Best Canon lenses — 2021

Canon has a long history of lens development. Ever since the 5D Mark II changed the video landscape, they have been a favorite for videographers and indie filmmakers. There are plenty of Canon lenses on the market, creating even more possibilities for Canon owners.

Canon uses three lens mount systems. EF — or electro-focus — lenses are for full-frame lenses and have been in production since 1987. EF-S was created in 2003 for crop sensor cameras. The newest edition to the lens repertoire is the RF lenses, for use with mirrorless cameras.   

To add to our list of best lenses, we decided to break down the best Canon lenses. From budget-friendly primes to high-end cine lenses, we’ve got you covered. This list includes lenses made by Canon as well as third-party lenses. For an in-depth guide on what to look for in a lens, read more in “The best lenses for video.”

Best budget EF prime

Yongnuo YN 50mm f/1.8

Yongnuo came on the scene just over a decade ago and quickly made a name for themselves. They offer affordable lenses with specs that are somewhat close to the bigger brands.  

For only $60, you get an f/1.8 max aperture. This is great for a variety of lighting conditions and the lens can stop down all the way to f/22. The Yongnuo focuses as near as 1.5 feet. It has a metal mount and gold electronic contacts that transmit EXIF data from the lens to your camera.  

The lens has a switch to toggle between Auto and Manual focus, offers multi-coated glass elements and a 7 blade diaphragm.  You’d be hard-pressed to find a lens that packs more bang for the buck than this lens. 

Best budget EF zoom

Tamron SP 28-75mm F/2.8 XR Di for Canon EF

Tamron has been making lenses since well before the days of digital cameras. They have done well in keeping up with the times. The Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 XR Di is Videomaker’s pick for the best budget zoom for EF mounts. 28-75mm covers a great range of focal lengths, giving shooters a chance to go wide or pull in a bit. Plus, the max aperture of f/2.8 across the entire zoom range is fast enough for most uses. All these features add up to make this a great everyday lens. 

Best budget EF cine

Rokinon Cine DS

Rokinon’s Cine DS lenses are our choice for the best budget cine lens on the Canon EF mount. Filmmakers will appreciate the Rokinon’s ‘de-clicked’ aperture and long focus pull. Both features create a cinematic feel by allowing smoother camera moves. Additionally, the focus ring has much deeper teeth than on a standard photography lens, which makes it easier to attach accessories. 

The Rokinon Cine DS comes as a series of prime lenses — 16mm, 20mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm, 100mm, 135mm, a range of t-stops with the fastest being t/1.5. The lenses can be bought individually, or in bundles of 4 or 5. It’s less common to find all the lenses in one kit. Prices range from $400 and up on single lenses in this family, with bundles of 4 being around $2000.

Best wide EF prime

Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM

This is one of Canon’s newest L series Primes. The L series is Canon’s professional line of photography lenses. They have fantastic build quality, with mostly metal construction under a hard poly shell, which is more dent resistant than metal would be. They use a metal bayonets style mount with rubber gaskets as a weather seal and protect against dust.  

This particular lens offers a fantastic image from corner to corner. It also utilizes the new SWC anti-reflective coating to minimize ghosting and flares. This lens uses a rear-focus USM autofocus system and has a minimum focal distance of 3 inches.

One thing videographers should keep in mind about this lens is that it does not offer image stabilization. There is also some distortion visible on the edges when you’re shooting up-close, but that’s to be expected on a lens this wide.

Best normal EF prime

Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM

This lens is a beaut. Super fast — at f/1.2 — this lens works in very low light conditions and gives beautiful bokeh with 8 aperture blades. Although, it might not be the sharpest lens, the stunning images it produces earn its spot in any EF shooter’s bag. The rugged, weather-sealed, construction feels great in hand. However, it should be noted that at 650grams, this isn’t a lightweight lens. 

Best telephoto EF prime

Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM

The final lens in our EF primes is another Canon L series.  This time, the 135mm f/2 L USM.  

This lens fills a nice spot in your camera bag. It has a focal length that brings you close to your subject and an aperture fast enough to tackle challenging lighting conditions. 

It works well as a go-to tele-prime because it isn’t too long. Walking around with a 400mm lens just isn’t practical unless you have a specific situation where you know you’ll be needing it. The 135mm length is just right for everyday usage. it gets you close, but not so close that you can’t get the shot.

This lens boasts legendary L-Series build quality and optics while utilizing two ultra-low dispersion elements coatings to reduce flare and ghosting. The ring-type ultra-sonic motor — USM — provides quick, accurate and quiet autofocus. 

Best wide EF zoom

Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art

Sigma makes its way onto the list with its impressively fast 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art lens. The Sigma Art series is designed for notable optical performance.  

First things first, this isn’t a very long zoom. In fact, it’s less than many kit lenses, which commonly offer 18-55mm. But what it misses in length, it makes up for in speed. At f/1.8, this lens is impressively bright, great for shooting at night or indoors. Pair this with low diversion elements to reduce fringing and chromatic aberration and you’ll see the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 Art deliver the optical performance they promised.  

The hyper sonic motor — HSM — system provides fast, accurate and quiet AF, which any videographer will appreciate.   

One thing to note about this lens is that its focus ring works opposite of the way that Canon lenses do, which can result in some confusion if you’re regularly switching between lenses.  

Best normal EF zoom

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

Sigma follows up their performance in the wide zoom category by claiming the best normal zoom as well. The 24-70mm hits the sweet spot for range, landing in the perfect zone for a “walk-around” lens — it’s convenient to get a great variety of shots spanning the area. Pair that with f/2.8 to ensure you’re getting a good amount of light, plus can get creative with depth of field, and voilá, you have an incredibly versatile lens. 

This lens takes that popular functionality and combines it with Sigma’s Art glass, HSM autofocus and OS – Optical Stabilizer. and you’ve got a pretty nice zoom lens.  

A few things to note, this lens is sharp in the center, it can be soft around the edges at both the widest and tightest lengths.  Additionally, this lens isn’t light, it weighs over 1000 grams, or a half-pound, which could be an issue if it’s going to be handheld for long periods, or carried in a bag.  

Best telephoto EF zoom

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS III

The Canon EF 70-200mm has been an industry leader for generations. With a fantastic reach and fast f/2.8, every iteration of this lens has been a favorite of its day.  The newest version is the Mark III and it sets the standard for the class. 

Inside its rugged, weather-resistant, polycarbonate shell is 23 elements including 5 UD. and one fluorite element to help reduce color fringing and chromatic aberration. Air Sphere Coating minimizes flare and ghosting all adding up to fantastic image quality throughout the entire zoom range. 

Canon shooters are familiar with this lens’s USM system, which provides fast, precise and quiet autofocus.  The 70-200 Mark III also has two modes of internal image stabilization.  It can stop down to f/32 with its eight-blade diaphragm and has a minimum focal distance of 1.2 meters or 3.94 feet. In hand, it feels great. 

The only downside is its size The Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS III weighs in at 3.26lbs (1480g) and is a massive 3.5×7.83’’ (88.8x199mm). It’s a great big white lens that draws attention like few others, so don’t expect to be shooting discreet documentary-style work with it. What you can expect is an incredible lens with a great build that produces stunning images.

This lens is also compatible with Canon EF mount teleconverters to achieve up to 2x range.  

Best cine EF lenses

Canon Cinema Prime lenses

Canon pulls out all the stops for the cine lenses, known as the Canon CN-E line.  

The CN-E line consists of seven primes, 14mm T3.1, 20mm T1.5, 24mm T1.5, 35mm T1.5, 50mm T1.3, 85mm T1.3 and 135mm T2.2, These lenses are designed with the same form factor, gear position and rotation angle, so that swapping them back and forth is fast and hassle-free during a shoot. They are designed to provide edge to edge and brightness and use an 11-blade iris, which creates a stunning blur for out-of-focus bits. Shooters and crew will appreciate that each lens has dual focus maskings on each side of the barrel, so it’s easier to check while working.  

It should be noted that these Canon lenses are manual focus lenses. 

Best EF-S lens

Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM

The Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM is a fantastic lens for EF-S systems, covering a range of focal lengths equivalent to a 28-70, this is a fantastic addition to your Canon crop sensor system. With built-in image stabilization and USM AF system, this lens gives EF-S shooters the features to take their video to the next level. 

Best budget RF prime

Canon RF 50mm f/1.8 STM

The RF 50mm f/1.8 STM has that perfect mix of quality and price point. This lens does everything you’d want in an affordable prime. It has good image quality, f/1.8 to let in lots of light and an STM system. This provides quiet and accurate autofocus. The small size of the lens can be beneficial for use on gimbals and other stabilization. Together, all of these features make this a desirable lens with a price tag that puts it within reach. 

Best budget RF zoom

Canon RF 24-240mm f/4-6.3 IS USM

RF users will find this 24-240mm f/4-6.3 image stabilized lens a handy addition to their kit. An impressive range of focal lengths means this can lens can be used for wide, normal or telephoto shots. It should be noted that variable aperture means that as you zoom in, your max aperture will get smaller. So at 24mm, this lens will have a max aperture of f/4. But zoomed in to 240mm, max aperture is f/6.3.  

This lens boasts the Dynamic IS system, especially useful for video and a customizable control ring for whatever the user might want. 

Best normal RF prime

Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM

This top-notch lens for Canon RF is what you’d expect: a great performer in a well-built package. It’s that classic 50mm and can open up to a super-bright f/1.2. On top of that, you get Canon’s legendary L build and image quality. If you have the budget, this lens will fit nicely in your kit.  

Best normal RF zoom

Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM

The RF 24-105mm f/4L covers a great range of lengths. True that it’s not quite as many as our best budget Canon lens, but what it lacks in length, it makes up for in speed. At a constant f/4 across all focal lengths, the Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM is a top-tier walking around lens for the canon RF series. 

Image stabilization and USM AF motor make this is a useful lens for video. It covers lots of bases and can be thought of as a jack of all trades, but master of none. 

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