Canon 70-200 Zoom Lenses

The Best Canon Lens Kits by Budget

Best Lenses for Canon

According to Budget

More than any other question, people ask me what lenses they should buy with their new cameras, or to take on their big trips, or to make the move to shooting professionally, etc. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer. Each lens is like an instrument in an orchestra: is has its own character and purpose, and deciding how to use that to your advantage is an important part of the artistic process. However, if flexibility is your goal, and you want just a few lenses to cover as many situations as possible, then I can recommend a kit with a wide to mid-range zoom, a mid-range to telephoto zoom, and a large aperture prime.

Below, I’ve listed the best lenses for three different budgets.

Best of the Budget Lenses

If you’re considering the purchase of a new Canon T5i or Canon 70D and would like a compliment of lenses that will give you the best image quality from your new, high resolution sensor, the following lenses will give you the best quality without spending a fortune. There are three lenses that I recommend for everyone who’s starting a lens collection on a tight budget:

For APS-C Sensors

1. Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS STM

Canon 18-55 STM LensThe Canon 18-55 lens is actually one of the best wide-angle zoom lenses for APS-C that Canon makes, regardless of budget. Although the zoom range is not very ambitious, the resolution is very high, and more importantly, even across the frame. You don’t need to worry about getting soft or smudgy borders with this lens, and the price is very reasonable. The lens does offer image stabilization, so even though it is not especially great in low light normally (with a maximum aperture of f/5.6 at 55mm), the IS allows low light photography where it would otherwise have been impossible. The STM version of this lens focuses quickly and quietly.

 

The Downsides: The build quality is in line with its price, so it may feel a little plasticky and cheap, and the zoom range is pretty modest, so you’ll usually want to pair this with another lens. The maximum aperture at 55mm is pretty small: f/5.6.

 

Typical Street Price: $249
Current Price: $83.18

 

2. Canon EF-S 55-250mm IS STM

Again, the 55-250 is optically very good across the zoom range and from the center of the frame to the edge. Together with the 18-55mm, you’ll have everything covered from moderately wide angle (18mm = 28.8mm on APS-C sensor) to long telephoto (250mm = 400mm on APS-C). Together the lenses cover more range and with much higher image quality than Canon’s 18-200mm lens. This lens is also image stabilized, which makes it much more versatile than it would be otherwise. Again, the STM version of this lens is faster and quieter (for shooting video) than the older model.

 

The Downsides: Same as the 18-55.

 

Typical Street Price: $349
Current Price: $299.00

Canon 55-250 STM

3. Canon EF-S 18-135mm IS STM

Canon 18-135 STM LensCanon’s previous 18-135 was a disappointing lens, but they made the important corrections with the STM version. The focusing is now much faster and quieter, but more importantly, the image quality is quite good throughout the zoom range and across the frame. Technically, the image quality won’t be as good as using the combo of the 18-55 & 55-250; with the 18-135 you’ll get a little more distortion at the wide end and slightly lower resolution at telephoto end of the zoom range. However, if you want to carry ONLY ONE LENS around with you, this will probably give you the best combination of flexibility, image quality, and convenience.

The Downsides: This lens is a little bit on the expensive side, but not terrible, and the image quality remains slightly lower than using multiple, more specialized lenses.

 

Typical Street Price: $549
Current Price: $260.00

 

4. Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM

Canon 50mm f/1.8 STMCanon’s 50mm lenses are wonderfully sharp, great in low light, and lightweight. The large maximum aperture of f/1.8 means that you’ll be able to stop action in low light situations, but it will also give you a very shallow depth of field which can be used creatively for portraiture. The new STM model is has fast, quiet focusing, and 7 aperture blades (rather than 5 in the old model) for smoother bokeh. Focuses down to 1.5 feet for good close-ups.

 

Downsides: The image quality of this lens isn’t significantly better than the non-STM model, so it’s a bit soft wide-open, but it’s quite sharp beyond f/2.0.

 

Typical Street Price: $125
Current Price:$125.00

 

5. Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 SP Di VC USD

If you feel that you’d prefer to have a 300mm lens in your kit, the Tamron is the way to go. In lab tests, it consistently ranks ahead of the Canon equivalent in optical quality (though not by a huge margin), it has optical stabilization, a fast USD motor (Tamron’s equivalent of a USM), and it costs around $200 less than the Canon.

Downsides: Like all lenses in this price range, the maximum apertures are relatively small… only f/4 to f/5.6. You’ll want to move up to an f/2.8 lens for shooting in lower light situations, when you can justify the dramatic jump in price.

 

Typical Street Price: $450
Current Price: $449.00

 

A Little More Expensive, But Worth It

This is probably the hardest area in which to make recommendations since there are so many choices, and not all of them are as good as they seem at first.

 

For APS-C or Full-Frame Sensors

1. Canon EF 70-200 f4L IS USM

Optically, this is probably Canon’s second best in this zoom range; only the new 70-200 f2.8L IS II is better. It is sharper and more consistent than Canon’s original 70-200 f2.8 IS and non-IS versions, and the fact that it is image stabilized means that it will usually give you better low-light performance than using a non-IS f2.8 (the major exception is if you’re shooting action, where IS doesn’t help). Getting a constant f4 maximum aperture throughout the range is extremely helpful, especially at 200mm. Although the lens isn’t cheap, it is very reasonable for a lens of this quality at about $1100.

 

The Drawbacks: The only major drawback of this lens is that is that it doesn’t open all the way to f2.8. This means that when you need faster shutter speeds in low light, you’ll either have to push your ISO up another stop (ie, 400 to 800) , deal with the blur, or miss the shot entirely (assuming that flash isn’t an option).

 

Typical Street Price: $1299
Current Price: $999.00

 

Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 VC USD
The excellent Tamron SP 70-200 f/2.8 Di VC USD. As sharp as the Canon 70-200 f/2.8 IS II.

2. Tamron 70-200 f2.8 Di VC USD

If you’re looking for a pro-grade lens that you can afford and which has a constant f2.8 maximum aperture throughout the zoom range, the Tamron is a good option for a couple of reasons. First, it’s relatively inexpensive for a stabilized lens at only $1200. Optically, the lens is quite good, and it’s smaller and lighter, and sharper than the Sigma lens of the same specifications. It also is relatively close-focusing, making it great for those times when you don’t quite need a true macro lens, but want a good, tight close-up.

 

The Drawbacks: This is a truly great lens. Its main drawback is its autofocus responsiveness. Once it starts focusing or tracking, it is quite fast… but there is a significant lag between the time you press the shutter button and the time the VC starts working, unlike a genuine Canon lens. Once you get used to it, it’s easy to work around.

 

Typical Street Price: $1499
Current Price: $625.95

 

3. Canon 50mm f1.4

Every photographer should have at least one large aperture, low light lens in his or her kit. Canon’s 50mm f1.4 and f1.8 are both extremely sharp, and the large apertures are perfect for either very low light, or creative use of selective focus. The f1.4 ($399) is more expensive than the 1.8 (about $110), and you’ll have to judge for yourself whether the advantages are worth it, but the more expensive lens does offer smoother bokeh and 2/3rds of a stop more light. A good portrait lens on APS-C, and a good event and low-light lens all around.

 

Drawbacks: This lens has a reliability problem. If you put much pressure on the focusing barrel, it will bend an internal component and the focusing will get stuck. There’s a way to fix it, and it can be avoided by using a hard lens hood, but the problem should not be ignored.

 

Typical Street Price: $399
Current Price: $329.00

 

For Full-Frame Sensors

Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 Di VC USD

1. Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 Di VC USD

This lens costs several hundred dollars less than the Canon Mark II while also offering image stabilization. Optically, it is quite strong, and the autofocus is quiet and fast. If you’re considering this lens, you might want to watch my video comparison of it and the Canon Mark II.

Drawbacks: This lens is not quite as sharp as the Canon between f/2.8 and about f/5.6, but Canon sets the bar very high. This is till a sharp lens.

Typical Street Price: $1299
Current Price: $1,595.00

For APS-C Sensors

1. Sigma 17-50 f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM

Sigma 17-50mm f2.8Canon’s 17-55 f2.8 is a great lens, but costs nearly $1200. Sigma’s 17-50 f2.8 EX DC OS HSM, offering a similar zoom range, also has extremely good resolution figures, image stabilization, and costs considerably less, at around $670. Unlike the similar lens from Tamron (also a good lens), the Sigma lens features their version of USM, which they call HSM (high speed motor), which is quiet and fast. This lens is a member of Sigma’s professional line, so the build quality is very high, and the lens feels good in the hand. The build is not on par with Canon’s L series, but neither is the Canon 17-55.

Drawbacks: At f2.8, the extreme borders (when shooting wide angle) are relatively soft, where the Canon lens is still quite sharp. Once you stop down one stop, though, the borders are virtually identical to Canon’s, and the center may be even slightly sharper.

 

Alternate: Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 II SP Di VC

 

Typical Street Price: $519
Current Amazon Price: $299.65

When You Need The Best

If you’re getting started in your professional photographic career, a student that wants a big leg up, or just someone who wants the best possible image quality in most situations, then these are the lenses to consider. Some of the lenses will cross-over, whether you’re using a full frame sensor or cropped.

For APS-C Sensors

1. Canon EF 70-200 f2.8L IS II

New Canon 70-200 2.8 IS II USM
The New Canon 70-200 2.8 IS II USM

Not just one of the best zoom lenses I’ve used, this is one of the best lenses I’ve used, period. Razor sharp across the zoom range from edge to center, even wide open. No significant distortion. Fast focusing, great image stabilization. A truly impressive piece of engineering; and much better than the original IS version of this lens.

The Downsides: The price on this beauty is not for the faint of heart. The Tamron equivalent is almost as good for $1000 less.

Typical Street Price: $2299
Current Amazon Price: [aprice asin=’B0033PRWSW’]

2. Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 ART

Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 ARTThis is a truly amazing lens, even with a somewhat limited zoom range. It has the widest aperture of any zoom lens made, and the optics are sharp enough that it can replace a 24mm and 35mm prime, and still go even wider.

Drawbacks: The only real downside to this lens is that it’s a bit on the heavy side, and of course, that the zoom range is not quite as wide as some would like, especially for Canon, but these are quibbles for such an amazing lens.

Typical Street Price: $799
Current Price: [aprice asin=’B00DBL0NLQ’]

3. Canon EF-S 17-55mm f2.8 USM IS

Canon EF-S 17-55mm f2.8As a companion, the 17-55mm doesn’t quite cover all the way to 70mm, but it handles it’s range in an exemplary fashion. Unlike many of the competing lenses, you won’t be hampered by soft edges at the wide end of the range. Obviously, the constant f2.8 aperture will be a joy to those of us who are trying to get a shot in a dark church or theater, or who need to stop action (wind blown grass, waves, children, etc).

The Downsides : Again, the price is best handled by those who can claim tax deductions.

Typical Street Price: $879

Current Amazon Price= [aprice asin=’B000EW8074′]


For Full Frame Sensors

New Canon 70-200 2.8 IS II USM
The New Canon 70-200 2.8 IS II USM

1. Canon EF 70-200 f2.8L IS II

Here I’ll repeat myself… not just one of the best zoom lenses I’ve used, this is one of the best lenses I’ve used, period. Razor sharp across the zoom range from edge to center, even wide open. No significant distortion. Fast focusing, great image stabilization. A truly impressive piece of engineering; and much better than the original version of this lens (make sure you get the Mark II!).

The Downsides: The price on this beauty is not for the faint of heart, but the same can be said for most professional camera equipment, I suppose.

Current Amazon Price: [aprice asin=’B0033PRWSW’]

 

Canon 24-70 f/2.8 II2. Canon EF 24-70 f/2.8L II USM

In early 2012, Canon announced their updated EF 24-70 f/2.8L II USM, the companion to the 70-200 f/2.8 IS USM II. As expected, the new lens is amazingly sharp, even wide open. Unfortunately, Canon did not make this a stabilized lens, but IS is less important with shorter focal-length lenses.

The Downsides: Again, the price is a sticking point for some, especially when the excellent Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 with image stabilization is available for significantly less.  That lens should be considered as an alternative; it is not quite as sharp, but the stabilization may provide some photographers with sharper images more frequently.

Current Amazon Price: [aprice asin=’B0076BNK30′]

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Luka
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Luka

Dear Matthew,

I have really liked your article and the helpful comments you have made, so I decided I would seek your help as well.

I have just started with the DSLR/Video photography with my Canon 80D. For starters I would like to have one all-around lens, like the kit lens Canon 18-55 STM or the Sigma 17-50.

Alternatively, reading through the reviews, perhaps a second hand Canon 18-135mm STM would make sense as well. Bur it has a smaller aperture.

Canon 18-55 STM seems like a nice everyday lens, with a fast and silent AF, which is also good for video.
The downside is that it has a relatively small aperture.

Sigma 17-50 on the other hand has a better aperture and is sharper, but has a loud AF, the sound of which gets picked by the microphone, the IS does not work as well as STM and, worse of all, seems to have quality controls issues, where some of the products are focussing off on different distances (30 mm or so).

A second hand Canon EF-S 17-55mm is, as I heard also plagued by troubles, because after some time IS stops working.

What is your take on that?

Which one would you recommend?

Thanks a lot and best regards,
Luka

Rudolf Bilka
Guest
Rudolf Bilka

Hi Matthew,

I am going to spend my holiday in Italy and I am going to buy new DSLR Canon 750D. My friend gave me his old Tamron AF SP 28-75mm f/2,8 XR Di LD (IF) Asp. Macro pro Canon lens. Could you please give me an advice? Should I buy that camera in set with 18-55 STM or 18-135 STM or only a body (old lens from friend will be enough)?

Thank you very much for your answer. :)

Brent
Guest
Brent

Hello Matthew,

I’m about to go on a 10 day trip to Europe. I have the Canon T4i and the following three lenses: 18-135mm IS STM, 75-300mm, and a fixed 40mm. Would you suggest I take all three, just two, or only one? As I’m still relatively new to the DSLR world I don’t know what to pack and thus don’t want to miss having something I should have brought, nor do I want to overpack if I won’t need it. Thank you for your help!

Denis
Guest
Denis

For my canon t5i, is Better 18-135 stm or nano usm?

Yubraj Bhattarai
Guest
Yubraj Bhattarai

canon 18-135 or canon 18-200 which lens is best????

ANANDS
Guest
ANANDS

Hello Mathew,

1) I have decided to buy Canon 80D . However, i am little bit confused regarding the lens to buy .
Whether i should go for canon f/4-5.6 is stm and canon 10-18 f/4-5.6 is stm or buy a recent 18-135 f/3-5.6 nano usm ?

2) whether i should go for canon 50mm f/1.8 stm or 85 mm f/1.8 usm ?

thanks

Anands

Syed
Guest
Syed

Hi there,

I would like to buy Canon 70D for wedding and fashion photography … outdoor / indoor of models .. which lens could you recommend ? 18-135mm or 18-55mm ?

Thanks

Peffe
Guest
Peffe

Hi Matt, stumbled upon your post while searching the Internet for advice. I’m considering purchasing a Canon 750D, and getting a separate Sigma 17-50mm f2.8 lens (as compared to the Canon 18-55 f2.8). A few questions:

1) Did I make a good judgement on the choice of focal length range?
I decided on getting around 17-50/18-55 as compared to 24-70 because I considered the crop factor of 1.6x due to the smaller sensor in the 750D. This effectively means I get a good range of about 28-80, which gives some nice opportunities for close-up and wide angle shots.

2) Did I make a good judgement on the f stop?
I’m still a little confused regarding this. I know the lower the better (lets in more light), and if I ever buy these photography equipment, I know I’ll use them equally frequently in both day and night. But I’m confused when people start talking about “stepping down” the f stop. If I’m using an f2.8 lens, and I put settings on my camera to f4, what happens?

3) Is the Sigma lens compatible with the 750D?
I’m not so worried about whether the Sigma lens will be compatible with other models because I most probably won’t be switching a camera body for quite some years (at least 6-7 years).

Sorry for these many queries, and thanks for all the help :)

Salman Yusufff
Guest
Salman Yusufff

I am having canon eos 700d. I got only 18 to 55mm stm lens. I need to buy tele lens. i am confused that canon 18mm to 250 mm is best or tamron 70mm to 300mm best can you please help me. Which is the best choice.

Ali Muqadas
Guest
Ali Muqadas

I am confused between canon 18-135 and canon 17-85 lens. Please guide which one should I buy. I need to have sharp pic and background blurred.

arindam
Guest
arindam

Hello everybody. Could you please tell me if 55-250mm lens is good for film making? Kindly reply as soon as possible.

Stephanie
Guest
Stephanie

Hi, I just came across this article and am thinking if it is worthwhile to upgrade from my Canon powershot G12 to either Canon 750d or 700d – could I get some advice on which would be best?

Also would you recommend me to purchase the two lenses kit 18-55mm & the 55-250mm or the 18-135?

Thanks

MATHEW MURIANKARY
Guest
MATHEW MURIANKARY

Hello Matthew,

I would like to get your suggestion regarding camera lens for my canon 70d. I have sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 ex dc os hsm fld and canon 18-135 stm lenses. I have to sell one of these. Which would be better to keep with me. I use them for both video and photo. Thanks in advance.

Mike Golan
Guest

I just saw this article today. When I bought my 60D three years ago the first lens I got was the EF-S 17-55mm f2.8 USM IS. About a year ago I added my second lens, the EF 70-200 f2.8L IS II.
I like nature (bird) photography and the new 400mm DO looks very interesting. I got a chance to use the 600mm in a workshop and decided I am never going to lug around a lens that big no matter the cost or quality.
But I think I’m going to delay any new lenses for a while. My next major purchase will be a monitor to attach to my MacBook. Then I’ll spend more time on the back end of workflow instead of the front end.

Albin K.
Guest
Albin K.

Hi!
I really liked the information that was given in the low budget lens kit part and I’ve been thinking of what lenses to get (I just got my first camera – canon 70D). Right now I have a working canon zoom lens EF 75-300mm 1:4-5.6 IS and I need something to cover the lower ranges. For this I want to get the Canon EF 50mm f1.8 as well as either Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS STM or canon EF-S 17-85mm IS USM.
the canon EF-S 17-85mm IS USM is a used lens which I can get for 275$.

do you have any recommendation or thought regarding which of the two lenses that I should get?

poupi
Guest
poupi

Hello there
vien I stumbled upon your page I admit that I learned a lot, I have a 500D with a Tamron 70-200 lens and lens barrel 55-250mm I vien to buy a 60d with a sigma 50mm 1.4 lens I want to get rid of my old 500d and a goal that they RECOMMENDED can you give me knowing I tounne video clips and also I have need of the device maittriser
thank you

poupi
Guest
poupi

bonjour
je vien de tombé sur votre page j avoue que j ai appris beaucoup , j ai une 500d avec un objectif tamron 70-200 et un objectif canon 55-250mm je vien d acheter une 60d avec un objectif sigma 50mm 1.4 je veut me debarasser de ma vielle 500d et un objectif qu elles conseilles pouvez vous me donnez sachant que je tounne des clips video et aussi j ai besoin de maittriser l appareil
merci

Amr
Guest
Amr

Hey Matthew,

Thank you for very helpful written review!

I’m confused about getting a new lens for a friend of mine ” like a gift ” , she owns Canon 550D with EF-S 18-55mm IS lens
Which one would you suggest !

and does EF-S 55-250 IS STM work on canon 550D ! because some people said the STM version is useless on canon 550D.

Thanks

Varinder Grover
Guest
Varinder Grover

Hi, i recently buy canon 60 D with 18-55 and 55-250 kit lens i need help that if i sell both lens and buy a used Canon 70-200mm F4L it will be a good decision

or i buy 18-135

or continue with the same kit i received 18-55 and 55-250
thanks

Varinder Grover
Guest
Varinder Grover

Thanks a lot for advise me and one more question for movie making 70-200 is better or 55-250 pl advised me

Rodney Murton
Guest
Rodney Murton

Hi Mathew

I really enjoy your articles and comments and would like to ask a question of my own.
I have just upgraded from. Canon 400D to the 70D and I have the Canon 17-85 USM lens. Will I get better image quality if I purchase the Canon 18-135 STM?
I am going to Vietnam and Cambodia soon but the image quality is more important than the range.

Thank you in anticipation of your reply

gad
Guest
gad

Thanks for the article sent to me,I really appreciate it.I’m very happy to be more enlighten through the article. Please can you tel me which type of lense is best prefered to be using with the canon 7d thanks

gad
Guest
gad

Pls I’m confused I wanted to buy canon 50d but I later discovered that it used to have a shooter preblem so I was advised to buy canon 7d or nikon d300s.pls advised me on which one to buy out of the two.in your explanation, pls explain the advantages and disadvantages of the two cameras. Thanks.

KeithB
Guest
KeithB

How about the EF-S 15-85? I am not sure what popped this article to the top, but the upgrade? to the 17 – 85 has been out a while now.

Alexander
Guest
Alexander

Hello Matt:

I’ve read this blog and I thank you for taking time to respond. I’ve just traded in my T2i with the 18-55mm IS lens. I’m getting ready to buy the 60D with another lens this weekend. I was thinking an “all in one” such as the 18-200mm IS canon or 18-270mm Tanrom with Pizio drive VC. However, I read you do not recommend these for loss in quality. You rather go with 2 lenses if possible. I still have a 18-250mm IS canon which I bouth with my T2i. Since you recommend this over the other ones, which lens would you suggest to replace my 18-55mm. I was thinking the 17-50mm f2.8 from tamrom? or 15-85mm from canon? I do mostly kids sport pictures, potraits, and landscapes. Thanks.

Alex

Alexander
Guest
Alexander

Matt:

I made a typo. I meant I still have the 55-250mm IS canon. Also, HAPPY THANKSGIVING everyone! Regards,

Alex

rob
Member

Is there an image (quality) difference between EF-S 18-135 vs EF-S 18-200? Any information is appreciated.

Kyle G.
Guest
Kyle G.

So are you saying it’s better to purchase the 18-55mm AND 55-250mm lenses as opposed to the 18-135mm or 18-200mm lenses? And im trying to figure out if i should buy the T2i or the 60d because i sort of feel like with the 60d i can still grow into it’s extra features in the long run, since i’m sort of only a beginner at all this.

SBB
Guest
SBB

I have to say that I was skeptical of the 18-55. I had the original EF-S 18-55 that came with my, now ancient (by digital standards) Digital Rebel and its image quality was very poor. But when I saw a Mark II version of the IS lens on Overstock for $129 (white box) I decided to give it a shot. Let me preface this by saying that this is my first IS lens and my opinion may be tainted by how thrilled I am with image stabilization, but this is really quite a solid traveling lens. Thank you for your advice on this site. By the way, I purchased the 60D (again, based partly on your opinions) and I am quite pleased (my wife is, actually, thrilled and she was the reason we were thinking of getting the t3i).

Nube2DSLR
Guest
Nube2DSLR

OK, I read this article and I also read the Pro-budget (holy smokes!) article. I need to know if there is something in between (given the price difference there could almost be a high and low end midsection). I am new to DSLR’s and just bought a T2i but can afford a better quality and reasonably higher priced lens. I figured the lens is 60% of the quality so I want to spend some cash there as well.

Thanx