor (new) and found on ebay*

Here in lies the problem, Im an amatuer photog and like to keep my expenses low(ish) but dont wanna substitute quality. So, bc I use a cropped sensor camera I have to pay more for the image Im trying to get. Oh the humanity😒

Iain Stanley's picture

Is there any particular reason you don’t move to FF?

Chris Silvis's picture

Well, To tell the truth Im actually looking for a good used ff camera. But raising 6 kids kinda puts a delay on any purchase like that.

Brian Valente's picture

since when is $600 a best value for a 35mm lens? you can get a used sigma 35mm 1.4 for about that price (just checked BH) and it kills over these, now there is some value!

Iain Stanley's picture

I think “new lens” is part of the criteria. But yeah, if you’re going “used”, there are fantastic deals out there

mike stringer's picture

HEYYYYY , I was going to mention my nik351/8,for 5300WOW....recently 8mm slr magic $129( damn paid $139jan19///on g1 pany ($79/12mpx/shoot w out lens//second hand/////8mm= 16 mm with clear fltr/52mm almost no distortion ( use 1 b4 infinity+f8=lock focus/////wider than 11-16 2/8 tokina/can by a bit....!!!!! WEIGHS NOTHING////looks good w polarizer Tooooooo…..………..mike//frm//can

mike stringer's picture

DID I SAY no curve//distortion on 8mm slr for m4/3rdsWOWWWWWWWWWWWWmike/frm/can

Vigil Mikape's picture

strange. I had the fujifilm XF 23mm f/2 and it was nothing special. size was not as good as the XF 35/2 and the quality of the copy I had (and sold again) was not better than my X100F lens...
yes, it's small, it's fast to focus and silent, but the IQ is mediocre...