Our recommendations of the best canon lenses for beginners
How do you get all of the shiny glass your heart desires without wasting your money on a lens that you don’t need and won’t use? Keep reading and well give you our top tips on the best canon lenses for beginners that won’t break the bank.
It is no secret that we recommend that the best canon lenses for beginners to start with are zoom lenses (multiple focal lengths) rather than prime lenses (just one fixed focal length). We have found that this can go against the popular opinion of many photography purists but we give this recommendation for a very specific reason; if you are new to photography (or on a tight budget) starting with zoom lenses can get you a very versatile kit with just one or two lenses. It can take some time to figure out exactly what you like to photograph and with one or two good quality zoom lenses you can test the water in a variety of photography styles, from portraits through to street, landscape and architecture.
Another advantage to zooms is that you can also get close to the action faster than having to physically move. This can be especially helpful when shooting events and sports where you may have limitations on how close you can actually be as well as simply being one less thing to worry about while you are trying to learn how to use your camera and get the most out of your subject. You will also find that high quality modern zooms don’t have as many issues as older lenses from the film days (which is where a lot of the bias against zoom lenses comes from).
That being said, we do recommend adding prime lenses to your kit eventually. Prime lenses do have certain advantages like their ability to focus faster in most cases when using auto focus. Another excellent reason to shoot with primes is that they will help teach you to move around more when shooting which will expand your fluidity and angle capturing ability making you a better photographer!
So what are the best canon lenses for beginners to start with?
This combination covers the majority of genres with only a few exceptions. Plus it gets you some really high quality glass that has decent low light performance and a reasonable ability to shoot shallow depth of field without having to invest in a million primes.
As one of the most popular zoom lenses on the market the 70mm-200mm will be your workhorse for events.
This lens is a great low light performer making the most of any available ambient light thanks to its constant f/2.8 aperture throughout the zoom range.
This is the reason why many photographers find the 70mm-200mm particularly useful when shooting weddings, events and family portraits where utilising natural light as often as possible is advantageous.
There is a reason why 93% of photographers gave the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM L series glass a 5 star rating.
Not only is the 24mm-70mm seriously sexy – fast, crisp, responsive, cinematic, perfect, worth every penny, amazing and the real deal – are all words reviewers have used to describe this lens. It doesn’t matter if you shoot people, weddings, portraits, nature or landscape… if you don’t have this lens, you need it.
If you start at this point you will begin to find your feet, discover your preference for subjects and more importantly start to push the limits of this setup. Finding the limitations of this gear will tell you exactly when you need to upgrade! This means you are buying gear based on an actual need instead of just gear envy, it will also ensure that you buy a piece of kit that will not only make your life and images better but will also not just sit around gathering dust.
You might find yourself preferring particular focal lengths, needing an extremely wide (pancake) lens, an extreme zoom or want some wider apertures for that awesome bokeh; once you have identified these gaps in your kit it’s time to move on to prime lenses!
So where to from there? What primes should you consider without getting “too many?”
50mm – Some models really feed off the energy of others so this is our go to focal length for people who work best when the photographer is close to the subject. This also means we can be close to mimic what we see with our eyes.
The Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM is a great piece of kit for ¾ – full body work that won’t break your bank account like the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM Lens will (as beautiful as it is). Personally we would avoid the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II (known as the plastic fantastic in the industry) as you can get the better 1.4 for just a little extra. If it is all you can afford though it certainly does the job and no one will know the difference from an image quality perspective, it’s more a build quality thing.
85mm + is a beautiful focal length for portraits. You should have found your preference by now from shooting with your zoom.
The Canon EF 85mm f/1.2l II USM 85mm is lorded as the king of portraits but personally we prefer 105mm or even 200mm at times to give our subjects some “breathing room” to be themselves without feeling under the microscope. You can use you zooms for this though over time you may find yourself getting annoyed with the focal distances if you want super tight cropping.
Landscapes / architecture / you just want more in the picture
The EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM is your premium lens for landscapes though we’re not 100% sure if you “need” to shoot at 2.8 for landscape as you usually want that extra depth in your images so maybe an EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM will do the trick and be less painful on the pocket book. We can’t speak with authority on the sharpness of the lens though which may be a reason to shell out for that red ring on the L series.
We hope that this helps figure out where to get started as a Canonista… You may notice that we have only included Canon lenses and that simply is because that is the brand we prefer to use.
There are many other options that are beautiful glass with Sigma making some beautiful stuff that many prefer to Canon however we can’t speak from personal experience with Sigma lenses.
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If you have more suggestions of the best canon lenses for beginners leave them in the comments below!