Top 10 Canon Lenses

Webmaster February 1, 2012 37

Canon LensesThese top 10 Canon lenses are the best that Canon has to offer. To develop the following recommendations, we considered popularity, quality, usability and cost. This list is definitely directed at serious amateurs photographers and professionals who are looking to expand their lens collection, photographic ability and creative potential. While zoom lenses are by far the most popular upgrades, we also listed a few prime (or fixed focal length) lenses that are worthy of consideration. While prime lenses are on their way out in terms of overall popularity, many produce higher quality results at a much lower price than comparable zoom lenses.

Ultimately, you should take into consideration several factors when determining what the best Canon lenses are. First, consider why you need a new lens. If you are looking for all around versatility, you should go for a zoom lens with a standard set of focal lengths useful for everyday photography (such as 24-105mm). If you are looking to just shoot portraits, you might consider a prime lens. Next you should consider the relationship between price and image quality—a consideration we took into account when developing this list. For example, if you need a high quality multipurpose zoom lens for sports and portraits and price is not an option, the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II is the best choice. For the cost conscious photographer, the 70-200mm f/4.0 without IS is possibly a better choice. Additionally, if you want the highest quality at the lowest price and do not require the versatility of a zoom, prime lenses may be your best choice.

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

1. Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM

The Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens is a staple of professional photography. The 70-200mm focal length is an increasingly popular and versatile choice for many photographers. It allows for effective photographs of a variety of subjects. The most common application for this lens is sports photography. Whether pared with a top end full frame digital SLR or a 1.6x field of view crop factor camera, this lens is sure to shine. A fast maximum aperture and image stabilization make for great low light shooting. Also, Canon “L series” optics make the images from this lens shine with high contrast, resolution and sharpness.

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

2. Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM

The versatility of the 24-70mm focal length range offered by this lens combined with “L series” optics make it a great pick for the photographer looking to for a general purpose workhorse that does not skimp on image quality. While it does not match the image quality of a prime lens, sharpness and color retention are still excellent. Moreover, a fast maximum aperture of f/2.8 makes this lens great for tricky lighting situations.

Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Standard Zoom Lens

3. Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM

This is the workhorse lens of the professional photographer. With a wide range of focal lengths, this lens is likely the most versatile of any in Canon’s lineup. While not as fast as some lenses at f/4, image stabilization still makes the 24-105mm f/4L useful in low light conditions. “L series” optics make it even better.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM Telephoto Zoom Lens

4. Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM

For photographers who require the versatility of the 70-200mm focal length range, but are on a budget, the f/4 version of the classic Canon “L series” 70-200mm lens collection is a fine choice. Considering that this is a professional quality lens, this lens is almost a steal. While it does not have image stabilization or a very fast f/2.8 maximum aperture like more expensive models, it is still a high quality performer that rivals the best telephoto zoom lenses in the world.

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Telephoto Zoom Lens

5. Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM

The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS lens is a popular professional grade offering that makes its way into the camera bags of many amateur photographers. “L series” optics are by far the primary draw for this lens; they help produce excellent images. Image stabilization is also a plus, and it works well to reduce camera shake in low light conditions. The 100-400mm focal length is most useful for sports, action and wildlife photography, applications which drive most amateurs to buy additional lenses.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 Standard Telephoto Lens

6. Canon EF 50mm f/1.8

The 50mm focal length has long been the standard for serious photographers looking to expand their creative potential. It you are looking to get better at photography and are simultaneously interested in experiencing the image quality of an excellent prime lens you should think about adding this inexpensive tool to your collection. The 50mm focal length forces you to think about what you are shooting—allowing you to focus on image framing and composition. As an added bonus this lens produces crystal clear, sharp images and is very fast.

Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Standard Zoom Lens

7. Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS

This is an EF-S mount specific zoom designed with the consumer photographer in mind. The Canon EF-S 17-85mm is a proven performer that works well in a variety of photography applications. The image stabilization system on this lens is a great feature that helps keep image distortion down in low light shooting situations. If you are an amateur looking for your first all purpose lens upgrade, this lens should make your short list.

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

8. Canon EF-S 55-250 f/4-5.6 IS

Another consideration for the amateur photographer that needs a general purpose lens is the Canon EF-S 55-250 f/4-5.6 IS telephoto zoom lens. The 55-250mm focal length range is useful in almost every application—from portraiture to fast action sports photography. Like many others on this list, it includes image stabilization. Affordability is the number one draw of this lens.

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens

9. Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM

The 100mm f/2.8 is without a doubt the most popular Canon macro lens on the market. While this is not an L-series lens, it contains very high quality glass and takes extremely sharp photos. This lens is an absolute must if you have an interest in macro photos and it is also a great choice for portraits and close-up photography of food, jewelry and decor.

Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM Ultra Wide Angle Zoom Lens

10. Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM Ultra Wide Angle Lens

The 17-40mm f/4L is a high quality L-series lens that delivers sharp wide angle photos. It makes up for its lack of f/2.8 aperture by being extremely light weight, affordable and versatile. The 17-40mm is a great choice for wide angle photography and it is also a very popular choice as a general walk about lens on full frame and cropped cameras.


  1. Andrea Ramsasy March 14, 2012 at 7:35 am -

    Thank you. The website will be helpful to me in selecting a lens.

  2. binu March 18, 2012 at 3:17 am -

    good article, this will be helpful to me in selecting a lens.

  3. HJALMAR GUTIERREZ March 19, 2012 at 2:40 am -

    I think this selection is quite accurate. I have owned or currently use some of these lenses and this guide also helped me in the selection of my new lens.

  4. Alistair Clark March 22, 2012 at 6:29 pm -

    Just about to buy the 5d iii and this site was helpful in making up my mind on which lense to buy..

  5. DANNY March 24, 2012 at 10:32 pm -

    Good and very informative review for particular specific lens. Just on time for i am thinking of adding portraiture lens.

  6. B Schulz March 27, 2012 at 4:04 am -

    Thanks for the information. I have been looking for a macro lens. Excited to buy the Canon EF 100mm 2.8 USM macro.

  7. Michelle March 27, 2012 at 5:18 am -

    I am looking for a new lens for indoor sport shots & this site was very helpful. Thanks =)

  8. Mike March 27, 2012 at 3:17 pm -

    This article helped confirm my decision to buy the 70-200 2.8 ii. Thank you

  9. lawrie March 30, 2012 at 3:03 pm -

    excellent site!!! extremely helpful

  10. lili April 1, 2012 at 6:11 am -

    I am currently researching SLR+lenses. I plan to purchase a Canon T3i and also a Zoom Wide Angle-Telephoto EF 24-70mm f/2.8L. I am still unsure about what is the best fit for me. Reading your information has been very useful and it consolidated the initial idea to purchase the two items above mentioned. Thank you for your help. It has been very useful.

  11. Brian Mac Gee April 4, 2012 at 7:29 am -

    Thank you for the (budget) suggestion Canon EF 50mm f/1.8.

  12. Ashish Bhawalkar April 4, 2012 at 8:12 pm -

    Good Research , this will be helpful for us for selecting a lens.

  13. Joseph April 6, 2012 at 6:20 am -

    Very interesting indeed just bought the 100mm macro lens and very happy with it

  14. Joe April 6, 2012 at 7:56 am -

    Thanks for the good info. This is very helpful while considering how to expand my lens collection.

  15. Piyush April 6, 2012 at 10:51 am -

    I have bought a canon eos 7D……….I am looking for some quality macro lens

  16. Cindy Wesley April 8, 2012 at 12:03 am -

    Greatful for your time to put this information out. I am looking to add to my collection. I use the 24-105 f/4 is and I also have a backup but I am in the market for a prime. Great information.

  17. Travis M. Chance April 8, 2012 at 7:11 pm -

    Well written – although though the well regarded 300 2.8 should make this list (maybe a replacement the 100-400)….

  18. Leong Lam April 9, 2012 at 7:00 am -

    Thank you for posting this. I just wanted a succinct report on the various lenses to help me choose the lens I need for what I am doing. I actually got myself the 24-70 f2.8. It is always on my camera now. I did not have to sit and read pages upon pages of technical details which means I spend more time out there taking photos:)). Well done!

  19. Samuel April 9, 2012 at 8:11 am -

    Great review, thanks for the recommendations

  20. Randy Abano April 10, 2012 at 3:57 am -

    Thank you for the helpful suggestions. I am now interesting to buy a new lens for macro and standard lens.

  21. Julie Cox April 10, 2012 at 10:30 am -

    great help in choising a lense. thanks

  22. Pip O'Regan April 10, 2012 at 3:30 pm -

    Thank you so much for helping me understand which lens I need to purchase and in what order depending on my needs. Definitely need the 17-40 mm USM ultra wide angel. I will be using all this info again soon I’m sure

  23. Jeffrey April 10, 2012 at 5:51 pm -

    Excellent info thank you!

  24. Neem Darlami April 11, 2012 at 10:45 am -

    Useful article. Helped me alot to decide which lens to buy for my photo shoot.

  25. janet April 12, 2012 at 10:51 am -

    Attended workshop 2 weeks ago ~~~~ macro photography was one session option. Very interesting but only scratched the surface.

  26. Pieter April 14, 2012 at 1:49 pm -

    Thanks so much, as a dummy I must start somewhere.

  27. Alastair April 16, 2012 at 11:59 am -

    I’m looking at a fast and wide prime lens for my Canon 5DMk2. Seriously considering the 24mm F1.8, so this site was very helpful for comparing the specifications.

  28. James Alexander April 17, 2012 at 7:02 am -

    Good useful and unbiased information Thank you

  29. Lakshman April 19, 2012 at 8:12 am -

    Good Review. I would rate the 50mm F1.8 the must have among the lenses listed, unless you have the F1.4

  30. shailendra April 19, 2012 at 3:10 pm -

    Still looking for a good canon lense for wedding photography, to shoot candid snaps.

  31. Rockford April 19, 2012 at 4:02 pm -

    Good useful and unbiased imformationThank you

  32. Hesham April 23, 2012 at 4:58 am -

    Useful article, Thanks so much. This is very helpful while considering how to expand my lens collection.

  33. Balachandder S K April 23, 2012 at 6:09 am -

    Thanks for your wonderful article.. I an planning to buy 5 of these top 10 lenses..

  34. Brian rey April 23, 2012 at 10:30 am -

    Finally sorted which 2 extra lens to buy

  35. Jit Maz April 24, 2012 at 1:48 pm -

    This page provides a to the point and comprehensive list of the bes canon lenses. Helps newbies like me a lot when deciding on what to buy next!

  36. john K April 24, 2012 at 9:18 pm -

    Great info.
    Can’t wait till start my collection.

  37. Nancy April 26, 2012 at 11:56 am -

    I already have 3 of these lens and it helped me to find my next lens which is going to be 100mm macro:)

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