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The best Canon camera lenses in 2018

Looking to use something other than your kit lens? Here are the best Canon DSLR lenses available right now

Looking to buy a new lens for your Canon camera? Whether you’ve outgrown your kit lens and are looking to upgrade your system, or just want to take your photography in a new direction, you'll find all the best Canon camera lenses right here.

While a crucial advantage of any EOS DSLR is that the lenses are interchangeable – you can select the ideal type for any shooting scenario, and swap the lens on your camera in a matter of seconds – the choice of lenses on offer can feel overwhelming.

Read more: The best cheap Canon camera deals right now

As one of the world’s top manufacturers of DSLRs, Canon unsurprisingly makes a mighty selection of lenses for its EOS cameras. They range from very affordable, entry-level options to top-flight lenses that cater to the world’s most discerning professional photographers. 

There’s no shortage of different types either, with everything from ultra-wide-angle lenses to massive telephoto zooms, and specialised options like fisheye and tilt-and-shift lenses in Canon EF and EF-S mount fittings. So how do you pick the best Canon lens for you?

Which Canon camera lens should I buy?

The actual lens you need depends on what you like to shoot. For most of us, a standard zoom lens that stretches from wide-angle coverage to a short telephoto focal length will be the go-to option for everyday shooting. 

When it comes to additional lenses, the most popular choices include a telephoto zoom for shooting sports and wildlife, and an ultra-wide-angle zoom for landscapes, cramped interiors and the wow-factor of exaggerating perspective. Another popular add-on is a prime lens with a wide aperture rating – ideal for blurring the background in portraiture.

Here, we’ve picked 10 categories of top-class lenses for your Canon camera. They’re all firm favourites, with real mass-market appeal. In each case, we’ve pick a standout Canon camera lens that delivers superb all-round performance, excellent handling and gorgeous image quality. 

Value for money is also on the agenda, so if independent manufacturers like Sigma and Tamron make a lens that’s practically as good as an own-brand Canon, but much more affordable to buy, that would be our top recommendation. 

Indeed, some of the latest independent lenses beat own-brand alternatives for performance, regardless of price. Even so, top-performance Canon camera lenses are often very expensive, so we’ve also picked out the best budget alternative in each category.

EF or EF-S mount?

One thing to bear in mind is compatibility. You can use full-frame format lenses on Canon’s APS-C camera bodies, but not the other way around. That’s because APS-C-format lenses can’t physically be mounted on full-frame cameras. 

Full-frame-compatible lenses are classified as Canon EF, Sigma DG and Tamron Di. APS-C format lenses are designated Canon EF-S, Sigma DC and Tamron Di II.

Read on for the best Canon lenses you can buy right now.

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

The best standard zoom lens for Canon APS-C-format DSLRs

Mount: Canon EF-S | Elements/groups: 19/12 | Diaphragm blades: 7 | Autofocus: Ultrasonic (ring-type) | Stabiliser: 3 stops | Minimum focus distance: 0.35m | Maximum magnification: 0.17x | Filter thread: 77mm | Dimensions (WxL): 84x111mm | Weight: 645g

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Fast and constant f/2.8 aperture
Upmarket build and performance
Old 3-stop Image Stabilizer
No weather-sealing

The Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM lens is the only APS-C format standard zoom with a fast and constant f/2.8 aperture. It’s ideal for retaining fairly fast shutter speeds under dull lighting conditions, as well as for gaining a tight depth of field when you want to blur the background. It’s much sturdier and better built than Canon’s kit zoom lenses, although it still lacks the weather-seals found on most of Canon’s top-range L-series lenses. The ultrasonic ring-type autofocus system is fast and accurate, and comes with a focus distance scale that’s generally lacking on kit zoom lenses. Originally launched back in 2006, the lens has an old-generation Image Stabilizer but its 3-stop benefit is still very much worth having. Image quality is very good, with impressive sharpness and contrast even when shooting wide-open, along with fairly minimal distortions and colour fringing. It’s simply the best standard zoom on the market for Canon APS-C-format cameras.

Budget option: Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM | C
At around half the price of the above lens, this option is smaller, lighter and has a more powerful telephoto reach. However, the aperture rating shrinks from f/2.8 to f/4 as you extend through the zoom range, and handling is less refined as the focus ring rotates during autofocus. View Deal

2. Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM | A

A top-drawer standard zoom for full-frame cameras, this Sigma lens ticks all the right boxes

Mount: Canon EF | Elements/groups: 19/14 | Diaphragm blades: 9 | Autofocus: Ultrasonic (ring-type) | Stabiliser: 4 stops | Minimum focus distance: 0.37m | Maximum magnification: 0.21x | Filter thread: 82mm | Dimensions (WxL): 88x108mm | Weight: 1,020g

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Fabulous image quality
Pro-grade build and handling
Typically large 82mm filter thread
Heavy at just over a kilogram

The Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM is the choice of many professional photographers around the world, but it’s not particularly good value for money and lacks image stabilisation. This Sigma lens, the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM | A, isn’t as fully weather-sealed as the Canon, but it’s beautifully built and matches the Canon for all-round performance and image quality. Sharpness and contrast are spectacular, while bokeh is lusciously smooth. Autofocus is very quick and extremely quiet, while the 4-stop Optical Stabilizer helps to ensure sharp handheld shots at relatively slow shutter speeds. At around two-thirds the price of the Canon lens, it’s a much better buy.

Budget option: Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS US
A drawback of 24-70mm f/2.8 lenses is that, at around 1kg, they’re fairly weighty. The f/4 aperture rating of this lens enables a smaller, lighter build, although you can’t get quite such a tight depth of field. Image quality and handling are excellent and it gains 4-stop image stabilisation and a 0.7x macro mode, both lacking in Canon’s f/2.8 lens.View Deal

3. Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II VC HLD

A top-performance ultra-wide zoom for APS-C format cameras

Mount: Canon EF-S | Elements/groups: 15/12 | Diaphragm blades: 7 | Autofocus: HLD (High/Low toque-modulated Drive) | Stabiliser: 4 stops | Minimum focus distance: 0.24m | Maximum magnification: 0.19x | Filter thread: 77mm | Dimensions (WxL): 84x85mm | Weight: 440g

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Impressive performance
4-stop Image Stabilizer
Weather-seals and fluorine coating
About 2x the price of Canon’s 10-18mm

A major upgrade over Tamron’s original 10-24mm ultra-wide zoom for APS-C format cameras, the Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II VC HLD has improved optics, a 4-stop VC (Vibration Compensation) system, and a new HLD (High/Low toque-modulated Drive) autofocus system. Handling is improved as the focus ring no longer rotates during autofocus and enables full-time manual override. Weather-seals are also added, plus a fluorine coating on the front element to repel moisture and aid cleaning. Image quality is very good and, overall, it’s simply the best choice for an APS-C format ultra-wide zoom. The Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM offers an even wider maximum angle of view, but has a built-in hood with no filter thread. 

Budget option: Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM
A relatively recent launch, Canon's latest ultra-wide zoom boasts image stabilisation and a near-silent STM (Stepping Motor) autofocus system. It’s particularly small and light, with a plastic rather than metal mounting plate, and is very good value at the price. However, it loses out to the Tamron for build quality and image quality.View Deal

4. Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM | A

A practically distortion-free ultra-wide zoom for full-frame cameras

Mount: Canon EF | Elements/groups: 17/11 / | Diaphragm blades: 9 | Autofocus: Ultrasonic (ring-type) | Stabiliser: None | Minimum focus distance: 0.26m | Maximum magnification: 0.19x | Filter thread: None | Dimensions (WxL): 96x135mm | Weight: 1,150g

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Epic image quality
Superb build quality and handling
No filter thread
Not as wide as Canon’s 11-24mm

For extreme viewing angles, the Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM | A doesn’t go quite as wide as the EF 11-24mm f/4L USM zoom, nor Sigma’s acclaimed 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM Art lens, but it comes pretty close – and is only about half the price of the Canon. The Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM delivers stellar sharpness across the entire image frame, even when shooting wide open at f/2.8. Distortions are incredibly minimal for an ultra-wide zoom, and colour fringing is absolutely negligible. The top-performance optics are wrapped up in a superbly well engineered and fully weather-sealed barrel. This relatively new lens has become our favourite ultra-wide zoom for full-frame DSLRs.

Budget option: Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD
It’s certainly not a cheap lens but this alternative undercuts the Sigma 14-24mm for price, is well-built, and delivers very good image quality and all-round performance. It also retains a ‘fast’ f/2.8 aperture rating while adding an effective image-stabilisation system.View Deal

5. Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2

The ‘Generation 2’ edition of this fast 70-200mm telephoto zoom is spectacular

Mount: Canon EF | Elements/groups: 23/17 | Diaphragm blades: 9 | Autofocus: Ultrasonic (ring-type) | Stabiliser: 5 stops | Minimum focus distance: 0.95m | Maximum magnification: 0.16x | Filter thread: 77mm | Dimensions (WxL): 88x194mm | Weight: 1,500g

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Stellar performance
Pro-grade build and handling
Class-leading 5-stop VC system
Typically weighty for such a lens

Canon’s own top-flight 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom has recently had a minor update, but the second generation of Tamron’s equivalent lens – the Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 – is a major revamp, and something of a masterpiece. The optical path, autofocus system and image stabilisation all get significant upgrades, and the pro-grade, weather-sealed construction features a keep-clean fluorine coating on the front element. Image quality is stunningly good in all respects, with terrific contrast and sharpness even at f/2.8. Autofocus is super-fast and extremely accurate, and the image stabilisation system gives a class-leading 5-stop benefit, as well as having three switchable stabilisation modes to choose from. We actually prefer it to Canon’s own lens, and it’s much less expensive to buy.

Budget option: Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM
Sigma’s competing lens is a rather older design but still delivers very good image quality, fast autofocus and dual-mode image stabilisation for static and panning shots. It’s outclassed by the Tamron G2 lens and lacks weather-seals, but is excellent value at the price.View Deal

6. Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM

A cut above the usual 70-300mm telephoto zoom

Mount: Canon EF | Elements/groups: 16/11 | Diaphragm blades: 8 | Autofocus: Ultrasonic (ring-type) | Stabiliser: 4 stops | Minimum focus distance: 1.2m | Maximum magnification: 0.21x | Filter thread: 67mm | Dimensions (WxL): 89x143mm | Weight: 1.050g

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Excellent image quality and handling
Weather-sealed L-series build
Very expensive for this class of lens
Optional tripod ring is expensive

Think 70-300mm lenses with a variable f/4-5.6 aperture rating, and you’re probably thinking of a budget telephoto zoom. The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens is about three times the price of most competing lenses, but as one of Canon’s L-series models, it’s better built with a solid feel and a set of weather-seals. The autofocus system is rapid and the image stabilisation performs very well, but what really sets this lens apart is its top-notch image quality. Sharpness remains excellent throughout the entire zoom range, which gives generous telephoto reach on a full-frame camera, and an effective range of 112-480mm (in 35mm terms) on an APS-C body, breaking into super-telephoto territory while maintaining a relatively compact and lightweight construction.

Budget option: Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM
A huge improvement over Canon’s previous edition of this lens, this Mark II version features revolutionary Nano USM autofocus, which is much faster, practically silent and improves handling as the focus ring no longer rotates during autofocus. The image stabilisation is uprated to 4-stop effectiveness, and image quality is far sharper. It also adds a novel LCD display with options for focus distance and depth of field, together with effective focal length on an APS-C format camera, and the current level of vibration. It’s a good-value buy, but beware the UK price of the genuine ‘optional’ hood.View Deal

7. Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM | S

A mighty super-telephoto zoom in every way

Mount: Canon EF | Elements/groups: 24/16 | Diaphragm blades: 9 | Autofocus: Ultrasonic (ring-type) | Stabiliser: 4 stops | Minimum focus distance: 2.6m | Maximum magnification: 0.2x | Filter thread: 105mm | Dimensions (WxL): 121x290mm | Weight: 2,860g

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Great image quality, even at 600mm
Really solid build with neat features
Comparatively big and heavy
Typically ‘slow’ aperture at 600mm

Sigma and Tamron both manufacture 150-600mm super-telephoto lenses, enabling serious reach, especially when mounted on APS-C format cameras, where the maximum effective focal length becomes an incredible 960mm. The Sigma ‘Sport’ line lens has the edge in terms of image quality, with excellent sharpness throughout the entire zoom range. Autofocus with the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM | S is very fast and highly accurate, and the dual-mode Optical Stabilizer is highly effective for both static and panning shots. Build quality is of a pro-grade standard, with a weather-sealed metal barrel and even a tough, metal hood. The only downside to this Canon camera lens is that it’s a pretty massive lens and, at nearly 3kg in weight, it makes prolonged handheld shooting a challenge.

Budget option: Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM | C
Smaller, nearly a kilogram lighter and much less expensive, Sigma’s ‘Contemporary’ class option has the same zoom range as its ‘Sport’ sibling but is much more manageable in the hand, and easier on the wallet. It still has a weather-sealed mount, but lacks the Sport's more comprehensive set of seals. It’s not quite as sharp either, but still performs well and is great value at the price.


View Deal

8. Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Macro

Ideal for travel or walkabout shooting, this is the smart choice for a superzoom lens

Mount: Canon EF-S | Elements/groups: 16/12 | Diaphragm blades: 7 | Autofocus: Ultrasonic (motor) | Stabiliser: 4 stops | Minimum focus distance: 0.39m | Maximum magnification: 0.34x | Filter thread: 67mm | Dimensions (WxL): 75x100mm | Weight: 540g

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Better wide coverage than rivals
Big overall zoom range
Typical superzoom compromise in IQ
Less reach than the new 18-400mm lens

Tamron has something of a history of making groundbreaking superzoom lenses. The company’s latest offering, the Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Macro, is an 18-400mm lens that really pushes the envelope at the long end of the zoom range. However, the previously released 16-300mm is a class leader in wide-angle coverage, shrinking the minimum focal length to just 16mm. The extra-wide maximum viewing angle can often be more useful than extra telephoto reach. Colour fringing and distortions can be quite noticeable, which is typical for superzoom lenses, but sharpness is better than usual and handling is good. The VC system is very effective too, which is good news as the effective maximum focal length of this APS-C-format lens is 480mm.

Budget option: Tamron 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC
One of Tamron’s latest superzoom lenses, this one has a relatively modest zoom range but is particularly small and lightweight, making it a great travel companion. Performance is very pleasing and the lens’s relatively low asking price makes it a real bargain.View Deal

9. Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM

Perfect for handheld portraiture, it combines a wide f/1.4 aperture rating with image stabilisation

Mount: Canon EF | Elements/groups: 14/10 | Diaphragm blades: 9 | Autofocus: Ultrasonic (ring-type) | Stabiliser: 4 stops | Minimum focus distance: 0.85m | Maximum magnification: 0.12x | Filter thread: 77mm | Dimensions (WxL): 89x105mm | Weight: 950g

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Beautiful image quality
4-stop stabiliser in an f/1.4 lens
Very expensive for an 85mm f/1.4
Quite weighty at nearly 1kg

You usually need to choose between a really wide aperture or image stabilisation, but the Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM gives you both. The combination of an 85mm focal length and f/1.4 aperture is perfect for portraiture on a full-frame camera, enabling a comfortable shooting distance and a tight depth of field for making the main subject really stand out against a blurred background. Better still, the image stabilisation enables consistently sharp handheld images even under dull ambient lighting, for wonderfully natural portraiture indoors or at twilight, without the need to bump up your ISO setting or resort to flash. The lens also does well shooting against the harsh glare of the sun, with a high-tech ASC (Air Sphere Coating) to minimise ghosting and flare. This recently launched lens has fast become Canon’s full-frame tool of choice for high-end portraiture.

Budget option: Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM
For budget portraiture on an APS-C format body, look no further than this Canon lens. It’s only two-thirds of a stop slower than Canon’s pricier EF 50 mm f/1.4 USM lens but performs better in some respects, including sharpness in the f/1.8 to f/2.8 sector of the aperture range. It’s also unbeatable value at the price.View Deal

10. Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Macro

It goes toe-to-toe with Canon’s high-tech macro lens, but saves you cash

Mount: Canon EF | Elements/groups: 14/11 | Diaphragm blades: 9 | Autofocus: Ultrasonic (ring-type) | Stabiliser: 4 stops | Minimum focus distance: 0.3m | Maximum magnification: 1.0x | Filter thread: 62mm | Dimensions (WxL): 79x117mm | Weight: 610g

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Hybrid VC system
Full 1.0x magnification
Lacks ‘G2’ designation of newer lenses
Not much elsze

Like Tamron’s recent ‘G2’ lenses, this is the second generation of the company’s 90mm VC USD macro lens. As such, the Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Macro features a host of upgrades included improved optical performance, nano-structure coatings, weather-seals and a fluorine coating on the front element. It also adds a new ‘hybrid’ image stabiliser that counteracts horizontal and vertical shift, as well as the more usual angular vibration or ‘wobble’. This makes stabilisation much more effective in close-up shooting and, in this respect, the Tamron directly matches Canon’s esteemed EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM lens. It also performs every bit as well in terms of handling and image quality but, at only around two-thirds of the price, the Tamron is the better buy.

Budget option: Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro
The selling price of this Sigma macro lens varies in different world regions, but it’s enormously good value in the UK. Build quality is reassuringly robust, image quality is superb and, although it doesn’t have ‘hybrid’ stabilisation, it still features a dual-mode stabiliser with static and panning options. It’s a top-value Canon camera lens that’s highly effective as a fairly fast telephoto prime, as well as for capturing extreme close-ups.View Deal

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