Canon has some of the best lenses for beginners. Regardless of what DSLR or Mirrorless body you have, you can easily find a great selection of affordable, high-quality lenses.
We understand that picking your first lenses can be daunting though because of the numerous choices. In this article, we’ve hand-picked eleven of the best Canon lenses for beginners so you can find the right lens for your needs.
Best Canon lenses for beginners in 2023:
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1. Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM
The Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM is a highly affordable lens that doesn’t compromise on quality.
One of the best Canon lenses for beginners has to be the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM. This remains one of the top starter lenses thanks to its incredible price, great features, and superior image quality.
For less than $150 you get a brilliant lens with a maximum f/1.8 aperture that can be used for all sorts of shots from portraits to street photos. Thanks to that f/1.8 aperture, you can get superb bokeh effects to really enhance your photos. The lens also has a decent minimum focusing distance of just 1.15 ft/0.35 m allowing you to get relatively close to the subject you’re shooting.
This is also one of the smallest and lightest 50mm lenses available, weighing in at 0.35 lb/158 g. This makes it ideal for those who love to travel and take photos on the go.
2. Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM
The Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM excels at low-light portrait photography due to its maximum f/1.4 aperture, and its 50mm focal length.
A slightly more expensive alternative to our top pick is the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM. This is a similar lens but it has two key differences.
For one thing, it has a maximum aperture of f/1.4 which gives this lens the edge for low-light photography and can also create better bokeh effects for subject backgrounds.
It also has a USM autofocus motor instead of an STM motor. This autofocus system is generally considered to be superior to STM technology and makes for fast and accurate focusing.
Aside from this, the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM offers similar functionality. It is a great lens for portrait photography and if you can afford a little more, it is worth the extra cost.
The lens delivers sharp images consistently and has advanced coatings to reduce distortion in your images.
3. Canon RF 50mm f/1.8 STM
This affordable RF lens is one of the best beginner choices for portrait photography due to its 50mm focal length and maximum f/1.8 aperture.
If you were to buy one starter lens for your Canon EOS R camera, the Canon RF 50mm f/1.8 STM is a great contender. This lens is insanely affordable but doesn’t compromise on quality. It is a must-have lens for beginners and is a great option for street photography and portraits.
For portrait photography, you benefit from the f/1.9 maximum aperture, offering great control and the ability to create amazing bokeh effects. Essentially, you can use this budget lens to take professional-quality portrait shots.
The lens also has a lightweight design and the control ring and gear-type STM autofocus make for a user-friendly operating experience. The control ring allows you to make quick camera setting changes on the fly, while the STM autofocus allows for quick and accurate focusing.
This affordable portrait lens also has various coatings that help reduce ghosting and lens flare, while maintaining image sharpness for superior image quality.
4. Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USM
The Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USM is a versatile wide-angle lens that has a durable build quality, fast AF motor, and built-in image stabilization.
Portrait photography is a great place to start for beginners. However, wide-angle photography is also relatively simple. As a result, the Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USM is a great beginner lens option.
This is an older Canon lens but it still holds up well and provides consistent image quality and functionality. At 24mm, you can take awesome wide-angle shots of landscapes and even dabble in street photography. Because of its smaller size and weight, this 24mm lens is also great for travel photography.
In terms of features, it has image stabilization, a USM focusing motor, and a series of special lens elements to boost image quality and reduce distortions. The image stabilization helps with handheld photos, while the USM autofocus motor means you can capture moving objects and focus quickly.
This lens is also highly affordable and is one of the best quality budget wide-angle lenses for Canon EF-mount cameras.
5. Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM
The Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM is one of the sharpest beginner lenses for EOS M cameras like the Canon EOS M50 Mark II.
If you happen to have a Canon EOS M model, the Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM is a great option. This is an lens that performs well in most areas.
Thanks to its 22mm focal length, you can take beautiful landscape photos and with the small minimum focusing distance, you can even try some more intimate, close-up photography.
In terms of portability, this is also one of the lightest lenses available. It weighs only 0.27 lb and is classed as a pancake lens because of its flat design. You can easily carry this lens in your pocket, rucksack, or handbag.
This is one of the sharpest EF-M lenses on the market, making it a good option for those that only want the best image quality. This is definitely one of the first lenses we recommend buying for your EOS M camera.
6. Canon RF 16mm f/2.8 STM
The Canon RF 16mm f/2.8 STM is a lightweight lens perfect for travel photography and capturing sweeping landscapes.
To learn to shoot landscapes and other wide-angle photos, a prime wide-angle lens is a great option. One of the best options for beginners is the Canon RF 16mm f/2.8 STM. This prime lens has a focal length of 16mm which allows you to capture vast, sweeping landscape scenes.
This lens is also highly portable and compact. It weighs only 1 lb/453 g and could easily be used as a travel lens. With an f/2.8 maximum aperture, you can even use this lens in low light with very little trouble.
Plus, if you’re looking for a lens for videography, this is a really good option thanks to the focal length and aperture.
7. Canon RF 24-105mm f/4-7.1 IS STM
This kit lens is a great place to start for beginner EOS R camera owners due to its flexible focal length.
While many of the Canon RF lenses are expensive, there are some brilliant beginner lenses, too, like the Canon RF 24-105mm f/4-7.1 IS STM. This is a fantastic kit lens that offers versatility in terms of focal length and consistent image quality.
This lens is a great starter lens if you have a camera like the Canon EOS R. It is affordable and allows you to learn multiple types of photography without spending a fortune on separate lenses. For example, at 24mm you can take sweeping landscape shots, at 105mm you can dip your toes into telephoto photography.
The build quality is also excellent and the lens looks stylish too. For convenient handheld use, you can benefit from the 5 stops of shake correction via image stabilization. It also has a decent maximum aperture range of f/4-7.1 which will still allow for great background separation.
8. Canon EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM
This multi-purpose kit lens has a great focal length, is compact, and has some great features for various types of photography.
Those who have EOS M cameras have an excellent choice of affordable lenses. A great kit lens for general photography from this range is the Canon EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM.
This is the perfect lens for beginners and in many instances, you can buy this as part of a package with a camera. At 15-45mm, you have the perfect lens for general walk-around photography. This could include outdoor landscape shots, street photography, and even some portrait shots.
The lens is also one of the smallest EF-M lenses available due to its special retracting locking mechanism. Essentially, when not in use, you can lock the zoom at its lowest point to prevent movement. Some may find this locking mechanism a little clunky, but it certainly helps with storage.
As an introduction to photography, this is a great option thanks to its versatile nature!
9. Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III
The Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III is one of the best budget telephoto lenses and is a perfect choice for beginner wildlife enthusiasts.
Once you have mastered the basics of photography, you may want to delve into some more specialist photography. A telephoto lens like the Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III allows you to do this. Using this Canon lens, you have super-telephoto capabilities at 300mm which means you can get great detail from a distance for capturing things like wildlife and sporting events.
The Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III is an older lens, but it remains one of the best Canon lenses for beginners due to its affordability and quality. This lens is one of the lighter telephoto lenses available, and it can easily be used for outdoor adventures where you are seeking wildlife shots.
It has a high-quality micro USM autofocus motor which means you will be able to focus quickly on moving subjects.
It also has a great build quality and a metal lens mount. It should work perfectly with EF-mount cameras, or you could even use it on other Canon models with an adaptor.
10. Canon EF-M 55-200mm f/4.5-6.2 IS STM
The Canon EF-M 55-200mm f/4.5-6.3 IS STM is a lightweight, compact telephoto lens that introduces EOS M users into the world of long-distance photography.
If you have an M series camera, you can also get your hands on a decent telephoto lens. The Canon EF-M 55-200mm f/4.5-6.3 IS STM is arguably one of the most affordable telephoto lenses for beginners and has great build and image quality.
Combining this lens with a kit lens like the Canon EF-M 15-45mm would allow you to have a focal length range from 15-200mm. This is perfect for virtually any type of photography. While the 15-45mm can be used for general photography, the 55-200mm allows you to try your hand at telephoto photography including wildlife shots.
Despite its small size, this lens feels great and offers impressive durability.
It has a high-quality lens construction that will provide consistently sharp images and you should be able to focus quickly on moving objects with the fast and quiet STM autofocus system.
11. Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 IS Macro STM
The Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 IS Macro STM is one of the most affordable macro lenses for RF-mount cameras.
Our last pick is an affordable macro lens for Canon RF users. The Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 IS Macro STM is a brilliant starter macro lens that will allow you to take fantastic closeup shots in high detail.
For macro photography, it has important features including a magnification ratio of 0.5x and a minimum focusing distance of just 0.56 ft/0.17 m. As a result, you can get incredibly close to your subject which makes this lens great for stationary subject macro shots.
The maximum aperture of f/1.8 also means this lens will excel at low-light macro shots. You will be able to get beautiful bokeh effects for subject backgrounds. To help shoot moving objects like insects, this macro lens also has image stabilization which helps correct up to 5 stops of shake.
Which Beginner Canon Lens is Right for You?
As you can see, there is a fantastic range of inexpensive, but high-quality Canon lenses for beginners. Whether you have an EF, RF, or EF-M mount camera, you can find a good selection of lenses to suit. But which ones are suitable for you?
If you want the best Canon lenses for beginners for portraits, you have options like the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM, and Canon RF 50mm f/1.8 STM. These are affordable and provide great maximum apertures for professional bokeh.
Alternatively, if you want try landscape and wide-angle photography, lenses like the Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USM, and Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM will work fantastically.
If you’re looking for something more versatile to shoot a range of subjects the Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III, Canon RF 24-105mm f/4-7.1 IS STM, and Canon EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM are all perfect solutions.
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