Canon EOS Lens Notes

Database of current lenses for Canon EOS

The following database and sort orders may be useful for identifying lenses of interest. Be sure to check other sources for expert knowledge and experience with specific lenses, e.g.,

Quick recap of known trade offs:

Note that the manufactures have multiple lines ranging from professsional to mass-market consumer. While the following are some general comments on the major manufacturers, each lens is an individual design which should be researched, tested, and judged on individual merits and tradeoffs matched to your shooting needs.

Canon is recognized for high image quality in their professional L series, especially for the exceptional super-telephoto lenses. Many non-L series lenses also have high image quality. Thirteen lenses have image stabilization. Focus is accurate, and USM is very fast. According to the Canon EF Lens Specification & Accessories Table, Full-Time Manual focus is available on most Ring USM lenses, and distance data for E-TTL II flash is provided on many Ring USM lenses and a couple Micro USM lenses. Based on a couple of lenses that I have examined, I think that the table has omission errors, and that nearly all current Ring USM lenses have both Full-Time Manual focus and also distance data for E-TTL II flash, the exception being the 85mm f/1.2 that does not have distance data. Canon sets the standard for the other manufacturers with full lens lines, high image quality, very good but heavy construction, and the high premium price of the camera manufacturer. Some lenses in the economical consumer line also have good image quality and are lighter due to plastic construction.
Sigma is recognized for high image quality in selected lenses; the EX line is their professional line. One lens has optical stabilization. Focus can be problematic as Sigma has their own non-licensed chips based on reverse engineering. Sigma will rechip lenses, but focus may still be hit-or-miss. HSM is fast; non-HSM focus is slow. Sigma has a comprehensive and innovative lens lines, including the 50-500mm "Bigma", exceptional macro lenses, and full spectrum of prime and zoom lenses. Many lenses rival Canon in image quality, construction and weight is variable, and price is substantially lower than Canon.
Tamron is recognized for the high image quality of their SP line. Focus is accurate as Tamron seems to do better reverse engineering than Sigma, but focus is slow without USM or HSM equivalent, and very slow on some lenses. Tamron has fewer lenses than Canon or Sigma, but the SP lenses are very good, and the hyper-zooms are convenient. Construction is generally lighter, and price is substantially lower than Canon.
Tokina has a small lens catalog. Image quality is good for some lenses. Focus is very slow. Construction is OK, and price is substantially lower than Canon.
Phoenix, Quantaray, Vivitar, etc. - These are consumer/budget lenses with relatively low image quality and light construction, sometimes OEM versions of the consumer lenses from a major manufacturer. In general they are not recommended; stick with the major manufacturers above.

The following links try to present lenses organized by various factors, targeted towards various purposes. Make sure to note that some records are incomplete, so the results of the formula may be zero and these records often appear first. Always use additional sources for more definitive reports including actual experience.

You can search the database using the query field, and use the menus to reorder fields, to sort by a field, or to hide a field.

Link Title Query|Sort|Formula Description
lenses lens database make,mmw,mmt full database ordered by make, focal length wide, and focal length tele
recommend recommended lenses recommended recommendations extracted from forums, specs, and IQ tests, sorted by tele reach, then price, limited to somewhat less than $2000
Canon L L-series lenses model=L Canon L-series quality lenses
Sigma EX EX lenses model=EX Sigma EX quality lenses
Tamron SP SP lenses SP Tamron Super Performance quality lenses
APS-C APS-C lenses model=EF-S|DC|Di-II|DX 1.5x FOV crop "digital" lenses - Canon EF-S, Sigma DC, Tamron Di-II, Tokina DX
wide wide angle mmw
tele telephoto -mmt,f_t,-mmw,f_w sorted by tele reach, then aperture, then primes over zooms
tele-light telephoto-light -mmt,oz sorted by tele reach, then weight
macro macro lenses model=Macro sorted by mag (1:mag) and focus
IS IS/OS lenses model=IS|OS Image Stabilization lenses
speed speed f_w
zm zoom -zm
walk walk-around "weightiness" oz/zm weight in ounces / zoom ratio
sport telephoto speed 200*f_t/mmt 200 * telephoto aperture / telephoto focal length
stab telephoto stability 200*(f_t - IS)/mmt 200 * (telephoto aperture / IS-stops) / telephoto focal length
hike "weighted" telephoto stability stab*oz stab * weight in ounces
budget budget sport sport*price sport * B&H price
overall budget "weighted" sport sport*price*oz sport * B&H price * weight in ounces
test optical quality test Lens Test Guide - 5.00 excellent 4.25 very good 3.75 good 3.25 average 2.75 sub-average 2.25 poor (e.g., between 4.25 and 5.0 is excellent)
gjm my lenses mmw my lenses at present
sold my previous lenses mmw my previous lenses, sold
wish my wish list mmw potential buys and other interesting lenses

Database columns:
make manufacturer
model lens model/description
mmw focal length wide in mm
mmt focal length tele in mm
zm zoom ratio
w16 focal length wide * 1.6
t16 focal length tele * 1.6
f_w aperture wide
f_t aperture tele
IS image stabilization adjustment in fstops
price price (B&H, Adorama, etc.)
oz weight in ounces
gm weight in grams
len length in inches
lmm length in mm
di max diameter in inches
dmm max diameter in mm
fltr filter size in mm, some rear
focus minimum focus in inches
focmm minimum focus in mm
mag maximum magnification
af AutoFocus Actuator, Full-Time Manual focus ((FTM) - added contrary to table)
dd distance data capability, e.g., for E-TTL II flash ((dd) - added contrary to table)
date date marketed
test test optical quality
walk walk-around "weightiness"
sport telephoto speed
stab telephoto stability
hike weighed telephoto stability
budget priced telephoto speed
overall priced-weighted telephoto speed
comment corrections, IS key, nickname, etc.

NoBell Home - gjm - last update 10/17/2006, created 2/28/2005