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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48 Comments

user-156929'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.

user-156929'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.

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

user-156929'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.

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

Martin Nesvarbu'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.

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.

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.

Michael Jin'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. ;)

Michael Jin'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.

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.

Michael Jin'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.

user-156929'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.

Michael Jin'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.

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