So you'd like to...

understand Canon's EF-S lens lineup

A guide by Branden (Northern California)

Products sampled from this guide:
With the growing popularity of the APS-C sensor size in camera technology, Canon introduced the EF-S lens series, featuring lenses specifically designed to work with their Digital Cameras (except the EOS-1D series and EOS-5D MkII cameras).

Most new Canon dSLRs are sold in "kits" with EF-S lenses attached, but there is considerable range in EF-S optics beyond the kit lenses. At the upper end of the scale, the nicest EF-S lenses approach the optical quality of L-class lenses, if not necessarily their weatherproofing, in lighter, more affordable packages.


Starting Out
Many people start out with the basic Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II SLR Lens or one of its variants. This is a decent as a "general-purpose" lens. It's zooms through the standard range, which works well for many purposes, and it captures decent images outdoors or in bright light. The first lens many choose to add to their arsenal, and a good compliment to the kit lens, is the Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS II Telephoto Zoom Lens (discontinued by manufacturer). It starts right where the kit lens stops, and reaches up very high into telephoto range. Its basic features and design are very similar to the kit lens, and users of the kit lens will quickly feel very comfortable with this addition.


Upgrading from the Kit Lens
Of course, there are upgrades available if you feel the basic kit lens is lacking. The Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 Image Stabilized USM SLR Lens for EOS Digital SLR's is a small step forward, and the Canon EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM UD Standard Zoom Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras is a much more solid move in the upwards direction. However, the class leader is Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens for Canon DSLR Cameras without a doubt. Although the zoom range is slightly smaller, 17-55mm lens maintains a constant f/2.8 throughout its entire range, which is a unique feature among the EF-S lens series. This makes this lens great for low-light shooting, and combined with the excellent optics, this lens is well regarded by the camera community as the best of EF-S.


All-in-one Lenses
You're not always in a situation where you can carry multiple lenses, or be able to swap them out easily. For this, Canon has two "all-in-one" EF-S lenses which zoom from a wide angle to long into telephoto, in one solid package. The drawbacks are typically a little less image quality and a little more weight, but only just a little, and many people find the trade-off more than worth it. The two options are Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Standard Zoom Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras and its longer brother, Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Standard Zoom Lens for Canon DSLR Cameras White Box (Bulk Packaging). Both use optical Image Stabilization technology, and are easy to operate, which makes them excellent travel options. The difference between the two largely comes down to price and size.


Special Use Lenses
Last but not least, there are currently two special use EF-S lenses available. The first is the extreme-wide-angle zoom Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM SLR Lens for EOS Digital SLRs, which is great for landscapes, architecture, interiors, and other applications where having a 107-degree field of view would be useful. Extreme wide angle lenses such as this are great fun and take interesting and dramatic photos, and this lens provides a great compliment to any of the above listed lenses.

The other special use EF-S lens is the Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens for Canon SLR Cameras. So far, it is the only Canon EF-S lens that does not zoom. Instead, it takes macro photos, which through having a very short minimum focus distance, allows taking photos that greatly magnify your subjects. But this can also focus at normal focal lengths, and since it has the wide aperture f/2.8 and 35mm-equivalent focal length of 100mm, adds up to an excellent portrait lens. Again, users of any of the above lenses will benefit from adding this 60mm macro lens to their collection.


The End
So that's my round-up of the current lineup of EF-S lenses. Canon has produced several other models in the past, but they have all been obsoleted by models in this current generation. I hope you have found this information useful, and I'll make some effort to keep it up to date. This current version is updated 12/16/2010. Thanks for reading.

Products mentioned include:
Starting Out
1.  Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II SLR Lens [CD-ROM]  by Canon
$199.00 Used & New from: $35.00
4.4 out of 5 stars   (462)
Add to cart  Add to wishlist
2.  Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS II Telephoto Zoom Lens (discontinued by manufacturer)  by Canon
$249.00 Used & New from: $84.50
4.6 out of 5 stars   (801)
Add to cart  Add to wishlist
Upgrading from the Kit Lens
3.  Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 Image Stabilized USM SLR Lens for EOS Digital SLR's [CD-ROM]  by Canon
$537.96 Used & New from: $155.00
4.0 out of 5 stars   (217)
Add to cart  Add to wishlist
4.  Canon EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM UD Standard Zoom Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras  by Canon
$799.00 Used & New from: $450.00
4.6 out of 5 stars   (179)
Add to cart  Add to wishlist
5.  Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens for Canon DSLR Cameras  by Canon
$879.00 Used & New from: $400.00
4.5 out of 5 stars   (303)
Add to cart  Add to wishlist
All-in-one Lenses
6.  Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Standard Zoom Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras  by Canon
$499.00 Used & New from: $139.99
4.5 out of 5 stars   (146)
Add to cart  Add to wishlist
7.  Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Standard Zoom Lens for Canon DSLR Cameras White Box (Bulk Packaging)  by Canon
$699.00 Used & New from: $355.00
4.5 out of 5 stars   (239)
Add to cart  Add to wishlist
Special Use Lenses
8.  Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM SLR Lens for EOS Digital SLRs [CD-ROM]  by Canon
$599.00 Used & New from: $415.00
4.7 out of 5 stars   (354)
Add to cart  Add to wishlist
9.  Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens for Canon SLR Cameras  by Canon
$469.00 Used & New from: $309.00
4.8 out of 5 stars   (232)
Add to cart  Add to wishlist

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Author

Branden (Northern California)
Qualifications: Camera geek
Last updated: 12/16/10
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