Canon T3i / 600D — Recommended Lenses

First published on: Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Canon T3i / 600D -- Recommended Lenses

This post is a quick list of best lenses for your Canon T3i / 600D / Kiss X5 digital SLR camera. Be sure to read through the relevant reviews and user opinions, and view sample photos prior to purchasing the lens of your choice.

Cheap (But Fantastic) Canon Prime Lenses

One of the best things about shooting with a DSLR like the T3i is to be able to shoot photos with super tiny DOF (depth of field) when you mount a large-aperture prime lens on the camera. Such images are where the main subject is in sharp focus and the background is thrown into a nice, soft and dreamy blur (think portraits — works great with babies, kids, pets, friends, loved ones and even small groups). You can’t get this kind of pictures easily with compact cameras.

Even better is the fact that decent prime lenses don’t cost that much money. Here are a few fixed lenses that generations of Canon photographers have come to love:

  1. Canon 50mm f/1.8 II — read related posts.

  2. Canon 50mm f/1.4 USM (pricier than the 50mm f1.8 II, but you get sharper images and even tinier DOF at f/1.4) — read related posts.

  3. Canon 85mm f/1.8 USM — read related posts.

Your choice of prime lens depends on your budget and focal length preference. Personally, I’d go for the EF 50mm f/1.4, although no lens beats the 50mm f/1.8 II for sheer value. The 85mm f/1.8 would be the better choice if you prefer to shoot half-body portraits or headshot photos.

Super zooms for maximum flexibility

Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS

There are times when the best possible image quality takes a back seat to the need for portability and zoom flexibility. Perhaps the situation isn’t conducive to frequent lens-changing. Such times call for this new super-zoom lens from Canon.

Read through a compilation of Canon 18-200mm reviews and sample photos.

Not too wide, not too long

Lenses in this category are invariably the normal zooms. Very often, you have to choose between sheer optical quality (and get slapped with cost, weight, size and limited zoom range penalties), or select a lens which is lighter, smaller, cheaper and has a greater zoom range, but then you’d have to contend with run-of-the-mill image sharpness and the fact that such lenses tend to have slow apertures which means that you’d have to use flash or shoot at high ISO values in poor light.

Canon EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM UD Wide Angle Zoom Lens

Compared to the kit 18-55mm lens, you get wider view at 15mm (vs 15mm on the kit lens), and more telephoto reach at the long end (85mm vs 55mm on the kit lens). In 35mm terms (multiply with 1.6), the 15-85mm lens gives you 24-136mm coverage, while the kit lens only gives you 28.8-88mm.

The 15-85mm is the more versatile lens for travel or walk-about photography. For fast-paced event photography though, it’s a better idea to spring for the professional-level 17-55mm f/2.8, mentioned below, which has a much larger maximum aperture throughout the zoom range.

Read through the user reviews for the 15-85mm, and visit my compilation of links to more EF-S 15-85mm resources.

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

This is an extremely popular lens with photographers who shoot events, as the 17mm on the short side is sufficiently wide, while the 55mm end is just at the minimum focal length normally recommended for portraiture. Translated into full-frame terms by multiplying with 1.6, this means you get an approximate zoom range of 27mm to 88mm in 35mm terms.

Having a constant aperture of f/2.8 at all focal lengths also helps a lot with low-light photography. It means you don’t have to use the flash so often, and even if you do, chances are the background won’t go completely dark if there’s a little ambient light. If you don’t use the flash, then you get to shoot at lower ISO values.

There are two drawbacks to this lens. The EW-83J lens hood is not bundled together, and it’s an EF-S lens, meaning that you can’t use it on Canon’s higher-end 1D-series and full-frame cameras such as the 5D and 1Ds-series.

Check out reviews by actual customers, or read through a compilation of Canon 17-55mm reviews and sample photos.

You like to shoot landscapes and go ultra-wide

Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM

The Canon EF-S 10-22mm lens performs extremely well for photographers who want to take images of sweeping landscapes with exaggerated perspectives.

It also comes in handy for taking in all the architecture and buildings you see in front of you on your travels.

Here’s an example of a stunning landscape image of the Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park, East Java, Indonesia, photographed by “tropicaLiving” with a Canon 50D plus Lee 0.6 and 0.9 graduated filters.

Read the post on Canon 10-22mm Lens for more information.

You like to shoot at the long end

These lenses are popular if you live at the telephoto end of photography. I’ve listed them in ascending focal length.

Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS USM

This is currently Canon’s best zoom lens in the 70-200mm zoom range. Because it’s of a newer design, the optics and image quality are superior to the older models, and even the pricier EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM.

What you do not get is the ability to shoot at f/2.8, so if indoor activity or sports is your thing and you’re not allowed to use flash, this should not be the lens to get, but rather, the newer, better and more impressive EF 70-200mm f/2.8L II IS USM.

But if you’re looking for a zoom lens in this zoom and price range that delivers images with unparalleled sharpness and virtually free of distortions, get this glass.

Check out reviews by actual customers, or read through a compilation of Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS USM reviews and sample photos.

Canon 400mm f/5.6L

If you love to take photographs of outdoor sports, wildlife and birds, get this excellent super-telephoto prime lens from Canon.

This is the lens owners of other brands wish were manufactured. A wide-open aperture of f/5.6 means that the lens is relatively light and portable given its focal length, and the image quality you get is far better than using a shorter lens plus a TC (teleconverter).

Autofocus is also reputed to be extremely fast.

This set of bird photos in a DPReview forum thread by “PeaceFrog” is a perfect example of the fantastic image quality you can get with the EF 400mm F5.6L lens (a T2i / 550D was used in this example).

Check out reviews by actual customers, or read through a compilation of Canon 400mm f/5.6L USM reviews and sample images.


Canon T3i / 600D / Kiss X5 – Main page

Canon Lenses – Main page

blog comments powered by Disqus