While Canon has no shortage of fantastic, versatile lenses for both their DSLR and mirrorless mounts, sometimes us photographers want to venture out and try something new. Whether it’s to try out a unique lens that Canon may not offer or simply to save money, third-party lenses are solid options to help you get that perfect shot.
Some third-party companies have truly made a name for themselves as premier lens manufacturers, such as Sigma. Other companies aren’t as well-known but offer impressive lenses at great prices.
To help you find the perfect lens, we’ve put together a list of the best third-party lenses under $500 for Canon! You shouldn’t have to spend thousands on a new lens if you’re new to photography or aren’t planning a professional career, and fortunately with third-party lenses, you don’t have to.
1. Irix 15mm f/2.4 Firefly (Overall Winner)
The Irix 15mm f/2.4 Firefly is our top choice of the best third-party lenses under $500 for Canon, and it’s easy to see why. The unique 15mm prime focal length and ultra-wide-angle capturing makes this lens ideal for rich, stunning landscapes and architectural photos. The Firefly is versatile and adaptable, making it a must-have for your camera bag.
If you’ve heard of the Irix 15mm f/2.4 Firefly, chances are you’ve also heard of its counterpart, the Irix 15mm f/2.4 Blackstone. While the optics and capabilities are the same between the two lenses, the Blackstone has a premium metal housing, deeper engravings, and added weatherproofing. However, those higher-end features also come with a higher-end price tag.
The low f/2.4 aperture makes this lens great for low-light situations and capturing stunning depth of field. The Irix 15mm f/2.4 Firefly also has a minimum focusing distance of under one foot, allowing you to get close to your subjects while capturing a wide-angle photo with tons of details.
If you’re new to photography, this lens is manual-focus only, which may take some getting used to. However, there is a focus lock option once you’ve honed in on your ideal settings.
2. Rokinon 20mm f/1.8 ED AS UMC
Another fantastic third-party lens, the Rokinon 20mm f/1.8 ED AS UMC offers a great focal length similar to the Irix on our list. At 20mm, this wide-angle lens can capture stunning landscape, architecture, and street photos. The impressive f/1.8 aperture lets in tons of light, making this a great night photography lens.
The Rokinon is also a manual-only focus lens and offers the shooter the ability to be just over six inches away in order to focus on the subject. The close minimum focal distance lets you capture unique shots while still getting wide angles in the photo without distortion.
3. Laowa 105mm f/2 Smooth Trans Focus (STF)
Another strong prime lens, the Laowa 105mm f/2 STF is a very versatile lens that will let you take stunning portraits as well as wildlife photography. The 105mm focal length gives you good telephoto capabilities while still allowing you to take close-up photos. With an aperture of f/2, you’ll also get stunning bokeh!
While it’s larger than the first two lenses on our list, it isn’t too cumbersome like some other telephoto lenses. The focal ring is extremely smooth, making it easy to navigate the manual-only focus lens. The Laowa 105mm f/2 STF also has a 14-blade aperture ring that highlights the exceptional bokeh capabilities. Whether you’re a portrait photographer or a landscape photographer, you should definitely give this lens a try.
4. Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro Art
Anyone who’s researched third-party lenses for their camera has almost certainly come across Sigma. One of the most popular third-party lens brands, the Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro Art lens is exceptional for both portraits and macro photography. The 70mm focal length is ideal for portraits and street photography.
Designed to capture smooth bokeh with minimal ghosting and flare, the Sigma 70mm f/2.8 creates a very dramatic depth of field. It’s tough to find a dedicated macro lens that opens as wide as f/2.8 in this price range, making it a solid lens for any photographer. While most kit lenses will allow you to take macro shots, this lens can significantly step up your macro game!
5. Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II VC HLD
Our first non-prime lens on the list, the Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II VC HLD is a very affordable lens that is extremely versatile. The low focal point makes it a great option for wide-angle landscape shots that will capture every detail of your scene.
The maximum focal length of 24mm is also great for unique portrait shots as well as street photography and interior photography. While the aperture could be better (the maximum aperture is only f/3.5), you’ll still be able to use this lens in fairly low-light situations.
The Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 is a step up from your kit lens without breaking the bank. If you’re interested in testing out different focal lengths, this lens is a great option.
6. Meike 85mm f/1.8 (Budget Winner)
The most affordable option of best third-party lenses under $500 for Canon is the Meike 85mm f/1.8. This impressive lens has a focal length that can be used for portraits, landscapes, and product photography.
The maximum aperture of f/1.8 provides creamy bokeh, and the nine-blade aperture ring creates ultra-smooth shots. This lens isn’t built for macro photography, but the minimum focal distance of just under three-feet allows you to get close enough to your subject for an interesting depth of field. The Meike 85mm f/1.8 is also auto-focus capable, making it a great lens for new photographers!
Trying Out Third-Party Lenses for Canon
As you can see, there are tons of great third-party lenses for Canon that are under $500. You don’t need to spend a ton of money on a single lens to get great photos. Once you try out different focal lengths, apertures, and brands, you’ll see just how valuable a third-party lens can be.
Look for lenses with a maximum aperture of f/3.5 or lower to shoot in low-light situations or if you’re interested in creating stunning bokeh. While we love a good prime lens, there are some third-party options that will give you plenty of versatility across multiple focal lengths.
In order to keep costs down, most third-party lenses under $500 for Canon are manual focus only. While that can be tricky for a new photographer, all you’ll need is a little practice to master these solid third-party options!