Best Canon Lenses
Did you know that the most sought after accessory when it comes to cameras is the lens? It really makes sense when you think about it as this tool plays such a pivotal role in the image quality that you will be provided with. Why else do you think that most of the top-end options on the market are so ridiculously expensive?
Now, without question, if you are new to this sort of technology or are just simply ignorant about it all, the jargon behind what makes camera lenses work can be downright confusing and overwhelming to comprehend. We are not saying it is going to be easy but with the help of this guide, our goal is to provide you with a better understanding of what you need to look for when seeking a Canon lens. All the models below are compatible with one of Canon's cameras.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 3.25 hrs of research
Delivers high-speed performance
Constructed with lead-free glass
The new coatings help to reduce ghosting
OUR TOP PICKS FOR THE BEST CANON LENSES
1. Canon EF 400MM
Delivers high-speed performance
Constructed with lead-free glass
The new coatings help to reduce ghosting
The price is literally absurd
Right from the get-go, the price is going to terrify most of you. Now, this is a telephoto lens and it is absolutely top-of-the-line. So, let’s just say that it is more suitable for professional users.Read more
This is an EF model and that means it is designed to work with both full-frame and APS-C DSLR cameras.
What is really nice is the 400mm focal length is going to deliver high-speed performance with superb image quality and minimal glare for professionals. This can also focus down to 10.8 feet and there are autofocus stop buttons located on the front that can stop the focusing at any time.
In addition to the new coatings that help to cut down the effect of ghosting, this model is also equipped with gapless dual-layer diffractive optical elements. These help to improve diffraction efficiency and reduce the glare. Oh yeah, and a three-mode Image Stabilization system can minimize the issue of camera shake.
As mentioned, this is a telephoto lens and this means that it is going to be ideal for shooting sporting events, landscapes, wildlife, and even portraits.
First off, this is built with lead-free glass. Secondly, the interior components are protected from both dust and water when you are shooting outdoors.
If you pull no punches about the quality of your images and need a commercial model then this top option should be perfect for you. After all, for professionals, this will end up paying for itself in no time.
2. CANON EF 70-200MM
Features an image stabilization system
It is weather sealed
Designed with a three-mode IS system
It does not come with a tripod collar
This here is a bit more reasonable, in regard to the price, but you would never know it based on the quality. Arguably, most noteworthy here is the improved Optical image stabilization system which sports up to five different spots of correction.Read more
As with the top model, this right here is another EF model and is optimized for both full-frame and APS-C cameras.
For the specifics, this sports a focal length of 70-200mm and an aperture of f/4. Overall, this is going to deliver the superb quality that you come to expect from an L-series lens. Also, this can get very close to the scene with a focusing distance of around 3.3 feet.
As noted, this does indeed come equipped with an improved optical image stabilization system that features a high-performance CPU (which reacts to camera movements faster for improved quality). The five stops of image correction will also aid in better handheld performance.
This is a full-frame lens but it can actually be used on a crop body if you wanted.
Even if you wanted to use this during adverse weather conditions, you could thank the weather sealing. Indeed, with seals around the mount, this will keep both dust and water at bay.
Yes, this is still expensive but it is a bit more reasonable, is it not? With the range of the focal length and all the impressive technologies that are built-in, the question is, how could you really go wrong here?
3. CANON EF 35MM
It is packed with new technologies over the original
Sports SWC technology to help reduce ghosting
It is built like a tank
It could be a little bit lighter
What is interesting to note here is you can’t adjust the focal length of this model as it is fixed on 35mm for full-frame cameras. But, it is a wide-angle L-series model and it is worth every single penny.Read more
Yet another EF model, you should be getting the gist of the types of cameras that this is going to be compatible with.
On full-frame cameras, the focal length here will be 35mm but on APS-C cameras it will be 56mm (it is fixed either way). In addition to this is the fast nine-blade maximum aperture of f/1.4. Oh, and the closest focusing distance is 0.92 feet.
This is an updated and improved version of the original model of this same design and it is quite amazing how much the image quality has improved. Everything about it is literally amazing with its enhanced sharpness and color and also its Subwavelength Coating (SWC) that will reduce flare and ghosting effects.
A wide-angle lens is a very popular one and that is precisely what this is. Thus, it makes it suitable for photos in tight spaces, shots of buildings and landscapes, and anything that you want to be in a single frame shot.
Though this is literally a beast when it comes to its size and weight, it does sport dust and water sealing for outdoor protection.
Wow, is there anything more that needs to be said? Sure, the focal length is fixed, either way, you go, but the advancements in the technologies make the produced images worth every penny.
4. SIGMA 24-70MM
Sports optical stabilizer functionality
The focal length range is fantastic
It is weatherproof with a rubber seal
It is a bit on the heavy side
Simply put, the excellent focal length range of this lens allows it to be suitable for several general purposes. It also has optical stabilizer functionality and this will eliminate the issue of camera shaking.Read more
Once again, this model uses an EF mount making it suitable for full-frame and APS-C cameras.
Indeed, the focal length range (24-70mm) is going to cover many angles of view and can be used for several general purposes. And, the maximum aperture of f/2.8 is ideal and is often used for a model with this type of focal length.
In addition to the Optical Stabilizer functionality that is equipped, the chromatic aberration is slightly visible at the edges in extreme zoom positions but is mostly suppressed otherwise. Overall, the image quality is pretty darn good.
This is another wide-angle lens and that means it is suitable for shooting whole subjects in single frames.
Thanks to the rubber seal on the mount, this is a weatherproof design. However, there is no need to sugarcoat this, the girth and weight here are substantial.
Sigma has designed and developed some of the best camera lenses out there and this is an example of one of their best. Many of you will also adore the wide focal length range and maximum aperture.
5. CANON EF 100MM
It is a bundle that includes other accessories
It is incredibly sharp
Has the ability to focus very quickly
A fair amount of plastic is utilized
Though this is another model that has a fixed focal length, it lives and dies with its image quality. And, it has been raved for this reason alone and given the purpose of this technology that is certainly not a bad thing.Read more
Yep, this is compatible with both full-frame and APS-C cameras.
The focal length of this model is 100mm and the maximum aperture is f/2.8. And, due to the Ultrasonic Motor (USM) that is equipped, this lens is going to focus very quickly and also quietly. Oh yeah, and the three-group floating system also enables faster autofocus times.
Even the strictest of users should be impressed with the image quality presented here. Let’s break this down; the color and contrast are excellent, the eight aperture blades create a superb background blur, the sharpness is ideal, and the tiniest subjects will come to life in your photos.
This is actually a macro lens and while it was just touched on, this makes it suitable for photographing details and shooting small subject material.
Though the build quality is good (with a textured black finish and a mount that is made of metal), there is a bit of plastic utilized which may not appeal to some of you.
In addition to everything else, this specific option is actually a bundle and comes with loads of other accessories. Of course, the macro lens itself is worth the price of admission alone.
6. SIGMA 18-35MM
It is a revolutionary product
Uses TSC technology for reduced weight
The HSM ensures smooth autofocusing
The zoom is flatter than others
Can take a while to focus
Not only is this touted as being the first wide-angle to standard zoom lens to actually achieve an aperture range of 1.8 but it also taps into Sigma’s long line of historic innovations.Read more
It is noted that this model is designed specifically for APS-C sized sensors.
The specifications read as follows; the focal length is 18-35mm and the maximum aperture is f/1.8. Now, it is noted that the zoom is a little flat at this range though the image will still be very sharp in the center. Also, a few buyers have noted that the autofocus can be inconsistent.
To compensate for curvature at the widest angle and also aberrations, this features a wide glass-molded aspherical lens and also Special Low Dispersion glass. Oh, and the Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM) ensures smooth autofocusing to provide clearer images quickly.
Due to the fact that this is a wide-angle model, it will fit whole subjects into single frames effectively.
What enhances the durability and also reduces the weight is the Thermally Composite Material that is utilized.
For the most part, you have to appreciate all the specific technologies that are implemented here. Sure, some flaws are present (such as the rather flat zoom) but the overall design is stellar.
7. CANON EF-S 17-55MM
Mechanical manual focusing allows for manual adjustments
Offers excellent image quality
Will compensate for camera shake
Dust can still be an issue
It is a bit clunky with its zoom
It is noted that this model actually is on par, in regard to image quality, with Canon’s L-series of lenses. Also, this is notable for being an EF-S model instead of an EF one.Read more
This is the first EF-S model on this list and that means it is specifically tailored to work on APS-C DSLR cameras.
The maximum aperture of f/2.8 produces a shallow depth of field and creates a background blur that will draw special attention to the actual subject. Also, the 17-55mm focal length range delivers image quality on par with the L-series of lenses from Canon. Of course, the zoom is a bit clunky.
In addition to the actual construction of this model, the aspherical elements help to deliver enhanced image quality throughout the entire range of the zoom. Additionally, the image stabilizer technology helps to account for camera shake.
As this is yet another wide-angle model, it can capture a panoramic field of view and can emphasize the foreground in any photo.
When this was released, it was infamous for its issue with allowing dust inside. Some users have still reported this can be a potential issue even though it has been addressed by the manufacturer.
This is actually the first model on this list that has legitimate flaws, quite frankly. The fantastic image quality and wide focal length range, however, do make it worth the price of admission.
8. TAMRON 10-24MM
Sports a moisture-resistant construction
Includes state-of-the-art Tamron technology
Has an adjustable focal length range
The zoom wheel is not the smoothest
There is some visible chromatic aberration on the edges
For an affordable price (at least by this technology’s standards), this right here is a great option. It also is presented by a fresh manufacturer and that can always spice things up sometimes.Read more
It is noted in the product description that this is ideal for APS-C sized sensors.
Even though the zoom wheel itself is not the smoothest when you are switching between focal lengths (the range is 10-24mm), the autofocus drive system has excellent power and will allow for precise focusing.
Features such as the Vibration Compensation, High/Low torque-modulated Drive and fluorine coating allow for stable imaging across the entire frame for improved image quality. Of course, there is a tiny bit of chromatic aberration on the edges when this is at its widest.
This is yet another model that incorporates the ultra-popular wide-angle style.
To account for adverse weather and also humid environments, the construction here is resistant to moisture.
Due to the state-of-the-art technology that is integrated and the moisture-resistant construction, several of you will find this option extremely compelling.
9. SIGMA 85MM
Some built-in weather resistance
Great background blur
Easy to toggle between AF and MF
Slight color discoloration in harsh lighting
No image stabilization
As you already knew or recently learned, the lens brand and camera brand do not need to match. We are thrilled that this 85mm from Sigma is an option here. It initially calls attention for its impressive portrait capabilities, but in time you will find new features that make it an incredibly versatile option.Read more
Sigma offers this accessory for Canon, Nikon, and Sigma. It should fit all EOS, EOS-R, and EF models. Just be cautious when you are ordering to choose the correct brand that matches your device.
The embedded HSM provides quick and effective autofocus that is nearly silent. If you prefer to manually focus your shots, it is simple to quickly switch between the two styles mid-shoot. The DG lets us know that this model is designed for full-frame devices and provides the user with impressive light distribution among the entire frame.
As mentioned, many photographers are first interested in this option for its impressive portrait capabilities. The nine-blade rounded diaphragm produces exceptional background blur that really highlights the subject. The minimum focal length is 33mm and the maximum focal length is 85mm. Reviewers love the crisp results and overall versatility of this device.
This wide-angle option is great for portraits and landscape shots. It allows in a great amount of natural light that really brings your shots to the next level. However, its versatility allows it to also produce impressive images inside a small studio apartment. Indoors, the accessory will pull light from windows and doorways. Even if there is not much light, this option still functions impressively in low-light situations.
While there are some weather resistant qualities built-in, this device is not marketed as being weather-resistant. There is slight weather sealing, including a rear gasket. While it could handle a touch of wind and rain, we recommend that you don’t risk it. This would also be a good time to mention the one-year warranty. However, it most likely does not cover weather-related issues.
With all of these great features, you already knew this was going to be a bit of a beast. This accessory measures 3.4” by 3.4” by 3.4” and weighs 2.5-pounds. It is a great choice for beginners and experts, especially when focusing on portraits.
10. CANON EF 50MM
The exterior is redesigned to make adjustments a breeze
The effect of ghosting is limited
It is one of the most compact models out there
You can’t control the zoom
It is not an advanced design
With its fixed focal length and standard style, this is another highly affordable option that will produce great image quality (especially for its price of admission).Read more
As with so many other options on this list, this right here is an EF model.
On full-frame cameras, the focal length will be 50mm and on APS-C cameras it will be 80mm. As for its aperture range, it sports a maximum of f/1.8 and this helps it obtain great imagery even in low-light conditions. But, with this, you can’t control the zoom so keep that in mind.
Thanks to the updated arrangement of the new lens coating, this model will render images that have minimal ghosting and flare and also those that sport excellent color balance.
Due to the fact that this is a standard lens, again, it will be suitable for everyday use and for those of you who are looking to get your feet wet in the photography world.
Do not be fooled; even though this is incredibly compact, it is built well with its rugged metal mount.
Without question, this right here is a superb entry-level design. It will not be suitable for professional photographers with decades of experience but it will suffice for the right users.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Simply put, you can't afford to assume that the model you pick will fit on the camera you currently own.
No one will argue that this is not the most important consideration when buying this type of product. If it is not compatible with your current camera then it will not do you much good (and these things get downright costly). Oftentimes, you will see that camera brands only accept lenses from their brand. Thus, because this guide is suited for models that are compatible with Canon cameras, a lot of the options are designed by the manufacturer. Now, when it comes to compatibility, there is one major technical specification to look out for. And, this is the camera mount that a particular model is compatible with. You will see either EF-S or EF mounts and this is what you need to look for.
EF-S models are going to be designed specifically for use on APS-C cameras. Meanwhile, EF models will actually be designed to work with these types of cameras and also full-frame designs. Talking about Amazon specifically, there is a neat feature that they have that allows you to enter the current camera you have to see if it is compatible with a specific lens.
This section is really all about the technical specifications and their importance.
Take a deep breath as there is a lot to cover in this section. For starters, two of the most important specifications to assess are the focal length and aperture of any given model. Starting with the focal length, this is going to define the angle of view that any model has. To keep it simple, a longer focal length will allow for a more narrowed zoom shot while a shorter focal length will provide a wider image. For general use, you can get away with a 15-50mm range but for enhanced zoom power, you may be looking in the 55-300mm focal length range. Also, keep in mind that this range will differ depending on if your camera has a full-frame or APS-C sensor. As for the aperture range, this will dictate how much of the scene you can have in focus. For the record, you will see this labeled as f/x (with the x being the number that you need to assess).
If this number is larger (for example, f/34) then the majority of the scene is going to be in focus. With an aperture of f/1.4, though, you can focus on a specific object and have the rest of the image be blurred for a more stylish and realistic effect. And, all lenses will have a maximum aperture range that they can achieve. Ironically, the word “maximum” can make this confusing as you want to look for a lower number. Also, a lower aperture can allow you to shoot indoors without flashes and is also faster.
Also, as far as the focus system goes, many of you will want to look for autofocus and manual focus override modes. Ideally, look for autofocus systems that are advanced enough to perform quickly and quietly. As for the manual focus override, this can allow you to manually focus in instances where you do not want to rely on the autofocus.
Now, this section is all about the provided image quality.
Are you exhausted yet? The good times keep on rolling with this section; so, catch your wind. And, this is where the price can begin to jack up on some models. You see, two lenses may have identical focal lengths and aperture ranges but may produce vastly different image qualities. Well, that is because there are a number of other features and technologies that will come to the forefront. For starters, image stabilization is a good one. No matter how steady you are, camera shaking persists when you rely on yourself. Thanks to image stabilization technology, though, this can be accounted for to prevent issues with it.
Also, the lens itself should be made of high-quality glass and possibly even coated with elements to enhance the sharpness and reduce the number of reflections and distortion present in the produced images. Oh, and other features that can enhance the quality are extra-low dispersion and aspherical elements that can prevent blurred images that are caused by distortion. Also, remember the term “chromatic aberration” as you want to look for models that compensate for it and minimize it.
Indeed, there are several different lens types on the market.
In case you did not know, there are several different styles of camera lenses available for purchase. Really, in this section, we are just going to talk a little about all the major ones and what they are optimized for. Starting off, you have your standard models that are designed to capture images closest to what human eyes see. For the most part, this type of lens is ideal for general use imagery and beginner photographers. Taking a step up from standard models are wide-angle lenses. These are extremely popular and are ideal for capturing panoramic fields of view that place an emphasis on the foreground elements of any photo.
You also have macro and fisheye types that are designed to take extreme close-up photos and photos that have deliberate curvature in their imagery, respectively. And, lastly, you have the granddaddy known as telephoto. Telephoto lenses are ideal for making distant objects appear closer than they actually are. So, for shooting wildlife, sporting events, and landscapes, this type is going to be fantastic.
With the amount of money you are going to spend here, you really do not want to go cheap in this area.
There are two main points of emphasis to hit on here. Firstly, let’s talk about the actual housing of any given model. While affordable models will sport plastic housings that (while still solid) are not the best, professional designs will typically engineer housings that are made of consumer-grade materials. And, even though these can be a bit heavier, for durability purposes, this could be worth it.
The second point of emphasis is weather-resistance. Unless you want to panic every time it rains when you are shooting photos, look for models that are weather-sealed to keep both dust and water out. Remember, camera lenses are a pricy investment so you may want to prioritize this kind of stuff.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Pop quiz; what good would a Canon lens be that did not properly fit your current camera? The answer to this perplexing question is it would not do you a bit of good (unless you wanted to buy a new camera altogether). Due to this, you need to make it your top priority to ensure that the model you end up buying is compatible with your current camera. The good news is it is simpler than you may think.
Oh boy, now it is time to really dig into this technology. As you will find out, there are a number of technical specifications that you need to look out for and assess. Two of the most vital are the focal length and maximum aperture of any given Canon lens. These two specifications alone can really dictate what you can do with the specific model you buy.
Do you want to know why there is such a massive price difference with lower-end and top-end options on the market? The reason is that top-end models will be equipped with all sorts of features and technologies that will be designed to enhance the produced imagery. After all, this is what it is all about at the end of the day. So, pay close attention to this section and don’t overlook anything.
Other Factors to Consider
Of course, the effectiveness, compatibility, and durability are of the most importance, but the size and weight are also worth considering as well. If the item is too big and heavy to carry to a photoshoot, you won’t end up utilizing it. Some can weigh as little as one pound, while others weigh upwards of five pounds. While this may not sound like a hassle, when you are holding these four pounds in your hand for thirty minutes (or more), they begin to feel much heavier.
Many photographers utilize specified camera bags that help you to organize and store your camera accessories. These are highly padded and a great way to transport your accessories. Some options are handheld, others can be worn over one shoulder, and others like a backpack. Depending on the size, weight, and number of accessories you have, a certain style will serve you better than another.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: How can you perform a dirt test?
You can actually test to see if dirt has managed to enter inside your lens. To do so, start off by manually adjusting the focus to infinity. Then, access a plain surface and take a couple of photos of it. From there, you will want to inspect each of the photos to see if you see any particles of dust. If you see any signs of this then it is time for routine cleaning.
q: How do you clean them?
Alright, so how do you clean yours then? Really, what you want to do is invest in a high-quality cleaning kit for all your lenses. Though cleaning them is a simple process, doing so with the proper tools is paramount. To remove fingerprints and stuff like that, simply use some lens cleaning fluid (apply around two drops on a microfiber cloth) to gently wipe it in a circular motion.
q: Should you buy a UV filter?
There are actually several accessories that you can purchase alongside your Canon lens and one of them is a UV filter. The question is, however, is this recommended? Well, let’s talk about why this filter is used. Firstly, it protects the lens from the elements and from fingerprints. It can also protect it from sudden impacts. Of course, some people claim that you are merely just placing a cheap piece of glass on an expensive one when you use a UV filter.
q: Should you buy black or white lenses?
At first glance, you would not think this would actually be a “thing” you have to worry about. Choosing between black and white barrels really comes down to the heat factor. You see, black barrels will absorb more heat and this can expand the glass elements past their tolerances. This is not as much of an issue with white barrels (which is why you will see most telephoto models with them).
q: Okay, so how can you keep them clean?
When you are actually shooting, the lens is going to be exposed to the elements. But, anytime you are not using the camera ensure that you place the cap on it. In addition to not storing your camera in dusty areas, this can help to minimize how dirty and dusty it gets.
q: Can you use glasses wipes?
Do not make the assumption that you can simply clean camera lenses in the same manner that you clean your glasses. Really, the two have very little in common and as such, you should not clean them in the same way. As mentioned, stick to microfiber cloths and avoid any other additives or fragrances to clean your lenses.
q: What do all of these acronyms mean?
Technology, at times, really does feel like a whole different language. It’s one thing to understand the words but then it’s another to understand how they fit into the specific matter at hand. In the world of digital cameras, you will notice that there are a ton of abbreviations and acronyms. What makes it even more confusing is the fact that these abbreviations differ from brand to brand. To make life easier for you, or even to serve as a refresher course, we are going to break down some of the most common Canon specific abbreviations for you here.
Just by glancing at the product name, you can learn a lot about the product. If you see EF, this indicates that the electronic device is compatible with full-frame and crop sensor cameras. If it says EF-S, it is only compatible with crop sensor cameras. The F before numbers dictates the aperture. Other common letters or acronyms that you will find include an L for luxury, IS for image stabilization, USM for the ultrasonic monitor, STM for stepping motor, SSC for super spectral coating, AFD for arc form drive, MM for micro motor, PZ for power zoom, and AF for autofocus.
This is only a taste of the jargon of these products, specifically from this brand. Honestly, we could fill up this whole page with more but not only would that be boring, that is not why you are here.