First, let's define the terms "normal" and "prime" for those who may not be "hip" to the "lingo" (I'm cool like that).
"Normal" lenses are usually 50mm lenses. This is the sweet spot between wide angle lenses and telephoto, hence, they're called "normal". There's one caveat these days, though, and that's the crop factor of your camera's sensor. Make sure you take that into effect. If you have a cropped sensor Canon camera, you'll most likely be looking for a 28mm - 30mm lens in order to get as close to normal as possible.
"Prime" means the same thing as "fixed" and all that means is that it's not a "zoom" lens. You can't zoom in or out with it. It has just one focal length, so you have to "zoom with your legs". Prime or fixed lenses are usually cheaper and sharper because they are more simple to manufacture and compromises don't have to be made so that they can work at sometimes dramatically different focal lengths (I have a 50-500mm lens, for example!).
There are many options out there for Canon mounts. If you're looking for a 50mm prime there's 3 main choices including the Canon 50mm f/1.8 which goes for $75 or so new! It's surprisingly sharp as well and many people are very happy with this lens. The downside seems to be bad bokeh (background blur) and the build quality isn't great (it's fragile and very plastic-y). Still, for $75, it'd be a nice first prime if you're just wondering what they are all about!
50mm choices include:
- Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 USM L
- Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM
- Canon EF 50mm f/2.5 Macro
- Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II
- Sigma AF 30mm f/1.4 EX HSM DC (EF-S mount)
- Canon EF 35mm f/2.0
- Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM
- Sigma 28mm f/1.8
- Canon 28mm f/2.8
- Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L USM
- Canon EF 24mm f/2.8
- Sigma 24mm f/1.8 EX Aspherical DG DF Macro
And for those who are interested, I ended up purchasing the Sigma AF 30mm f/1.4 EX HSM DC -I'll post a review soon!