Best Canon Lenses For Every Budget

February 3, 2012 · 2 comments

by Carsten

Best Canon Lenses For Any Budget

Get help to find the best canon lenses available. Are you looking to buy a new lens for your expensive Canon SLR or DSLR camera, the number of Canon lenses available can be overwhelming at first glance. Making the right choice of lens the first time – especially if you want to spend your money on the very best lenses – is critical for your overall satisfaction and the qualities of the pictures you take.

There are many criteria for choosing the best canon lens – amongst other things it depends on your budget, if you’re a professional, semi-professional going professional or an advanced amateur alike. Everyone have different opinions and demands. A wildlife photographer taking pictures in harsh and hostile environments will select lenses on other criteria than a wedding photographer would. If you’re annoyed by lense noise you would go for a lens with an Ultra Sonic Motor and if you often shoot in low light situations a lens with a wide aperture is preferred in order to avoid using flash, especially if you’re restricted to shoot during wedding ceremonies. Others might need lenses with Image Stabilization in order to avoid ruined images caused by camera shake – this is often necessary when shooting with telephoto lenses that don’t have wide apertures.

So to make it easier for you, I have divided this article in 3 sections to accommodate any photographers budget. Within each section I have tried to select lenses that cover the whole range from macro, mid-range, all-purpose to telephoto in order to fulfill every photographers need. Not everyone will spend thousands of dollars on L-lenses and are happy with mid-range quality lenses which still offers great image quality for the money. And there is no reason to buy an L-lens if you’re not using your camera that often and mostly shoot every day situations at home. In this situation mid-range lenses will do the job just fine.

Did I miss out on some great lenses? Then feel free to add a comment. I will update the list when new and great lenses hit the market.

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and I will earn a commission if you purchase through those links (at no extra cost to you). I recommend that you do your own independent research before purchasing any product or service. This article is not a guideline, a recommendation or endorsement of specific products.


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1. Best Canon Lenses when price is no object
The very best canon lenses are L-lenses or prime lenses as they are also called. Almost all of the best user rated lenses are L-lenses and are in the top 20 of best canon lenses if you look at different professional photography sites. They are indeed superb and will give you years of continues sharp, crisp and saturated pictures.

2. Best Canon lenses around or under $ 500
For those of you who can’t afford or won’t spend thousands of dollars on a lens but still want high quality and can afford to spend around $ 500 this section is for you.

3. Best Canon lenses around or under $ 200
If your budget is tight I have listed some of the best canon lenses around $ 200 in this section.

1. Best Canon Lenses when price is no object

If you are serious about photography and want to get the most out of your DSLR camera these are the best canon lenses you can get for money. If you own a professional canon DSLR like 5d or even 1D and use mid-range quality lenses you simply won’t utilize the full potential of your camera. The L-series is Canon’s prime lenses – the very best of the best in terms of built quality, image quality and durability in the most harsh environments.

Getting your first prime lens and seeing the superb image quality they produce you will never go for anything less. The build quality simply ensures that these lenses can be used for many years and they keep the price rather well if you want to sell. Many professional and semi-professional photographers use L-lenses in their daily work because they won’t compromise anything in the hunt for the best possible pictures.

Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens for DSLR Cameras

canon-EF-S-17-55-f2.8-IS-USM

This is one of the best standard lenses to go with a Canon APS-C DSLR camera such as the Digital Rebel XT, T3i, T2i or XSi. It’s one of Canon’s premium mid-range zoom lenses offering the latest generation of image stabilization which should give you up to 3 extra stops to avoid image shake when taking handheld pictures in low-light situations without using the flash. At the same time it has an Ultra Sonic Motor making it very silent.

A large aperture produces a shallow depth of field making it an excellent lens for shooting portraits of kids and weddings making it a perfect midrange zoom workhorse.

Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM Lens for SLR Cameras

Canon EF 24-105mm f4 L IS USM lens

This is the best all purpose lens for full frame cameras such as Canon 1D or 5D all versions. The L-series is Canon’s flagship professional lens range and are designed to include outstanding image performance, ultimate operability and weather resistance. The f/4 maximum aperture cuts the size and weight down quite a bit while keeping image quality excellent.

It’s often tagged as a “walkabout” lens and giving you the opportunity to carry your camera and lens about and get a variety of shots in the range from wide angle to short telephoto.

Lens designers have to make all the compromises necessary to have a lens go from wide angle to telephoto while having a max focal length over four times the widest focal length – but Canon has done a good job here making it one of the best canon lenses on the market.

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

Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L USM Standard zoom

This is a very versatile standard zoom lens for Canon full frame such as 1D, 5D or Rebel XT, T3i, T2i or XSi. It’s much like it’s younger brother Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM and offers the same image quality and robust build. It has a larger aperture enabling you to shoot in dim light and has USM to reduce overall noise while shooting pictures.

If you are serious about portrait work you will love the images coming from this glass! It’s also a great standard lens for shooting weddings, landscapes, sports and anything else that doesn’t require an extreme telephoto lens.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L IS USM Lens for Digital SLR Cameras

Canon EF 70-200mm F4L IS USM

This is one of the best telephoto lenses available. With 4 stop IS, USM and L-glass it produces extremely sharp and crisp pictures with smooth and vibrant colors, no noticeable barrel distortion, vignetting nor chromatic aberrations. It’s an absolute great value as far as L glass goes and a joy to use for photographers new to IS and an attraction for professionals.

Also noteworthy is the new circular aperture blades (8 of them), creating the prettiest blur effects you have ever seen – perfect for portrait photography. If you are completely unsure of what you might run into in the field and need the most general setup you can achieve, packing this lens with the Canon 24-70mm or Canon 24-105mm is all you need.

Simply put, this is one of the most state-of-the-art zoom lenses Canon has produced. A truly awesome lens!

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L II IS USM Telephoto Zoom Lens for SLR Cameras

Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8L II IS USM

The very best telephoto lens available with up to 4-stop IS, USM and large aperture at 2.8 making it the strongest contender for low-light event work out of the 70-200mm line of lenses. Due to it’s low aperture size it’s perfect for event work like wedding photography, shooting models, sports and portrait photography or shooting family or moving objects in low light.

It’s the second edition and compared to the 1st edition the image stabilization has been improved and the 1 extra stop of IS has improved the quality and sharpness of the photos in low light photography. Build quality is exceptional and the silent operation of the Hypersonic Motor keeps the attention off of you while you’re trying to get that tack sharp shot and it’s also lightning quick.

If you need a pro quality 70-200mm – look no further.

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM 1-to-1 Macro Lens for Digital SLR Cameras

Canon EF 100mm f2.8L IS USM 1-to-1 Macro Lens

The EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM is one of the best canon lenses if you shoot macro. It offers you the highest quality optics available with dual IS mechanism and combined with near-silent ultrasonic focusing and life-size close-up capabilities without an adapter – this is simply the best.

This lens makes a great portrait or even a long landscape lens in the right situations – in addition to being a great 1:1 macro lens. Outdoors, this lens will provide unique opportunities in allowing you to complete hand-held shots of bright-lit subjects, especially if you have a full-frame sensor.

The image quality is superb, producing sharp and crisp images with vibrant colors. The build quality is outstanding and consistent with an L lens and has the durability to take thousands of pictures each and every day for years.

Canon EF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS USM Telephoto Zoom Lens for SLR Cameras

Canon EF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS USM

The EF 100-400mm telephoto zoom lens makes it very easy to capture the far-off action of fast-paced sports or zoom in for an intimate portrait with a blurred background. This lens surely does shine with its strengths – IS enables you to shoot handheld pictures at 400mm of fast moving subjects in auto focus mode without tripod with greater success than non-IS prime lenses.

It makes for the perfect wild life or sport shooters lens. It has great sharpness, clarity and no spectral flares being quick and completely silent when you autofocus.

If you want to extend your capabilities and take incredible telephoto photographs this versatile lens is the perfect companion for your DSLR.

2. Best Canon Lenses around or under $500

Of course not everyone can afford a lens to several thousands of dollars – so let’s take a look at what the highest rated lenses under around $500 are. Even though in the mid-range these lenses are chosen because they produce high quality pictures whilst being solid and robust build.

In this price range you’re still able to get image stabilization and USM. One lens is even a L-lens giving you the opportunity to shoot professionally while keeping your budget!

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

Canon EF 70-200mm f4L USM Telephoto Zoom

This lens is sometimes on sale for as much as 50% and therefore makes it a real bargain for a lens with a price tag just above $600. The EF 70-200mm f/4 L USM is an excellent telephoto L-lens, very sharp, relative light-weight and great build quality. Very fast focusing, very little chromatic aberration and consistent quality through the entire zoom and aperture range makes it one of the best canon lenses in it’s class. It is great for sports and nature photos.

This lens is very versatile and can easily be used with a flash indoors for portrait photography also. Image stabilization is very useful for handheld work but the price is more than double that of the non-IS version. If you don’t need the IS, this non-IS version is a real bargain.

Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Standard Zoom Lens for DSLR Cameras

canon EF-S 18-200mm f3.5-5.6 IS

This is a great general purpose zoom lens – an ideal ‘all-in-one’ lens for travel and ‘walkaround’ use. It’s compact, lightweight and has a wide magnification range allowing you to take both great wide angle and zoom images which saves precious  time in lens changes. The IS technology allows for sharp hand-held shots at shutter speeds up to 4 stops slower than otherwise possible.

Image quality is remarkably good and comes very close compared to those taken with L lenses.  Even though it doesn’t have USM it’s focus speed is still adequate, being very quick and without any back-and-forth hunting in lower lighting.

This lens delivers excellent high-speed performance at an affordable price.

Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Standard Zoom Lens for SLR Cameras

Canon EF 28-135mm f3.5-5.6 IS USM Standard Zoom Lens

Anyone looking for a general-purpose lens for under $500 to compliment their Canon digital Rebel T3i, T2i, XSi, 50D or 60D will be happy to purchase this lens – one of the best canon lenses if you can’t afford L lenses yet. It delivers crisp, natural-looking pictures with good color saturation, contrast and sharpness. The lens is particularly handy for places where flashes are prohibited or in dim lighting, as the IS system allows you to shoot handheld at slower shutter speeds without requiring a flash or a tripod.

Even at this low price this lens offers USM which focuses fast and reliably every time. This lens gives you a good focal range for a variety of of shots, from portraits to telephotos.

The EF 28-135mm is a great and affordable lens to start with if you are just beginning to learn photography or if you are coming from a lower end kit lens like the 18-55mm standard lens.

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens for SLR Cameras

Canon EF 100mm f2.8 Macro USM Lens

Prospective buyers looking for an inexpensive but great 100mm macro have a great first choice in this lens. This lens will definitely heighten the quality of your macro work but is also great for general purpose shooting  like landscapes, people portraits, relatively tight scenes and even indoor sports.

The Ultra Sonic Motor is quiet and fast with smooth focusing. Images coming from this glass are very sharp out to the corners and have great color saturation. It doesn’t come with IS though, but due to it’s low aperture at 2.8 it is more than acceptable for handheld photography in low light.

This is a must buy if you want one of the best canon lenses for macro at an affordable price.

Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens for SLR Cameras

Canon EF 70-300mm f4-5.6 IS USM Lens for Canon

This is one of the first telephoto lenses you should consider buying if you’re into wildlife or sports photography, and your budget won’t let you go for L lenses. It produces very sharp and colorful pictures even on 200-300mm. The Image Stabilization means fewer shots ruined by camera shake and gives you at least a couple of extra stops even when handheld.

USM ensures quick, quiet and reliable focusing. It tracks any rapidly moving object nicely letting you focus on taking the best shot. So if you want a telephoto lens that’s light in weight, focuses fast and is extremely sharp from edge to edge this is the best buy for your money in the category around $600.

3. Best Canon Lenses around or under $ 200

Suppose $500 is too much to pay for a lens on your budget – then these are the best canon lenses you can buy for around or under $200 considering the price range. They still produce sharp and good looking pictures with great color saturation.

Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS Telephoto Zoom Lens for Digital SLR Cameras

Canon EF-S 55-250mm f4.0-5.6 IS

This is the most affordable telephoto lens for Canon T3i, T2i or XSi or the like. It has a new low-cost Image Stabilization (IS) mechanism which provides as much as 4-stop compensation for image blur caused by camera shake. It’s especially made for use with digital SLR cameras and won’t fit SLR cameras. It has a great zoom range allowing for nice and sharp close-up action images of sports or wildlife action.

This is a must have telephoto lens for the budget minded photo enthusiast looking for a starter lens and complements a kit lens very well.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Camera Lens

Canon EF 50mm f 1.8 II

This is a highly recommended lens if you look at reviews or user ratings. It’s one of the cheapest and best canon lenses you can buy and comes very close to it’s bigger brother 50mm f1.4 USM lens.  Even though cheap, it produces very sharp images edge to edge, has very little chromatic aberration and due to it’s 1.8 aperture you’re able to shoot in low light situations without a flash showing amazing colors that flash typically obliterates. The fixed focal length also forces you to come to terms with the limitations of the lens and your creativity will flourish.

It’s the best value for money lens you can get on a low budget.

Canon EF 50mm f/2.5 Compact Macro Lens

canon_ef_50mm_f2.5_compact_macro_lens

If you want a great macro lens to shoot simple close-up images the EF 50mm f/2.5 is a great choice. It’s extremely compact and weighs almost nothing which makes it easy to carry around. It generally focuses fast enough not to miss a shot and at an aperture of 2.5 you get lovely background blur. The clarity of the pictures are great and as sharp as can be expected at this price. Images have great color saturation.

This macro lens is a great addition to bring back flowers, details of rock formations, lichen, etc. and unless you need a long macro lens or want to spend a lot more money, this may be a very good choice for you. It’s a wonderful lens for the price.

Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS SLR Lens

Canon EF-S 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 IS

This lens is sold with virtually every Canon dSLR camera and is a great step forward compared to its predecessor which didn’t have IS. Canon added a new type of IS system to this lens allowing for up to an extra 4 stops of handhold ability. Image quality is better than the non-IS version and definitely makes this a good buy as a kit lens if you own an older dSLR camera like XTi/Xsi or EOS 10-40D.

This one is a solid all-purpose and great entry-level lens to a very reasonably low price.

Canon EF 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 II USM Standard Zoom Lens for SLR Cameras

Canon EF 28-105mm f3.5-4.5 II USM

This is the best low-cost general purpose lens for full frame cameras. It has USM with full time manual focusing, a metal lens mount, a distance scale and optically it rates as quite good. If you own an APS-C dSLR as opposed to a full-size sensor the zoom ranges are effectively 45-170mm. Not a problem as long as you also have a lens that covers the wide angle end.

The optical quality is close to that of L lenses and it outperforms all other similarly priced lenses. Images are sharp and well-defined with great color saturation. The auto-focus system is fast and quiet so if you photograph animals in natural settings you wont disturb your subject.

One of the best canon lenses and a logical step up if you need some new and better glass!

Author : Carsten

Carsten started writing for Tripwiremagazine in 2011 and is a blogger who likes to write about WordPress topics, web design, photography, blogging, new tech stuff, gadgets, gaming etc.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

mike April 23, 2013 at 10:00 pm

under 200$
18-55 3.5 is
28-70 3.5, much better than the 28 105.
70-210 3.5, pretty even with the 50 250
50mm 1.8 mark 1

Reply

vivek b September 30, 2012 at 11:22 am

canon 15-85 IS and 10-22 are also extreamly good

Reply

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