Top Five Killer Canon Lenses for Portrait, Wedding, and Low-Light Photography
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Classic portrait shots typically look best whenever there’s a clear, stunning view of a subject placed against a blurred background. This is quite simple to achieve once you choose the right lens. The key to achieving this kind of background is by choosing a lens that offers a large aperture, which is typically indicated by a small “f” number. As a general rule of thumb, the best Canon portrait lenses are ones that have an f-number that’s 2.8 or smaller.
The reason why is because smaller f-numbers are able to accumulate more light, which makes them perfect for photographers who have to shoot in dim conditions. It’s great because you won’t need to resort to increase your camera’s ISO sensitivity or having to use flash. All photographers should have a quality portrait/low-light photography lens with them at all times. In the following sections, we’ll talk about five models that you definitely want to check out.
Specifications: 50mm focal length, f1.8 aperture, 52mm filter thread, FF compatible, 5 diaphragm blades, 130g (weight), 68 x 41 mm (size).
The Canon ER 500mm F/1.8 II portrait lens are a suitable choice for anyone who would like to shoot quality portrait, wedding, and low-light photographs while on a budget. The 50mm focal length is considered slightly short for a classic portrait shot on a full-sized camera, but once you mount it on a model that’s cropped-framed, you’ll be shooting at an equivalent of 80mm (which is perfect for shooting portrait shots).
The camera’s f1.8 aperture can delivered that blurred background that you’re searching for, and will gather around x8 the amount of light than an EF-S 18-55mm kit lens when it’s completely zoomed-in! After experiencing this Canon lens, you might come to the conclusion that years of develop was put into making it a premium lens for an affordable range- and you’d be right. The lens’s sharpness is unyielding, having the ability to capture virtually every blemish of a subject. Perhaps the main advantage associated with this lens is its affordability.
Most photographers would agree that $125 is a steal, and is perfect for anyone on a budget. One of the downsides to the camera is it is not USM, so it can be somewhat loud. Plus, it doesn’t have a moving focus scale. But if none of this bothers you, it’s really an amazing deal. As for the build quality, it’s constructed from plastic, which might not be the strongest material in the world, but it gets the job done, and should last for a long time as long as you take care of it.
Pros: The affordability is definitely this lens’s strong point, hovering right around $125 on average. But it doesn’t lack at the quality department either, offering crisp, detailed shots that will capture every aspect of a subject.
Cons: The lens is constructed from plastic, which might not be a problem for some people, but it can be a problem should it fall. Durability is probably this lens’s major drawback, but it makes up for this with all of the other quality features that it provides.
#4: Canon EF 50mm F/1.4 USM
Specifications: 50mm focal length, f1.4 aperture, 58mm filter thread, FF compatible, 8 diaphragm blades, 290g (weight), 74 x 51 mm (size).
This is another quality portrait lens that is perfect for cropped bodies. Due to its higher range, you’ll receive a more aesthetically appealing aperture (f1.4), which is capable of gathering around 16 times the amount of light than an 18-55mm kit lens when it’s completely zoomed in. Let’s not forget to mention that it is a quieter, quicker Canon lens than the f1.8 model. Plus, it’s easier to use its manual focusing feature, and is durability built to last a long time. If it is within your budget, this is a portrait lens that you should definitely consider.[wpbp_blocks set=”tamron-af”]
The lens utilizes a standard optical design, with seven elements in six groups (two of which are constructed from high-refraction glass). Using the camera’s ultrasonic motor system, quality focusing can be achieved. Keep in mind that unlike the other mid-range primes offered by Canon, this is one that uses the micro-USM type (rather than the ring). The color balance with this lens is great, and is capable of isolating subject so that you can achieve the kinds of shots that you’re searching for.
The Canon EF 50mm F1.4 USM is well-known for offering precise precision, and within the Canon line-up, it offers remarkable value for your dollar. Another quality that photographers will be sure to love is its lightweight design and size. Weighing in at only about 290 grams, it won’t weigh the front of your camera down while shooting. In fact, it happens to be the second lightest Canon lens on this list.
Pros: This camera lens is better known for its innate ability to deliver precision on each and every shot. The size of the camera is another major reason why photographers will love it. It weighs only about 290 grams, which is very lightweight compared to other lenses in its class.
Cons: Perhaps the only downside to this lens is that the affordability is a little high in comparison to what it has to offer. There are other lenses that cost about the same but that offer a higher degree of features and functionalities. Nonetheless, it’s still a lens that offers nice value for your dollar.
#3: Canon EF 85mm F/1.8 USM
Specifications: 85mm focal length, f/1.8 aperture, 58mm filter thread, FF compatible, 8 diaphragm blades, 425g (weight), 75 x 72mm (size).
As one of Canon’s premier portrait and low-light wedding lens, the EF 85mm F/1.8 USM is a premium portrait lens that is recommended for both cropped bodies and full-frame bodies. It offers a longer-than-average focal length, something that provides photographers with the ability to stand a little further away when taking their shot. It also helps accentuate a blurred background so that you can receive that quality low-light shot that you’re searching for. The lens’s f1.8 aperture is relatively large, and will help you achieve a crisp, clean picture – all while the USM focusing remains quiet and quick. It’s one of the more affordable Canon lenses on this list, and delivers amazing quality that both beginner and expert photographers will be sure to love.
With a USM that is ring-shaped, you’ll be able to take advantage of sophisticated manual focusing when shooting in one-shot AF modes. Users will find that the speed of the AF on this camera lens is quite quick, while the focus distance sits at a minimum of about 0.85m. This ends up providing a maximum magnification of about 0.13x. Another quality feature about this lens is that its manual focusing is quite smooth. The optical construction is produced from nine elements and seven different groups, although no special elements are available.
While this might appear like a drawback, you’ll be happy to hear that the 85mm works find when capturing premium portrait shots in low-lit environments. There are eight aperture blades available with this lens, while the filter size sits at 58mm. It only weighs about 425 grams, which is relatively light compared to other Canon models of the same class. It also provides sleek dimensions, which should making using it and carrying it around easy. Photographers will find that there is no wobbling in the lens when shooting, which does help capture better and more professional shots.
Pros: The lens’s manual focusing capabilities happens to be one of its major highlights. The AF speed on this lens is very quick, and will allow you to hone in on your subjects with speed and precision. The affordability is about standard for a camera of this caliber.
Cons: Although there are nine elements and seven different groups available in its optical construction, photographers might be disappointed to hear that there are no special elements available for them to use.
#2: Canon EF-S 17-55mm F/2.8 IS USM
Specifications: 17-55mm focal length, f2.8 aperture, 77mm filter thread, 7 diaphragm blades, 645g (weight), 84 x 110mm (size).
Although it only works on cropped-bodies, the Canon EF-S 17-55mm lens has a lot to offer. It delivers a focal length that is equivalent to 27-88mm, which is perfect for capturing both single portraits as well as group shots. The f2.8 aperture might not be as large as some of the other ones on this list, but it is still good enough to deliver that quality blurred background that most photographers search for when taking wedding, portrait, and low-light photographs. This Canon lens is ideal for cropped bodies, and is built with strong materials that should help increase the lifespan of the lens, as well as help lessen damage during a fall.
Focusing with this Canon lens will be seamless, and is fairly narrow compared to other models. At either end of the range, you’ll find that there are no hard stops, which does make it much harder to set your focus to “infinity”. Nonetheless, the autofocusing system does provide manual override at any point while shooting. As far as auto-focusing is concerned, this Canon camera lens is capable of super-quick zooming, all thanks to its ultrasonic motor (USM). In fact, it takes only about 0.2 seconds to lock onto an object or subject! The lens also happens to perform very quietly as well.
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Whenever you have the lens completely open at f/2.8 at 17mm, you’ll come to discover that there will be some light falling off in the corners of the lens. There is also a slight distortion in the barrel that appears at 28mm. One of the drawbacks to this lens is that it is quite expensive, even if you purchase it used. With that being said, it features a quality build, outstanding focus, and surprisingly crisp detail on all shots. There is also a very useful distance scale that will provide photographers with the ability to scale their lens barrel in either meters or feet.
Pros: Experience crisp, detailed shots that are backed with a lens that is built durably and that will last. Photographs will love the lens’s super-fast zooming capabilities, and the fact that they’ll be able to shoot effectively in low-lit environments.
Cons: The affordability might scare some photographers away, and although any level photographer can use it, this lens is better suited for more professional and experienced photographers. For about $900, this lens is ideal for wedding photographs who need to take pictures as part of their business.
#1: Canon EF 24-70mm F/2.8L II USM
Specifications: 24-70mm focal length, f2.8 aperture, 82mm filter thread, FF compatible, 9 diaphragm blades, 805g (weight), 89 x 113mm (size).
The Canon EF 24-70mm lens tends to be a favorite amongst professional wedding photographers, but has also shown great popularity towards newer photographers as well. This lens delivers amazing cropped-bodies shots. Although it doesn’t offer a wide-angle, and its f2.8 aperture might not be as bright as some of the others above, but it still delivers premium blurred shots. It features an excellent build, user-friendly manual focusing, and will allow you to capture great shots in low-light environments.
The Canon EF 24-70mm F/2.8L II USM tends to hover between the first and second best Canon portrait lens out there. It’s definitely a top contender, but photographers might be a little skittish about purchasing it considering that it costs about $2,200. As a result, it’s better suited for professional wedding and portrait photographers, and less ideal for hobbyists. This pro-grade pair of camera lens offers premium image stabilization, and features f/2.8 max aperture that will allow you to achieve very detailed shots.
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Pros: This is a professional-grade Canon camera lens that helps you capture great pictures even in the lowest of lit environments. It features a strong build, which should help it last for years as long as you take care of it. It’s better suited for professionals.
Cons: The four digit price tag is its biggest drawback. But if you can afford it, it’s definitely a camera lens worth investing in.