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Best Canon prime lens reviewed and compared

Updated on April 14, 2013

Canon prime lenses to improve your photographs

If you want to know what the best Canon prime lens is, and where to buy it you need to check out this article. A prime lens is a lens with a fixed focal length, which many photographers consider "better" than zoom lenses. Whilst prime lenses may not be as user friendly and versatile, i.e. you actually have to move your feet to zoom in or out with a prime lens, the image quality of a prime lens is superior to the image quality of a zoom lens therefore photographers will tend to be sharper, brighter, punchier and better overall.

Because of the reasons above all photographers should have at least one prime lens in their kit bag, but with so many to choose from buying the perfect prime lens for your Canon camera can be difficult, but fear not.........

If you want to know what the best Canon prime lens is, and where you can get it from, please check out the rest of this lens.

Canon 14mm f2.8L USM lens

If you want an ultra wide angle prime lens the Canon 14mm f2.8L is the lens for you, especially if you shoot with a full frame Canon camera, such as the 5d or the 1d. If you shoot a Canon dslr with a crop sensor you need to take the crop factor in to account and this lens is an effective 22mm lens. This is still wide but not ultra wide.

The Canon 14mm f2.8L is an l grade lens therefore it is fully sealed, and hence water proof and dust proof, and useful in all weathers and conditions. This is a tough lens that is built to last, which is a good thing given it will mainly be used for landscape photography.

The image quality of this lens is stunning and you can capture some awesome images of sweeping landscapes, and stormy seascapes. Colours are bright, vivid and punchy and can be a little oversaturated but you can compensate for this.

With a maximum aperture of f2.8 this is a fast lens, which is a great feature. I appreciate landscape lenses don't need to be fast, after all you will be using a tripod, but this lens is great for capturing indoor architectural shots which also require a wide angle lens.

The only criticism of the 14mm lens is that it may be too wide for some people.

If you want an ultra wide angle lens and have the ability to get as much in the frame as possible this is the lens for you. It is well made, it will last a life time and it is possible to take some neat photos with it.

Canon 24mm f1.4L USM lens

If you want a wide, but not ultra wide angle lens, the Canon 24mm f1.4L is the lens to buy, especially if you shoot a full frame dslr camera. If you shoot a camera with a cropped sensor, once again, you need to take the crop factor in to account and this lens is an effective 38mm lens, which is still useful for landscape photography but some may consider it a bit too long.

The Canon 24mm f1.4L is another l series prime lens with all the features and benefits. This lens is made out of the best materials and components, this lens contains the best optics, this lens is fully sealed and can be used anywhere and everywhere, and this lens has superior image quality and sharpness.

This lens is aimed more towards users with full frame Canon dslr cameras, although it can be used on any Canon dslr camera. If you pair this lens with a eos 5d or 1d your photographs are going to be stunning. If you want to get the most out of this lens you really do need a full frame Canon camera.

Overall, the Canon 24mm f1.4L is an excellent lens and well worth buying, although I would only recommend it to full frame shooters. The Canon 24mm f1.4L isn't cheap but it is worth every cent. Besides, if you want the best you are going to have to shell out a bit more money.

Canon 50mm f1.4 USM lens

A 50mm prime lens, or nifty fifty as they are often referred to, is a lens that all photographers should have in their kit bag. There are three Canon branded 50mm lenses, which consist of the 50mm f1.8, the 50mm f1.4 and the 50mm f1.2L. All three are exceptionally good lenses although I think the best one is the 50mm f1.4.The 50mm f1.8 isn't quite fast enough (although it is a very good lens) and the 50mm f1.2L is exceptionally expensive despite the image quality being only slightly better than the 50mm f1.4.

The 50mm f1.4 isn't a l series lens therefore it is not fully sealed. If you buy one of these you have to remember this when the rain starts to fall or you enter a dusty or sandy environment. Even though the 50mm f1.4 isn't an l series lens it is still very well made and will give you years of service, provided you look after it of course.

The image quality of this lens is simply great and it is possible to take some awesome images. If you want to take images of tack sharp subjects and soft out of focus backgrounds this is the lens with which to do it.

The 50mm f1.4 (effective 80mm on a cropped sensor dslr camera) is a great all round and walkabout lens that will keep you snapping all day. This lens is small, light and you will hardly notice it is on your camera most of the time.

Overall, the Canon 50mm f1.4 lens is an excellent piece of glass and one that I highly recommend. A 50mm prime lens is usually the first prime lens people buy so do yourself a favour and make sure it is one of these.

If you can't afford the 50mm f1.4 I suggest you take a look at the 50mm f1.8 and if you want to shell out loads more cash and get the "best" 50mm money can buy I suggest you look at the 50mm f1.2 although I still think the 50mm f1.4 is more suitable.

Canon 100mm f2.8L IS USM lens

The Canon 100mm f2.8L IS USM is a "true" macro lens that is simply awesome. Many people consider this Canon's sharpest lens and when you see what this lens can do it is easy to see why. This lens is super sharp at f2.8 but stop it down a bit and it is razor sharp, and I am not exaggerating. The image quality of this lens is second to none. Images aren't only sharp but also bright, vivid and punchy. Pin cushioning, distortion and vignetting are all well controlled and not a problem.

The Canon 100mm f2.8L IS macro lens has image stabilisation, which is very useful when taking hand held macro shots. When taking close up images the effects of camera shake are exaggerated and the slightest movement can easily turn an image in to a blurry mess. The image stabilisation technology helps to prevent this and it works very well.

The Canon 100mm f2.8L IS USM is an l series lens with all the features and benefits such as being fully sealed, made out of the best materials and components and having superior optics. This is another l series lens that is built to last and will do its job for many years.

Even though the Canon 100mm f2.8L IS USM lens is a macro lens it will focus to infinity and can be used for other types of photography, including landscape, portrait and as a walkabout lens. As you can see, it is a versatile lens.

If you are serious about close up and macro photography, especially insects and mini beasts, the Canon 100mm f2.8L IS USM lens is the only lens to own. It isn't cheap but it is worth each and every cent.

If you can't afford the Canon 100mm f2.8L IS USM lens there is a cheaper alternative, which is the Canon 100mm f2.8 lens. This is another super sharp lens, however it doesn't have image stabilisation and it isn't an l series lens.

Canon 200mm f2.8L USM lens

A mid range telephoto lens is another useful lens and the best one is the Canon 200mm f2.8L prime lens. Being an l series lens this has the usual features and benefits, i.e. it is bullet proof, it uses the best materials and components, it uses superior optics, it is fully sealed etc. etc. so it is well worth buying.

As with all Canon l lenses the image quality is superb and you will be capturing amazing images in no time. This lens is very sharp across the frame, colours are bright but not oversaturated and vignetting and distortion is well controlled.

With a maximum aperture of f2.8 this lens is fast, which makes it great for sports and action photography and low light photography. The wide aperture also allows you to use a lens extender either the 1.4X or the 2X, if you want the additional reach and retain auto focus.

If you want a medium reach prime lens you can't go wrong with the Canon 200mm f2.8L primes lens and it is highly recommended. Once again, it is not cheap compared to other 200mm lenses but it is worth spending the additional cash and getting a quality lens such as this.

Canon 400mm f5.6 USM lens

The Canon 400mm f5.6L is a long reach prime telephoto lens, which is a popular lens and great value for money. With a maximum aperture of f5.6 this lens can hardly be called fast, but given its cost this is to be expected. Fast telephoto lenses are very expensive and cost several thousand dollars, therefore the speed of this lens is more than acceptable.

This is a professional l grade lens therefore it is made out of the best materials and components and is tough and durable. This lens is bullet proof and is more than up to daily use and abuse.

Despite its maximum aperture of f5.6 it is still possible to capture tack sharp subjects against a nicely out of focus background. The out of focus effect becomes more apparent as the focal length increases, so with a 400mm lens you don't need those wide apertures for bokeh.

The image quality of this lens is simply superb and it is possible to capture some great images with it. As you would expect this lens is sharp, even when used at f5.6. However, if you want to get the most out of it you need to stop it down a bit.

The Canon 400mm f5.6 lens is a popular bird photography lens and it is easy to see why. When capturing images of birds you need a long reach (after all you are not going to get up close and personal to them), but you don't need a fast lens since the birds are likely to be sitting in their nest, wading through some water or simply standing in the breeze.

If you want a long telephoto lens that is tough and durable, capable of capturing some stunning images and is actually affordable the Canon 400mm f5.6L prime lens should be top of your list. It really is a great lens and you won't be disappointed with it.

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

If you want to add anything to this lens please feel free to note it in my guestbook. Similarly, if you know of any other top quality Canon prime lenses please feel free to share them here. Thanks,

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