Canon makes a wide variety of lenses. The EF and EF-S series of lenses are famous the world over. So how do you select the best Canon lenses for your work?
If you’re new to lenses, using the kit lens that comes with your Canon camera is a good place to start. But after a few months of experimentation, you will find it necessary to shop for new lenses.
Given the versatility and low price tag, the EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM is one of the best Canon lenses available. We have prepared a selection of four more high-quality Canon lenses in every price range. Please enjoy our shopping guide.
This lens is a great choice for amateurs who don’t have much experience with camera lenses. It is easy to use and appropriate for many different types of photography. At the same time, the images are sharp enough for professional photographers who are on a tight budget.
Top 5 Canon Lenses
|Name||Minimum Range||Best for:||Price|
|EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM||0.72 ft.||Close-range photography||Check Price|
|EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM||0.92 ft.||Close-range photography||Check Price|
|EF 70-200mm f/4 L IS USM||3.94 ft.||Telephoto photography||Check Price|
|EF 50mm f/1.8 STM||1.15 ft.||Close-range photography||Check Price|
|EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM||4.9 ft.||Landscape photography||Check Price|
1. Best Overall Canon Lens
EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM
Our top selection is a very affordable but versatile lens. You can use it for both close-up photography and landscapes.
Instead of UMS technology, this lens uses a stepping motor. This is cheaper, but it leads to smooth and fairly soundless zooming.
Although the autofocus function is both useful and fast-acting, it’s not necessary in every situation. By flicking a switch, you can simply override the autofocus.
This lens is a great option for portraits. The closest focusing distance is merely 0.72ft. Despite being a wide-lens option, this lens won’t cause much image distortion.
At any focal length, this lens delivers very sharp images. You’ll also get sharp images at any aperture up to f/11. Narrower apertures than that might blur your photo a little.
However, the aperture is designed to create attractive bokeh. This phrase refers to the feel of background images. You also won’t have to worry about delays, as the seven-blade aperture works smoothly.
The lens is designed with a UD element. This will take care of most chromatic aberrations for you, though there might be some aberrations left in the corners of your photograph.
Since it’s equipped with image stabilizer, you won’t need to take a tripod with you when you go out to take nature photos.
Durability and Portability
Unfortunately, the lens mount is made of plastic. Thus, this lens isn’t the most durable option out there.
At the same time, the all-plastic construction makes this a lightweight lens. It only weighs around 8.48 ounces. Many photographers value portability above everything else.
Despite the lower durability, this lens is a good investment. The image stabilization stands out in particular. Unfortunately, it’s sold without a hood or a pouch included, so you might have to make additional investments. But this is true for all Canon lenses.
Pros and Cons
- Very low price range
- Good for close-range photography
- Sharp images
- Extremely lightweight design
- Not durable enough
- Blurring at small apertures
2. Best Professional Canon Lens for Short-Distance Photography
EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM
This wide-aperture lens lets you make crisp photos from a focusing distance of as low as 0.92ft. Although it is expensive, this lens is worth it for professional photographers who want versatility.
It is also fairly speedy, with a nine-blade aperture, which makes it a good choice for action shots. However, focusing on faraway objects can be too slow.
This lens offers Blue Spectrum Refractive Optics. This means the optics are made from an organic material that corrects color distortion. Your photographs will look both crisp and realistic.
If you’re interested in portraits or macro photography, this lens could be your best choice. Even at an aperture of f/1.4, it creates extremely vivid and sharp photos. This means that you can use it in low lighting as well.
It has quality image stabilization, which means you won’t have to worry about repeating any shots.
Portability and Durability
This lens weighs around 26.8 ounces. It’s got an all-metal barrel that can withstand harsh weather conditions. The exterior is coated in a fluorine layer that keeps it safe from dampness.
Unfortunately, this lens is too expensive for many photographers. But it’s durable enough to make it worth it.
Pros and Cons
- Great image stabilization
- Very crisp photos, even in low lighting
- Rapid autofocus
- A good choice for close-up photography
- Very durable
- This is an expensive lens
- Shading can be a problem
- Autofocus issues at long distances
3. Best Professional Telephoto Canon Lens
EF 70-200mm f/4 L IS USM
If you plan to work on wide cityscapes or long-distance nature photography, this zoom lens is one of your best options. However, it is a considerable investment.
It comes with a very responsive autofocus that is almost completely silent. This makes it a good choice for working in nature.
This lens lets you create crisp images with a lot of depth. There is no corner softness. This lens is sharp at any focal length you choose. The minimum focusing distance is 3.94 feet.
If you need sophisticated image stabilization, this could be the best lens for you. It has four stops, leading to excellent shake correction.
Photographers whose work focuses on contrast will enjoy using this lens. It comes with fluoride UD elements, which improves both the contrast and the resolution. Starting from an aperture of f/4, you can easily vary your field of depth.
Durability and Portability:
This lens weighs around 26 ounces, so it is considered lightweight for a professional zoom lens. It’s designed to be dust-proof and water-proof.
Although this lens is a major investment, the image quality makes up for it. If you’re a professional photographer looking for a telephoto lens, take this one into consideration. The lens comes with a one-year warranty.
Pros and Cons
- Sharp images at any focal length
- Excellent image stability
- Dust-proof and water-proof
- Very expensive
- The image stabilization is noisy
- The shutter speed may be too slow for action shots
4. Best Affordable Canon Lens for Portraits
EF 50mm f/1.8 STM
Here is an extremely popular and versatile lens. It’s relatively affordable and has a wide aperture.
This lens is a great option for portraits and other close-range photographs, with a minimum focusing distance of 1.15ft. Additionally, the wide aperture makes it a great choice for nighttime photos.
This lens has a maximum aperture of f/1.8. However, it won’t deliver sufficient sharpness at this width. If you want extremely crisp images, go for an aperture of f/2.8 or narrower. But going beyond f/11 will reduce your image quality once again.
This lens gives beautiful colors even in low lighting. At very wide apertures, it delivers intense corner shading. Since the images don’t have much distortion, this is a good option for portrait photographers.
This lens can also be an adequate choice for macro photography. However, the loss of sharpness at wide apertures means that it could disappoint if this is your priority.
Unfortunately, this lens isn’t equipped with image stabilization. You may need to bring a tripod or edit the images later.
Durability and Portability
The metal mount makes this a fairly durable lens, considering the price range. It weighs around 5.6 ounces. This is an extremely affordable lens.
Pros and Cons
- Low price
- Wide maximum aperture
- A good option for nighttime photography
- You can use it at close range
- No image stabilization
- Loss of image sharpness at very wide or narrow aperture
- Filters can be difficult to fit
5. Best Affordable Canon Lens for Nature Photography
EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM
This lens comes with a comfortably large focal length. If you’re looking for a Canon lens designed for sporting events, concerts, nature photography, or street photography, this might be a good choice for you.
This lens has a very responsive autofocus. You can easily zero in on a specific detail and choose a narrow aperture to match it. It comes with high magnification, making it a good choice for long-distance photographs.
It also comes with an electro-magnetic diaphragm that creates a pleasing background when you choose a large aperture. This lens gives high-quality images with natural colors. Between the image stabilization and the background quality correction, this lens can help you take professional-grade photographs even if you are an amateur.
However, it isn’t a good fit for photographing objects from a very short distance. It also becomes blurry if you get near the top range of your focal length.
Durability and Portability
This lens is durable and comes with a zoom ring locking mechanism. This keeps your lens in the most compact position possible. Hence, it stays safe from damage when you carry your camera around your neck.
It’s also fairly lightweight for a zoom lens, weighing around 22.2 ounces. Unfortunately, the optional hood is too heavy and takes up too much space.
This could be a good option if you’re on a tight budget. The lens comes with a one-year warranty.
Pros and Cons
- Good zoom range
- Image stabilizer
- Zoom ring locking mechanism
- Excellent color quality
- The focus gets too soft when the focal length approaches 300 mm
- Slightly noisy
Shopping for Lenses
Getting the right lens for your camera is a major stepping stone toward becoming a professional photographer. But even if you have a favorite lens already, it is important to keep track of new lenses on the market.
What kind of lens do you need? The answer depends on your camera and the nature of your work. Here are the most important factors that you should keep in mind.
Canon EF and the newer EF-S series of lenses are compatible with Canon SLR and digital SLR cameras. They tend to have the same mount system.
What is a lens mount? This is simply the area of your lens that connects to your camera.
Some lenses have plastic mounts, while others have metal ones. One that has a metal mount is usually a better choice, as it is more enduring.
If the mount of your lens doesn’t fit your camera, there are adapters that could help. But this comes with a loss of functions such as autofocus. Hence, it is much simpler to check whether the lens you’re considering fits your Canon camera model.
Aperture has a very significant influence on the quality of your photos. But what is aperture exactly? Here is a quick overview of this photography term.
What Is Aperture?
The aperture of a lens is often compared to the pupil of your eye. This is simply a hole within the lens. It dilates and constricts, and so changes the way that light passes through the lens.
A camera’s aperture consists of aperture blades. These slide together, allowing the aperture to change size. The amount of light that goes through the lens and reaches your camera’s sensor has a profound impact on the quality of your photo.
What Are the Effects of Aperture?
But how does aperture change your photography?
It Impacts the Exposure
Are you shooting at night or at high noon? You can change the aperture on your lens to control the brightness levels of your photograph. This is crucial when you’re working with unusual lighting conditions.
For night photography, you need an extra-large aperture. Conversely, you need to narrow the aperture down when you’re working in bright sunlight. You can avoid washed-out photos by adjusting the aperture correctly.
It Also Has an Impact on Your Depth of Field
What is depth of field?
This photography term is connected with sharpness.
When you aim your camera at an object, the object will appear sharp on the resulting photo. There is a field in front of it and behind it that will be sharp as well.
If the field is shallow, your object will stand out against a blurry background. A deeper field creates an entirely different effect. For example, photographing a lake might require more depth of field that photographing a single tree.
But in what way does aperture affect the depth of field? Narrower apertures will increase your depth of field. Changing to a larger aperture will result in a blurred background.
How Is Aperture Measured?
Aperture sizes are measured in f-numbers. For example, a camera might have a maximum aperture of f/2.0. When you make your aperture narrower, the f-number will change.
But it’s important to keep in mind that a higher f-number means a narrower aperture. For example, an aperture of f/8.0 is narrower than an aperture of f/4.0.
Optics manufacturers always mark the lowest possible f-number on a camera. This shows the maximum aperture width that your lens can reach.
So How Do You Choose the Best Aperture?
Here is a quick guideline to choosing the best aperture for your work:
- Night photography requires a large aperture, which means low f-number.
- Portraits require a shallow field of depth, or intensive background blurring. For this, you need a large aperture (low f-number).
- Landscape photos require more field of depth. This means you should make your aperture narrower (higher f-number).
When you’re shopping for a lens, the maximum aperture is one of the most important factors. But there are a few more things you should take into account.
Different lenses cover different focal lengths. It’s important to identify the focal lengths that you plan to work with before you make your purchase.
A shorter focal length means a wider angle of view. But how do you tell which angle of view is right for you?
If you want to photograph a landscape or a cityscape, you need a wider angle of view. Hence, you will need a short focal length, maybe 20-30mm.
But to focus your photograph on a particular detail or a person, a narrower angle of view is necessary. In this case, your focal length should go over 50mm, or even over 100mm. The distance between your object and your camera has an impact on this as well.
There is a chance that a small focal length could distort the facial features of your subject. So if you primarily want to create portraits, make sure your lens has a large focal length.
Depending on the focal length, there are different lenses that you can choose.
Zoom Lenses Vs. Prime Lenses
Zoom lenses come with different focal lengths. You can adjust them to any focal length within an interval.
A prime lens has a fixed focal length. If you need a different focal length, you need to choose a new lens.
So which of these is the better option?
Zoom lenses are simpler to use, as they save you from having to change lenses every time you want a different focal length. While a zoom lens is more expensive than a prime lens, it can help you save on cost over time. After all, you don’t need to invest in different prime lenses if a zoom lens can cover each of their focal lengths.
However, prime lenses tend to create more precision. Many photographers prefer using them. Additionally, they are lighter than their equivalent zoom lenses.
Telephoto Lenses Vs. Wide-Angle Lenses
Large focal lengths are also crucial for wildlife photography. For this type of photography, you want a very large focal length. After all, your goal is to focus on the details.
Telephoto lenses are lenses that let you zoom in on the details. They have a large focal length and a narrow aperture. You need a large depth of field to make these photographs come to life.
What about wide-angle lenses? These are perfect for dynamic photos of a landscape or a wide view of a street or a city. They come with a very narrow focal length.
Going for a wide-angle view may distort the perspective in your photograph. You can use this to your advantage.
Some Canon lenses come with image stabilization. What is this feature and do you need it?
It is difficult to avoid blurring your photo. Even photographers with a steady hand can be prone to tiny twitches at the most important moment.
Using a tripod isn’t always possible or convenient. Image stabilization is an option that can help reduce the effect of your hand shaking when you take a photo.
Canon approaches this problem by introducing an opposing movement within your camera. The goal is to cancel the motion, though it’s not always possible to reach zero net motion.
Image stabilization mechanisms are very delicate. They’re not present in every lens. But going for lenses that have this feature can save you from having to retake a shot.
So if you’re interested in this feature, go for lenses that are labeled IS.
Autofocus is a feature found in nearly every lens. However, there are two different types of autofocus mechanisms to choose from.
In the case of Canon lenses, you can go for regular autofocus or USM technology. USM stands for ultra-sonic motor and it is more efficient than the traditional kind of autofocus. USM lenses are known for extra-sharp photographs.
Weight is a significant consideration for nature photographers. Larger focal lengths generally mean a heavier lens.
Canon lenses come in a wide range of prices. You may be able to find a lens under $100. But some lenses cost several thousand dollars.
If you want to go for professional-grade lenses sold at a professional-grade price, you can look into Canon’s L-series. These are lenses specifically marked for professional use and they usually cost over a thousand dollars.
More affordable lenses might have the same focal length and aperture as the high-end lenses. But the lower-grade optics, construction, and technology will not yield the same image quality and you might have to make do without image stabilization.
It’s very important to do a serious cost-benefit analysis before you invest in a lens. A professional-grade lens can make your job or hobby considerably easier. But you should always shop around before you commit to a lens.
It can take a while to get used to applying various lenses to your work. Some photographers stick to one or two high-quality lenses. Others keep several different types at hand for different occasions.
When you’re shopping for the best Canon lenses for you, it’s a good idea to take an experimental approach. Even if a lens isn’t perfect for your work, it can help you hone your skills. With time, you will assemble a collection of lenses that will cover all of your needs.