Photography / Buying Guide

Best Canon Lenses of 2017

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Just last month, Canon announced a major milestone: it produced its 130-millionth EF-series lens, which should be no surprise considering the size and scope of the manufacturer’s current lens lineup. Even with an impressive history spanning more than 30 years, Canon is still improving and adding to the EF series, so let’s look back at what glass it developed and released in 2017.

Early in the year, Canon updated one of its most common lenses, the EF-S 18-55mm f/4-5.6 IS STM Lens. This APS-C-format lens is so often used because it is a versatile, affordable, and reliable optic often found bundled with the entry- and mid-level cameras, and for a few good reasons. Chief among these is the 28.8-88mm equivalent focal length, covering all the basics from wide-angle to short telephoto. Other improvements for this lens include a more compact design, granted in part by the variable f/4-5.6 aperture, a lead screw-type STM AF motor, which supports fast, smooth focus for stills and video, and an Optical Image Stabilizer rated for up to four stops of compensation. It is very easy to underestimate a lens such as this, but for many, it is exactly what they need.

Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/4-5.6 IS STM Lens

Following up on that release was a more unique offering from Canon, the EF-S 35mm f/2.8 Macro IS STM Lens. Equipped with a built-in Macro Lite LED setup, this APS-C lens can get up close and light up your subject, even providing individual control over the left and right sides of the ring light. We first saw this technology in Canon’s mirrorless lineup last year, and now it has made its way over to the DSLR offerings, with this 56mm equivalent 1:1 macro lens. The lens does feature Canon’s latest lens tech, as well, with a glass-molded aspherical element to combat aberrations, an STM stepping AF motor, and an Optical Image Stabilizer with support for Hybrid IS. Additionally, it will focus as close as 5.1" and uses a rounded seven-blade diaphragm for smooth bokeh.

Canon EF-S 35mm f/2.8 Macro IS STM Lens

Though the first half of the year only had some APS-C options, the flagship full-frame L-series was certainly not forgotten. Canon issued a major release of four new lenses targeted specifically at professionals. Perhaps the most significant of these was the EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM, which now sits alongside the legendary f/1.2 model as an alternative for portrait photographers desiring modernized performance. It may not be quite as bright or as dreamy as the f/1.2, but the f/1.4 makes up for that with improved sharpness and clarity with a glass-molded aspherical element and new tech in the form of IS and Air Sphere and Fluorine Coatings. A ring-type Ultrasonic Motor AF System is used for speedy focusing and, as with all of Canon’s top-tier lenses, it is dust and water resistant.

Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM Lens

Last on this list is a trio of highly specialized lenses: TS-E 50mm f/2.8L Macro, TS-E 90mm f/2.8L Macro, and TS-E 135mm f/4L Macro. These optics are the realm of highly developed systems, due to their extremely niche market, and Canon has seen fit to complement the current pair of L-series wide-angle TS-E lenses with some in the normal to telephoto range. Another benefit of these new lenses is their ability to achieve a maximum magnification of 0.5x, or a 1:2 ratio, which is signified by their macro designation, making them great choices for product and tabletop photography. As a necessity of their feature set, these are all-manual optics with precise controls for tilt, shift, and focus available. They use advanced optical designs and coatings to ensure the highest possible image quality.

Canon TS-E 50mm f/2.8L Macro Tilt-Shift Lens

Relatively speaking, this year wasn’t as rich as previous ones, though the announcements were certainly more interesting than in years past, with a couple of completely new options being made available to photographers. Which of Canon’s new lenses made you most excited? What dream lenses are you still waiting to be developed? Let us know in the Comments section, below.

1 Comments

I've been anxiously anticipating the release of the new 50mm TSE.  As an architectural shooter, my kit has all four of the current TS/ E's, but the older 45 TSE leaves a lot to be desired.  The lack of a lock on the tilt function means a slight bump to the lens and your image is not the focus you were expecting.  The New 24 and 17 are terrific, and my go to lenses for 80% of my work.  Looking forward to replacing my 45 as well as the 90.  

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