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Best Canon lenses for video Reviewed and Compared

Updated on May 14, 2013

Shoot some home movies - Canon lenses for video recording

Here we have the best Canon lenses for video reviewed and compared. Many Canon digital slr cameras have a "movie making" feature that allows you to capture full HD video footage, such as the eos 7d, eos 5d and Rebel T3i. These digital slr cameras are two cameras in one and negates the need to own a separate stills camera and video camera. With one of these combined video/stills digital slr cameras there are even more creative opportunities available.

Whilst you can use the same lens for capturing photographs and recording video footage if you want to get the most out of either you need a specific type of lens. Unfortunately, the best lens for stills photography is not the best for capturing video footage and vice versa.

This article focuses solely on the best Canon lenses for video footage however there are some links to articles on the best lenses for stills photography at the end if this is what you are looking for.

So, if are confused over what lenses to buy to capture the best quality video with your Canon digital slr camera check out this article for some ideas.

The best Canon lenses for video - Prime lenses

If you want to record the highest quality video footage the best lens is a prime lens, i.e. on with a fixed focal length. Zooming in and out when actually recording video footage is something you should never do. If you need to get in closer or further away you stop recording, change position and then hit the record button again. Because of this a zoom lens isn't needed, although it does make changing the distance from the subject between recording a little quicker.

There are many other advantages using a prime lens for recording video as follows;

  • Prime lenses are small and light weight which makes them easier to control to ensure smooth footage.
  • Prime lenses render bright colours that are punchy but not over saturated.
  • Prime lenses are sharp from the centre of the frame to the edges.
  • Prime lenses tend not to suffer from barrel distortion, pin cushioning or vignetting.
  • Prime lenses have a wide maximum aperture which allows you to get a tack sharp subject against a soft and out of focus background.
  • Prime lenses are cheaper than zoom lenses so you get a lot more for your money when buying a prime lens.

Canon makes a few prime lenses including the L series and the non l series. Canon l series lenses are the top of the range lenses that were originally manufactured to capture high quality stills photographs. L series lenses are awesome and you can use them for recording video footage but they are very expensive. The quality of HD video is not as high as stills photographs so there really is no need to splash out on l series lenses for recording video as you will get the same quality of footage from a good quality non l lens.

Canon 28mm f1.8 prime lens

The 28mm focal length is on the cusp of an ultra wide/wide angle lens that is very useful when capturing video footage indoors and other areas that a little tight.

The maximum f1.8 aperture is very impressive for a wide angle lens and this allows you to isolate a sharp subject against a nice blurred out background. The wide maximum aperture also makes this lens ideal for low light conditions.

Given the price, the build quality of this lens is very good and it is tough, durable and more than capable of withstanding a bit of abuse. Optically, this lens is very good. Colours are realistic but still punchy, there is a good level of sharpness throughout and distortions, which often plague wide angle lenses, are very well controlled.

Canon also makes an L series 28mm lens but this is way more expensive than the f1.8 version and, in my opinion, not worth the extra cash. If you are looking for a top quality 28mm prime lens for capturing video footage this lens is perfect, especially if you are on a bit of a budget.

Canon 35mm f2 prime lens

The 35mm focal length is on the cusp of being a wide angle lens and is ideal for those situations when you don't want to use a super wide angle but still need to get a little bit more in the frame.

The Canon 35mm f2 is an excellent lens that is durable, well built and also cheap. As you'd expect the image quality is very good although it is a little soft when used as f2. However, if you stop it down a bit the sharpness is simply awesome from centre to the edge. Colours are bright and punchy but not oversaturated and are very pleasing.

With a maximum aperture of f2 you may struggle in very low light conditions but for a wide angle lens an f2 aperture is actually very good.

If you want a 35mm lens for capturing video footage the Canon 35mm f2 is well worth buying and is great value for money.

Canon 50mm f1.8 prime lens

The 50mm focal length is very versatile and a must have prime lens to own. Canon makes three different 50mm prime lenses which include f1.8, f1.4 and f1.2 versions. The cheapest is the f1.8 and the most expensive is the f1.2, which is actually an L series lens.

The best value of all three is the 50mm f1.8 as it is very cheap (you can pick it up for around a hundred bucks), and the image quality is simply superb and not a great deal different from the other two. The build quality of the 50mm f1.8 isn't great but when you consider the price it is understandable. That said, the 50mm f1.8 will provide years of trouble free service if you look after it.

It is difficult to believe there is a Canon branded lens with image quality this good for such little money, but the 50mm f1.8 is it. It really is a superb lens that will capture excellent HD video. Use one and I guarantee you will not be disappointed with the results.

Other Canon 50mm lenses that may be of interest

If a maximum aperture of 1.8 is not enough for you Canon alos has a 50mm f1.4 and a 50mm f1.2, which may be more suitable for your needs. As I am sure you have already guessed both of these lenses are more expensive than the Canon 50mm f1.8 but both are exceptionally good lenses.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Standard & Medium Telephoto Lens for Canon SLR Cameras - Fixed
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Standard & Medium Telephoto Lens for Canon SLR Cameras - Fixed

The 50mm f1,4 is the best compromise between price and features. The image quality is superb and the build quality is very good. This is a top lens.

 
Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L USM Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras - Fixed
Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L USM Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras - Fixed

The 50mm f1.2 lens is very expensive, but it is worth the extra if you can afford it. This is an L series lens, which means it is made of the best materials and has the best optics.

 

Canon 85mm f1.8 prime lens

If you need a slightly longer focal length than 50mm the 85mm prime lens is the lens to go for. The 85mm focal length is very useful and I find is one I use the most when I use my digital slr camera for recording video footage.

There is an L series 85mm prime lens available but this is very expensive and out of the price range of many people. Fortunately, there is a cheaper alternative and this 85mm f1.8 lens is it. The maximum aperture makes this a fast lens that is ideal for low light shooting. It also allows you to isolate the subject against an out of focus background and the bokeh is simply awesome.

Given the cost, the 85mm f1.8 lens is very well made and will last a lifetime. The image quality of this lens is superb, as is the sharpness and all distortions, vignetting, pin cushioning etc. is very well controlled.

If you only have one prime lens for capturing video footage with your digital slr camera the Canon 85mm f1.8 is it. Use this lens and I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

Canon 100mm f2.8 macro prime lens

If you need the longer focal length of 100mm the Canon 100mm f2.8 macro lens is the only lens to buy. This lens is tough, durable and bullet proof. The image quality of this lens is second to none and it is simply superb. Colours are punchy but still realistic and the sharpness is something else. This lens is one of the sharpest Canon lenses I have ever used and it is awesome.

You can buy the 100mm f2.8 with image stabilisation however this is an L lens, which is obviously very expensive. Image stabilisation is a nice feature but the image quality between the Canon 100mm f2.8 and the Canon 100mm f2.8L is so negligible the price differential is just too much and the Canon 100mm f2.8 is recommended over and above the Canon 100mm f2.8L.

Full line up of Canon lenses

If you want to view the entire range of Canon lenses, both prime and zoom, in one convenient place please click here

Protect your Canon lens

The front element of a lens is fragile and doesn’t respond well to knocks and bangs therefore it is important to keep it protect at all times, even when in use. The best way to protect the front element of a lens is to use a screw in UV filter.

Manufacturers of UV filters claim they reduce haze, maybe they do, maybe they don’t. I have never been able to tell the difference between a photograph that was taken with a UV filter and one that wasn’t. The only reason I use UV filters is to protect the front element of my expensive lenses and I strongly suggest you do the same.

UV filters are cheap but they could end up saving you a lot of money in the long run.

UV Filters

UV filters are available for all diameter sizes, right from the tiny 24mm all the through to the large 82mm diameters, so there really is no excuse not to have one on your camera lens.

Rode Videomic Directional Video Condenser Microphone

The built in microphone on al digital SLR cameras is absolutely rubbish when it comes to recording video footage. Whilst you will get some sound the quality will be awful and there will be a high amount of crackling and distortion. The only way to overcome this is to use a decent external microphone.

The Rode videomic Directional Video Condenser microphone is one of the best microphones currently available. This microphone is tough, durable and can withstand a lot of abuse. It is a microphone that is built to last.

There is a two step high-pass filter flat or 80 HZ, a three step PAD -0, -10, -20dB, which means awesome sound quality that is crystal clear and distortion free. The sound quality of this microphone has to be experienced to be believed.

The microphone attaches to the camera on an integrated cold shoe mount and with a ¼" thread and 3/8" thread it will fit all cameras.

The microphone is powered by a 9v battery so it doesn't suck the life out of your digital slr camera battery, which is good. The battery life is quite impressive although I suggest you still carry spare batteries at all times, just in case.

There are cheaper microphones out there but it is worth spending a little extra on something that is going to last and works exceptionally well. The Rode microphone is great value for money and will provide years of trouble free service, provided you look after it of course. Would I recommend it? Most definitely.

Some books to improve your video recording skills

If you want to improve your digital SLR video recording skills I highly recommend buying a good book that is full of tips, advice and hints. There are plenty of these books around, so getting hold of some won't cause too many problems. FOr some top rated books on improving your video recording skills check out the products below.

Affiliate disclosure

EdwardJames81is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for site to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com, endless.com, smallparts.com or myhabit.com.

If you have any comments, rants or raves please feel free to note them in my guestbook. Similarly, if you know of any other great Canon lenses for video you wan to share please feel free to do so.

Your comments are welcome

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    • profile image

      me 11 months ago

      How much does it cost??

    • Sean Fliehman profile image

      Sean Fliehman 2 years ago

      Wow this is a really great Hub. I'm going to book mark this link. Very awesome!

      -Sean

      http://understandingchurchmedia.com/do-better-cine...

    • Edwardjames81 profile image
      Author

      Edwardjames81 4 years ago

      @ruaridhmcdonald: I am glad the lens was of use. When I found the lens cleaning video I discovered a few (simple) tips that I had never even thought about so I think it was a good find.

    • profile image

      ruaridhmcdonald 4 years ago

      I'm just getting into using video on my new Canon 60D so found this lens extremely useful. The lens cleaning video was really good and I have added two items to my Amazon Wish List. Thanks very much.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Should have a link for the camera microphone.