What’s up guys, Sagi here and welcome to another Tech Gear Talk. Today I want to talk about my favorite lenses for the the Canon SL2 or 200d depending on where you’re from. If you’re new to my channel, I have lots of videos about this camera, reviews, comparison videos and tutorials and I’ve gotten a tons of questions about which lenses I recommend for the SL2. I’m going to break down the types of lenses into several categories and within each category, I will give you options at various price ranges so that both beginners and more advanced users can find something that works for them. I also want to remind everyone that the SL2 has an APS-C CMOS sensor which applies a 1.6x crop factor to the focal length of these lenses. This means that we will need to take the focal length and multiply it by 1.6x to compare it to what these lenses would look like on a Full Frame sensor camera. This is really important when you compare different lenses for different bodies. When it comes to picking lenses, I’m going to break things down into 5 categories, and these will cover 99% of what photographers need, unless you’re doing something super specialized. I’m not going to discuss exact prices for lenses because they change all the time.
The first category I want to discuss is standard zoom lenses. These are great all-around lenses and will probably be the most people use the most. They offer a nice focal range which makes them a great choice when you have to pick one lens to take with you.
The Canon EF-S 18-55mm which is also known as the kit lens because it’s the most popular lens sold together with the SL2. This is a compact and versatile lens which works well for both photography and video. If this is your first camera, or you’re just starting out, this is the lens I recommend you get. It gives you a nice focal range to work with and will allow you to learn about what you need before you spend more money on lenses that you might not need. This lens uses the EF-S mount and is designed specifically for Canon APS-C sensor cameras. It has a 28.8-88mm equivalent focal length range and comes with Optical Image stabilization and the newer, quieters STM stepping AF motor. This gives you near-silent and fast autofocus which is excellent for both photography and video.
Moving up in price, the next good option is the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS. This lens offers a similar focal range to the 18-55mm but at a faster fixed aperture of f/2.8. I’ll only explain this concept for this one lens but will continue to use this term throughout the video. A fixed aperture lens means that it can maintain its widest aperture throughout the entire focal range. This feature is one of the main differentiators when it comes to lens prices where lenses with a wider constant aperture are more expensive when compared to variable aperture lenses. For this lens it means that it can open to f/2.8 at 17mm and still open to f/2.8 at 55mm. That’s going to allow more light in, and give you a nice and shallow depth of field. This lens also comes with image stabilization to help reduce camera shake.
Moving up to my favorite Standard zoom lenses we have the Canon L-series 24-70 f/2.8 II. This is a staple lens in pretty much every professional Canon shooter’s bag and it is a fantastic lens. Again, it’s a fixed f/2.8 aperture and ranges from wide angle to portrait length. This lens uses the EF-mount and is actually designed for full-sensor cameras but as we know, the SL2 can accept EF-mount lenses which is a huge bonus, and give this lens a 38.4-112mm equivalent focal range. This lens has one super ultra-low dispersion element and 2 ultra-low dispersion glass elements to noticeably reduce color fringing and chromatic aberrations. I love that this lens is sealed against dust and moisture which makes it suitable for working in challenging environmental conditions. The image quality is phenomenal but of course it comes at a cost. This lens currently sells for $1,600 and while that is very expensive considering the cost of the body, I can tell you that lenses is where you should invest your money. I bought this lens in 2013 and it’s still amazing. I can’t see any reason for why I would need to upgrade it and since I got it, I’ve upgraded camera bodies 3 times. If this is just out of your price range, but you still want great quality, Canon also offers a 24-70 f/4 IS for about half the price.
Now I want to move to some wide angle options that would work well with the SL2. A wide-angle lens is generally used when you want to capture as much of the scene as possible. Landscapes, cityscapes and architecture are primary reasons why photographers use a wide angle lens. For video or youtube, they are a great tool because we are often constrained by the size of the room we are working in, and a good wide angle lens lets you get more of your subject in the frame, without having to move the camera back. Just be careful there, because a wide angle lens placed too close to a person could create an unflattering look.
The first, and probably most popular option is the Canon 10-18 f/4.5-5.6 IS STM. If you’re looking for a budget wide-angle lens, this is the one you want. It’s inexpensive, provides nice and sharp images and video and comes with IS and the STM autofocus motor. You’re getting 16-28.8mm equivalent focal range, and Canon says the image stabilization on this lens has a four-stop effect which will let you shoot with much slower shutter speeds handheld and still get sharp images. Optically, this lens is sharp, light and has minimal distortion unless you go all the way out to 10mm. This is what most people are going to get as their first wide angle zoom lens and it’s a great choice from Canon and hard to beat for the price.
Probably my favorite lens right now for the SL2 is the Sigma 18-35mm F/1.8. This is a beautiful lens from Sigma’s art series and it has an effective focal range of 29-60mm which is a great range. Another fantastic feature is that this is a super fast lens with a fixed aperture of f/1.8. The Sigma 18-35mm the image quality is incredible and it is an excellent lens to use in low light. The autofocus is very fast and pretty quiet and I absolutely love the quality of images and footage I get from this lens. If you’re watching my channel, this is the lens I get most of my footage with. If you forced me to think of a downside, it would be that there is no image stabilization, but I never shoot video handheld so it’s not an issue for me.
Next I want to move to telephoto zoom lenses. These are great for when you can’t get close to your subject. This is an area where the crop factor of the SL2 is actually an advantage because we’re multiplying the focal length and are getting more zoom than what the lens shows.
The most popular zoom lens to pair with the SL2 is the Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II. This lens works well for photographing distant subjects and has an 88-400mm equivalent focal range with is really great. This lens is sometimes sold as a kit, together with the 18-55mm, so if you know you want additional reach, you can save some money by buying them together. This lens also comes with image stabilization which is very important as you start using longer focal lengths because small camera movements get magnified.
The telephoto lens that I use is the Canon L-series 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II. Like the 24-70 f/2.8, this L-series lens is pricey lens, but I bought it years ago and even with the mark III coming out, there is no reason for me to upgrade. It is an EF mount lens and has an equivalent focal length of 112-320mm when used on the SL2. The image quality is fantastic, it has outstanding image stabilization and it’s a constant aperture at f/2.8 so I can get a ton of light to the sensor, even at 200mm. I actually like to use this lens even for portraits sometimes because I can get awesome images with shallow depth of field. Most people are not going to pair this lens with the SL2 because of the price, but if you are willing to invest in lenses and are moving toward becoming a professional, you’ll probably never need to upgrade this lens.
Next I want to discuss some great prime lenses. Prime lenses are lenses with a single, fixed focal length, so there is no zooming in and out. This means that you’ll need to move closer or farther away from your subject in order to re-frame your shot, but there is a big advantage in that they are super fast. A fast lens is a lens with a wide aperture which lets more light into the camera and allows you to use a faster shutter speed – hence a fast lens. If you have questions about exposure, I create a tutorial that will walk you through aperture, shutter speed and iso and will teach you how to get a perfect exposure every time.
I have to start out with the Canon EF 50MM f/1.8 STM. This is definitely the first prime lens you should buy for the SL2. It’s a great lens for portraits and is super fast at f/1.8 and gives you great control over depth of field. It’s also a good option for low-light situations because it can open up and allow more light in so that you can get the proper exposure. One thing to remember is that it does not have image stabilization so it’s not the best option for handheld video. If you’re on a tripod, slider or gimbal, then you’re good to go and of course we still apply the crop factor so you get an equivalent focal length of 80mm. It’s mostly made of plastic but the optical performance is impressive for the price.
Next let’s take a look at the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4. This is a good option if you need to get an even wider aperture for more light and an even shallower depth of field. In addition to better low-light performance than the f/1.8, you’ll be getting a more sturdy build and about 2.5 the cost you need to decide for yourself whether this additional cost is really worth it for what you’ll be doing. Like the f/1.8 option, we get an equivalent focal length of 80mm and this lens give you really nice quality images and video.
If you want to step it up even more, you should check out the Sigma Art 30mm f/1.4. This is closer to what most people refer to as the nifty fifty because we’re getting 48mm equivalent focal length instead of 80mm. This lens has incredible optics and the image quality is spectacular. It’s super fast at f/1.4 and Sigma is quickly becoming my favorite off-brand for lenses.
The last category of lenses I want to talk about is macro lenses. A macro lenses are designed for photographing small subjects at very close distances. They can focus much nearer than normal lenses, allowing you to fill the frame with your subject and capture more detail.
A good and affordable macro lens for the SL2 is the Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8. This lens provides 1:1 maximum magnification with a 7.9” minimum focusing distance and has a 96mm equivalent focal length. This lens is very sharp, and while it’s intended for shooting macro shots, with this focal length, you can still use it for portraits.
Moving on to the gold standard when it comes to macro lenses from Canon, we have the L-series 100mm f/2.8 Macro IS. I love the image quality I get from this lens. it offers 1:1 magnification and has an equivalent focal length of 160mm What’s really great is that with this additional focal length, Canon added image stabilization which can minimizes camera shake by two stops at full 1:1 magnification, or up to four stops at lower magnifications for sharper handheld shooting. If you want to do macro work, and this lens is within budget, go ahead and pull the trigger, this is another one of those lenses you won’t need to replace.
I would love to know what you thought of these options. Which ones did you like best? What’s on your wish list? And are there other lenses that you think I should have included. I really hope this article is useful in helping you decide which lenses to get for the SL2. If it was, please let me know by leaving a comment, or sharing it and if you haven’t yet, join our community by hitting the subscribe and notification buttons on my YouTube.
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You know what I always say, buy it nice or buy it twice!
Good luck and see you soon.
I did a more detailed review of the #canonsl2 so check it out if you’re interested in more detail.
If you’re looking to shoot video with the SL2, here is a cinematic look tutorial:
Canon SL2 (200d) playlist: