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Looking to upgrade your Canon lens? Or perhaps you’ve just bought a Canon camera and want to know what are the best Canon lenses to buy?

Look no further. We’ve put together a list of 9 best Canon lenses you need to try. Whether renting or buying, this list should be your go-to.

A female model posing outdoors shot with best Canon lenses

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Fixed Fast Lenses

Canon has quite the arsenal of fast lenses – or lenses that have a very wide aperture. These are all fixed millimetre lenses. A fixed lens is much sharper and generally higher quality than a zoom lens.

The f/stop, also known as the aperture, tells you how wide the lens can open.

The wider the aperture (smaller number), the more light it lets in and the shallower the depth of field.

The smaller the aperture (larger number), the less light it lets in and the deeper the depth of field.

And here are our favourites.

1. Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM

Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM - canon camera lenses

Next to the 35mm, the ‘nifty fifty’ is likely the most iconic camera lens of all time. It’s been used since photography’s inception.

The fifty millimetre lens has continued to entice and dazzle photographers to this day. But with its popularity comes the tedious task of determining which 50mm to use. There are hundreds to choose from!

Canon’s supersedes all (in my opinion). The Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM is the sharpest 50mm at a faster aperture than f/1.4.

The colors and contrast are dazzling, and for creamy bokeh lovers, this lens delivers!

Built very solid, the lens does have a substantial weight to it. But that is easy to overlook once you take a peek at its image quality. Intended for full frame bodies, the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM has an extremely fast autofocus. This is not very common for wide aperture lenses.

The lens also rocks an ultrasonic motor with a silent focus motor. This is great for photographing animals.

A female model posing outdoors shot with best Canon lenses

I’ve always preferred lenses that give me a range to play with. And you can always bump this baby up to f/1.8 if the f/1.2 is too shallow for you. But it’s better to have the option of doing so than not!

The other benefit to this particular 50mm is the lack of chromatic aberration. Chromatic aberration, also known as ‘color fringing’ or ‘purple fringing,’ is a common optical problem.

It happens when a lens is either unable to bring all wavelengths of color to the same focal plane. Or when wavelengths of color are focused at different positions in the focal plane.

2. Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM

Just as much a celebrity in the photography world as the 50mm. The 35mm grew to fame with its multitude of applications and videography use.

As such, every camera brand on the planet has a hundred different versions of this same lens. Canon have a rather memorable one.

The Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM is an updated version of its predecessor with notable improvements. This lens is not small or light, but it is an impressive performer.

It delivers remarkable image quality at an extreme wide aperture. We guarantee it will make any low light photographer weak in the knees.

A pet portrait of a Shepard dog jumping to catch a frisbee shot with canon prime lens

The lens focuses to 11 inches, impressive for a 35mm. This lens is very sharp, especially for being so wide open.

There is a big jump in clarity from other models. Especially when compared to the Tamron or Sigma equivalent.

You’ll get the best quality photos when shooting at f/1.4 with the company’s most demanding image sensor, the 50MP full-frame.

3. Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM

Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM canon lenses

The 85mm is likely one of my favorite focal lengths, and as such, I have gone through my share of 85mm lenses. None have stood out to me as much as the Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM.

With an aperture as creamy as their Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM lens, the 85mm delivers at a much longer focal length.

It’s ideal for a variety of distance shoots, such as pets or candid portraits. And the low light capabilities due to the wide open aperture just add to the list of things this lens is a beast at.

A dreamy beach portrait of a girl holding a dog shot with best canon lens for portraits

This lens is all metal, and can definitely survive some drops and hits. Canon’s L quality glass makes this lens a must-see for professional photographers. You’ll notice the difference in sharpness, color, contrast, and vignetting.

The Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM is not a lens for beginners. It comes with a steep learning curve. But it will change your world once you try it.

4. Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM

Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM, best canon lenses

If you haven’t quite figured it out yet, Canon has a great repertoire of wide aperture lenses. The company has figured out the perfect formula for beautiful, soft bokeh and incredible sharpness at an extremely wide aperture.

Along with the 35mm f/1.4 L, this Canon EF 24mm f/1.4 L II USM is one of Canon’s two fastest wide angle lenses. It’s a favorite among night sky photographers.

This lens is notable for having very little distortion, and a slew of applications as a result.

Atmospheric portrait of a male model shot with a canon lens

Zoom Lenses

Not everyone gravitates towards fixed lenses. Sometimes what you really need is a zoom lens!

All lenses have different focal lengths and f/stops. The focal length is the distance between the lens and its focus. It affects the perspective (for example, a focal length for a 16mm lens will show a much wider frame than a 200mm lens).

Zoom lenses are very adaptable. You can go from a wide shot to a tighter shot in seconds.

These are my favorite zoom lenses from Canon that you have to check out.

5. Canon EF 16-35mm F/2.8L USM III

Wide angle lenses, as the name implies, have a much wider view than normal lenses. You can get super creative and play with angles and compositions.

Wide angle lenses distort perspective significantly, which makes for a cool effect.

The Canon EF 16-35mm F/2.8L USM III is the sharpest f/2.8 ultrawide ever from Canon. There is a reason they keep releasing new versions of this same lens. And they’re constantly updating it for even more drool-worthy performance!

For sports, action, landscape, interior, and anything else for which you need extreme performance at f/2.8, there is nothing better.

This f/2.8 lens is for action and when you need ultimate performance.

Atmospheric black and white portrait of a female model shot with a canon lens

A memorable improvement is the sharpness among the entire frame, even at 2.8.

Your corners will now be just as crisp as the centre points, something you have to try for yourself!

6. Canon EF 24-70mm F/2.8L USM II

Canon EF 24-70mm F/2.8L USM II lens

Fondly known as the “walk around lens” by professionals and hobbyists alike. The 24-70mm lens is the staple of any photography kit!

It’s a lens that offers diversity and functionality. Its range makes the 24-70mm lens a remarkable companion for a vast array of photo shoots.

From wide captures to close-up portraits, and everything in-between.

This lens has landed itself as Canon’s most popular lens. The EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM features improvements to image sharpness, vignetting, and AF speed.

When pairing with a camera body that features advanced auto-focus systems, version II is significantly faster than its predecessor.

Version II also features weather sealing with a front filter in place.  And it’s significantly lighter and easier on the arms.

An atmospheric concert photography shot of a musician on-stage shot with best canon lenses

I’ve used this particular lens for years. I can attest to its durability and hardy built. I have had this specific model knocked out of my arms at a metal concert I was photographing. It still lived to tell the tale.

For those that have used 24-70mm in the past, you’ll have a great frame of reference for this version II. It’s worth trying out.

7. Canon EF 70-200mm F/2.8 L IS USM III

Canon EF 70-200mm F/2.8 L IS USM III lens

The 70-200mm is a lot of photographers’ favorite telephoto lens.

A telephoto lens is a long lens that allows you to photograph distant subjects easily. This is due to how long their focal length is. A lens is considered a telephoto lens if it has a focal length of over 60mm.

A telephoto lens is extremely useful for action photography. They are also popular in portrait and macro photography.

They produce a natural perspective free from the distortion caused by using a wide angle lens.

Canon’s version of this lens is optically impressive. The excellent autofocus performance ensures that the full optical impressiveness is realized.

Image stabilization adds to the already-great versatility. And, on top of that, a great build quality makes this lens reliable and fun to use.

Canon has always knocked it out of the park with ensuring their L line of lenses are nicely weather sealed.

A pet portrait of a small dog jumping to catch a toy shot with canon prime lens

The first 70-200mm Canon L lens is the first lens I ever purchased for my camera ten years ago. That is when I fell in love with L glass forever.

The sharpness, color, and quality is absolutely unbeatable. I dare anyone to find me a better equivalent piece of glass than Canon.

Once I updated to the f/2.8 II version, there was no going back. This version III is absolutely worth a try, and I know for a fact you’ll fall in love with it.

Tilt Shift Speciality Lenses

Possibly one of the most unique lenses ever created. A tilt-shift lens is a lens in which the optics can be tilted and/or shifted in relation to the image sensor.

You can tilt up and down and shift side to side individually.

The cool thing about a tilt shift is that it allows you full control over the perspective. Tilt allows one to tilt the plane of focus to allow perfect focus along any plane, not just the plane of the sensor as with a normal camera.

By tilting the lens, we can bring the ground, a wall or a table-top all into perfect focus, from inches away to infinity. Shift allows one to keep parallel lines parallel, even if you need to look up, down, left or right instead of directly at a subject.

You can fix the perspective with a tilt shift or alter it to be even more imaginative. Make big objects small and small objects big, fix crooked walls, and so much more.

Many architectural photographers love a good tilt shift for this reason. Canon has two very unique tilt shift lenses that have become all the industry talks about.

8. Canon EF TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II 

 Canon EF TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II  lens

For those that know how to use tilt shift lenses, these two are a dream. What is revolutionary about these two lenses is that both allow independent rotation of the tilt and shift axes relative to the camera and to each other.

Canon outdone itself on optical design. And used high-precision aspherical front elements to keep distortion to a minimum. And multiple UD elements to reduce chromatic aberration.

No fringing to be found on these!

9. Canon TS-E 135mm f/4L MACRO

Canon TS-E 135mm f/4L MACRO lens

Both lenses are superbly built and deliver outstanding image quality. The different focal lengths allow for a variety of uses.

The wider lens will work well for architecture and the longer focal length will find itself at home in a portrait studio.

With macro focusing and tilt, shift and rotate features, the lenses can produce incredible and highly-differentiating results.

Canon has an opportunity for you to try all of these lenses and plenty more at their Experience Centers all over the country. Take advantage of it!

Your kit will forever change after you try these nine lenses out!

Looking for more great tips? Check out our post comparing Canon vs. Nikon vs. Sony next!

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Anabel DFlux

Anabel DFlux is a published photographer in Los Angeles, California. Having started her photography business at the age of 15, Anabel has dedicated her life to her photographic passion. From canine sports to exotic animals, to some of the biggest musicians in the world - Anabel's work doesn't fall into any specific niche. She believes there are no limits to what you can create, and to photograph everything that gives you that spark of inspiration.

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