The First Canon Lenses You Should Buy

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Last Updated on October 16, 2021

Top Pick: Canon EF 50mm f/1.8

You can buy this lens if you are looking to buy your first Canon lens without taking the time to research about the options.

In most cases, its competitors cannot compare to its quality and performance


When you buy a Canon camera, it only makes sense to purchase Canon lenses as well. There are, however, a number of independent lens manufacturers who make lenses to fit Canon cameras such as Sigma, Tamron, Tokina, and others. Lenses made by independent manufacturers are often equally good or even better, at a much lower cost.

In order to fully utilize the capabilities of your Canon camera, you need to acquire lenses. Unless you have a full-frame camera, your kit lens will probably be the Canon EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 if you have an APS-C body; either one works well as your everyday zoom, but you’ll soon outgrow it. 

A new lens will be necessary if you want to shoot in low light, from a wider vantage point, or up close to the subject. We’ve put together this guide to lead you in the right direction when it comes to buying great glass at a reasonable price.


Canon EF 50mm f/1.8

Blur the background on the cheap

In most cases, if your budget allows for only one lens, the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 is a good place to start. With wide-aperture prime lenses, you can take sharp images of subjects against a blurred background and they produce amazing indoor and outdoor photos regardless of the time of day.

In order to develop your photography skills, you’ll need to build a lens collection. Start out with a telephoto lens like the 70-200mm f/4L from Canon, and a wide-angle lens like the Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 if you have an APS-C camera. For macro enthusiasts, you can’t go wrong with the Tamron AF 90mm f/2.8 Di SP. For those upgrading their kits, pick up the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM.

You should never mount an EF-S lens on a full-frame camera that uses a full-frame sensor, such as the Canon EOS 6D Mark II. Compared to the lenses designed for your camera, these lenses extend into the camera body further. The EF-S lens may damage your camera if you use it on a full-frame body.


The Canon EOS 80D and Canon EOS Rebel T6i are both crop-sensor Canon cameras, and one of our main focus points is on lenses that work well with these cameras.

APS-C sensors are inside Canon DSLRs that you just bought if it’s your first DSLR. This smaller sensor is key to getting the best performance and lenses from your camera, as well as affecting the cost and size of your lenses. Some Canon cameras (such as the 5D Mark III) use APS-C (or crop) sensors.

Most of the gear we recommend is optimized for crop-sensor cameras, not full-frame terms; they may be lighter and cheaper than full-frame models, but they don’t perform as well optically. 

We recommend lenses that are compatible with both full-frame and crop-sensor cameras in some cases, such as the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8. Having lenses that can cover both sensor sizes is undoubtedly a plus, but beginner photographers should stay away from full-frame myths and equip themselves with gear that meets their current needs.

Adding millimeters to the focal length of a lens will give you its distance. Using that measurement, you can estimate how much of the scene is magnified by the lens. An image with a larger number of pixels has a narrower field of view in addition to offering more magnification; for instance, a 400mm lens gives a telephoto view, while a 20mm lens gives a wide-angle view. (The measurements are on the inside or outside of the lens.) 

As a consequence of the difference in sensor size, the field of view of a given lens will be smaller, which is known as the “crop factor.” In-camera reviews, the crop factor is often expressed as a multiple of the 35mm, full-frame industry standard. 

APS-C cameras from Canon have a crop factor of 1.6, which means that a 50mm lens attached to a crop-sensor camera gives the same degree of field-of-view as an 80mm lens on a full-frame sensor. There are different crop factors for different camera sensor formats; Micro Four Thirds is a 2x crop factor. 

It is helpful to know that manufacturers have different names for their crop sensors and full-frame lenses. For instance, EF lenses are compatible with all Canon cameras, while EF lenses are crop-sensor-specific. The Sigma DC and DG lenses are called DC, DG lenses are called DG, and Tamron DPs are called DP IIs.

Each of the lenses we noted does not cost thousands of dollars, so you should be able to experiment with a few for varying purposes. In this post, we’ve recommended the best gear, and if you want to invest in a better lens, we’ve also listed a few choices at higher prices.

Below we have listed all the very best lenses according to a different category-


Canon EF 50mm f/1.8

Blur the background on the cheap

The first lens you should pick up is affordable, small, and capable of capturing excellent images even in low light. With its current price, the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 (80mm equivalent focal length on APS-C cameras) is the perfect lens for anyone on a budget. 

We recommend it because it dramatically improves your low-light photography and lets you produce sharper images than your kit lens can produce. Considering this lightweight lens can be used in so many situations, we believe it will become your most preferred lens for everyday photography.

Did you ever see a picture where the background was out of focus, so the subject could be clearly seen? With a wider aperture, the photographer can use a shallow depth of field (only a small portion of the shot will be sharp, so all the rest will be blurry). 

The Canon f/1.8 offers about the best value in that regard, since it is a “fixed” lens (which doesn’t zoom). These wide-aperture lenses are also great for shooting indoors and in other difficult lighting situations like concerts, as their wider aperture means they can capture photos even in low-light situations.

Aside from the metal mount, the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 offers additional diaphragm blades and a new STM autofocus motor that makes autofocusing faster and quieter (a feature that will prove particularly useful when shooting video).

It was recommended by many experts. “It’s a wonderful, little lens, too sharp, and more affordable than anything else I know,” wrote Roger Cicala in an email interview.

A technical editor of Amateur Photographer and What Digital Camera, Andy Westlake, said the new version of the f/1.8 lens is noticeably better: “That’s a really nice lens – much better than the earlier one and still pretty affordable.” It is a really quiet motor.”

Based on DxOMark’s testing, this lens offers similar optical performance to its predecessor.

You can get a better-quality lens for nearly three times the cost of the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 if you’re willing to spend a bit more. Among Canon’s two 50mm lenses, the f/1.4 version is undoubtedly the best, but if you are just starting out and you aren’t sure what you are looking for, the f/1.8 version is an excellent starting point.

When you use both lenses wide open, you might notice a real difference: Reviewers have noted that the f/1.8 lens was soft at its maximum aperture. 

In other words, if you want exceptionally sharp results and often need to shoot wide open, you might want to consider the f/1.4 lens. The f/1.8 version, however, is more than adequate for most beginning photographers.

We believe the f/1.8 lens would be a better deal for someone just starting out due to the price difference. In addition to being incredibly cheap and sharp, fast, and lightweight, it’s also a great tool to learn about focal length.


In most cases, a telephoto zoom is the first lens we buy as an extra. Sport and wildlife photographers will find it invaluable anytime they cannot get as close to the subject as they might like. Even if you have an APS-C camera, you should consider getting a full-frame EF lens for telephotos. This small sensor gives lenses on these cameras a longer focal length effective, but as a telephoto, that advantage is huge! You can’t go wrong with these

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L

A pro-level zoom for an affordable price

Your next purchase will probably be a zoom lens that can adapt to crop-sensor cameras, such as the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L (about 110 millimeters to 320 millimeters equivalent focal length). A few more millimeters of zoom can sometimes be just the thing you need, whether you’re taking a picture of your kid playing soccer or capturing the Statue of Liberty from the Staten Island Ferry. 

When you’re used to a point-and-shoot, you may be spoiled by the zooming power of it, or something similar to that. In spite of the fact that DSLR lenses don’t last that long, they are of good quality.

Canon’s high-quality, L-series lenses are usually made in an off-white color and are distinguished by the L designation. Images captured with them are of superior quality and impressive sharpness, and their value remains intact. 

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L is our recommendation for the zoom, or if you have more money, the EF 70-200mm f/4 L IS which is twice as expensive but has an extended focal length for getting sharper images.

When you are fully zoomed, the lenses’ maximum aperture stays at f/4, so there is more light to work with, which means faster exposure. Most of the time, though, the decision comes down to image quality: Each of the L lenses is exceptional, and any of them will last you for a very long time.

Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM | C

Excellent super-telephoto lens for Canon DSLRs if you need more distance

It’s our favorite super-telephoto zoom for Canon cameras. However, it’s a big and heavy lens that’s difficult to use at a zoom range and when it’s close to 3kg, it’s a challenge to photograph with. 

Modern versions of this lens are less expensive, more compact, and lighter than the previous version by almost a kilogram. Canon full-frame bodies deliver 600mm ‘effective’ focal length, while Canon APS-C cameras deliver 960mm ‘effective’ focal length thanks to the 1.6x crop factor procured by their smaller sensors. 

This kind of lens is essential for wildlife photography, long-range sports such as baseball or cricket, and aviation photography. Despite not being weatherproof as extensively as the ‘Sports’ version, this lens is very well-made, quite sharp, and contains the same number of up-market features and controls. Generally speaking, for most of us, you’ll be better off with it.

Canon EF-M 55-200mm f/4.5-6.3 IS STM

Small and portable telephoto zoom for Canon EOS M cameras

In addition to choosing a small and light camera like a Canon EOS M, you will want lenses that are similarly small and light. A very lightweight telephoto zoom range lens for DSLRs, it has a third the weight and is much thinner and shorter than Canon’s 70-300mm lens. 

In full-frame terms, it’s also shorter in maximum focal length, but it still gets as close as 320mm in terms of ‘effective focal length. Additionally, the aperture rating shrinks to f/6.3 instead of the industry-standard f/5.6 at the longer focal lengths, another significant downsizing factor. It has a plastic mounting plate rather than a metal one, but overall it feels well-built. With an image stabilizer of 3.5 stops, the image quality is decent in all respects, with impressive sharpness. As a compact telephoto zoom, it is ideal for the EOS M.


The very best zoom lenses provide a wider field of view but often don’t cover enough ground. Canon’s APS-C camera kit lens has a minimum focal length of 18mm, which is equivalent to 28.8mm on full-frame terms. Despite its width, it isn’t all that wide. Wide-angle zooms for the APS-C format usually start at 10mm, meaning you can fit a greater amount of scene into the image frame. 

When choosing a lens for your camera, it’s essential that the lens meets the camera’s sensor size, unlike telephoto zooms. If you plan to shoot on an APS-C class camera, you’ll need a wide-angle zoom lens in APS-C format, since full-frame zooms will not offer you the wider field of view you’re looking for. You should, on the other hand, get a wide-angle Canon lens as well if you own a full-frame camera.

Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6

For landscapes and tight spaces

If you often find yourself taking photos in tight quarters (for example, at a party, or in a small room), it is essential to use a wide-angle lens in order to get everything in the frame. The wide-angle lens is an absolute necessity when you are photographing architectural or landscape subjects.

The Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 (16 to 30mm equivalent focal length) is one such wide-angle lens worth considering. This wide-angle lens costs less than most third-party options, making it one of the most affordable wide-angle lenses out there.

You can also use a wide-angle lens to make your apartment look bigger when you are listing your house on Craigslist.

Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II VC HLD

For APS-C DSLRs and wide-angle lenses

There are some excellent Tamron lenses that cost less than Canon equivalents. Tamron’s latest 10-24mm ultra-wide zoom is one of the best wide-angle zooms on the market today thanks to its improved optics, HLD autofocus system, and four-stop vibration compensation (VC). 

This camera’s handling has been improved as the focus ring will no longer rotate during autofocus, and full-time manual overriding is now available. The front element is also coated in a fluorine film to prevent moisture from getting in and facilitate cleaning. As a Canon EF-S DSLR lens, it’s not among the cheapest, but if you can afford it, it is the best option. 

Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM | A

A brilliant wide-angle zoom for Canon’s full-frame DSLRs

There is no lens in the world that offers quite as wide an angle of view like this one. But since the Sigma lens came out just about half as expensive as the Canon lens, this is still a fantastic opportunity. 

With this lens, even when shooting wide-open at f/2.8, you get exceptional sharpness throughout the entire image frame. There are no distortions with such an ultrawide zoom, and there is practically no color fringing. 

In addition to the top-quality optics, this powerful binocular is built with superb engineering and fully weather-proof materials. In recent years, we have found that this lens has become our favorite wide-angle zoom for Canon DSLRs.

Canon EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM

Despite its small size, offers ultra-wide zoom capabilities

Due to its compact and retractable design, this wide-angle zoom is an unusually small, compact camera that matches the mirrorless EOS M design philosophy. In fact, the Tamron 10-24mm lens for DSLRs is barely heavier than the aforementioned 40mm lens. A large viewing angle can still be achieved at such a short focal length, albeit not as far as with a maximum focal length of 11mm. 

STM autofocus is nearly silent in operation, so it is especially suitable for video capture. It also provides smooth transitions between focus points and sharpness is adjusted accordingly through dynamic stabilization. 

With its 0.15m minimum focus distance, this camera is brilliant for capturing close-ups at extremely wide angles and looking at things in a really exaggerated perspective. With most lenses featuring stepping motor autofocus, though, there’s no scale for the measurement of the focus distance.


Macro is often used as a synonym for close-ups, but the term encompasses more than that. Even though many zoom lenses label themselves as macro, they ordinarily offer magnification in the range of 0.3x to 0.5x only. On the other hand, a macro prime lens that is ‘real’ will provide full 1.0x magnification at its closest focus setting.

In this case, the subject you’re shooting will appear in full life-size on the sensor of the camera. A postage stamp would, for example, cover the entire image area of an APS-C camera. 

If you are shooting with an APS-C format camera, buying a macro lens that is full-frame format can appeal to you, just as it does for telephotos. You can work closer and more comfortably with your subject with full-frame lenses since they have a longer focal range. You will also still be able to use your lens on a full-frame Canon DSLR later if you choose to upgrade.

Canon EF-S 35mm f/2.8 Macro IS STM

This macro lens for APS-C Canon DSLRs also has a built-in flash!

With an electronically coupled focus ring, this lens incorporates stepping motor autofocus, as do many current lenses. It was developed to mimic Canon’s top-of-the-line 100mm L-series lens and is capable of correcting both x-y shifts and vibrations, making it particularly useful for close-up photography. 

Although the front of the lens is only 3cm from the subject at the minimum focus distance, ambient light may be obstructed. There is also an integrated LED macro light that offers two brightness levels, allowing you to use both sides, or just one. 

Although it’s not that bright, you’ll still need a shutter speed of about 1/15th of a second at f/8 (ISO 200) to take the photo even at full power. Getting a longer zoom lens would probably be a fantastic choice for serious close-up photographers.

Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Macro

Canon DSLRs are a great match for this classic, modern macro lens

Macro photography is often considered to be best accomplished with focal lengths between 90mm and 105mm as this provides a comfortable and natural working distance to achieve close-up photography. 

There are several high-quality features on the Tamron ‘G2’ lens, including nano-structure coatings, great optical performance, weather-seals, as well as a fluorine coating on the front element to keep moisture and grease at bay. 

Additionally, it includes a ‘hybrid’ image stabilization process that counteracts both horizontal and vertical movement, as well as angular vibrations. 

As a consequence, the Tamron’s stabilization is more effective when photographing things up close. In this regard, it matches Canon’s revered 100mm IS USM macro lens. In terms of image quality, handling, and performance, the Tamron performs just as well, but at about two-thirds of the cost, this is the better purchase.


It is generally best to separate the subject from his or her environment when you are taking a portrait. The challenge is especially hard if you’re shooting against a complex or cluttered backdrop.

 The problem can be solved with a medium to long focal length lens with a quick aperture rating between f/1.4 and f/1.8. When you use a shallow depth of field, the background will be out of focus, making people stand out from the background. 

The use of full-frame format lenses on APS-C cameras can have advantages similar to macro lenses. In general, a full-frame camera with an 85mm lens is considered ideal for portraiture. When the crop factor is taken into account, a 50mm lens will provide similar benefits on an APS-C camera. 

A Canon APS-C camera can still use an 85mm ‘portrait’ lens – you just have to move further away from the subject. 

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM

For Canon DSLRs with APS-C sensors, this is a great low-cost option

If you own a Canon APS-C DSLR, this is an affordable replacement for the Sigma lens (above). It’s true that Canon’s latest EF 50mm f/1.8 lenses have built quality that’s a little suspect, from their plastic mounts to their plastic filters, however, this newest version with a metal mounting plate along with a better STM autofocus system with an electronically coupled focus ring feels much more solid.

As a result of the new design, the focus ring no longer rotates when the lens is in autofocus, and although autofocus is audible, it is quieter than previous editions. In addition to smooth autofocus transitions, movie capture now has this capability. 

By increasing the number of diaphragm blades to seven, the aperture can be rounded out more when stopping down. With a weight of only 160g, the lens is a real lightweight. As far as image quality is concerned, it definitely puts up a fight.

Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM

The widest-aperture portrait lenses from Canon for full-frame DSLRs

In most cases, you have to choose between image stabilization and fast apertures f/1.4 when purchasing a portrait prime. Canon’s EF 55mm f/2 IS USM lens combines the best of both worlds: a wide-angle lens that offers excellent image quality and good optical precision, along with a weatherproof design. 

This camera features a nine-blade aperture that performs exceptionally well (for beautiful bokeh), and Canon’s advanced ASC (Air Sphere Coating) features that minimize ghosting and flare. The lens is certainly bigger and chunkier than the competing Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art lens, but noticeably smaller and lighter. 

The Canon’s bokeh is delightfully smooth and creamy (the defocused areas are not far off as sharp as the Sigma) and its stabilization can make a huge difference when shooting handheld in low-light situations. The cost of lenses like these is high (sorry! ), however, you are paying for what you get.

Sigma 56mm f/1.4 DC DN | C for EOS M

An intelligent portrait lens for mirrorless cameras of the EOS M series

The Sigma 14-42mm f/3.5-6.3 EOS M lens is a majestic lens designed to meet the requirements of mirrorless cameras with APS-C sensors. A 90mm focal length range and a fast f/1.4 aperture make this the ideal portrait photography camera to reduce the depth of field while blurring the background. 

Moreover, all of this is accomplished while keeping the physical size and weight of the lens under 67x60mm, giving it a balanced and satisfying feel on slim bodies like those from the EOS M series. In addition to its sturdy construction, the Sigma lens is equipped with a lens hood, unlike most Canon lenses other than L series lenses. 


There are several types of lenses available for different purposes. It is totally up to you to decide for what purpose you want to buy a lens. With the aforementioned list, you should be able to get familiar with the various features of different lenses. Now it’s up to you to choose your first Canon lens according to your needs.The First Canon Lenses You Should Buy

Olivia Bouler

From a young age, camera's fascinated me. My dad gave me my first Canon when I was seven, and since then I've tried to improve my craft. As a young Ornithologist and photographer, I travel a lot and love to bring a camera with me. I love the feeling of capturing a moment that can never be repeated and providing someone with a memento of a time or place.