Which Canon Rebel Lens is the best?
Nearly everyone that buys a digital SLR does so with a desire to switch lenses to get the best shots possible. Those who buy Rebels are no different. In fact, the most popular question on photography forums could be, “Which Canon Rebel lens should I buy?”
It is a valid question, and it deserves a response.
Without a doubt, the most widely purchased package is the Rebel with a kit lens, the Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS lens. Canon bundles the camera with this lens because it keeps the price low and it gives the buyer a little freedom with a 4x type zoom lens. But it also provides some excellent image quality.
On the down side, the Canon EF-S 18-55mm lens is made of plastic, and it is, therefore, not the most durable lens one can purchase. It also has a somewhat standard aperture range at f/3.5-f/5.6, which means that it will not perform as well as some other choices in low light photo situations.
But, in light of the circumstances of most new Canon Rebel buyers, it is an excellent first lens.
Some folks take a bit more time and intentionally research other choices for a first or second Canon Rebel lens. The thinking here is that since you can purchase the body without a kit lens, why not do so and spend a little more money to get a more durable lens and possibly one that has a better aperture.
Considering focal lengths, virtually all buyers start by using a standard zoom instead of a prime (or single focus) lens. It seems sensible to have a little versatility in focal length except for when you are aware of precisely which single focal length is ideal for the form of digital photography. But that is definitely seldom the case, specifically in relation to choosing a Canon Rebel lens, because a high percentage of consumers are making their very first digital SLR acquisition.
Considerations before buying a Standard Zoom (aka Normal) Canon Rebel lens:
- Focal Range – Normal zoom lenses are not actually normal – there is no one lens that is would be the “flagship” lens for beginners or first-time buyers. Standard does indeed suggest that there is a minimal focal length and a maximum focal length. For a Digital Rebel, an excellent lowest focal length is approximately 18-24mm. For a maximum focal length, standard is 55-85mm. If you keep to within these numbers, you are going to get a good zoom range that can take care of all of your “normal” photo requirements.
- Aperture – if you are looking for a standard price selection lens, you will usually be confronted with a variable aperture. This means that the aperture adjusts when you zoom to a larger focal length. This has an undesirable effect on shutter speed, which means that the shutter has to remain open for a longer period to get adequate light to the sensor for the proper exposure, or you have to make an adjustment to the ISO. The very best selections for standard zoom lenses are the products having a steady aperture of f/2.8 throughout the entire focal range. Of course, this increases the cost of the lens.
- Build Quality – Plastic-type material is low-cost. If you hold a plastic lens in your hand, it appears low-cost and it feels low-cost. That doesn’t imply that plastic lenses take substandard pictures. In real life, quite a few folks purchase the inexpensive lenses such as the Kit Lens and are fairly satisfied with the resulting pictures. Once you start buying lenses made with very good quality materials, the price necessarily increases. But the up side is that a well built lens lasts significantly longer and can withstand a lot more punishment.
- EF or EF-S Lens Mount – The difference between EF and EF-S is that they are created for different cameras. For Canon Rebel owners, the best news is simply this – ANY Canon product (as well as off-brand products created for Canon) will function on your Canon Rebel. The EF-S models are made particularly for cameras that include the Digital Rebel along with other crop sensor cameras up to and including the Canon 7D. The EF lens mounts are for more professional models, but they also work on your Rebel. If you plan to upgrade to a full frame dslr some time in the future, it is best to consider staying with the EF lens models, because they’ll work on pretty much all digital SLRs inside the Canon lineup.
Here are a few Canon Rebel Lens choices that one might consider instead of going with the kit lens.
Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM – this lens is an excellent choice for a couple of reasons. First, it is built of much more durable material. Second, it has a constant f/2.8 aperture across all focal lengths, which means it will do very well in photographic situations where there is less natural light. And third, the USM (ultra-sonic motor) is very fast as an auto focus mechanism.
Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM – This lens is arguably the most highly regarded of basic all-around lenses for Canon. Being an “L” lens, it has the best technology and construction that Canon has to offer. Of course, that L comes at a premium price. However, the good news is that even if you decide later to upgrade to a more professional camera, this lens will move with you. You will never have to buy another general purpose lens. So, while this can be a Canon Rebel Lens, it is also a lens for all Canon Digital SLR cameras, whether beginner models or professional models, and all DSLR cameras in between.
Canon EF-S18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens – while this lens does not have the large constant aperture, it is excellent for two reasons. First, the focal range is 10x which means you can use this one lens for almost every shooting situation if you so desire. And second, the image quality is superb.
Third Party Canon Rebel Lens Choices
Do not discount the lenses produced by other manufacturers for the Canon Rebels. Sigma and Tamron have some winners.
Sigma 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM – This lens is actually 15x and costs less than the Canon 18-200mm lens mentioned above. It is another of the lenses that can stay on the camera for almost every purpose, whether it be landscape, portrait, telephoto, and even macro to some degree. The variable aperture is not the best in terms of low light shooting, but it comes at a bargain price with lots of pluses.
Tamron AF 17-50mm f/2.8 – similar in focal length as the kit lens, this one offers a wide f/2.8 constant aperture. It is an excellent choice with regard to low light and image quality, as well as the build.
Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 – this one will give you a little more “reach” at 75mm, but it is not a true wide angle lens as a Canon Rebel Lens with the widest focal length being 28mm (this translates to about 44mm in full-frame terms).
You can’t really go wrong with one of the Canon Rebel lens choices listed here. Of course, there are plenty of specialty lenses made by Canon and others to fit the Canon Rebel. You may want to investigate further at http://canoneoslenses.org.