While there are many components that go into making a camera, the lens stands out from the rest. It is the single most important factor for capturing a high-quality image. As such, finding the best possible camera lens should be any photographer’s primary consideration when it comes to crafting the perfect camera.
In order to save you the struggle of sifting through every imaginable camera lens, we’ve assembled the best camera lenses that money can buy.
Comparison of the Best Camera Lenses
How We Chose Our Ratings
As with all pieces of technology, camera lenses consist of a variety of features, some of which are designed for specific users. Because of this, it can sometimes be difficult to parse out which lenses are superior on a black-and-white value scale
For this reason, we chose these particular lenses based on the most comprehensive criteria possible, going beyond the features of the device, but without leaving them behind. Even the more subjective aspects of a lens can be useful in accruing a net value.
Among these criteria is user reviews, professional reviews and price. Reviews, both professional and unprofessional, are tantamount in completing the picture of any product, as there are some aspects that the company might not spotlight in their marketing.
Usually, these aspects are negatives, but consumers can sometimes discover uses for a product that the company never imagined.
It should also be noted that lenses are designed for specific cameras, so not all of the lens listed will be compatible with your camera – Leica lenses are for Leica cameras, etc. However, there are adapters available, if you’d like to go that route.
4 Best Camera Lenses for High-Quality Photos
By objectively averaging out the lenses’ features, researching reviews and comparing price points, we were able to assemble this list of the best camera lenses on the marketplace.
This list is ordered from best to worst, although “worst” isn’t the best way to put it. Because these are the best of the best, even the lens on the bottom of the list is a premium pick. You can do no wrong here.
With the housekeeping out of the way, here are the 4 best camera lenses currently available.
With so many great camera lenses on the market, it’s impressive that the Nikon NIKKOR Z was able to beat them all out.
It did so based partially on its uncanny ability to take extremely sharp images, and not just using a focus point. From the center to the edges, the entire picture exhibits a crispness rarely seen in photography, even if the edges are a bit softer than the center.
If you’re a beginner photographer and don’t know what the numbers mean, a 35mm camera refers to the wideness of the picture. The smaller the number, the less wide. As for the f/1.8 – that refers to the aperture, or the amount of light that the lens lets in – the bigger the number, the more light.
Some might look at the lens and think it’s a tad bland or brutish. But what the lens lack in physical flair, it makes up for in durability and practicality. Dropping this lens shouldn’t be an issue –though you should still be careful, of course – and the tight seals should protect against any moisture.
A new feature to Nikon’s line of lenses is the customizable control ring, which allows for instant aperture control and exposure compensation. Naturally, it also allows for the standard, manual focusing.
While all of these features and positives won’t come cheap – the lens will set you back – this is the ideal lens for the photographer who’s serious about his or her craft and is willing to pony up. Consumers tend to agree, with the lens currently holding a perfect score on Amazon. Specifically, people seem to enjoy the focal length, the solid build and the “fantastic” color saturation.
As a full disclaimer, the Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f/2.8 ASPH is one of the most expensive camera lenses on the market.
Thankfully, you get what you pay for. This is an update to the 2016 model, which was already a fantastic lens. While it doesn’t have any obvious new features, it improves on
many of the previous model’s specs.
There are also some design changes, such as the addition of a “beauty ring” to mask the hood. Overall, the construction of the lens remains strong and durable, so taking your camera out on a hike isn’t a life-or-death situation.
As far as picture quality goes, the lens captures crisp frames, while the outer edges experience a slight downgrade, as is usual for many lenses. Another reason for the high-price point is that it attaches to Leica cameras, which are some of the most premium cameras on the market. So, if you’ve already put down the cash for the camera, spending so much on a lens shouldn’t seem too absurd for you.
In fact, in comparison with other Leica lenses, this is actually one of the more affordable models. Consumers don’t seem to mind the price, speaking highly of the sharpness in the center of the frame.
However, if you already have the 2016 model, some users don’t think the improvements are drastic enough for an upgrade. If you don’t have the 2016 model, however, this could be the lens for you.
Released in September, the HD Pentax-D FA* 50mm F1.4 has already begun impressing people.
Because it’s a 50mm lens, which means it captures a wider picture than the other lenses on this list, it also happens to be a bit on the bulkier side, weighing a little over two pounds. Nonetheless, a carrying case is included with the purchase.
On the lens is a toggle for switching between autofocus and manual focus, but it’s otherwise sparse. However, it is remarkably weather-resistant, so if you’re interested in taking shots in the rain, you don’t have to worry about any moisture seeping into the lens.
As with all the other lenses on this list, the images are extremely crisp, as you would expect for a lens that costs this much. Consumers might also be interested in the fact that this lens has one of the quickest autofocuses of any lens.
This is an important ability, as every photographer knows that the perfect image is fleeting – the slightest hesitation by you or your camera could cost you perfection. Because the lens is so new, there aren’t many user reviews to use as reference. Amazon, for instance, only has one review available. For what it’s worth, it is a perfect score.
However, there have been some professional reviews, some of which have given the lens their “editor’s choice” ranking, which means it’s one of the best. In particular, they point out the quick autofocus and the weather-resistance as being its most notable features.
The Fujifilm Fujinon XF 200mm F2 R LM OIS WR might be the most impressive lens on
this list, but it’s also absurdly expensive. Due to this massive price, which is expensive even for professional photographers, the lens is difficult to recommend to the average person.
However, its performance is undeniable, which makes it one of the best lenses currently on the marketplace. As with the other cameras, the image is as crisp as it is currently possible with technology, and the edges of the frame only suffer slightly.
From purely a design perspective, which is important to some photographers, the lens is almost entirely white, which sets it apart from other lenses. In other words, this is the lens that attracts questions from bystanders, and maybe an “ooh” or “ahh.”
However, this white look isn’t just for show. According to some professional photographers, it can actually reflect sunlight and keep the lens barrel from heating up. It’s also completely weather-resistant, as there are internal seals which prevent dust and moisture from infiltrating your lens. It would be a shame for the lens to be destroyed by a single drop of water.
In terms of functionality, the lens features a number of controls, such as aperture adjustment, a manual focus ring and a toggle for autofocus. Interestingly, the camera also comes with an easily accessible tripod foot, so you can alternate between handheld photography and stationary photography faster than a normal tripod can allow.
Critics appear to enjoy the Fujifilm Fujinon XF 200mm F2 R LM OIS WR, as well. Of its many features, they give special accolades to the bright aperture and the weather resistance. The downside that always comes up is the price, however.
Buyer’s Guide for Camera Lenses: Price, Picture Quality and Durability
If the camera lenses listed above are too expensive for you or they don’t include a particular feature, you may be tempted to enter the jungle of the marketplace all by yourself. Before you go, you should have a map of useful information that can guide you to the right product.
For lenses, your first consideration is going to regard the brand. If you have a Nikon camera, you’re going to be restricted to Nikon lenses, assuming you don’t have an adapter. From here, two considerations will need to be balanced: picture quality and price. While a high price doesn’t necessarily equal a quality product, a quality lens to going to be more expensive than the alternative.
You need to figure out on your own how much you’re willing to spend and what you want in a lens. For some, the sharpest image might not warrant spending thousands of dollars. For others, it’s the best or nothing. It’s also important to remember that lenses come in various models, some offering a wider picture, while others offer more extensive zoom capabilities.
Depending on how you’re going to use your lens, you should pay attention to durability. Is the lens okay in the rain? What if I drop it? How easily will it break? These are all important questions, unless you’re only taking pictures of fruit baskets.
As with any product, a fair amount of research is not only encouraged, but necessary. You need to know what the product is like in the hands of everyday consumers. Sure, the actor in the commercial looks really happy, but that’s meaningless.
The Best Camera Lenses Could Be Yours
Whether you make a hobby or a living out of taking photos, the quality of your lens is going to be an instrumental factor in getting the pictures you want. In many ways, the lens is the weapon to your camera’s solider – one without the other is useless, but together they become something formidable.
Thanks to the internet and the widespread nature of information, finding the best camera lenses isn’t the trial-and-error process it used to be. With lists like this one, you can easily parse out the good from the bad. You can bypass the product’s marketing and get straight to the facts.
You could even say this list offers the sharpest picture of the products, as opposed to the blurry images put out by the companies themselves.