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Canon Telephoto Lenses

Canon Wide Angle Lens

Canon Lens Glossary

Canon Zoom Lenses

Canon EF 70-200mm f4 telephoto zoom lens
Canon EF-S 10-22mm wide angle zoom lens
It's convenient to divide Canon's zoom lenses into three categories:

* Standard zooms
* Telephoto zooms
* Wide angle zooms

Advantages of Zoom Lenses

Before looking more closely at these different types of zoom, let's quickly consider the overall advantages of zoom lenses.

Whereas prime lenses have fixed focal lengths and a fixed angle of view, zoom lenses have movable groups of lens elements, which let you alter the focal length of the lens.

This makes zoom lenses extremely versatile -- you can vary the focal length of the lens continuously within the zoom range, so that the lens shows more -- or less -- of the scene.

This is very useful when you're fine tuning composition -- you can make small adjustments to the framing of the picture without having to move the camera. You also miss fewer shots when using a zoom as it takes only a moment to zoom to the appropriate focal length and compose the picture. With prime lenses, opportunities can be missed because the wrong lens is on the camera.

Another reason for choosing a zoom is cost -- a single zoom lens is a lot cheaper than buying several prime lenses that cover equivalent focal lengths.

Canon Standard Zoom Lenses

Standard zooms are those where the short end is either 24mm or 28mm and the long end between 70mm and 105mm.

Popular and highly rated Canon zoom lenses in this category include:

  • Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM zoom lens -- wide zoom range, good for landscapes through to portraits; excellent image quality. F4 maximum aperture is not a major issue because of image stabilizer. L-series lens, so costly.
  • Canon EF 28-105 f/3.5-4.5 II USM zoom lens -- versatile zoom range and good price to performance ratio; not ideal for indoor use but popular amateur lens.
  • Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM zoom lens-- designed for use with Canon's digital SLRs with smaller APS-C sensors as in Digital Rebels; full-frame equivalent is 27-136mm focal length, so wide zoom range plus image stabilizer technology. Good all-rounder, affordable.
  • Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS zoom lens -- designed for use with digital SLRs that have smaller APS-C sensor; full-frame equivalent is 28-88mm; small, light and good travel lens; good image quality for surprisingly low price.

Canon Telephoto Zoom Lenses

Canon's range of telephoto zooms mostly start at 70mm to 80mm at the short end, extending to 200mm or 300mm at the long end. Popular tele zooms include:

  • Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III USM telephoto zoom lens -- compact, lightweight, affordable; has USM for quicker focusing; suitable for portraits, sports, and wildlife, but needs bright light as no image stabilizer.
  • Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS telephoto zoom lens -- compact and affordable, for use with Canon digital SLRs that have APS-C sensor; full-frame equivalent is 88-400mm; good for portraits, plus candid photography, sport, and wildlife in good light. IS is a bonus for the price.
  • Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM telephoto zoom lens -- superb lens with fast f2.8 aperture through the zoom range; very sharp, ideal for sport, wildlife, portraits, indoor events; L-series, so is expensive, and also heavy.

Canon Wide Angle Zoom Lenses

Your choice will depend on whether you value the longer focal lengths of a moderate wide-angle zoom (eg Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM), or whether the greater coverage of an ultra wide-angle zoom (eg Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM) is more important.

With ultra wide-angle zooms, it is worth paying special attention to the shortest focal length. A lens with a minimum focal length of 16mm fits in significantly more of the subject than a 20mm. The same is not true at the long end -- zooming from 30mm to 35mm produces only a minor change in image scale.

Popular wide angle choices (fairly limited options, including L-series lenses):

  • Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM wide angle lens -- the only ultra wide-angle zoom for Canon digital SLRs that have APS-C sensor; full-frame equivalent is 16-35mm; exceptionally small and lightweight for maximum mobility.
  • Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM wide angle lens -- L-series ultra wide-angle zoom offering constant f/2.8 aperture; designed (and priced) for professionals shooting in low light conditions.
  • Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM wide angle lens -- another L-series ultra wide-angle zoom; lightweight with good zoom range and constant f4 aperture.

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