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Amazon Prime Day could be the perfect time to buy a camera lens

A range of camera lenses
(Image credit: Future)

Camera discounts are usually a big part of the Amazon Prime Day deals, but if you're already happy with your DSLR or mirrorless camera body, then camera lenses are the real draw. 

Despite generally flying under the radar during the shopping event, which this year takes place from June 21-22, we expect to see some excellent Prime Day lens deals this year. Judging by last year’s haul, we can expect Canon, Sony, Nikon, Fujifilm and Panasonic bargains, along with some choice third party brands, with as much as 35% off. 

We’re going to look back for clues as to what we might see this year. Amazon Prime Day 2021 kicks off very soon, so here are the possible camera lens deals we can expect to see this year.

Prime time for Canon lens discounts

Last Prime Day we saw raft of excellent discounts on Canon EF mount lenses, the kind used by EOS-family DSLRs. 

The one we’d typically recommend to the DSLR user after a second lens is the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM. It’s a great affordable portrait lens with pleasant bokeh at an affordable price. A significant 23% discount last year makes this one to watch during this year's Prime Day.

Canon EF 16-35 mm f/4L IS USM

(Image credit: Canon)

Canon’s EF 16-35 mm f/4L IS USM Lens also offered one of the most significant discounts last year, of 32%. This is not a cheap lens but has great built-in stabilization, which partly makes up for a narrower maximum aperture than you would see in a prime at this price. It’s a great all-rounder for landscape and wedding photography. And the f/4 is constant across the zoom range. 

The Canon EF 24-105 mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM is another one to watch. It sold at 35% off last Prime Day, and has huge zoom versatility and baked in stabilization. 

However, what we really want to see during Prime Day 2021 is deals for RF-series lenses, the kind used by Canon’s full-frame mirrorless cameras like the Canon EOS R6. Several of these lenses were not even available last Prime Day, so we're hoping to see some price cuts this year.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

(Image credit: Canon)

Is it a pipe dream to hope nearly-new lenses will go on sale when the classic Prime Day and Black Friday lens deals are typically for lenses that have been floating around for the better part of a decade? Perhaps, but we’re going to keep an eye out regardless. 

Top picks to look out for include the Canon RF 50mm F1.8 STM, an affordable and extremely sharp prime that works well for portraits and street photography, and only weighs 160g. 

However, we may have better luck with a lens like the Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 Macro IS STM. This was announced alongside the original EOS R in 2018, and is a highly versatile piece of glass, for a prime lens. It’s an obvious choice for an all-rounder if you want something wider than the 50mm. 

This lens did not go on sale last Prime Day, but it did around Christmas, suggesting the time for further discounts on this 2018 lens may finally be upon us. Fingers crossed. 

What about Sony and Nikon?

Sony does not have the same issue as Canon, because the E-mount lenses for its popular full-frame mirrorless cameras have been around for years. 

Top Prime Day discounts to watch out for on the APS-C side include the Sony 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS, Sony Vario-Tessar T* E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS and Sony E 10-18mm f/4 OSS. Meanwhile, the ones to keep an eye on for full-frame camera owners are the Sony FE 50mm f/1.8, Sony FE 85mm f/1.8 and Sony FE 28mm f/2 for full-frame owners.

All six of these saw real discounts of 20% and upwards last prime day. Which would we like the most? If we were out for a kit lens upgrade without spending too much, it would have to be the Sony FE 50mm f/1.8. It's a prime lens, so forces you to approach your photography a little differently, and the wide maximum aperture is perfect for portraits.

Sony 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 OSS

(Image credit: Sony)

We noticed fewer Nikon lens deals last year during Prime Day, but there were a couple of tasty picks we hope to see reappear. The Nikon Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 sold for well under half its RRP, which makes sense when you realize it is also sold as a kit lens. 

Look out for the Nikon Z50 f/1.8 if you’d prefer a higher-quality prime. This lens is not actually in stock at Amazon at the time of writing, but it sold at just under 30% off last year.

Nikon Nikkor Z 14-30mm f/4S

(Image credit: Nikon)

Even now in the days before Prime Day 2021, you can get a solid 16-18% discount off the Nikon NIKKOR Z 14-30 mm f/4 S. It dropped to this level last year during Prime Day and over the Christmas period, suggesting it may be the lowest we’ll see this top-quality lens during Prime Day 2021. 

Its sharpness if excellent and the lens’s small size makes it approachable. Just make sure you’re fine with the not-that-wide maximum aperture, and some vignetting (which can of course be fixed in post).

Don’t write off Fujifilm and Panasonic price cuts

Fujifilm fan? As ever, Fujifilm camera bundles tend to attract what few column inches Fuji achieves over Prime Day. It doesn’t help that many Fujinon lenses are the best part of a decade old at this point, but great lenses don’t age.

Top discounts from last year include around 15% off the terrific Fujinon XF56mm f/1.2 during Prime Day and a similar reduction on the Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R closer to Black Friday.

Fujifilm XF56mm f/1.2

(Image credit: Fujifilm)

You really have to hunt Fujifilm lens deals down. The discounts aren’t as eye-popping as some, but considering these lenses tend to stick rigidly to their standard pricing much of the year, they are still worth considering.

Fujifilm owners may get bigger discounts from third-party lens brands like Viltrox. The Chinese manufacturer makes some great-value primes for the X-series, like the Viltrox 85mm f/1.8 AF, so we're hoping to see some discounts bring those prices down even further.

Panasonic Lumix S PRO 16-35mm f/4

(Image credit: Panasonic)

Panasonic is another tricky one for Prime Day bargains. Its G-series lenses lend to vacillate between a 'sale' price and a higher one, spending most of the last year at the lower cost. Newer L-mount lenses for cameras like the Panasonic Lumix S5 and S1H are yet to be sold at a particularly low price.

Maybe this year will be different. Panasonic lenses near the top of our wishlist include the Panasonic Lumix S PRO 16-35mm f/4, a very high-quality but eminently usable lens with a constant f/4 max aperture and reasonable 500g weight. And the Panasonic Lumix S PRO 50mm f/1.4, which is the total opposite in several ways. The price is high, and so is the weight considering this is a 50mm prime, but optical quality is superb.

We may not see all of these lenses for Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fujifilm and Panasonic cameras get discounts during Prime Day, but we'll be on hand to point you towards the ones that do.

Andrew Williams

Andrew is a freelance journalist and has been writing and editing for some of the UK's top tech and lifestyle publications including TrustedReviews, Stuff, T3, TechRadar, Lifehacker and others.