Best Canon EF Lenses (Full Frame) for Different Types of Photography

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Are you looking for the best Canon EF lenses, having finally acquired your first full-frame DSLR? Your search ends right here. We have gone through some of the best Canon full frame lenses and zeroed in on the ones that we feel best compliments your camera.

Best Canon EF Lenses (Full Frame) for Different Types of Photography

Quick Summary: Best Canon EF Lenses

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM
BEST BUDGET EF LENS

Filter Diameter: 49mm, Mount: Canon EF, Weight: 160g/5.6oz

Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art
BEST PORTRAIT EF LENS

Filter Diameter: 49mm, Mount: Canon EF, Weight: 160g/5.6oz

Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 Art
BEST ALL PERPUSE EF LENS

Filter Diameter: 49mm, Mount: Canon EF, Weight: 160g/5.6oz

Canon 16-35mm f/4
BEST WIDE ANGLE EF LENS

Filter Diameter: 49mm, Mount: Canon EF, Weight: 160g/5.6oz

Sigma 24-105mm f/4
BEST TRAVEL EF LENS

Filter Diameter: 49mm, Mount: Canon EF, Weight: 160g/5.6oz

Canon 100mm f/2.8L IS Macro
BEST MACRO EF LENS

Filter Diameter: 49mm, Mount: Canon EF, Weight: 160g/5.6oz

Canon 70-200 f/4 IS
BEST SUPER ZOOM EF LENS

Filter Diameter: 49mm, Mount: Canon EF, Weight: 160g/5.6oz

Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3
BEST VALUE TELEPHOTO EF LENS

Filter Diameter: 49mm, Mount: Canon EF, Weight: 160g/5.6oz

Understanding EF and EF-S Lens Mounts

Canon currently makes cameras with several lens mounts. Their DSLR systems are divided into two main categories full-frame and APS-C. The larger full-frame cameras mimic the sensor size of older 35mm cameras and use a lens mount that is commensurate. This lens mount is the EF mount.

On the other hand, the smaller APS-C cameras use a different lens mount that is optimized for the smaller image circle of APS-C lenses. This lens mount is referred to as EF-S.

EF-S vs EF Compatibility

Lenses designed for the EF mount work with EF-S mount cameras. But the opposite is not true. You cannot use EF-S lenses on cameras with EF mount. When you mount an EF lens on a Canon APS-C camera only the central part of the image coming through the lens is utilized. The rest is wasted.

Related: Reasons for Using APS-C Lens on Full Frame Camera

The result is that the final image appears slightly zoomed in. This effect is determined by the Crop Factor. Which happens to be the ratio of the sensor’s size to that of a 35mm film frame. That Crop Factor for Canon APS-C camera is 1.6x. That means any EF lens when mounted on an APS-C camera will produce an effective focal length that is equal to = (Original Focal Length x 1.6).

Zoom vs Prime Lenses

Zooms lenses are those which have a variable focal length. You can toggle between the various operable focal lengths by turning the zoom ring on the barrel of the lens.

Prime lenses, on the other hand, refer to lenses that have a fixed focal length. These lenses, therefore lack the zoom ring.

Native vs Third Party Lenses

Native lenses denote lenses that have been designed by the same manufacturing company as the one who manufactured the camera system. For example, Canon EF and EF-S lenses are native lenses designed for their EF and EF-S mount DSLRs.

Third-party lenses on the other hand denote compatible lenses that are designed by other manufacturing companies and work with native mount DSLRs (or mirrorless).

Understanding Canon L Lenses

You may have noticed that many of Canon’s lenses have the L acronym mentioned on the lens barrel and the packaging. The letter ‘L’ denotes Luxury or Canon’s way of telling its customers that these are their premium lenses. Usually, these lenses are built very well. Some of these lenses are designed to weather-sealed and are meant to compliment DSLRs that are also weather sealed.

These lenses also incorporate a number special lens elements and coatings that suppress lens flares, distortions, improving contrast and enhancing color accuracy. The special elements used ensure that aberrations are also suppressed improving the overall quality of images produced. The best Canon EF (full frame) lenses are mostly L lenses.

Best Full Frame (EF) Lenses for Canon

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens

1. Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM

Aperture Range: f/1.8 – f/22
Minimum Focus Distance: 14″ / 35cm
Filter Size: 49mm
Size: 69 x 39mm (2.7 x 1.54″)
Weight: 160 g (5.6oz)
Price: Check the latest price here

In many ways, the Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM is the best-selling lens ever from the house of Canon.

Canon does make several iterations of the 50mm prime. None so popular, or inexpensive. The 50mm f/1.8 STM seems to grab the imagination of every Canon photographer and DSLR cinematographer. The reason being manifold. The lens features Canon’s STM auto-focusing motor. And this technology works in tandem with the dual pixel CMOS auto-focusing technology that Canon has been incorporating on all 35mm and APS-C DSLRs. Basically this technology is designed to be more accurate than the faster ring-type auto-focusing technology that was used in older lenses. Also, it is a bit slower, therefore, assisting smoother autofocusing during video shooting.

What I Like

  • 50mm standard focal length
  • Stepper Motor powered accurate auto-focusing
  • Fast f/1.8 aperture
  • Works with all Canon digital SLRs

What I Don’t Like

  • Auto-focusing takes more time
  • Build quality is not at par with L-type lenses

See the Canon 50mm f/1.8


Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens for Canon EF (321954)

2. Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art

Aperture Range: f/1.4 – f/16
Minimum Focus Distance: 33.5″ / 85 cm
Filter Size: 86mm
Size: 95 x 126mm (3.7 x 5″)
Weight: 2.5lb / 1.1 kg
Price: Check the latest price here

If you want the best canon full frame lenses for portraits you will have to look beyond the OEM options. i.e., look for third party made lenses.

The Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art is one such lens. The thing we like about the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art is that it is fast. At f/1.4 it is a third of a stop faster than the 50mm f/1.8 prime that we discussed at the start. But with fast aperture the problem of shallow depth of field and the associated issue of the thin margin of error while focusing also comes up. But on the flip side, you get a lens that is extremely well built. Sigma’s Art series lenses are known for their superior build quality.

The lens is crafted out of Thermally Stable Components. In a nutshell that suggests that unlike other lenses the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art is unaffected by large temperature fluctuations.

What I Like

  • Perfect focal length for shooting portraits
  • Fast maximum aperture of f/1.4
  • Excellent build quality
  • Considerably cheaper than comparable Canon OEM options.

What I Don’t Like

  • Does not incorporate image stabilization.
  • Extremely large front element

See the Canon 50mm f/1.8


Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Art Lens for Canon

3. Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG DN Art

Aperture Range: f/2.8 – f/22
Minimum Focus Distance: 14″ / 35cm
Filter Size: 49mm
Size: 69 x 39mm (2.7 x 1.54″)
Weight: 160 g (5.6oz)
Price: Check the latest price here

The 24-70mm f/2.8 DG DN Art works as your go-to lens for the purpose of shooting everyday photography. That would include weddings, street, etc. The lens would also suit journalists who are routinely shooting at close proximity and won’t be requiring a telephoto lens for their work.

This lens is extremely versatile in the sense that you could shoot other genres like landscape and architecture and interiors too with this lens. With the last genre there is likely to be some distortion. As this is a brand new lens we have to wait and see what the practical results turn out to be. So, we wouldn’t recommend this lens as your first choice for interiors right away.

What I Like

  • Great focal length range for shooting wedding and journalistic style photos
  • Decent constant maximum aperture of f/2.8
  • Extremely well built
  • Designed for digital mirrorless systems mainly.

What I Don’t Like

  • Does not have image stabilization built-in.
  • There is likely to be some distortion at the widest focal length.

See the Canon 50mm f/1.8


Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM Lens - 9518B002

4. Canon 16-35mm f/4

Aperture Range: f/4 – f/22
Minimum Focus Distance: 7.1″ / 18 cm
Filter Size: 82mm
Size: 3.5 x 4.8″ (88 x 123mm)
Weight: 1.8lb / 835g
Price: Check the latest price here

A selection of the best Canon EF (full frame) lenses would be incomplete without a reference to all-purpose zooms. When we say all-purpose zooms what we really refer to are lenses that are designed to work in most of the common photography situations in our everyday life.

And in that regard the Canon 16-35mm is a beautiful lens to have. Canon makes the 16-35mm f/4 lens for photographers who do landscape, cityscapes, architecture and interior shots mainly.  This is the sort of lens you would want to take with you when you are heading for the outdoors.

This lens will capture sweeping vistas, stunning night-time shots and everything in-between as long as it is a large canvas easily.

What I Like

  • Fixed aperture of f/4 across the focal length.
  • This is an L lens and therefore comes with excellent build quality
  • Incorporates Canon’s Image Stabilization system
  • Cheaper than the higher priced and better build f/2.8L III lens also built by Canon

What I Don’t Like

  • Auto-focusing motor does make some noise which will spill through in your video recording.
  • There is a bit of corner vignette and loss of sharpness towards the edge especially when you are using at f/4. It goes away when you stop down the lens.

See the Canon 50mm f/1.8


Sigma 24-105mm F4.0 Art DG OS HSM Lens for Canon

5. Sigma 24-105mm f/4

Aperture Range: f/4 – f/22
Minimum Focus Distance: 1.5′ / 45 cm
Filter Size: 82mm
Size: 3.5 x 4.3″ (89 x 109 mm)
Weight: 2lb / 885 g
Price: Check the latest price here

We love the 24-105mm lens. This lens works in a wide variety of shooting situations right from capturing a sweeping vista to capturing a beautiful portrait image. This is a wide zoom lens and the maximum focal length is only 105mm. that means you wouldn’t be able to shoot things like wildlife and birds and sports. For those kinds of work you will require a dedicated telephoto lens. But for everything else, the Sigma 24-105mm f/4 is a wonderful choice.

Auto-focusing performance is very smooth and accurate. The best bit is the built-in optical image stabilization. It helps in producing shake-free images by compensating for any hand movements at slow shutter speeds.

Plus, the lens is crafted out of Thermally Stable Components. The advantage of that being resistance from extreme temperatures under which normal material expand or contract thereby impacting the optical performance of a lens.

What I Like

  • Very smooth Hyper Sonic Motor powered auto-focusing mechanism with full-time manual focusing override.
  • Wide focal length range ideal for a wide range of photography situations.
  • Constant f/4 aperture across the focal length range.
  • Built-in optical image stabilizer.

What I Don’t Like

  • The zoom ring and the manual focusing ring are too close together for comfort.
  • Auto-focusing performance is smooth but there is a bit of noise because of the AF motor. Will not hamper still work but will come through in videos.

See the Canon 50mm f/1.8


Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras, Lens Only

6. Canon 100mm f/2.8L IS Macro

Aperture Range: f/2.8 – f/32
Minimum Focus Distance: 12″ / 30 cm
Filter Size: 67mm
Size: 3.1 x 4.8″ (78 x 123 mm)
Weight: 1.4 lb / 625 g
Price: Check the latest price here

A true macro lens is a wonderful addition to your arsenal of lenses. The Canon 100mm f/2.8L IS Macro is one of the best Canon EF (full frame) lenses in the business. Mind you this lens is powered by an older USM auto-focusing motor. That means focusing is going to be a bit jumpy at times. However, one would rarely use auto-focusing when using this lens and so at the end of the day this does not matter.

Image stabilization is built-in. It definitely comes in handy. This is a true macro lens and that means it will offer you 1:1 perspective of your subjects at its closest focusing distance. Which is incidentally 30cm.

What I Like

  • True macro lens
  • Built-in image stabilization
  • Great build quality.
  • Well damped manual focusing ring.

What I Don’t Like

  • At 1.38 lb. this is a bit too heavy considering that you would be working at close proximity to your subject and minor hand movements will always get accentuated.
  • Wee bit of distortion, flare and vignette are present. But that is not a deal-breaker.

See the Canon 50mm f/1.8


Tamron 28-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD Zoom Lens for Canon EF Cameras

7. Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3

Aperture Range: f/3.5 – f/40
Minimum Focus Distance: 19″ / 0.5m
Filter Size: 67mm
Size: 2.9 x 3.8″ (74 x 96 mm)
Weight: 19oz / 540g
Price: Check the latest price here

Talk about an all in one zoom lens and this is the closest that you will ever get too in that respect. The Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 is a multi-purpose all-in-one zoom. The focal length covers everything from sweeping vistas to a bird perched on a branch some 50 yards away.

The lens is designed for full-frame Canon DSLRs (there are other compatible models for different mounts) though it will work just as fine with most APS-C Canon cameras. An array of lens elements and coatings help in the optical performance of the lens in trying conditions.

What I Like

  • Extremely long focal length. It will work in a wide variety of shooting situations.
  • Built-in Vibration Compensation (Tamron’s version of Image Stabilization)
  • Come with Tamron’s PZD auto-focusing mechanism.
  • Moisture-resistant construction. It should be ok to use in mild weather.

What I Don’t Like

  • The maximum aperture drops down to f/6.3 when the lens is fully zoomed in
  • Build quality is not top-notch and there will be issues if you take this lens to shoot in inclement weather

See the Canon 50mm f/1.8


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

8. Canon 70-200 f/4 IS

Aperture Range: f/4 – f/32
Minimum Focus Distance: 3.3′ / 1 m
Filter Size: 72mm
Size: 3.2 x 6.9″ / 80 x 176 mm
Weight: 1.7lb / 780g
Price: Check the latest price here

This is undoubtedly one of the best canon full frame lenses if you have a slightly flexible budget. Because the Canon 70-200 f/4 IS isn’t cheap. Even then it is way cheaper than the Canon 70-200 f/2.8 IS. But then that lens is aimed for professionals and we could write a complete article why or why not we should choose one 70-200mm lens over the other.

The 70-200mm perfectly complements the 24-70mm. Together these two are the best Canon EF (full frame) lenses in the business. That said this particular lens has a maximum aperture of f/4 which is not the quietest when it comes to dealing low light situations. If low light is the kind of lighting that you shoot in a majority of the times then you are better off shooting with the f/2.8 lens.

What I Like

  • This particular version comes with image stabilization built-in unlike the other 70-200mm f/4 lens also sold by Canon.
  • Extremely high-quality lens with superior optical performance even wide open.
  • Built-in image stabilization.
  • An array of coating and lens elements which ensure better contrast and accurate colors.

What I Don’t Like

  • Nearly double the price of the non-stabilized version of the lens. But then if you need stabilization then you shouldn’t complain.·        f/4 isn’t the quickest when it comes to dealing low light situations.

See the Canon 50mm f/1.8


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