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Cameras

Best Canon Lenses

The SLR camera is the essential tool for the serious photographer and one of the reasons it creates high quality images is because it has the ability to use interchangeable lenses. Apart from the image sensor (which affects resolution capabilities), the lens will have the largest influence on the look of the image. They control the framing, the depth of field, the amount of light that can pass through for exposure, and so much more. Having an amazing camera isn’t enough to produce world-class images, you also need to have lenses that can step up to the job. Here are the best lenses for Canon cameras.

Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye Ultra-Wide Zoom Lens

Canon has pulled out all the stops for this fisheye lens. It utilizes their latest and greatest optics, including UD glass, subwavelength coating and fluorine coating. The lens captures a 180 degree view, which is rectangular on APS-C sensor cameras but circular on full frame models. The “USM” designation means the lens uses an ultrasonic motor, so autofocusing is fast and quiet. Full time manual focus is also available at the flip of a switch. A gelatin holder at the back is available for using colored gels. The lens also features a sturdy construction and weighs about 19 ounces.

Sigma 4.5mm F2.8 EX DC HSM Circular Fisheye Lens

You can't get much wider than 4.5mm—this excellent lens has no problem snapping an 180 degree view. Wider lenses tend to be more prone to that fisheye look—but that's what fisheye lenses are for. This lens gives images a circular look and exaggerated perspective. The f2.8 maximum aperture is excellent for letting in light and creating a softer depth of field. Built with coatings to reduce ghosting and flare, this Sigma also uses a quiet autofocus, with full time manual focus available just by turning the focus ring. The lens weighs just over a pound.

Sigma 10mm f/2.8 EX DC HSM Fisheye Lens for Canon

Sigma's 10mm has a bit less of an exaggerated look but has an excellent minimum focusing distance. The lens can focus with subjects 0.7” from the front of the lens, so it's excellent for macro shooting. The Sigma still uses a nice wide f2.8 aperture to let in plenty of light. Capturing a 167 degree angle, the lens produces a rectangular image. Sigma has included a gelatin filter at the rear and a built-in hood at the front. Weighing in at just over a pound, this lens is also compact.

Tokina AF 10-17mm f3.5-4.5 AT-X DX Fisheye Lens for Canon

With an edge to edge rectangular image, this Tokina lens gives full 180 degree view. The zoom capability allows you to adjust the composition as well as how dramatic the curved fisheye look is. The front of the lens uses a water repellent coating, which prevents smudges and makes the glass easier to clean. A super low dispersion element helps keep images sharp. The f3.5 to 4.5 aperture isn't as wide as some of our other picks, but the edge-to-edge performance and zoom versatility make this product an excellent option.

Sigma 8mm f/3.5 EX DG CIRC FISHEYE LNS f/CAN

Sigma's circular 8mm fisheye gives images a rounded look for unusual effects. Designed for full frame cameras, this lens can focus on objects as close as 5.3 inches away. Sigma has used several different lens coatings to ensure color accuracy while reducing unwanted reflections. The autofocus is accurate, since manual can be difficult to get exact because of the wide perspective. The rounded front of fisheye lenses doesn't allow for using traditional filters, but a holder at the back still allows you to use colored gels. Nicely compact, the lens weighs less than a pound.

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens

One of Canon's newest macro lenses, this 100m features the latest image stabilization system, which is a big deal when shooting close-ups and the tiniest movement results in camera shake. The Hybrid IS system adjusts for both angular and shift type movements for improved stabilization. The lens can capture small objects at life-size and can use autofocus as close as just under a foot. This lens includes Canon's Ultra-Silent Motor, which means focusing is quiet and smooth. Canon has packed this lens full of their best optics. The entire lens weighs in under 1.5 pounds.

Canon MP-E 65mm f2.8 1-5x Macro Lens

The point to buying a macro lens is getting up close—and this beauty can magnify small objects up to five times. This manual focus lens allows you to choose the best point of focus for more dramatic close-ups. The f2.8 aperture results in a nicely defocused background and is excellent for shooting in low light. The 65mm fixed focal length is a nice spot for macro. Since the lens is a manual focus, you can focus on subjects that are close to the lens. The downside to all these features is that manual focus is sometimes tricky to master, particularly when the subject is moving.

Canon 100mm EF USM Lens

Featuring the same fast f2.8 aperture and 100mm focal length as our second pick, this lens comes in at nearly half the cost. It doesn't feature the hybrid image stabilization system, but focuses as close as 5.9 inches from the end of the lens. This life-size 1:1 macro uses a three part floating system for sharp images. The autofocus is also both fast and quiet. Full time manual focus is also available. This Canon lens weighs under 1.5 pounds.

Tamron 90mm f/2.8 SP Di Macro VC USD Lens for Canon

Tamron has packed a lot of features into this lens for the price. The f2.8 aperture offers a nice depth of field while the 90mm focal length and minimum focusing distance of just under a foot offers a 1:1 reproduction ratio for life-size objects. The vibration reduction system will help reduce camera shake. The use of an internal focus system means that the length of the lens doesn't change as the camera focuses, which is a big plus when shooting macro. Tamron also included their Ultrasonic Silent Motor system, hybrid lens coatings and extra-low dispersion elements. This moisture-resistant lens weighs just over a pound.

Sigma Normal 50mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro Autofocus Lens for Canon EOS

To cut back on price without making major sacrifices in quality, look for an off-brand, fixed lens like this excellent Sigma. It's just as fast as our other top picks, but sells for only around $400. The 50mm focal length isn't as long as our other picks, so you'll have to get closer to get that perfect shot, but for the price, this is a quality piece of glass. This lens features a floating internal focusing system and a non-rotating front group—which means the length of the lens doesn't change as it focuses and the front of the lens won't rotate either, so any filters and the lens hood stays in place. This budget-priced beauty focuses from as close as 7.4 inches and is lightweight at just 11 ounces.

Canon EF-S 55-250mm F4-5.6 IS STM Lens for Canon SLR Cameras

Canon's latest budget telephoto zoom uses a new CPU and AF algorithm for improved speed over the old model. The STM designation in the lens' name is for stepping motor, which is just a fancy way of saying the lens is optimized for use in video, without sacrificing any quality when shooting stills. The lens offers continuous, quiet autofocus while shooting video, which is excellent since Canon DSLRs are known for being able to shoot sharp videos as well as stills. This lens is for more than just video however; it includes optical image stabilization, a nice feature at this price point. The front of the lens also doesn't rotate, so polarizing filters stay put. Special lens coatings are used to cut back on flare while reproducing colors accurately. This lens is also compact for its focal range, weighing in at less than a pound. A more expensive lens would get you a faster maximum aperture, but for the price, the features on this lens are excellent.

Canon 100mm f/2.0 USM EF Lens

Going with a fixed lens sacrifices some versatility but typically offers much more speed. This midrange telephoto has a nice f2 maximum aperture to let in plenty of light and shoot at faster speeds than with a f4 zoom lens. The larger aperture also allows for softer backgrounds and a more dramatic bokeh effect. The lens is also compact and weighs just a pound. Canon designed this model in five groups, allowing for the rear focusing function. The USM designation in the name means it includes Canon's ultra-silent motor for quiet yet speedy focusing. The lens doesn't include image stabilization, but it isn't as much of a necessity at this midrange 100mm.

Sigma 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM for Canon

A good way to get the most out of your lens budget is to pick up lenses that have multiple purposes, like this Sigma that has telephoto and wide angle focal lengths in one. With a minimum focus distance of about 13 inches, it can also be used for some types of close-ups. Designed for Canon APS-C cameras, it's built with optical image stabilization and a relatively quiet hyper-sonic motor. Sigma has built this budget-friendly lens with four low dispersion elements and three aspherical glass elements. Constructed with Thermally Stable Composite and a brass bayonet mount, this Sigma is durable despite weighing just over a pound.

Tamron 18-270mm AF Di II VC LD IF Lens For Canon

The beauty inside this lens is the Piezo Drive motor, a new design by Tamron that allows for quick, quiet autofocusing in a compact lens. In fact, this lens weighs less than a pound, which is rather remarkable considering both the wide-angle and telephoto capabilities in one. It includes vibration reduction, three hybrid aspherical lens elements and two low dispersion elements. The minimum focus length is 19.3 inches, so close-ups aren't out-of-the-question either. As with most of our other budget picks, the maximum aperture is a little on the slow side, but the feature set for the price is excellent.

Sigma 18-200mm f3.8-6.3 II DC OS HSM Lens For Canon

The new $350 price on this Sigma is a steal—with an 18-200mm focal lengths, it's a very flexible lens. The optical image stabilization system allows for better low light performance, allowing users to shoot at up to three stops faster than lenses without stabilization. Sigma has included their hyper-sonic motor, which allows for faster autofocus speeds with little noise. It also uses two low dispersion elements and a super multi-layer coating. All of these features are wrapped up in a lens that weighs just over a pound.

Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM Art Lens for Canon Cameras

Sigma has been making third party lenses for all the major camera manufacturers for decades, with mixed results. To wit, historically speaking, if you could not afford a first party offering, Sigma tended to be a perfectly workable compromise. That has all changed now.

Starting around the release of the 50mm f1.4 EX DG HSM lens, and roughly during the transition from Sigma's unique "crinkle finish" lens finish to the smoother, rubberized coating, Sigma really upped their game. The lens was sharper than the Canon or Nikon equivalent, if slightly more expensive, and a very robust build. Canon and Nikon's 50mm f1.4, at this point, were and still are in need of a refresh. This allowed Sigma to swoop in and claim a much larger share of the 50mm f1.4 market than before. The result is the lens sold like hotcakes.

With the photography community now primed (pardon the pun) to accept Sigma as a viable critical situation option for professionals, they released the much heralded Art line. The Art lenses are professional-level, well-built lenses that feature all of Sigma's msot valuable technologies: HyperSonic Motor autofocus, multiple aspherical, and low dispersion elements, Super Multi-layer coatings, large front elements to nearly eradicate chromatic aberration, and Sigma's new USB dock for fine-tuning the lenses focus. Suffice it to say, the Art lenses are every bit as top-of-the-line as you'd expect from Canon and Nikon's pro-level lenses.

The Sigma 50mm f1.4 DG HSM Art is a refresh of earlier, popular EX lenses, done with all the accouterments of the the Art line. Where the EX was sharp, this Art version is SHARP. It's retina-slicing sharp. The all-time sharpness leader for 50mm lenses is the Zeiss 55mm Otus, and the Sigma 50mm f1.4 DG HSM Art offers 99 percent of the Otus's performance at less than a quarter of the price! And the Otus doesn't even have autofocus!

If you want a prime that delivers unmatched image quality in an autofocus body, the Sigma 50mm f1.4 DG HSM has no peer and is considered the standard for sharpness among all Canon, Nikon, and Sony lenses.

Canon EF 35mm F1.4L II USM Lens

One of the most popular lenses in a professional portrait photographers bag is a 35mm prime. A good 35mm will render a sharp subject while slightly distorting the space around the subject in a way that many fashion and portrait photographers find appealing. Canon recently announced an update to their wildly popular 35mm f1.4L with the Canon EF 35mm f1.4L II USM. It takes everything professionals have come to rely on with the first version, (such as sharpness, critical focus accuracy, and tank-like build) and made it even more sharp with the benefit of weather-sealing!

Where the first version was sharp, the II redesign is now the sharpest 35mm lens on the market, bar none. For a not-so-modest $300 premium, Canon has turned one of its most popular professional lenses into an absolute MTF, a chart that plots sharpness across a range, champion. Canon has achieved this record by incorporating a new optical element formula that includes their new Blue Spectrum Refractive Optics. This is a fancy new organic element material that features more efficient light refracting characteristics and the end result is a significantly sharper image than what was previously possible.

If you want the crème de la crème 35mm lens, there is nothing currently on the market that can match the Canon EF 35mm f1.4L II USM, but be prepared to pay for the privilege of using it!

Sigma 340101 35mm F1.4 DG HSM Lens for Canon

When Sigma restructured their lens lineup in 2014 and introduced their top-of-the-line Art lenses, the first such Art lens was the 35mm f1.4 DG HSM Art, and no one could have asked for a better first impression. For a relative song, photographers now had access to a high quality autofocus lens that exceeded what was available from first-party companies for sharpness and image quality. The Art line was a revelation, and to this day Sigma considers the 35mm f1.4 DG HSM Art to be their flagship lens.

Also introduced with this lens was Sigma's new system for allowing users to calibrate their lenses from a home computer with a proprietary USB dock. The USB dock utilizes software to analyze a lenses performance and fine-tune focusing response to produce more accurate, sharper images when autofocusing. In the past, Sigma users complained of focusing performance that tended to drift over time, requiring them to send in the lenses to Sigma to get calibrated. Now, an owner can quickly and easily diagnose a focusing issue should an issue ever arise, and get back to shooting in mere minutes after calibrating from the convenience of their PC or Mac; you can even update the firmware if an update is needed. This is a system unique to Sigma and a godsend to working professionals who can't afford to be without their lenses while they are in the shop.

Until the Canon EF 35mm f1.4L II USM ships, the Sigma 35mm Art lens rules the sharpness roost. And even after the Canon ships, there will be no better value for top-quality performance for 35mm lenses than the Sigma 35mm f1.4 DG HSM Art.

Canon Telephoto EF 135mm f/2.0L USM Autofocus Lens

One of Canon's Holy Trinity of lenses, the EF 135mm f2L USM is a staple in many portrait, fashion, indoor sports, and street photographers' bags. The 135mm f2L is able to shrink down the depth of field, thanks to its relatively large f2 maximum aperture. Since it's a longer telephoto lens, this allows the lens to compress the subject's surroundings, creating a very pleasing look that both highlights the subject and melts away distracting elements elsewhere in the frame.

Since this lens is a prime, you have the benefit of a large aperture that does not also require the lens to be uncomfortably large. Were there a telephoto zoom capale of 135mm and an f2 aperture, it would be completely unwieldy to hold and carry around, most likely weighing many pounds. But a 135mm prime is able to have a large f2 aperture yet still be no larger than a traditional walk-around lens. With the 135mm f2L USM, you get the advantage of 135mm reach and a shallow depth of field normally reserved for much wider lenses all the while being in a small enough package that it doesn't break your back to use. There's little wonder why so many professionals continue to use the 135mm f2L USM almost 20 years after it was released!

The Canon EF 135mm f2L USM is a relatively older lens, having been introduced way back in 1996, so it's probably on the short list to be refreshed by Canon. Nevertheless, it focuses very fast and accurately, a must for sports photographers who shoot in lowlight, and is extremely sharp across the frame, even by today's standards. If you're looking for a portrait or lowlight telephoto prime, the Canon EF 135mm f2L USM can't be beat for sharpness, aperture size, and focusing accuracy.

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens

One of Canon's newest macro lenses, this 100m features the latest image stabilization system, which is a big deal when shooting close-ups and the tiniest movement results in camera shake. The Hybrid IS system adjusts for both angular and shift type movements for improved stabilization. The lens can capture small objects at life-size and can use autofocus as close as just under a foot. This lens includes Canon's Ultra-Silent Motor, which means focusing is quiet and smooth. Canon has packed this lens full of their best optics. The entire lens weighs in under 1.5 pounds.

Canon Wide Angle EF 35mm f/2.0 Autofocus Lens

Canon's 35mm f/2 lens is the most feature packed wide angle lens offered for under $600. Optical image stabilization offers even sharper images in low light, allowing for shooting speeds up to four stops faster. The eight blade aperture and f2 maximum aperture will also lead to nice soft backgrounds, as well as excellent images in limited lighting. The lens was recently redesigned to include an aspherical lens element that improves the performance at the edges of the images. Focusing as close as .79 feet, it's also good for close-ups. The entire lens weighs under 12 ounces. The 35mm isn't super wide, but offers a 63 degree view and won't distort the image. The 35mm is priced at the top of our budget range, however, at about $600.

Canon Wide Angle EF 28mm f/1.8 USM Autofocus Lens

There's a lot to love about Canon's EF 28mm f1.8 lens, like the fast aperture for starters. The 28mm is also a nice wide angle that's not wide enough for that odd distorted look, yet still covers a 75 degree view. Lead-free glass elements lead to sharp pictures, edge to edge. With an autofocus as close as .8 feet, close-ups are possible too. The entire lens weighs 10.9 ounces, so it's nice for travel too. The lens is priced right around $500.

Tamron 17-50mm SP AF XR Di II LD Lens For Canon

Tamron's 17-50mm lens is still quite fast, considering the zoom range and the price point. The f2.8 constant aperture will still produce a nice, defocused background, while the zoom range allows for more versatility over fixed wide angle lenses. The Tamron starts at a very wide 17mm but extends out to a nice 50mm. With a minimum focus distance of 10.6 inches, this lens can handle some macro-type shots as well. Weighing in at just under a pound, this Tamron won't add to much to your gear bag either.

Canon 24mm f/2.8 USM EF Lens

The 24mm is a nice extra-wide angle that isn't too extreme. The f2.8 aperture is moderately fast and will still offer a soft background. But the nicest elements to this lens are the extra features. Aspherical elements help eliminate softness at the edges. The autofocus is both quiet and fast, though full time manual focus is available too. The quiet autofocus makes this lens an excellent option for video as well as stills. Canon also included lens coatings and a seven blade aperture in this 9.9 ounce lens.

Tokina 11-16mm ATX Pro DX Autofocus Zoom Lens for Canon

Tokina's new wide angle lens goes from the extreme 11mm (104 degree view) to the still ultra-wide 17mm (84 degree view), making adjusting the composition a little easier than on a prime lens. The f2.8 maximum aperture is still moderately fast, despite the budget category. The unique element to this lens is the focus adjustment, switching from auto to manual focus is accomplished by pushing the focus ring forward, so going back and forth is very fast. The 1.2 pound lens can focus as close as one foot.

Sigma 50-150mm f2.8 EX DC OS HSM APO Lens for Canon

This Sigma lens is a gem—it's packed full of features yet still priced at right around $1,000, which makes it excellent for enthusiasts that may not have a big gear budget. The 50-150mm range is a nice mid-range on a full frame camera, or it can be used as an 80-240mm lens on a crop sensor. The f2.8 aperture is rare for the zoom range and the price, and combined with a nine blade aperture, results in an excellent depth of field. Optical image stabilization—a must for any good telephoto—allows for shooting at up to four speeds slower without image shake. Sigma also included their Hyper Sonic Motor for quiet, yet fast, autofocusing. Coatings and glass elements help reduce distortion for sharp images. Like most telephotos, it's a bit heavy, weighing it at just under three pounds.

Canon Zoom Wide Angle-Telephoto EF 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6L IS USM Autofocus Lens

The range on this Canon telephoto is excellent, from the wide angle 28mm for landscape shots all the way up to 300mm to bring subjects in close. The lens will focus as close as 2.3 feet over the entire range, which adds to the versatility. Canon has included their best optics in this lens, with 22 elements in 16 groups. The fast quiet autofocus is what you'd expect from the Canon brand. The F3.5 to 5.6 maximum aperture isn't the best, but keeps this lens priced under $2,750 and will be sufficient for most. It weighs over three pounds, but is only 7.2-inch long, making it one of the more compact options for travel.

Canon EF 200mm f2L IS USM

Canon has pulled out all the stops for the newest telephoto addition to their lens family. The f2 maximum aperture is ultra-fast for the telephoto category. Canon has used a completely new optic system with fluorite and ultra-low dispersion elements. The optical image stabilization system allows for shooting up to four stops slower without blur. This lens also lives up to Canon's reputation for fast yet quiet autofocus motors. The construction has also been improved, with added moisture-resistance, though the lens is heavy at 5.6 pounds. Designed for full frame cameras, this lens' price puts it out of reach for many enthusiasts.

Tamron 70-200mm Di LD IF Lens For Canon

With a f2.8 aperture available across the entire range, the Tamron 70-200mm telephoto lens for Canon cameras is a speedy vet versatile piece of glass. The wide aperture plus the circular diaphragm results in a nice soft depth of field. The lens includes optical image stabilization for shooting at slower speeds without noticeable camera shake. The autofocus is fast and quiet. Tamron has used redesigned optics in this new model for better contrast throughout the zoom range. The lens, which has a moisture resistant design, weighs just over three pounds.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L IS USM Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras

Canon's 70-200mm is one of the more lightweight of the telephoto options, without sacrificing zoom range. Weighing in at just over a pound and a half, this Canon still offers a excellent 200mm to bring subjects in close. The optical image stabilization is Canon's latest, with up to four stops of shake reduction. Factor in the waterproof and dustproof design, and it's clear this lenses construction is one of it's biggest perk. The lens is a little on the slow side, with an f4 maximum aperture, however, but is still a good combination of features for the price.

Canon EF 16-35mm USM Ultra Wide Angle Zoom Lens

With the capability of switching from the ultra-wide 16mm to a wide 35 mm, this Canon lens is an excellent wide angle option. While it has the versatility of a zoom, it's still relatively fast at f2.8, so it will still perform well when the lighting is limited. Designed for professionals, it has Canon's best lens elements for edge to edge sharpness. The autofocus motor is quiet, yet fast and the internal focusing design means the length of the lens doesn't change while the lens is focusing. Full time manual focusing is also available. Close-ups are possible too, with a minimum focusing distance of just under a foot.

Sigma Super Wide Angle 20mm f/1.8 EX Aspherical DG DF RF Autofocus Lens for Canon EOS

This Sigma prime is the fastest wide angle available at the 20mm focal point, an excellent wide perspective without getting too distorted. The f1.8 maximum aperture lends an excellent depth of field to the images, as well as superior low light performance. But, versatility is important, even when dealing with primes, and this Sigma delivers with a 2.6 inch minimum focusing distance, which means it can be used for some types of macro photography too. The lens weighs just over a pound and is constructed with 13 elements, including two aspherical elements. For the speed and features, the price is also excellent.

Canon 24mm f/2.8 USM EF Lens

The 24mm is a nice extra-wide angle that isn't too extreme. The f2.8 aperture is moderately fast and will still offer a soft background. But the nicest elements to this lens are the extra features. Aspherical elements help eliminate softness at the edges. The autofocus is both quiet and fast, though full time manual focus is available too. The quiet autofocus makes this lens an excellent option for video as well as stills. Canon also included lens coatings and a seven blade aperture in this 9.9 ounce lens.

Canon Wide Angle EF 35mm f/1.4L USM Autofocus Lens

Going with a bit less of a wide perspective gets you a big bump up in speed with Canon's 35mm f1.4 lens. The f1.4 maximum aperture lends a nice depth of field and is also excellent for shooting in limited light. Aspherical lens elements help minimize distortion in this professional level lens. The rear focusing system is quiet and quick. The lens focuses as close as one foot away. The entire lens weighs about 20.5 ounces.

Zeiss Distagon T* 1.4 35mm Lens

For photographers that excel by using manual focus, the Zeiss Distagon T* 1,4/35 lens makes it easy to get sharp images with an ergonomic design. The lens has a fast f1.4 minimum aperture, excellent for low light and soft backgrounds. It's constructed with a nine blade aperture for further background blur. An aspherical design helps eliminate aberration and other imperfections. A big perk behind this Zeiss is the all metal design, making it a lens to last that's also comfortable to use. The lens doesn't have autofocus, however, so it isn't ideal for beginners or shooting fast-moving subjects.

Canon 24-70mm EF f/2.8L USM Lens

Replacing the venerable EF 24-70mm f/2.8L lens a few years ago, the new EF 24-70mm f2.8L II lens bests the original in every respect that matters for image quality. The price is significant, but this pick is also going to be the lens you probably keep mounted on your camera the most. It covers an essential range for a walk-around lens, and should meet most needs for convenience and performance from wide to telephoto.

Walk-around lenses are generally defined as a do-it-all lens that lets you capture wide shots as well as short telephoto. The Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II will not only do that, but accomplish this better than any other similarly spec'd lens, sometimes by a large margin.

For the longest time, the sharpest lens for Canon cameras was the TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II tilt-shift lens by Canon with edge-to-edge sharpness that was legendary. However, it's not "fast," which is to say its aperture does not let in enough light to categorize it as fast since fast lenses are considered to be f/2.8 or larger. And the TS-E 24mm is doesn’t auto-focus nor does it zoom, instead being a purpose built prime lens designed for a limited use, namely perspective correction. The Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II, on the other hand, is even sharper at 24mm. It is the new Canon sharpness king because not only is it sharper at 24mm, but it zooms out to 70mm, auto-focuses, and performs at a fast f/2.8!

Utilizing Super UD and aspherical elements in the new optical formula, the 24-70mm f/2.8L II is razor sharp across its entire range. There is currently no zoom lens sharper across its range. As a walk-around lens, this lens is the champion. As a supremely performing professional lens for more specific needs (like fashion photography for instance) this lens is without equal for those seeking a one two punch of convenience and performance.

As with most professional level lenses, the 24-70mm f/2.8L II uses 9 round aperture blades to achieve that gorgeous bokeh effect, where out of focus objects melt away into a smooth, pleasing blur, so prized by professionals and amateurs alike. Granted, it's a touch on the heavy side since fast zoom lenses require large optical elements which weigh a considerable amount, but that's really the only knock against this lens. In fact, the front element, and many of the internal elements are so weighty, Canon included a zoom lock switch to prevent the lens from physically extending as it rests facing down by your side when not in use or when being transported.

Okay, there might be one more shortcoming and it's the price. No fast, professional zoom is cheap but even by those standards, the 24-70mm f/2.8L II commands a premium cost. It doesn't have image stabilization which would help explain its price tag, but would also increase the lens' weight and bulk were it included. All said it's also worth every penny. Few lenses master as many important criteria for a lens as well as the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens does. If you consider that this lens will likely outlast your next 3 or 4 cameras, it's an investment that will eventually pay for itself.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM Telephoto Zoom Lens

The EF 20-200mm f/2.8L IS II is considered by many to be Canon's most important lens. Not only does it cover the important short telephoto range, but it does so with exceptional performance across its entire range. The EF 20-200mm f/2.8L IS II replaces the original EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS which itself was a very popular lens. Despite the original's almost universal favor, the newer EF 20-200mm f/2.8L IS II improves on its predecessor in every aspect.

The EF 20-200mm f/2.8L IS II is one of Canon's sharpest lenses. Wide open at 70mm, few lenses can match its edge to edge image performance. At this end, it picks up where the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II leaves off, with the EF 20-200mm f/2.8L IS II delivering similarly impressive results all the way up to its 200mm max. The sharpness across its range is so impressive that many professional portrait photographers rely on it almost exclusively, something unheard for a zoom lens 10 years ago!

This lens delivers that classic Canon bokeh when the aperture it set wide open, and coupled with the natural compression effects of a telephoto focal length (especially between 85mm and 135mm) the EF 20-200mm f/2.8L IS II renders absolutely gorgeous portraits. In this regard, many professional portrait photographers like to claim that the EF 20-200mm f/2.8L IS II "prints money”, which is to say the quality of images this lens produces can be visually stunning, wowing clients, and leading to increased business. Of course, you still need to know how to wield such a fantastic instrument, but when mastered, the EF 20-200mm f/2.8L IS II will yield amazing results.

As a member of Canon's "L" line, you can expect the components that make up this lens to be top notch, and rest assured they are. Making use of large and expensive fluorite and ultra-low dispersion elements, this lens performs on the test bench as you would expect with well controlled chromatic aberration and nearly imperceptible distortion. Compared to most other zooms, the EF 20-200mm f/2.8L IS II performs exceptionally well wide open at f/2.8. Performing this well when wide open is the tell-tale for how quality a zoom lens is and this pick cannot and will not disappoint!

If your bank account can swing it, the Canon EF 20-200mm f/2.8L IS II is a must-have lens and will be a reliable go-to for years to come, whether you’re a professional or you aspire to produce images at the artisan level.

Canon EF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS USM Telephoto Zoom Lens for Canon SLR Cameras

Yet another recent replacement in this round-up, the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II replaces the popular 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS. Though the latter was rather long in the tooth, it was still commonly seen attached to the cameras of professional wildlife and sports photographers, even to this day in fact. However, the new EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II is a proper upgrade in every respect.

Though it has a lot to live up to, the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II continues the tradition of recent Canon replacement lenses raising the bar for their market segment. There's one twist with this replacement and fortunately it works to the benefit of the consumer; it’s priced at or below the lens it replaces and to my knowledge that's a first for a Canon lens.

Another first (and a welcome one to boot) is that the hood of this lens has an integrated finger window which allows you to adjust an attached polarizer without taking the hood off. While this is common with lenses from other manufacturers (like Pentax for example) this is something new for Canon. For those of us who've struggled with adjusting polarizers on hooded Canon lenses, this little detail is greatly appreciated.

To the more important metrics, the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II is extremely sharp across its range and its auto-focus is cheetah quick and reliable. This comes as no surprise if you've been following Canon's recent replacements. This one is no different from the other "II's" in that regard - this lens leads its class.

If you a looking for a zoom lens that covers the telephoto range out to 400mm, this lens should top your list. It's built like a tank, weather-sealed against the elements, priced right, and should last you for years to come.

Sigma 210101 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM Lens for Canon APS-C DSLRs

This is an APS-C (EF-S mount) zoom lens with a constant f/1.8 aperture, making it the fastest zoom available for Canon cameras. It looks like a typo, doesn't it? Well, it not and this sure isn't your daddy’s Sigma. As a member of Sigma's Art line-up, this lens performs as we've come to expect from Art lenses. Throughout its admittedly short range the images this lens produces are pristine, with sharpness across the frame from end to end. But hold your breath, that's still not its greatest feature.

In a first for the industry, this lens has a constant maximum aperture of a whopping f/1.8, making it extremely fast at all focal lengths. APS-C sensors are smaller than the conventional 35mm "full-frame" sensors, but they often have higher pixel densities. More importantly, smaller sensors have larger depth-of-focus than their full-frame counterparts at a given aperture and focal length. This lens has a rather dramatically large aperture which counters this thinner depth-of-focus phenomenon somewhat.

The science of why that is isn't important for this review, just know that the professional effect of a razor sharp subject sitting in a thin depth-of-focus set in a smooth, blurry background is better achieved on a camera with a small sensor by using lenses with extremely large maximum apertures. The Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art is such a lens, and it's a ZOOM!

Since this lens is designed for Canon's crop sensors you need to convert the focal length of the lens to get a better idea of the field-of-view the lens offers. For instance, at 35mm this lens will give you an equivalent field-of-view of a 56mm lens on a full-frame camera. So you should consider this a
wide-angle to standard length zoom since it offers no telephoto focal lengths. That might be a concern for some looking for a more complete walk-around lens with the option to go longer without having to swap lenses.

Made with four aspherical elements and five special low dispersion glass elements, the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art packs quite a punch where glass technology is concerned. This lens is also user-adjustable with Sigma's USB calibration dock to assure this lens will be sharp (and stay sharp) for many years of use. Compared to other professional quality zoom lenses, this lens is priced very competitively.

If you’re looking for a walk-around lens that allows you razor-thin depth-of-focus on your Rebel, 60D, 70D, or any Canon crop camera, you would be wise to consider theSigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art zoom lens.

Canon 17-55mm EF-S IS USM Lens

The Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS is one of the first EF-S lenses Canon released and its performance suggests Canon is very serious about supporting the EF-S mount with professional level lenses. Though not a proper member of Canon's professional "L" lens line, the EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS is nevertheless considered by many to be Canon's only EF-S L lens, if just de facto.

The Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS has a large 77mm front thread to filters, and that's just one clue that this lens means business. Typically, Canon's professional lenses have large front threads because the front element on high performing lenses tend to be large, so it's the nature of the beast to require large filters. One criticism of this lens, and one used to show how the EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS wasn't "professional" grade, was that the lens body is a rigid plastic polycarbonate. Not only is polycarb a perfectly capable material, many of Canon’s L lenses are now also made of polycarbonate!

This lens is made with both Ultra-low Dispersion (UD) and aspherical optical elements, so rest assured the features that most directly contribute to image quality are there. In addition, the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS (denoted by the "IS") has built-in image stabilization, a rare but very useful feature among fast f/2.8 walk-around lenses.

Though there’s much controversy as to the value of UV protectors on modern lenses, there exists many anecdotal stories of the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS benefiting from a UV filter being mounted. There may be enough evidence to suggest a UV filter prevents or inhibits dust from entering the body. Actually, if you look closely at the front of this lens, there appears to be a small hole right out the front element in the bezel that may be the culprit. Blocking this hole, which may be for pressure release as the body extends and contracts for zooming, might help stop dust from entering the body, possibly requiring cleaning. So, no matter which side of the UV protector debate you fall on, you might want to consider one where this lens is concerned.

If you shoot on a Canon crop camera, like the Rebel XSi or the 70D, among many others, consider the ultra-sharp, fast aperture, and quick auto-focusing Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS. It might be as close to an "L" lens we'll get on an EF-S mount lens.

Canon 28-135mm IS USM EF Lens

This Canon lens is lightweight, yet has a versatile focal range and an excellent price. Optical image stabilization is included, allowing you to shoot up to two stops faster. The speed is about average, starting at f3.5. The ultrasonic motor is quiet and manual focus is available as well. With an internal focusing system, the length of the lens does not change as the focus changes. The minimum focusing distance of just under 20 inches means it's possible to shoot close too. The lens weighs in at just over a pound.

Tamron 18-270mm AF Di II VC LD IF Lens For Canon

The beauty inside this lens is the Piezo Drive motor, a new design by Tamron that allows for quick, quiet autofocusing in a compact lens. In fact, this lens weighs less than a pound, which is rather remarkable considering both the wide-angle and telephoto capabilities in one. It includes vibration reduction, three hybrid aspherical lens elements and two low dispersion elements. The minimum focus length is 19.3 inches, so close-ups aren't out-of-the-question either. As with most of our other budget picks, the maximum aperture is a little on the slow side, but the feature set for the price is excellent.

Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS Telephoto Zoom Lens

Three hundred dollars is an excellent price for a lens with 250mm capability and optical image stabilization. The 55-250mm zoom is also lightweight. The speed is on the slower side, starting at f4, but the optical image stabilization allows for shooting at up to four times slower, which helps compensate. The minimum focus distance is 3.61 feet, so it's not as adept at close-ups. Canon has included their ultra-low dispersion elements as well. The entire lens weighs just under 14 ounces.

Tamron 17-50mm SP AF XR Di II LD Lens For Canon

Tamron's 17-50mm lens is still quite fast, considering the zoom range and the price point. The f2.8 constant aperture will still produce a nice, defocused background, while the zoom range allows for more versatility over fixed wide angle lenses. The Tamron starts at a very wide 17mm but extends out to a nice 50mm. With a minimum focus distance of 10.6 inches, this lens can handle some macro-type shots as well. Weighing in at just under a pound, this Tamron won't add to much to your gear bag either.

Tamron SP 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di VC USD Telephoto Zoom Lens for Nikon

Telephoto zooms can be quite pricey, but this Tamron extends from 70 to 300mm and is still priced under $500. The vibration compensation is a must for any telephoto and allows for shooting at up to four stops slower than lenses without it. The ultrasonic autofocus motor should be both fairly quick and quiet. Constructed with low dispersion and extra low dispersion elements, it has been developed for excellent digital images. A more expensive lens will get you a better minimum aperture, but this Tamron is an excellent option for the price point.

Hillary K. Grigonis
As a former photojournalist, I love taking pictures and staying up-to-date on camera trends. I'm now both a freelance writer and photographer, and when I'm not taking pictures for clients or writing about photography, I'm probably taking snapshots of my family. My first camera was a Canon but my DSLR is a Nikon. I'm a fan of the Sony point-and-shoots, but I also like the quirkiness of smaller brands like Pentax.
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