21 Top-of-the-Heap, Budget-Friendly Zoom Lenses for Canon DSLR Shooters!

8 years 10 months ago - 8 years 10 months ago #270583 by PhotographyTalk
I find that many PhotographyTalk members and visitors who shoot with Canon DSLRs don’t like their passion for photography and creativity to be limited because they feel compelled to buy expensive lenses. They certainly have their place, but for most of us, we need budget-friendly lens choices, so that’s what I’ve done below: my list of the top lenses for your Canon DSLR that won’t bust the bank…because they are all priced less than $900.

Wide-Angle Zooms

1. Canon EF-S 10–22mm f/3.5–4.5 USM

Here is the lens for APS-C DSLR cameras to shoot architecture and capture other creative wide-angle visions. Equivalent to 16–35mm in 35mm format. See full Specs & Photos HERE.


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2. Canon EF 17–40mm f/4L USM

This is a very versatile lens, as it focuses as close as 11 inches (0.28m) and allows for both full-time manual focus and quick, quiet autofocus with Canon’s Ultra-Sonic Motor (USM). See full Specs & Photos HERE .


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Standard Zooms

3. Canon EF-S 18–55mm f/3.5–5.6 IS II

This is the kit lens that is bundled with Canon EOS Rebel series of entry-level DSLRs. The reasons are simple: it’s an excellent first-time lens that’s lightweight and includes Canon’s Optical Image Stabilizer technology. See full Specs & Photos HERE.


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4. Canon EF-S 15–85mm f/3.5–5.6 IS USM

The EF-S 15–85mm is another versatile Canon standard zoom, as it provides a 35mm equivalent focal length range of 24–136mm. You can shoot at a great wide-angle focal length as well as have an excellent focal length for portraits. See full Specs & Photos HERE.


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5. Tamron AF 17–50mm f/2.8 SP XR Di II VC


What I’ve discovered about Tamron lenses is that they often give you a more affordable alternative to Canon lenses and with a faster aperture. The 17–50mm is just such a lens. With its 26–78mm equivalent 35mm focal length and close focusing distance of 11.4 inches (0.29m), it may prove to be your favorite landscape lens. See full Specs & Photos HERE.


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6. Tamron 28–75mm f/2.8 SP XR Di LD Aspherical (IF)


Many photographers who shoot weddings, parties and similar group events consider this Tamron lens a classic. It’s the combination of a fast, constant aperture; a lightweight, compact design; and proven and exceptional image making that makes it so popular with both enthusiasts and pros. See full Specs & Photos HERE.


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7. Canon EF 24–105mm f/4L IS USM


The Canon EF 24–105mm is a very good choice for full-frame DSLR shooters who want a budget-friendly lens, as a first choice to shoot landscapes and beautiful people images. See full Specs & Photos HERE.


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8. Canon EF-S 18–135mm f/3.5–5.6 IS STM

This Canon lens matches perfectly with the new EOS Rebel T4i because it supports its Movie Servo AF function, which helps to record great-looking video with continuous autofocus during recording. It’s also the first Canon lens with Dynamic IS, so you’ll capture steady video footage even while walking. See full Specs & Photos HERE.


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9. Sigma 24–70mm f/2.8 IF EX DG HSM AF

Here is another excellent lens for the wedding photographer because its fast aperture allows for low-light and non-flash images. The Hyper-Sonic Motor (HSM) makes for fast, silent AF operations, so you’ll never interrupt a ceremony; and you have full-time manual focus to adjust to the sudden movements of your prime subjects. See full Specs & Photos HERE.


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10. Tokina 16.5–135mm f/3.5–5.6 AF DX II

With a wider focal length than many lenses of this type, which usually start at 18mm, you’ll love this lens for landscape and travel photography. You’ll also be able to capture very interesting people portraits during your travels too. See full Specs & Photos HERE.


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Mid-Range Zooms


11. Canon EF-S 18–200mm f/3.5–5.6 IS


Although defined by Canon as a “standard” zoom, the EF-S 18–200mm provides a great focal length range (the equivalent of 29–320mm in 35mm format) for a huge number of photo subjects and genres. In-lens optical stabilization allows you to shoot 4 stops slower at the longest focal length and still produce sharp images. See full Specs & Photos HERE.


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12. Canon EF 70–200mm f/4L USM

The EF 70–200mm f/4 is another good alternative if you’re a new full-frame DSLR photographer, as compared to the much more expensive f/2.8. Being lightweight and compact, it’s easy and comfortable to use throughout a long day of shooting; plus, the Ultra-Sonic Motor (USM) gives you the fast, silent AF of a pro-style lens. See full Specs & Photos HERE.


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13. Tamron AF 70–200mm f/2.8 Di LD IF

The 70–200mm is quite a package that delivers high-performance on either an APS-C format or full-frame DSLR. The fast aperture will allow you to give your photos beautiful bokeh, or shallow depth-of-field. Plus, with a minimum focus of 37.4 inches (0.95m), you’ll be able to move in close, or use the 1:3:1 ratio at 200mm to create tight composition from a distance. See full Specs & Photos HERE.


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Telephoto Zooms


14. Canon EF-S 55–250mm f/4–5.6 IS II


When you’re ready to “graduate” to a longer telephoto zoom for your APS-C Canon DSLR, then take a serious look at the EF-S 55–250mm. It has second-generation image stabilization, which will make it much easier to bring home sharp, crisp images when handholding this lens and shooting at 250mm. See full Specs & Photos HERE.


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15. Canon EF 70–300mm f/4–5.6 IS USM

Here’s another excellent choice if you’re shooting with a full-frame DSLR, but don’t have the deep pockets for a pro-level telephoto zoom. Not only does the Image Stabilizer technology give you sharp, steady images with 3 stops slower shutter speed, but also Mode 2 of the IS provides additional stabilization when your panning with a moving subject. It’s a great lens for your first nature photography experiences or maybe auto racing, which I enjoy so much.
See full Specs & Photos HERE.


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16. Tamron 18–270mm f/3.5–6.3 Di II VC PZD Aspherical IF


I agree with many photographers that this may be the “ultimate” all-purpose zoom lens; and it’s Tamron’s latest version, with its proven Vibration Compensation (VC) system and a new Piezo Drive (PZD). Not only does it deliver faster, quieter auto-focus, but also allows for lighter construction and a shorter, narrower lens. See full Specs & Photos HERE.


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17. Tamron 70–300mm f/4–5.6 SP Di VC USD XLD

This Tamron lens is filled with firsts; and with its very affordable price, it’s one of the best in its class. The lens configuration includes both LD (Low Dispersion) and XLD (Extra Low Dispersion) glass elements that will make your images pop. It’s also the first with Tamron’s new Ultra Silent Drive (USD) for its auto-focus system. I haven’t tried this lens, but I’ve heard it would be great for my passion for auto racing photography. See full Specs & Photos HERE.


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18. Sigma 18–250mm f/3.5–6.3 DC OS HSM IF


Sigma has also made a name for itself for its general-purpose zoom lenses and this is one you can use for just about any kind of photography that interests you. It gives you both a 13.8x zoom ratio, so you can reach for and tightly compose distant subjects, and a minimum focus of 17.7 inches (45cm) for rather incredible close-up work. See full Specs & Photos HERE.


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19. Sigma 70–300mm f/4–5.6 DG OS SLD


Not quite as much focal length range as an all-purpose zoom, this Sigma lens is still a great choice for most of the photography in your life…from casual portraits to your family at play to your children’s athletic competitions. You’ll also find it comfortable to carry during those all-day family outings. See full Specs & Photos HERE.


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Super Telephoto Zooms

20. Tamron 200–500mm f/5–6.3 Di LD SP FEC (IF)

This super-zoom lens is a bit more than our minimum amount of $900, but the few extra dollars make it worthwhile if you’ve developed an intense passion for nature photography. When paired with an APS-C DSLR, the maximum focal length becomes the 35mm equivalent of 760mm, which puts virtually every creature and subject within a tight frame. See full Specs & Photos HERE.


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21. Tokina 80–400mm f/4.5–5.6 AT-X 840D

This Tokina lens is the smallest SLR lens with a maximum focal length of 400mm, making it another affordable and easy-to-carry nature and even all-purpose zoom lens. Tokina has also made sure you experience little or no internal flare or ghosting by applying new multi-coating formulas to the elements. See full Specs & Photos HERE.



The following user(s) said Thank You: GLiDeR, PhotoViking

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8 years 10 months ago #270659 by Roy Wilson
Thanks for sharing this, good list

Canon 5D Mark II, 30D, 40D, 50 1.2L, 16-35 2.8L Mark II, 24-105 4L IS, 24-70 2.8L, 70-200 2.8L IS, 85 1.8, 4 x 580 EX(II)
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8 years 9 months ago #272185 by Flash Steven
Definitely some good choices for budget minded.

Canon 7D w/grip, Canon 40D, Canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS L Canon MPE 65mm f2.8 macro; Sigma 70-300mm f2.8; Sigma 150mm f2.8 macro; Sigma 8-16mm f4.5-5.6
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8 years 9 months ago #272187 by Baydream
Thanks for the concise list. I have the Canon 18-200 (#11) and it has become my go to lens. Outstanding sharpness even when heavily cropped.

Shoot, learn and share. It will make you a better photographer.
fineartamerica.com/profiles/john-g-schickler.html?tab=artwork

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8 years 9 months ago #274637 by Chris Ly
I would love to have all those, OK I would be happy with half of them :drool:


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6 years 11 months ago #417591 by bxr53
I have a Sigma 18-250 and use it primarily for my photo journalism assignment. It's a versatile lens that works well for my purposes. It's used on my Canon 60D for close ups and occasionally zoom. One feature I really like is the lens lock which keeps the lens from sliding out. I would recommend to any one for a good all around lens.


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6 years 10 months ago #424347 by stuartsbarbie
Thank you so much for you information.  I was just wondering the other day about getting a new lens and hadn't decided which one yet.  I am going to copy your list and put it in a word document so I can take it with me when I go looking


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4 years 10 months ago #514284 by Didereaux
One area not covered in our top 21 list is the super telephoto class. Both Sigma and the Tamron 15-600mm telephotos have been showing up on sale for under $1000, Both are excellent wildlife super tele's. More and more pros are using them.


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4 years 10 months ago #514321 by effron

Didereaux wrote: One area not covered in our top 21 list is the super telephoto class. Both Sigma and the Tamron 15-600mm telephotos have been showing up on sale for under $1000, Both are excellent wildlife super tele's. More and more pros are using them.


I believe you meant 150-600, and both are well reviewed lenses.....

Why so serious?
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4 years 10 months ago #514399 by Peter Nunez
This list seems to be 4 years old.  Might be time for an update. :) 


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4 years 10 months ago #514714 by effron
Four years in the digital age is a near eternity.....:S

Why so serious?
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