Saturday, April 19th, 2014

Best third party lenses for Canon T2i / 550D, T1i / 500D, XSi / 450D, 7D, 50D and 40D


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If you look for third party lenses for Nikon digital SLRs, read here.

Although the best lenses for Canon digital SLRs are Canon lenses especially L lenses. Canon lenses are very expensive. Recently, more affordable Canon 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 IS ( click for the best deals) and Canon 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS are available with high optical quality.

But both lenses are made in plastic and the building quality is mediocre. On the other hand, some third party lenses offer high optical quality, building quality at lower prices. The following list is selected based on two criteria: there are no similar Canon equivalent lenses in the range, the canon lenses are way too expensive. For the best Canon lenses read, here. Understand Sigma lenses

For the ultra wide lenses:

  • Tokina AF 11-16mm f/2.8 pro DX is among the best ultra-wide angle zoom lens for Canon EOS APS-C DSLRs. This lens was built in high quality. The resolution is impressively high throughout the zoom range. Vignetting is really only a problem at 11mm f/2.8 . The level of distortions is comparatively low. It is a great value at $569 (B&H). Highly recommended!
  • Tokina AF 12-24mm f/4 AT-X AF Pro DX is of great value and very good performance. It has a better price / performance ratio than the corresponding Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM ($710). Highly recommended!

Standard lenses or walk around lenses:

  • Tamron SP AF 17-50mm f2.8. Highly rated “general purpose” lens for APS-C sensor cameras. Great walk around lens at a constant f2.8 aperture. It is much cheaper than the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM, although the later is a better performer with optical image stabilization. Highly recommended!!

  • Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 DC IF Macro Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras. This lens is of good optical quality, building quality, excellent range and at a very affordable price ($369) comparing with Canon 17-55 mm f /2.8 IS USM ($960)
  • Tamron AF 28-75mm f/2.8 XR Di LD Aspherical IF A is a well regarded lens at 1/3 the cost of the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 L.

Telephoto lenses

Canon has excellent telephoto lenses (Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS, Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM, Canon 70-200mm f4/L USM etc.). The third party telephoto lenses are generally not highly recommended, but the followings are interesting to consider: Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 $799, almost as good as Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L, but at a much lower price.

Sigma 50-500mm f4-6.3 EX DG is a very popular lens for the long range and affordable price ($969). Canon lenses beyond 400mm are extremely expensive. Highly recommended!

Macro lenses:

Canon macro lenses (Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM, Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 macro USM $455) are excellent, I would not buy third party macro lenses although they are good too:

  • Sigma AF 50mm f/2.8 macro EX
  • Sigma AF 105mm f/2.8 EX DG macro (APS-C DSLR)
  • Tamron AF 90mm f/2.8 SP Di macro (APS-C DSLR)

Additional interesting third party lenses:

  • Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX DC HSM is an affordable, fast HSM focusing and extremely small aperture lens with top building quality.

Potential problems with third party lenses:

For Tamron lenses, there are reported focusing problems. For Sigma lenses, since Sigma reverse engineers (vs. licenses) manufacturer AF routines, there is always the possibility that a new body might not support an older third party lens.

For the reviews see


6 Responses to “Best third party lenses for Canon T2i / 550D, T1i / 500D, XSi / 450D, 7D, 50D and 40D”
  1. Jason says:

    Thank you for your articles on lens recommendations. They have been extremely helpful in my search for lenses and accessories. Keep up the great work! Cheers!

  2. Druu says:

    I believe the word you were looking for is “mediocre,” not “medicare.”

  3. HDTV Guru says:

    Thank you for the correction!

  4. alsal says:

    Thanks for sharing all this. I have a Canon 7D and have come, after lots of reading and reserching, to very similar conclusions you make here. I have for the moment the Tokina 11-16 f/2.8, the Canon EF-S 17-55 IS USM and the Sigma 50 1.4. Very happy with results at every level.

    A shame I didn’t find your site before it would have saved me lots of time, but I guess one really needs to take the time to research and mature ideas about lenses and cameras.


  5. joe h says:

    I am looking for a good combo lens for my new (anticpated) cannon t2 or t1. Have a budget, so looking at cost

  6. babab says:

    im a newbie.. im planning to buy a zoom lens for my canon 450d. i choose to have sx 70 – 200? am i right? but its quiet expensive.. can i have some opinions or recommendations on what brand of lens are more affordable? they said, sigma lenses are good. but i dont know if it is compatible for my camera.. thank you..

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