What Canon Lens To Buy
Working out which is the best Canon lens for your needs will depend, first and foremost, on what kind of photography you shoot. Obviously there is no point recommending a portrait lens if you mainly shoot architecture!
what canon lens to buy
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From landscapes and street scenes to images of subjects ranging from people to cars, standard lenses work by delivering that normal perspective, where obvious lens effects are minimal. They can easily and creatively blur backgrounds, when you focus close on a nearby subject.
If you are shooting with a Canon DSLR, the next lens we recommend is the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM as your telephoto and, if you have an APS-C body, the Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM for a wide-angle option. If macro is your thing, start with the Sigma 70mm F2.8 DG Macro Art. Or for a kit-lens upgrade for APS-C bodies, go with the Tamron 18-200mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC.
If you are using a Canon full-frame mirrorless camera, we recommend the Canon RF 100-400mm f/5.6-8 IS USM as a great telephoto to start with. The Canon RF 85mm f/2 Macro IS STM is a versatile portrait lens that also works as a macro.
When updating this guide, I considered more than 30 lenses from several manufacturers and read lens reviews by the dozen before finally putting 12 lenses to the test in various real-world shooting scenarios.
We tested a total of 12 lenses for this review, observing their performance in everyday shooting scenarios, as well as during specific assessments to determine their capabilities in focusing, sharpness, shake reduction, and depth of field. We conducted all DSLR lens testing with the Canon EOS Rebel SL3 and all mirrorless lens testing with the Canon EOS RP. We noted the physical experience of using each lens and evaluated the final results by examining our images. After several weeks of testing, we narrowed down the field to the nine lenses we are recommending in this review.
If you only occasionally need the longer focal length of a zoom lens and use a crop-sensor camera, you might consider our kit-lens upgrade pick, the Tamron 18-200mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC. This lens can get you close to the action at the occasional sporting event for a fraction of the cost.
As you expand your collection of lenses for your full-frame mirrorless Canon camera, we think the versatile focal range, portability, and affordable price of the Canon RF 100-400mm f/5.6-8 IS USM make it the ideal telephoto lens to start with.
Although this lens is not a true 1:1 macro option, it delivers a serviceable 1:2 reproduction rate that absolutely works for shooting details like rings and flowers at a wedding or for food photography. The minimum focus distance of 13.8 inches could make it very useful for product photography, too.
This review will cover prime lenses first, and then consider zoom lenses that will also serve you well as a portrait lens. By the end of this article, you will know what is the best Canon lens for portraits that meets your budget and circumstances.
This lens will provide outstanding image quality at a lower price than the Canon portrait lens. I have a friend whose wedding and portrait photography is breathtaking. And she uses nothing but Sigma Art lenses on a Canon body.
Canon portrait lenses are fairly rare. The L series of Canon lenses are not for the financially faint of heart. They are built for daily professional use. They feature dust and moisture resistance and have an impressive build quality.
From a professional lens, you would expect glass elements. The Canon uses a molded glass aspherical lens with 14 elements in 10 groups. The front element has a fluorine coating to repel moisture and oil, which reduces smudging.
The build is good. And the image quality is excellent. At wider apertures, edge definition fades away quite a bit. High f-stops are not handled as well as the Canon L Series. But this is a much cheaper lens.
The zoom range is quite large. So you have a lens where you can choose that 85/90mm focal length sweet spot for portraits. And with 4-stop image stabilization, it gives you good low-light options. And it has weather sealing.
The image quality is good. But there are bound to be some shortcomings compared to a prime lens. So sharpness and distortion are good but not excellent. There are no obvious red flags or failures. What softness there is might not put you off completely for portrait work.
I have the Mark I version of this lens, and it is my go-to. It has some shortcomings, especially in distortion at the wide end. But you can fix this with presets, and it produces wonderful, bright, and clear images.
This is another lens that will give great flexibility and impressive performance. Choosing between the two 24-105mm focal length options might come down to handling and personal preference with the results.
There is a substantial price difference between this and the best Canon portrait lenses. A tighter budget might lead you to choose this. Or you might prefer the pictures it takes or the way it handles. Whatever the reason, it would be a sound choice for a general lens that can stand in as a portrait lens when needed.
All this is a rather long-winded way of asking the question, what is the best Canon portrait lens? Despite my lucky shot with JB, portraits usually need some care. And having the right equipment, including a portrait lens, really helps.
As a quick clarification, this review covers Canon portrait lenses with an EF-mount. They will fit directly into an APS-C Canon EF-S mount. With an adapter, they will also fit a Canon M-mount camera. In both these cases, you will need to apply a crop factor of 1.6 to get the effective focal length.
Conventional wisdom says that a portrait lens should have a focal length of 90mm. Perhaps 100mm. Conventional wisdom has said a lot of things over the years. However, this idea is rooted in some realities that have not changed.
So a 90mm focal length prime lens or similar would be the go-to lens for portrait photography. This was in the days when zoom lenses were pretty rare and pretty specialized. Zooming and focusing at the same time takes quite a bit of skill. So zoom lenses really only took off when autofocus became common.
But who uses prime lenses these days? And if they do, why? Prime lenses tend to be lighter and have fewer distortion issues. Most importantly, they are almost always faster. Their widest aperture will be wider than a zoom lens.
The other factor that affects depth of field is the focal length of the lens. A telephoto lens has a shallow depth of field compared to a wide-angle lens. You can see this easily by taking pictures with a zoom lens at different focal lengths.
There are cheap Canon lenses, and these are ones that are cheap and awesome too! The Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM is in the latter category, exhibiting stellar image quality whilst being the cheapest Canon EF lens ever made!
Since this lens is incredibly sharp, you can use a relatively high mega-pixel Canon dSLR (i.e. pretty much any modern one) to crop into the image and still retain this impressive sharpness.
Despite its small size, the Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM still manages to pack in 7 diaphragm blades, which result in surpisingly smooth and creamy bokeh. Many users actually find the bokeh more pleasing at f/2.8 than even the f/1.8 range of Canon lenses.
Speaking of the range, 24-105mm really covers a lot of options and puts it in the superzoom lens category. I mean, 24-70mm is already great, but having that extra length really makes this Canon zoom lens incredibly versatile.
The zoom and focus rings are both silky smooth. All L lenses also produce great colours and contrast thanks to the high quality optics, and the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM is no different.
The 24-70mm focal range is extremely popular with professional wedding and event photographers who need to quickly move from wide groups to close up detail, all in one twist of a lens barrel.
Optically, the Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM is very impressive. Colours and contrast are excellent as with all L series lenses, and bokeh when shot wide open makes backgrounds melt away in a creamy swirl of colours.
One often unmentioned benefit of shooting with a Canon APS-C body is the relative affordability of lenses. This is obviously apparent if you consider the difference in price between APS-C and full frame Canon bodies in general, but the lower prices of the lenses is another huge benefit.
Achieving a shallow depth of field is impossible when using ultra-wide angle lenses, so the only thing apertures governs here is the amount of light entering the camera. The IS allows for an extra 4 stops, meaning the Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM can be shot handheld even at 1/4 or 1/2 a second.
Canon EF-S lenses can only be used on Canon APS-C DSLRs. APS-C cameras have a smaller sensor, and the ES-F lenses are designed only to fit that sensor size. EF lenses, on the other hand, can work on any full frame or APS-C Canon camera bodies.
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