With our camera gift guide taken care of, we’re on to the next piece of gear you’ll be needing – lenses.
For part two of our round-up, we’ve gathered some of the best glass from both first party and third party manufacturers. From smartphone lens attachments to the classic ‘Thrifty Fifty,’ we have you and your Christmas shopping list covered.
It’s hard to improve upon a classic, but Canon did it earlier this year when they finally launched the third iteration of their ‘Thrifty Fifty.’ This new lens brings along a host of welcomed improvements over its predecessor, most notably a metal lens mount and Canon’s Stepping Motor (STM) technology, which creates a far more quiet autofocus movement. At $125, it’s one of the best lenses you can buy for the money.
So, you want a wide, fast and sharp lens for your Nikon camera without breaking the bank? This beauty should get the job done. While not as fast as its f/1.4 predecessor, this wide-angle prime is one of the most impressive lenses Nikon has put out in some time from a cost-to-quality standpoint.
Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art – $949 (B&H)
Sigma’s ART lenses have made quite the impact in the photography world with impressive construction quality and sharpness on par, or above what most third party lenses offer. Their 50mm f/1.4 is no exception, with some even comparing it to Zeiss’ Milvus lens. Considering it comes in mounts for Canon, Nikon, Sony and Sigma cameras, it’s a no-brainer for any photographer looking to up their mid-range game.
Coming in at a 14–28mm equivalent on a full frame camera, this wide-angle kit lens of sorts is an incredible starting point for any Olympus owner. As a bonus, the lens has a splash-proof design and offers a 7.5cm minimum focusing distance, making it great for close-up shots.
Samsung’s NX-series might not be around for much longer, but if you’ve already invested in the system, you might as well have some good glass. This 24.6–77mm full frame equivalent is a wonderful kit lens to get you started with almost any situation you throw its way. I spent some time with this lens shooting a hockey game earlier this year and combined with the NX1’s impressive framerate, it was a beast for getting those wide-angle action shots along the boards.
Like its 50mm sibling, Canon dramatically improved upon an industry classic with the latest version of its 35mm f/1.4 lens. For this second iteration, Canon improved upon almost every weakness of the first edition, most notably chromatic aberrations. To do this, Canon uses what they call Blue Spectrum Refractive Optics – a fancy name for a plastic resin of sorts that better fills the gap between optical elements. If the reviews are anything to go by, this beauty is well worth its price tag.
(but…. we are going to be extra nice here and even if you don’d own a big heavy camera, here are some options for you smartphone photographers)
Arguably the biggest name in smartphone lenses, Olloclip has carved out its niche in offering considerably affordable lenses to improve smartphone photography. They offer a multitude of options, including fisheye, wide-angle, telephoto, and multiple levels of macro lenses. You can purchase each setup individually or bring them all together in their 4-in–1 lens.
Moment Smartphone Lenses – $100
These probably aren’t what you were thinking about when we said we’d be sharing our favorite lenses of the year, but for mobile photographers who want to get the most out of their smartphones, Moment lenses are some of the best in the business. Currently, Moment has a Telephoto, Macro and Wide lens, each of which costs $90.
There’s a lot of glass to choose from. Hopefully we’ve helped narrow down your choices at least a little bit. What lenses would you like to see added to the list?
Let us know in the comments below and don’t forget to keep an eye out for our three other upcoming gift guides!