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The best Canon lenses

Breathe new life into your camera with the best lenses for Canon DSLRs

The best Canon lenses mix sharp optics with fast performance while hitting the sweet spot for price. There are many great lenses that offer an upgrade over your camera’s kit lens, and the best one for you depends on what you want to shoot. Based on our experience, user reviews, and third party performance testing, here are some of the best EF-mount lenses for your Canon DSLR, from wide-angle to telephoto, for landscapes, portraits, and more. Not sure what type of lens you need? Check out our lens buying guide.

The best cheap Canon lens: Canon EF 85mm F1.8 USM

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Why you should buy this: A sharp, bright and affordable lens that’s a serious upgrade from any kit lens

Who’s it for: Canon photographers looking for a bright mid-length lens without spending a fortune

Why we picked the Canon EF 85mm F1.8 USM:

A bright, mid-telephoto prime lens is an excellent second lens for any photographer still working with a kit lens — and the Canon EF 85mm F1.8 USM is among the best, without heading too deep into the wallet. The 85mm is a classic portrait focal length that offers just enough telephoto compression for a flattering look, while the bright f/1.8 aperture creates a shallow depth of field to separate your subject from the background.

On Canon DSLRs using APS-C sensors with a 1.6X crop factor (such as the Rebels, EOS 77D, and EOS 80D), the lens offers an equivalent focal length of roughly 135mm — coincidentally, another classic portrait focal length. Since portraiture — whether of our friends, kids, or pets — is a type of photography just about everyone practices, this is a great second lens to add to your collection.

Canon photographers praise this lens’s sharpness in particular, impressive considering the approachable price. The eight-bladed iris creates pleasing, circular blur even when stopping the aperture down (the more blades you have, the closer to a true circle the aperture becomes), while coatings help reduce flare and ghosting. Besides the excellent image quality, the lens also uses a USM autofocus motor that’s both quick and quiet.

While the Canon EF 85mm F1.8 USM delivers excellent image quality and performance, it weighs only 15 ounces and is less than three inches long, making it ideal for shoots where space and weight matters, such as in travel photography. Add in the affordable price point, and it’s hard not to buy Canon’s 85mm. The lens’ biggest criticism is a tendency for some chromatic aberration, or colored fringing, that’s more prominent at wider apertures. For eking out even more quality, the newer Canon EF 85mm F1.4L IS is excellent — but more than twice the price.

The best wide-angle lens for Canon: Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM Art

Sigma 14-24mm f2.8 review
Daven Mathies/Digital Trends

Why you should buy this: Excellent quality in a focal length and aperture combination not offered by Canon

Who’s it for: Landscape and architectural photographers — or anyone who wants a super wide-angle

Why we picked the Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM Art:

Wider and less expensive than Canon’s 16-35mm f/2.8 wide-angle zoom, the Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM Art is the ideal lens for any photographer who wants both a wide field of view and a wide aperture. The ultra-wide focal length combined with the fast f/2.8 aperture make it a good choice for interior scenes where you have to balance limited working distance with low light, and it’s also a good focal length for landscapes.

We said the Sigma 14-24mm set “a new bar for fast ultra-wide zooms” in our review, as it delivered excellent sharpness and minimal chromatic aberration, an impressive feat for such a wide, bright lens. While the Canon EF 16-35mm F2.8 III USM is also a great lens, the Sigma is wider, cheaper, and still delivers solid image quality.

The trade-off for those super-wide sharp optics is that the lens is a bit heavy for a wide-angle zoom, though it’s also weather-sealed. The large, convex front element also means it can’t accept standard screw-on filters — something the Canon 16-35mm can — but if you want super wide with the flexibility of a zoom and a fast aperture, the Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM Art is one of the best out there.

The best Canon midrange zoom: Canon EF 24-70mm F2.8L II USM

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Why you should buy this: A versatile lens for photographing a wide range of subjects

Who’s it for: Any photographer demanding both versatility and quality

Why we picked the Canon EF 24-70mm F2.8L II USM:

If you can only have one zoom in your bag, make it a 24-70mm F2.8. You’ll find such a lens in the hands of wedding photographers, sports shooters, photojournalists, studio portrait photographers, and just about anyone else. Canon’s second generation of the popular workhorse lens offers all the versatility of its predecessor while improving sharpness and autofocus performance. The lens uses an enhanced optical design that helps reduce chromatic aberration for better clarity, with additional coatings for flare, ghosting, and spherical aberrations.

Inside, Canon’s USM autofocus motor that offers reliable focus for the lens designed to tackle a number of different shooting scenarios. Mix that with the zoom range and a bright f/2.8 aperture throughout, and the 24-70mm is a lens that can replace several others to get the job done with one lens.

Weather-sealed and made to last, Canon EF 24-70 mm F2.8 is a professional lens that is designed to hold up to a variety of shooting conditions, barring any major catastrophes. The biggest downside is the price — but if you’re looking for something similar on a tighter budget, you might want to consider the Canon EF 24-70mm F4L or the Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 Art.

The best Canon macro lens: Canon EF 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Why you should buy this: Stabilized, sharp close-ups

Who’s it for: Macro photographers

Why we picked the Canon EF 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM:

Macro lenses are all about revealing detail in the very small by allowing you to get right up close to your subject — but the closer you get and the more magnification you have, the more susceptible the image becomes to camera shake. The Canon EF 100mm F2.8 Macro combats this by including optical image stabilization, so you can shoot sharp, handheld close-ups.

The 100mm focal length and F2.8 aperture can blow out any background, particularly when it comes to close-ups. Since macro photography often requires a smaller aperture to increase depth of field and keep the subject in focus, the image stabilization will help balance out the slower shutter speeds that result from that. The stabilization is rated to two stops at full magnification, but improves to three or four stops when you back off the subject a bit.

While macro is an obvious use for the lens, the length and aperture can also work for portraits and other subjects. The lens captures sharp subjects and nicely softened backgrounds, while the autofocus tends to perform well.

The macro optics are wrapped up in a weather-sealed body. Considering the longer focal length and the brighter aperture, the price of the Canon EF 100mm F2.8 Macro isn’t bad, either.

The best portrait lens for Canon: Sigma 105mm F1.4 DG HSM

Sigma 105mm F1.4 Art lens Review
Daven Mathies/Digital Trends

Why you should buy this: The best portrait lens you can buy, period.

Who’s it for: Portrait photographers

Why we picked the Sigma 105mm F1.4 DG HSM:

Whether you shoot Canon or Nikon, the Sigma 105mm F1.4 DG HSM is simply one of the most impressive portrait lenses out there. The 105mm focal length is perfect for single-subject portraits, and the ultra bright f/1.4 aperture obliterates busy backgrounds, turning any location into a distraction-free scene. This lens is also special thanks to the uncommon combination of focal length and aperture, with the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 105mm f/1.4E being the only other option on the market (and, obviously, that one won’t work for Canon shooters).

Don’t let the non-Canon name scare you. As with other Sigma Art lenses, images from the 105mm F1.4 Art are exceptional. It is incredibly sharp, even when shot wide open at f/1.4. Not only is it technically strong, but it is also subjectively beautiful and produces some of the best bokeh we’ve ever seen. It does an excellent job of minimizing distortion and chromatic aberration, and even vignetting — often a problem for f/1.4 lenses — is kept to a minimum thanks to the comically large front element.

The image quality goes along with the solid build of the lens, which is also dust and splash resistant. But there is a downside to the excellent optics and construction: This lens is massive. It weighs 3.6 pounds, which will somewhat limit how and where you’ll want to use it. If you can cart around the weight and afford the price, however, the Sigma 105mm delivers some of the best portraits that we’ve seen.

The best Canon telephoto zoom: Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS III USM

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Why you should buy this: A long reach meets a bright aperture

Who’s it for: Sports, portrait, and event photographers

Why we picked the Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS III USM:

The ideal companion to the 24-70mm lens, the Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8L is a favorite among Canon photographers. Now in its third generation, this version uses new coatings for even better image quality. The long reach coupled with the bright aperture creates excellent background blur and compression, even for shots that don’t necessarily need such a long lens, like portraits. The optical image stabilization offers up to 3.5 stops of shake reduction, which is especially helpful when working at slower shutters in lower light, but also helps stabilize your view through the viewfinder to help you get perfect framing, something that’s not always easy to do with a telephoto.

Like the 24-70mm F2.8L, the Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8L is pricey. Photographers that want the reach and sharpness but don’t need — or can’t afford — the wide aperture can also consider the Canon EF 70-200mm F4L USM as a budget alternative. A number of third-party companies also make 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses that can be found for much less money, like the Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2, a lens that is loved by users and costs significantly less than the Canon.

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