A lens review is a “must read” for all photographers using Canon digital SLR cameras who are contemplating buying a new lens to upgrade their kit lens. Digital SLR camera lenses can be very expensive and if you want to make sure you don’t waste your money buying the wrong camera lens you are going to have to read a lens review or two. There are loads of different lenses for your digital SLR camera and choosing the right one can be a painful task, unless you break the process down in to manageable chunks that is.
When buying a new lens the most important thing to consider is the type of photographs you want to take. For example, are you looking to capture images of sweeping landscapes or are you wanting to take macro shots of butterflies? Whatever you are intending on photographing there is a specific lens for the task, and if you want to capture the best images you need to select it. So, let’s take a look at the different genres of photography and then the best Canon lenses for each different genre
Canon lens review for Landscape (including sea scape and city scape) photography
When shooting sweeping and panoramic landscapes and seascapes you are going to want to get as much of the scenery and background in the final photograph as possible, and to do this a wide angle lens/ A wide angle lens is one with a short focal length and a broad angle of view. The wider the lens the more you can squeeze in to the final photograph. It really is as simple as that.
The best lens for landscapes is the Canon EF16mm – 35mm f2.8L, and this is the one used by professional landscape photographers. The build quality of this lens is second to none and the image quality is simply stunning. As you’d expect, the Canon 16 – 35mm f2.8L is expensive but, if you can afford to buy one, it is well worth it. If you shot a Canon DSLR camera with a crop sensor the only real way of getting a super wide angle lens is to use the Canon EF-S 10mm – 22mm. This is another excellent lens that is more affordable than the EF16mm – 35mm f2.8L however it is a lens you can’t use on full frame cameras, such as the eos 5d.
Arguably the best Canon landscape lens available.
I would always opt for Canon branded wide angle lenses but if you are on a budget there are other manufacturers that make cheaper wide angle lenses, such as Sigma, Tokina and Tamron. All of these manufacturers make wide angle lenses that will work with Canon digital SLR cameras and all of them are worth looking in to if you can’t afford a Canon branded wide angle lens.
Canon lens review for portrait (including human and animals) photography
A good portrait lens is fast and has a wide maximum aperture, i.e. a low f number, which allows you to take a tack sharp photography of the subject and have the background nicely blurred out.
Many people consider the 50mm focal length to be best for portraits and I have to say I agree. Canon produces three 50mm lenses, consisting of the EF50mm 1.8, 50mm 1.4 and the 50mm 1.2. You’d think the only difference between the lenses is the maximum aperture, but this is not the case. These lenses are totally different and this is reflected in the build quality and the price. The weird thing is the image quality is not so disparate, and all three lenses capture some awesome portrait images.
The Canon EF50mm 1.8 is the cheapest of the three and it is possible to pick one up for around a hundred bucks. This lens is the best value for money Canon lens you can buy and it is well worth a purchase. The most expensive is the Canon EF50mm 1.2, and at several hundred bucks, you need deep pockets to buy one.
Sigma, Tamron and Tokina also make 50mm prime lenses for Canon cameras and these are also worth a look if you are on a budget. As with all lenses, I would say Canon branded lenses are the best and I tend to stick to these, however there are many Canon shooters that prefer to use non Canon branded lenses.
Canon lens review for macro photography
If you want to buy a Canon macro lens there are five options to choose from including the 50mm f2.5, 100mm f2.8, 100mm f2.8L IS USM, 65mm MP-E and 180mm f3.5.
The 50mm f2.5 is only good for still lives and subjects that don’t move because the focal length is just too short. The Canon 50mm f2.5 macro is a lens I would never recommend. At the other end of the spectrum there is the Canon 180mm f3.5. This macro lens is a heavy beast that is difficult to control in windy conditions. To get the most out of the Canon 180mm you are going to need to invest in a sturdy tripod.
The Canon 100mm macro lenses are the macro lenses to buy. The 100mm f2.8 lens is super sharp and the image quality is simply awesome. The IS version has newer optics and has image stabilisation technology built in, which really helps when taking hand held shots of insects and bugs. The image quality between the two 100mm lenses is negligible, although the IS version is slightly better. If you have the cash available the IS version is the one to buy, but you will be happy with either of the 100mm macro lenses.
Sigma, Tamron and Tokina also make macro lenses for Canon cameras, which are good if you are on a budget.
Canon EF100mm f2.8L IS USM macro lens review
Canon lens review for sports photography
The best lens for sports photography is a zoom lens, which covers a range of focal lengths. The most popular lenses for sports photography include the Canon EF70mm – 200mm f2.8L IS USM lens and the Canon 100mm – 400mm L IS USM lens, for those that need a bit more reach.
The 70mm – 200mm f2.8L IS USM lens is a fast lens, which means you can keep the shutter speeds up to freeze the action. This lens also has a wide maximum aperture throughout the focal range and includes image stabilisation technology to ensure your hand held shots are tack sharp. The 70mm – 200mm f2.8L IS USM lens is the lens to have, however it is very expensive. Fortunately, there are more affordable alternatives including the 70mm – 200mm f2.8L, the 70mm – 200 f4L IS USM and the 70mm – 200mm f4L IS USM. All of these lenses are very good and will capture some great action images. Choosing the best 70mm – 200mm Canon lens will depend on whether you want a 2.8 or 4.0 maximum aperture, whether you want image stabilisation or not and, more importantly, how much money you have to spend.
The Canon 100mm – 400mm is an awesome lens that is great for those who want a bit more reach. As well as having a 400mm long end this lens also has image stabilisation, which ensures tack sharp shots each and every time. This lens is not particularly fast, but given its affordable price tag this is to be expected. The Canon 100mm – 400mm lens offers the best value for money and is well worth buying if you want to capture sports images.
The Canon 100 400 - The best value for money sports and wildlife lens available.
Sigma and Tamron also make lenses that work with Canon cameras in the 70 – 200 focal length, and longer, but the Canon branded lenses are far superior.
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Canon lens review for wildlife photography
When capturing wildlife images you are going to be a long way away from your subject, therefore you are going to need the lens with the longest focal length possible however this comes at a price.
An excellent wildlife lens is the Canon 100mm – 400mm lens. Whilst animals are a long way away the majority of the time there is going to be situations when you can get a bit closer, which will require a lens with a smaller focal length and this is where the Canon 100 – 400 comes in to its own. The build quality of the Canon 100 – 400 is second to none and the image quality is awesome.
Other good wildlife lenses include the Canon EF400mm, Canon EF500mm, Canon EF600mm and the Canon EF800mm. All of these lenses are primes, i.e. they have a fixed focal length, but they are all tough and sturdy and have excellent image quality. These lenses are very expensive and cos several hundred bucks, so you do need deep pockets to buy them. The Canon 100 – 400 on the other hand, is much more affordable.
If your budget doesn’t stretch to a Canon zoom the Sigma 100 – 500, affectionately known as the “Bigma”, is a cheaper alternative. The image quality of this lens is not quite up to par with the Canon lenses but it is very good nonetheless and you will be more than happy with the results.
Canon lens review for general photography
The best lens for general photography is a standard zoom lens, i.e. one with a range of focal lengths since these are very versatile. Top Canon lenses include the 24mm – 70mm f2.8L and the Canon 24mm – 105mm f4.
The 24mm – 70mm is an awesome lens that is well built and has excellent image quality. With a maximum aperture of 2.8 it is also fast, which helps keep the shutter speeds up even in low light conditions. The 24mm – 105mm has a smaller maximum aperture of 4.0, however it does have the additional reach. The decision on which of these lenses to buy depends on your specific requirements. If you want a fast lens and can cope with a shorter reach the 24mm – 70mm is the lens to go for. If, however, you need the additional reach the best choice is the 24mm – 105mm.
Once again, Sigma, Tamron and Tokina make similar lenses, which are a lot cheaper, but I would always opt for the Canon branded lenses.
Hands on review of the Canon 24mm - 70mm f2.8L lens
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How good is the 24 - 70 lens?
Buying Canon lenses
When buying Canon lenses the best place to buy them is the internet, since this is the place where there are deals to be had and bargains galore. As previously mentioned, Canon lenses are expensive and you want to buy from reputable sellers just in case something goes wrong. There are loads of Canon lens sellers on the internet, some of which are exceptionally good and some which are best left alone.
Canon Photography Equipment Essentials is an online store for not all your Canon lenses, but any other digital photography accessory you are looking for, be it memory cards, batteries, filters, tripods or cases. It is a one stop shop for all Canon equipment and, being an Amazon store, you can shop safely.