First Name in Cameras
Canon SLRs are some of the most recognizable in the world. You see them on the sidelines of NFL games, around the necks of seemingly every tourist, and in retail displays far and wide. And while seasoned pros who know their cameras inside and out are well aware of what lenses are needed to get the job done, photographers who bought a Rebel bundled with an 18-55mm have good reason to seek out a better lens.
The zoom that's included with an entry-level camera is usually the weakest link in the chain as far as image quality goes. It's designed to be inexpensive enough to manufacture to be included at a modest premium. The narrow f/3.5-5.6 variable aperture isn't the best choice for shooting in dim light, and there's visible distortion throughout the zoom range. These aren't issues that are unique to Canon—most starter lenses leave a lot of room for improvement. Your new SLR deserves a better lens.
Thankfully, with a Canon camera you have dozens of options as far as lenses go. You can go for name-brand Canon lenses—some of those are the best in the business—or you can opt for a third-party option, some of which are just as good as Canon glass, often for less money.
We've highlighted 10 our favorites here. First-time SLR owners looking for a similar, but better, zoom lens can think about a Sigma 18-35mm or 17-70mm zoom, both of which are designed to cover the APS-C image sensor found in Rebel models. And creative pros should give unique lenses like the 85mm f/1.2 and 100-400mm a look.
Remember, if you have a full-frame model like the 6D, you can't use an APS-C lens with an EF-S designation. But owners of Rebel models can use both EF-S and EF lenses, as well as their third-party equivalents. Our favorite APS-C only zooms are actually a pair from Sigma, the 18-35mm f/1.8 and the 17-70mm f/2.8-4. But if you're eyeing an eventual upgrade to a full-frame system, consider skipping over EF-S lenses entirely.
Bottom Line: The Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM barely juts out from your camera, but is capable of capturing some impressive images.
Bottom Line: The Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens is the go-to telezoom for many a pro shooter; its excellent optics make it a clear Editors' Choice.
Bottom Line: The Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM is a specialty lens, perfect for portraits with a very shallow depth of field. Its unique view of the world earns it our Editors' Choice award.
Bottom Line: The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM is a telezoom lens with a compact design and incredibly sharp optics.
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Bottom Line: The Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM lens delivers near-perfect optical performance, and is priced accordingly.
Bottom Line: The Sigma 12-24mm F4 DG HSM Art is a full-frame zoom lens with an ultra-wide field of view and f/4 aperture. It's very sharp, and it's less expensive than competing lenses.
Bottom Line: The Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM delivers on its promise; it boasts the speed and sharpness of a prime lens, along with the convenience of a zoom.
Bottom Line: The Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD wide-angle prime lens sets itself apart from the crowd with its macro capability and image stabilization system.
Bottom Line: If your demands don't require a fixed f/2.8 zoom lens, the Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM will reward you with sharp images and a useful zoom range.
Bottom Line: The Sigma 17-70mm F2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM lens is a solid replacement for the 18-55mm that shipped with your camera, but another Sigma zoom is our Editors' Choice.
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