Top Canon EF-S Lenses for APS-C Cameras (8 Great Picks)

Last Updated on

Are you looking to get new Canon EF-S lenses for your APS-C camera? Canon APS-C cameras are the most popular entry-level DSLRs sold today, but it’s a challenge to find a lens that fits your needs.

Top Canon EF-S Lenses for APS-C Cameras

Fortunately, while choosing an EF-S lens may seem hard, it doesn’t have to be. Because in this article, I’m going to share with you the absolute best Canon EF-S lenses out there.

Are you ready to discover the perfect EF-S lens for you?

Let’s get started.

Top Rated Canon EF-S Lenses

  • Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM
  • Canon EF-S 35mm f/2.8 Macro IS STM
  • Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 DC OS
  • Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM
  • Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro
  • Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6
  • Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS STM Lens
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens
BEST PORTRIT EF-S LENS

Filter Diameter: 72mm, Mount: APS-C, Weight: 535g (18.9 oz), Size: 79 x 88.9mm

Canon EF-S 35mm f/2.8 Macro IS STM
BEST EF-S LENS FOR STREET

Filter Diameter: 72mm, Mount: APS-C, Weight: 535g (18.9 oz), Size: 79 x 88.9mm

Tamron SP AF 17-50mm F/2.8
BEST WALKAROUND EF-S LENS

Filter Diameter: 72mm, Mount: APS-C, Weight: 535g (18.9 oz), Size: 79 x 88.9mm

Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8
BEST WIDE ANGLE EF-S LENS

Filter Diameter: 72mm, Mount: APS-C, Weight: 535g (18.9 oz), Size: 79 x 88.9mm

Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6
BEST TRAVEL EF-S LENS

Filter Diameter: 72mm, Mount: APS-C, Weight: 535g (18.9 oz), Size: 79 x 88.9mm

Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro
BEST MACRO EF-S LENS

Filter Diameter: 72mm, Mount: APS-C, Weight: 535g (18.9 oz), Size: 79 x 88.9mm

Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6
BEST SUPERZOOM EF-S LENS

Filter Diameter: 72mm, Mount: APS-C, Weight: 535g (18.9 oz), Size: 79 x 88.9mm

Canon 55-250mm F4-5.6 IS
BEST SUPERZOOM EF-S LENS

Filter Diameter: 72mm, Mount: APS-C, Weight: 535g (18.9 oz), Size: 79 x 88.9mm

Understanding Crop Factor and Field of View

When it comes to picking the best Canon EF-S lenses, it’s important to understand the type of lenses you’re getting.

You see, Canon APS-C cameras feature a smaller sensor. This effectively crops images, which in turn affects lens field of view. Specifically, Canon APS-C cameras multiply lens focal length by a factor of 1.6x.

In other words, the field of view that the lens offers is cropped–and this produces an increased effective focal length.

EF-S vs EF Compatibility

EF lenses are made for all Canon DSLRs and can be mounted on full-frame or APS-C cameras.

But EF-S lenses are designed only for APS-C DSLRs. They’re simply not compatible with full-frame cameras; they won’t mount on Canon cameras.

Note that, even if you purchase an EF-S lens, you still need to multiply the original focal length by 1.6x to determine the effective focal length.

Generally speaking, EF-S lenses are cheaper, lighter, and perform very well on APS-C cameras.

EF lenses, on the other hand, are designed to work on full-frame cameras and are excellent when mounted on full-frame DSLRs.

STM vs USM Autofocus Systems

Canon lenses feature two different types of enhanced autofocus systems: STM systems and USM systems.

STM stands for Stepper Motor, while USM stands for Ultrasonic Motor. These names reflect the different underlying technology.

California. Point Lobos. Shot with Canon EF-S lens

STM autofocus was made for videography. It’s fast, but not lightning fast. Instead, its key characteristic is the sound: STM autofocus is virtually silent. It’s also very smooth, which gives videos a more professional appearance.

USM autofocus, on the other hand, is built into high-level lenses geared toward photographers. While USM isn’t quiet, it’s very, very fast. It’s the type of autofocus you want when shooting fast-paced events.

Most EF-S lenses offer STM autofocus; while this isn’t quite as speedy as STM, the quieter sound is definitely helpful when shooting in public or at events.

Zoom vs Prime Lenses

Most APS-C lenses are zooms, which means that they offer a range of focal lengths. While zoom lenses aren’t as optically impressive as prime lenses, they offer a lot of flexibility.

A single zoom lens can replace a whole set of prime lenses, which is very convenient for casual photography, more serious nature treks, and travel photography. While some photographers prefer to carry a series of primes, one zoom lens can easily take care of your photography needs.

The Best Canon EF-S Lenses for APS-C Cameras: Top 8 Picks

Now that you’re familiar with the key characteristics of Canon EF-S lenses, it’s time to take a look at the best EF-S lenses available, starting with:

Best Lens for Family and Portrait Photography

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM

The best portrait photography lenses are around 50mm, with optics that are sharp (but not too sharp!), and decent autofocus capabilities.

Fortunately, the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 performs well in all these areas. The 50mm focal length is perfect for both half-body and headshots, while the lens’s STM autofocus ensures fast and quiet focusing.

Plus, the 50mm f/1.8 is surprisingly sharp–certainly sharp enough for portrait photos, where photographers often like a slightly softer, dreamier look.

So at just over $100 USD, the Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM (“nifty fifty“) is a bargain.

What I Like:

  • 50mm is excellent for portrait shooting
  • Perfect optical quality for portrait photography
  • f/1.8 aperture good for low-light photography
  • Small and light

What I Don’t Like:

  • Must stop down for excellent sharpness
  • Build feels very plastic

Check Latest Price & Reviews


Best Lens for Street Photography

Canon EF-S 35mm f/2.8 Macro IS STM

Canon EF-S 35mm f/2.8 Macro IS STM

If you’re looking to take stunning street photos, you’ll want a lens that’s inconspicuous, easy to carry around, and with a semi-wide or standard focal length.

The Canon EF-S 35mm macro lens meets all the key criteria, and then some.

The focal length is perfect for street photography. 35mm lenses are really 50mm lenses on APS-C bodies, which is great for isolating street subjects.

Autofocusing is fairly fast, if not incredible. The lens is light and amazingly compact. And–as you might expect from a 35mm prime–image quality is very impressive.

Bottom line?

Even professional photographers will appreciate the Canon 35mm as a street photography lens.

What I Like:

  • Great focal length for street photography
  • Excellent sharpness
  • Amazing light build
  • Fast autofocus

What I Don’t Like:

  • Prime lenses are less flexible than zooms
  • 35mm isn’t short enough for a wider perspective

Check Latest Price & Reviews


Best Walkaround Lens

Tamron SP AF 17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di II LD Aspherical (IF) Lens with hood for Canon DSLR Cameras

Tamron 17-50mm F/2.8

The Tamron 17-50mm F/2.8 is a great choice for anyone in need of a good APS-C walkaround lens.

First, the Tamron performs well optically, especially in the center. While chromatic aberration isn’t as well-managed as I’d like, the lens’s optical performance is strong overall.

If you’re planning to use this lens for walkaround photography, you’re going to want something that offers a good zoom range and is decently light. And I’m happy to say that the Sigma 17-70mm does well in both respects, offering a relatively lightweight body along with a nice wide-to-telephoto zoom range.

So for walkaround needs, the Tamron 17-50mm is a great choice.

What I Like:

  • Good focal length for standard walkaround photography
  • Strong image quality
  • Decently light build
  • F/2.8 maximum aperture throughout the entire zoom range

What I Don’t Like:

  • Some chromatic aberration is noticeable
  • Soft corners when wide open

Check Latest Price & Reviews


Best Wide Angle Lens

Tokina ATXAF116DXIIC 11-16mm f/2.8 Pro DX-II Lens for Canon EF, Black

Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8

Photographers using an APS-C body often struggle to find sufficiently wide lenses for landscape and interior photography, which is why the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 is the perfect wide-angle choice.

The Tokina 11-16mm is made for crop-sensor bodies; on Canon cameras, it has an effective focal length of around 17-26mm. While this isn’t the ultra-wide focal length that the Tokina first appears to offer, it’s still wide enough to capture sweeping vistas and gorgeous scenery.

Related: Selecting the Best Wide Angle Lens for Canon

You’ll also appreciate the image quality: The Tokina 11-16mm is very sharp. While some chromatic aberration is present, this does little to dim my enthusiasm.

In other words?

If you’re an APS-C shooter looking for a great wide-angle option, go with the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8.

What I Like:

  • Amazing focal length for wide-angle photography
  • Beautiful image quality
  • f/2.8 aperture wide enough for astrophotography
  • Solid build

What I Don’t Like:

  • Chromatic aberration is noticeable
  • The 11mm advantage is lost on APS-C cameras

Check Latest Price & Reviews


Best Travel Lens

Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 Image Stabilization USM Lens (Black)

Canon 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM

If you like travel photography, you’re going to need a lens that covers a wide variety of possible scenarios. And that’s what makes the Canon 18-135mm lens so impressive.

Related: How to Select the Right Landscape Lens for Canon

The focal length is excellent for all kinds of travel photography: landscapes, travel street photos, and portraits. Plus, the lens is relatively light and compact, making it perfect for walkaround travel photos (and taking it on a plane!).

You wouldn’t expect a lens this cheap to perform well optically but manages to do surprisingly well. While sharpness requires some stopping down, especially at the long end, it’s far from a poor performer.

And for the travel photographer, this lens will satisfy in all the most important ways.

What I Like:

  • Large focal length range is perfect for travel photography
  • Image quality strong for the price
  • Light and easily carried
  • Fast autofocus

What I Don’t Like:

  • Build quality isn’t great
  • Maximum aperture is f/3.5

Check Latest Price & Reviews


Best Macro Lens

Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM Fixed Lens for Canon SLR Cameras

Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro

If you’re an APS-C shooter looking for your first macro lens, the Canon 60mm f/2.8 is an excellent choice. It gets you true macro (1:1) magnification, which allows for ultra-close up shots of pretty much anything.

As with most macro lens, the 60mm f/2.8 is tack-sharp, especially when stopped down. And the 60mm focal length keeps this lens light and compact, much more convenient for walkaround macro shooting than, say, Canon’s 180mm f/3.5.

The main drawback to a short macro lens like this one is the working distance. With a 60mm focal length, you’ll have to get very close to your subject to achieve maximum magnification!

What I Like:

  • True macro magnification is perfect for close-up photos
  • Excellent image quality
  • Small and light
  • f/2.8 aperture good for low light photography

What I Don’t Like:

  • 60mm too short for some macro purposes
  • Limited working distance

Check Latest Price & Reviews


Best Super Zoom Lens

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

Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6

The Canon 18-200mm has a focal length for pretty much anything: at 18mm, you can photograph landscapes; at 50mm, you can photograph portraits, and at 200mm, you can photograph birds and wildlife. That’s what makes this such a good walkaround lens–there’s something for everyone.

And optically, this lens is impressive. It’s not tack-sharp wide open, but it does perform well, especially in the center of the frame. It’s a lens I’d recommend to anybody looking for a super zoom option.

What I Like:

  • Sweeping focal length for any purpose
  • Impressive image quality
  • Image stabilization good for low light shooting
  • Decent autofocus speed

What I Don’t Like:

  • Optical quality not up to L lens standards
  • Expensive

Check Latest Price & Reviews


Best Telephoto Lens

Canon EF-S 55-250mm F4-5.6 IS STM Lens for Canon SLR Cameras

Canon 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS STM

The Canon 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS STM isn’t the most optically impressive lens out there, but it offers a nice combination of price, optics, and reach.

At 55mm, you’ll be able to capture a nice mix of portrait, street photography, and detail shots. At the 250mm long end (which stretches to an effective 400mm), you can capture beautiful photos of small wildlife and large birds.

The lens is also impressively light–light enough that you can take it with you for casual shooting and you’ll hardly notice its weight. With the 55-250mm, you’ll be able to shoot birds and wildlife all day without breaking a sweat.

All in all, this is a solid telephoto lens for a bargain price.

What I Like:

  • Excellent focal length range for telephoto shooting
  • Image quality is decent, especially at the center of the frame
  • Light and compact
  • Image stabilization good for low-light photography

What I Don’t Like:

  • Somewhat cheap build quality
  • Maximum aperture is f/4

Check Latest Price & Reviews


What to Read Next:

>