Canon APS Crop DSLR Recommendations

APS Camera Body:
  • 7D: The best crop sensor DSLR made to date and includes 1080p video with lots of manual options.
  • 550D/T2i: A very capable little camera with full manual mode 1080p video.
  • 1000D/XS with 18-55 IS and 55-250 IS kit lenses: Lacking features but decent quality for the dollar.

APS EF-S Lenses. Note that EF-S lenses can only be used on APS crop sensor bodies while all normal EF lenses can be used on any Canon body:
  • 10-22 f/3.5-4.5: Nearly distortion free and sharp. A great architecture and landscape lens for crop bodies.
  • 18-55 f/3.5-5.6 IS: The light and compact $100 kit lens offers surprisingly good performance, making it the perfect starter lens. Unless you absolutely need a single lens solution then I do not recommend Canon's other general purpose zoom lenses (15-85, 18-135 and 18-200) as they do not provide much improvement over the $100 kit lens. If you need to upgrade then consider Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 if you do not need image stabilization or perfect autofocus. For the best quality get Canon's superior 17-55 f/2.8 IS. Also consider the 24-105 f/4L IS that performs very well on a crop sensor, and makes a great general use/travel lens when coupled with a 10-22 for ultra wide angle. The 24-105 f/4L IS can also be used on full frame bodies if you ever upgrade your body.
  • 17-55 f/2.8 IS: This lens produces exceptional image quality and shallow depth-of-field with constant f/2.8 aperture. The optical performance is excellent and this lens is one of the best reasons to purchase a Canon APS crop sensor body. Simply unmatched quality when coupled with Canon's latest APS bodies. This is the only image stabilized general use zoom with great optical performance. It costs a lot and is rather large but you get what you pay for with this lens.
  • Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 and Sigma 17-50 f/2.8 OS: If you can't afford the incredible Canon 17-55 f/2.8 IS or you don't need the image stabilization then consider this affordable constant f/2.8 zoom. The non-VC version is sharper, smaller, lighter and cheaper than the new VC version. If you want image stabilization and can't afford the Canon then go for Sigma's 17-50 f/2.8 OS.
  • Canon 70-300 f/4-5.6L IS: A great long reach zoom on a crop sensor camera.
  • 60 f/2.8 macro: Can be used for any kind of shooting but is exceptional for macro. This is one of Canon's highest resolving lens and it is only available for APS.
  • 50 f/1.8: While not a dedicated APS only lens, this lens makes the most sense on a crop sensor and offers unbeatable image quality for $100. This affordable lens provides one of the most compelling reasons for purchasing an entry level Canon crop sensor DSLR.
  • Any EF full frame lens listed below will yield excellent performance on an APS body, although do not forget to consider the 1.5x change in FOV: 70-200 f/4L IS, 20 f/2.8, 24 f/1.4L I or II, 35 f/2, 35 f/1.4L, 50 f/1.8, 50 f/1.4, 50 f/1.2L, 85 f/1.2L I or II, 135 f/2L and any of the tilt/shift lenses.


Canon Full Frame DSLR Recommendations

Full Frame Camera Body:
  • 1Ds Mark III: Canon's flagship model is bettered by Nikon's D3x but when using Canon's excellent prime lenses this camera really shines, plus the $1,500 you save can go to all those expensive lenses you need to get the most out of a high resolution full frame sensor.
  • 1D Mark IV: The APS-H sensor is ideal for the longer focal lengths used in sports, wildlife and birding. Slightly faster and higher resolution (stills and video) than Nikon's D3s, but Nikon offers a better high-ISO full frame sensor so if you need high-ISO performance, the ultra-wide field-of-view and extremely shallow depth-of-field that full frame offers then go with the D3s.
  • 1D Mark III: For under $2,000 used this camera represents the best value for the dollar if you shoot sports and do not need high-resolution or need to shoot in extreme low-light conditions.
  • 5D Mark II: If you shoot studio, landscapes or architecture then this is the best camera for the price, and it produces 1080p video matching and even beating pro video cameras in low-light conditions when coupled with Canon's ultra fast primes. However, if you do not need high resolution or video and you primarily shoot fast moving subjects then check out the Nikon D700 instead.
  • 5D original for under $1,000 used: This camera still produces excellent image quality and it is by far the cheapest full frame option available. The money you save will allow you to start building the most import part of your photography kit, quality lenses.

Full Frame EF Lenses. Note that EF lenses can be used with any Canon body. "L" lenses are professional grade offering better build quality, weather seals and better image quality in most cases:
  • 16-35 f/2.8L II: While not without its flaws, overall this is the most versatile and all around best performance ultra wide angle zoom for Canon. Nikon's 14-24 f/2.8G is the absolute best from an optical standpoint, although, has considerable distortion and isn't nearly as practical (zoom range, size/weight and front element). If you want wide angle perfection look to Canon's new 17 and 24 TS-E lens's or 24 f/1.4L II and Zeiss 28 f/2.
  • 17-40 f/4L: If you want a compact and afford wide angle zoom for landscapes (f/8 with daylight hand held or low light tripod), then this is an excellent option for full frame.
  • 24-105 f/4L IS: The distortion and vignetting at the wide end are problematic, however, this lens is unmatched in versatility. If you need a faster aperture lens then shoot with fast primes for super shallow DOF or when lighting is minimal.
  • 70-200 f/4L IS: The smallest, lightest and best performing lens of its kind, even as sharp as most primes! Fast and accurate autofocus. And this lens is one of Canon's least expensive truly "L" grade zooms.
  • 70-200 f/2.8L IS II: Just released, this lens matches the excellent performance of the f/4L IS version but at f/2.8! This lens will cost you twice as much as the f/4L IS, so make sure you consider the option of picking up the f/4 version with 85 f/1.8 and 135 f/2L for the same price. If you need the f/2.8 version then you will have what is probably the best zoom lens ever produced!
  • 15 f/2.8 fisheye: One of the best fisheye lenses out there and also an overall fantastic ultra wide angle lens.
  • 17 f/4L TS-E: If you shoot architecture this is the absolute best lens produced with zero distortion and flawless optical performance even with large shifts or tilts. As with Nikon's 14-24, price and an unprotected bulbous front element are penalties one pays for exceptional ultra-wide performance.
  • 24 f/3.5L TS-E II: While not as wide as the 17 or as good for large/tall architectural projects, it is more versatile all around lens and in general better for nature photography.
  • 24 f/1.4L II: The best low light lens but expensive. Sharp wide open in the center. If you want a manual focus landscape lens then consider Canon's new TS-Es or Zeiss.
  • 35 f/1.4L: The best all around and general use prime. Sharp wide open with fast/accurate autofocus. CA when shot wide open in high contrast conditions is the downside of the lens.
  • 45 f/2.8 TS-E: Great for environmental portraits and product shoots, although, not as sharp as 90 TS-E.
  • 50 f/1.4: While not as sharp as other lenses on this list when shot wide open, above f/2.2 or so it is one of the sharpest lenses out there. It also represents good bang-for-the-buck.
  • 50 f/1.0L: If you can find it and afford it, then don't expect optical perfection only dreamy bokeh.
  • 85 f/1.8: Fast/reliable autofocus and nearly flawless at f/2. Considering the price and performance, this is best FF lens per dollar.
  • 85 f/1.2L II: Actually sharp wide open at f/1.2!!! This is the only lens of it's kind with autofocus and accurate autofocus at that, although, the autofocus is slow.
  • 90 f/2.8 TS-E: Amazingly creative lens for portraits and products. Great optical performance even when shot wide open with full movements.
  • 100 f/2.8L IS macro: Great for macro and portraits. Canon's latest IS technology makes a huge difference for hand held work. Optically it is identical to the non-L version as many believe and as my extensive tests of both lenses demonstrates. That being said, the L version offers a major advantage with IS and L build quality, well worth the extra cost.
  • 135 f/2L: Sharp wide open for dreamy subject isolation. As one of Canon's best performing lenses, it is surprising inexpensive for a "L" prime. Lacking IS you will have to watch your shutter speeds to keep things sharp. Considering the cost, size, weight, build quality, AF speed and optical performance this lens is a dream come true, that is if you shoot at the 135mm focal length.
  • 180 f/3.5L macro: If you photograph insects then this is the lens to get.
  • 200 f/2L IS: One of the sharpest lenses ever produced. Sharper wide open then most other lenses when stopped down to their optimal f/5.6 aperture settings. Flawless but very expensive and many prefer the slower 300 f/2.8L IS for the extra reach.
  • Any current super telephoto.
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