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Canon DSLR Lenses

Updated on January 10, 2011

Find out more on Digital SLR Cameras!

Introduction to Canon DSLR Lenses

The Canon range of DSLR cameras is staggeringly good, however to get the best out of your digital SLR camera you really need to look at some of the Canon DSLR lenses available. To start this article though I will give a little background on what additional Canon DSLR lenses are available, and why you might need them to get the very best Digital SLR pictures

Canon DSLR Lenses come in different styles and price ranges, this means that in most cases finding the perfect lens requires you to look for a Canon DSLR lens which has the perfect balance between price and functionality.

One of the most important factors of buying your Canon DSLR lense is to make sure it is a Canon lense. Other brands of DSLR Lenses will generally not work, and generic brands often come with inadequacies and low quality problems.

Canon DSLR Lenses

Canon DSLR Lenses
Canon DSLR Lenses

How to Choose a Canon DSLR Lens

Ther are several things you will need to consider when buying your Canon DSLR Lenses, the first thing you need to ask yourself is what you will be using the lenses for. The broadest descriptions for Canon DSLR Lenses are Normal Lens, Wide Angle Lens, Short Telephoto Lens, Long Telephoto Lens, Extreme Telephoto Lens, Macro Lens and a Zoom Lens, This may look Daunting, but don't worry, I will go through each one with you!

First though there are a few simple terms you will need to understand.

Focal Length

Focal Length helps describe how a DSLR lens can focus over a distance. A short focal length can focus on objects which are up close and personal. A long focal length can focus on objects that are further away in the distance.

Zoom Lens and Prime Lens

A Zoom lens has a variable focal length, so you can change the focus of your lens depending on the distance of your subject.

A Prime lens has a fixed focal length, you must physically move the camera backwards and forwards to get the shot you want.

Many people ask why you should choose a prime lens over a zoom lens. For some people teh answer is image quality, although many people say that this is now out of date thanks to technological advances over the last decade.

One of the true advantages is for those people who need a lightweight lens. Zoom Lenses are heavy, but a simple prime lens will be incredibly light. The other major advantage is the price. Zoom lenses are significantly more expensive than Prime lenses. The downside is of course that you might need to buy several prime lenses for different situations!

Maximum Aperture

Aperture is a slightly confusing subject to many novice photographers. The best way of describing Aperture is too fold.

First off the Aperture is the size of the opening of the lens, a larger opening allows more light, and better natural light images. A smaller aperture number means a larger hole. a larger aperture means a smaller hole. Therefore the Maximum Aperture is actually the smallest number.

Having a DSLR lens with an aperture of 1.4 would allow you to take a flash free image in a low light room without an issue. A Canon DSLR lens with an aperture of 3.5 on the other hand would take a much poorer quality image.

While you should be aiming for the lowest aperture number possible (confusingly called the maximum aperture) you can get the highest quality images in low light. However you should not just blindly aim to buy the maximum aperture lens if you will not be doing low light photography, because you will find significant price differences between the different aperture ranges.

Normal Canon DSLR Lenses

A standard or normal Canon DSLR lens will usually have a focal length of between 50 and 55mm. These Normal Canon DSLR lenses are perfect for taking images that are in the same range as the human eye. They are by far the most flexible lenses, and often come as standard with a Canon DSLR camera.

Wide Angle Canon DSLR Lenses

A wide angle Canon DSLR lens will have a short focal length, but this allows it to have a much larger viewing angle. This makes them ideal for landscape and architecture phtography, where you will often need to incorporate a huge amount in to a single image.

A standard wide angle lens will have a focal range of 35mm, Extreme wide angle Canon DSLR lenses will however have a focal length which will allow up to 220 degrees of image.

You can also get wide angle 'fish eye' lenses. These do not correct or flatten the image, leaving you with a bulbous effect.

Telephoto Canon DSLR Lens

There are three particular types of Telephoto DSLR lenses available. The Short Telephoto Lens, The Long Telephoto Lens and the Extreme Telephoto Lens. All these lense have a pretty shallow depth, but many photographers love this effect because it can create a diffuse background around the focal point of your image, making it the true center of your photograph.

The Short Telephoto Lens has a focal range between 70 - 135mm. These lenses are perfect for landscape, portrait and up close photography. Because of the diffuse background effect on the Canon telephoto lens, you will also often find short telephoto lenses used a lot in portrait photography.

The Long Telephoto Lens is used a lot in both Nature and Sports photography and has a focal range of between 135 and 300mm focal length. This is perfect for shooting outside the normal range of human vision, without losing the detail. You can find angles for these lenses ranging from 8 degrees to 18 degrees. Unlike the wide angle lenses a long telephoto lens will let you easily single out a focal point while losing the focus on your image background. Both Long Telephoto lenses and Extreme Telephoto lenses really require a tripod to prevent bluring.

The Extreme Telephoto Lens has a focal length of above 300mm. These are heavy, and will definitely require a tripod to use effectively. These are also great for nature and sports photography.

Macro Canon DSLR Lens

A macro lens is perfect of you want to take up close and personal shots, between 10-15 cm away from your subject. With a Macro lens you can get a true 1:1 ratio on your subject and your photograph.

While a macro Canon DSLR lens is great for taking pictures of objects up close, you will need to practice, a small difference can make a big change to a picture with this kind of detail!

Canon DSLR Zoom Lens

There is a very close similarity to telephoto Lenses and Zoom Lenses, in many cases they are the same thing. You would use the term Zoom lens on any lens which is not prime (It has an adjustable focal length!

How to Pick the Perfect Canon DSLR Lens

Before you go out and spend hundreds of dollars on a new Canon DSLR lens you should definitely figure out what kind of photography you want to do.  Lenses are not cheap, so it is important you first figure out the kind of image you want, and then choose a Canon DSLR lens which accentuates your personal style.


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    • Kim M Gregory profile image

      Kim Morgan Gregory 6 years ago from The Coast of The South Carolina Lowcountry

      I shoot a of sports photo with my 300mm Tamron lens and have been thinking about purchasing a new lens. Thanks for the article. You've given me a lot ot think about...

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 6 years ago from South Africa

      Very useful info. I have an EOS 400 which I really enjoy. I made a big mistake and bought a non-Canon tele lens. I have regretted it ever since - I should have waited until I could afford the genuine article!

      Thanks for this Hub.

      Love and peace