The best Canon lens

Allen Foster

For beginners, the body of your Canon camera will communicate with your Canon lens to make precision adjustments so you can get the best picture possible.

Point-and-shoot cameras may have come a long way, but if you are serious about photography, you'll eventually want to use a camera with a detachable lens. This allows you to change lenses so you can take exceptional pictures in any situation. Arguably, the best lenses in the industry are Canon lenses.

The best Canon lens for you depends on what you'd like to photograph. Our favorite, the Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM, features a manual focus that can be used for fine tuning even when in auto-focus mode. To learn more about this lens as well as other Canon lenses, keep reading.

Choosing a lens type

It is easy to quickly get overwhelmed by technical jargon, abbreviations, and decimals when shopping for a camera lens. If you are a beginner, focusing on what you want to use the lens for will make shopping much easier. The first question you need to ask is: "Do I want a prime or a zoom lens?"

If you are looking for a more in-depth analysis of the Canon models available to you, check out our comprehensive shopping guide on the topic.

Prime lens

A prime lens has something called a fixed focal length. With this type of lens, if you want to get a close-up, you will have to step closer to your subject. If you want more of your subject in the frame, you will need to step back. Because of the fixed focal length of the lens, it generally takes sharper photos than the zoom lens.

Zoom lens

If you choose a zoom lens, the focal length is adjustable. If you want a close-up, you can zoom in without needing to take a single step forward. If you are too close, instead of stepping back, you can just zoom the camera out. You do give up a little bit of crispness and the lenses are much larger and heavier.

Other considerations

After you've decided if you want to do the moving or you want the camera lens to do the moving, you need to think about what type of pictures you will be taking most often.


This is a general-purpose lens. It is versatile, but if you're after something specific, like capturing the action at a sporting event or taking a picture of a wide, sweeping landscape, this would not be your best option.


When you want to move in tight and keep all the details, you need a macro lens. This type of lens would be good for up close photos of nature.


If you will be taking the majority of your photos from a distance, you will need a telephoto lens. You can get a short telephoto lens for portraits, a medium telephoto lens for sporting events, or a super telephoto lens if you are taking pictures of nature or at an arena event.

Wide angle

A wide angle lens is good for landscapes and architecture when you are shooting outside. When taking pictures inside, it will allow you to get an entire room in one shot, even if you don't have enough space to back up.

Specialty lenses

If you desire a specific effect, there are a number of specialty lenses you can choose from. The effects can range from a softer focus to a distorted perspective. Whatever your needs are, you will likely be able to find a specialty lens that is appropriate for your situation.


You can find some beginner bargains from $50 to $150, but the more desirable lenses that offer the average user the best value and quality will be found in the $150 to $400 price range. Professional lenses have features that are beyond the regular photographer's needs and can run from $400 to several thousand dollars.


Q. What is the purpose of having multiple Canon lenses?

A. If you only do one type of photography, you won't need multiple Canon lenses. However, if you want to take photographs of flowers as well as mountains, you'll need to have more than one lens to achieve the optimum results in each instance.

Q. How do I clean my Canon lens?

A. First, use a specially designed soft bristled brush to gently remove any dust which may be on the lens. Then, add a few drops of lens-cleaning solution to a microfiber cleaning cloth and use a circular motion, starting at the center and moving outward, to remove oil, grime, and fingerprints.

Canon lenses we recommend

Best of the best: Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM

Our take: A superior wide-angle, low-light lens that is great for evening landscape photos.

What we like: This lens has an image stabilizer to help capture crisp low-light images. It also features a manual focus that can be used even when in auto-focus mode for those times when you need a little extra precision.

What we dislike: If you're just starting out, you might balk at the price, but this lens is worth it.

Best bang for your buck: Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM

Our take: A prime medium telephoto lens that is designed to produce a background blur.

What we like: With its closest focusing distance being 2.8 feet, this lens is designed to excel at portraits. It offers remarkable crispness and since the front lens group does not rotate during focusing, it works extremely well with special filters.

What we dislike: Occasionally, you may find some purple fringing (blurred purple or magenta ghost images) in your photos when using this lens.

Choice 3: Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM

Our take: A comfortably priced prime lens with a minimum focusing distance of 1.15 feet that is a good choice for portrait photos.

What we like: This compact lens is desirable for its price, smaller size (you'll always have room for it in your camera bag), and its versatility. The wide f/1.8 aperture allows you to take crisp photos even when in dimly lit environments.

What we dislike: Some users feel that the auto focus feature moves a little too slowly for their needs.

Allen Foster is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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