If you’re a Canon shooter looking for a reasonably priced EF/EF-S lens that doesn’t compromise on image quality then you’ve come to the right place. In our list, you’ll find the top-scoring 30 third-party Canon EF/EF-S lenses that ePHOTOzine has reviewed to date.
Third party lenses are simply ones that aren’t made by the same company that made your camera but when purchased in the correct mount, will fit your camera of choice. Plus, as well as being reasonably priced and offering excellent levels of performance, third-party lenses also fill gaps in the market so you’re more likely to find a not-so-common focal length in a third-party lens.
Below you’ll find lenses by well-known brands such as Tamron, ZEISS, Irix and Samyang and they can be used to shoot a variety of subjects including macro, portraits, wildlife, and landscapes.
We’ve also put together a top list of Canon-branded lenses you should take a look at so you get a complete picture of what’s available before parting with any hard-earned cash.
If you don’t see your favourite lens here there could be two reasons for it: one, it didn’t score high enough or two, we’ve not reviewed it yet. If it’s the latter, please do add your comments below on new lenses you’d like us to review and we’ll do our best to oblige.
1. Samyang Premium MF 85mm f/1.2 –
The top, 5-star rated Canon EF/EF-S fit lens we’ve reviewed to date! The Samyang Premium MF 85mm f/1.2offers superb performance and substantially less cost than most of the f/1.4 alternatives. Provided you are happy with manual focusing, this is a very attractive lens at a very attractive price. Sharpness is excellent throughout, CA is very low and photos are flare-free. Build quality is good, bokeh is smooth and the lens handles incredibly well. Overall, the Samyang Premium MF 85mm f/1.2 is a gorgeous lens to use, with superb results and a keen price for Canon users.
2. Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 (A025)
The Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 lens is an upgraded optic with moisture and dust resistance, faster AF and improved 5 stop VC (Vibration Compensation). The Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 lens is on the same level playing field as lenses costing up to twice as much, punching far above its weight. It may not have the same silky smoothness in operation as its more expensive competition, but it delivers the goods, making no compromise on image quality. To summarise, the Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 G2 is a magnificent lens at a really attractive price. Tamron has a definite winner on their hands.
3. Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 VC USD (F017)
Tamron’s 90mm Macro lenses have always enjoyed an enviable reputation, both in their original manual focus guise and later with auto-focus added to the specification, and this 90mm offering is no different.
This 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 VC USD builds on the reputation of its predecessors and definitely comes up to the mark, taking performance to a new peak and is very comfortable to use. This is a lens that is a pleasure to use, from the crisp view through the viewfinder to the satisfaction of the quality of images opened on the monitor screen – you won’t be disappointed.
Tamron has continued the legacy reputation of their 90mm Macro in an accomplished way by giving users an outstanding lens that is ideal for all short telephoto applications.
4. Tamron SP 85mm f/1.8 Di VC USD
Another Tamron in the top 5 but this time, it’s the Tamron SP 85mm f/1.8 Di VC USD prime lens. Performance is impeccable, the lens handles superbly and the price well within reason. There is little not to like about this Tamron lens and unless the photographer has a definite need for an f/1.4 then the Tamron 85mm f/1.8 Di VC USD delivers superb quality at a more reasonable price level. What a lovely lens this is.
5. Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8 Distagon T*
Finishing off the top 5 is the Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8 Distagon T* wide-angle lens for full-frame Digital SLR cameras. The Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8 is a gorgeous lens with ease of use and superb performance. It could quite easily be a superb travel companion as well as one you pop in your camera bag when heading out to photograph landscapes. The Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8 is small, light, handles well and may even be more universally useful than the wider 15mm lens also on offer from ZEISS.
6. Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art
The Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art is a really sharp lens, with excellent handling and beautiful bokeh, which makes a powerful mix. In use, there’s no CA, flare and low distortion. Close-focusing is excellent and the lens is really well made. Couple this with a truly splendid performance and Sigma is onto a winner, without a doubt.
7. Sigma 24-35mm f/2 DG HSM | A
The Sigma 24-35mm f/2 DG HSM Art lens could potentially replace three wide angle primes in someone’s kit bag. It delivers excellent sharpness, with low CA and distortion at a reasonable price point – what’s not to like? Sigma has produced a lens that actually has a much wider appeal, thanks to its unique f/2 maximum aperture, excellent build quality and the value for money it delivers – highly recommended.
8. Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2
From the range of SP (Super Performance) full frame lenses from Tamron, the 24-70mm f/2.8 G2 is a wide to short telephoto standard zoom with a bright (fast) constant aperture.
The 24-70mmTamron lens performs very well indeed and has a very well balanced set of properties. It is well priced against similar lenses and definitely worth looking at. Images are sharp, well detailed and show smooth bokeh. Resistance to flare is excellent.
In summary, it’s a very fine general purpose zoom lens that’s highly recommended.
9. Zeiss Milvus 135mm f/2.0 Apo Sonnar T*
The Zeiss Milvus Apo Sonnar 135mm f/2 lens is, without doubt, a beauty. The performance in every respect is magnificent and the handling one of those real pleasures in photography.
The only downsides are the price, which is really quite high, and the lack of AF or vibration reduction. But if we want a lens of this high calibre and we can afford to pay the price, then there’s no alternative than to consider it both highly recommended and highly desirable.
The Zeiss Milvus 135mm f/2.0 is a magnificent lens that is a pleasure to use.
10. Tamron 100-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD
The Tamron 100-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD is very easy and satisfying to use and the price is certainly attractive. The optical performance is actually excellent overall, the sharpness only falling off at very small apertures. Of course, one of the unavoidable facts of optics is that at longer focal lengths those small apertures soon becomes very small indeed and very susceptible to diffraction effects. Bearing in mind, though, that high shutter speeds will likely be needed for wildlife and sports it is hardly a major issue. Processed through Photoshop, with a bit of judicious sharpening where needed, the end results are crisp and very impressive.
Overall, the Tamron 100-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD is an excellent long telephoto zoom lens at an excellent price.
11. Samyang Premium MF 14mm f/2.4
The Samyang 14mm f/2.4 lens proves itself to be a high-class performer and also a very exciting lens to use. Manual focusing lends itself to use on a tripod with critical focusing, and when this is done the sharpness of the results can be stunning.
The alternative technique of setting a reasonably small aperture, say f/8, and using depth of field to ensure sharpness throughout, can be very liberating and also yields excellent results. Whatever the technique chosen, this is a versatile lens delivering high-class results.
12. Meike 85mm f/2.8 Macro
The Meike 85mm f/2.8 Macro lens is a well made, well-priced lens that will do the job efficiently and to an excellent standard. In the arena of macro shooting, this lens comes into its own, being what it is clearly designed for. All the accuracy of the focusing is concentrated in the macro range and the image snaps clearly into focus in the viewfinder or on the monitor screen. The loss of AF could be an inconvenience for some but as MF is the method of choice for macro shooting anyway, most won’t have an issue.
13. Irix 15mm f/2.4
The Irix 15mm f/2.4 lens is a powerful photographic tool. This lens from Irix lifts the performance for such lenses way beyond the first early 1970s offerings and gives us a lens that is free from flare, and very sharp. This Swiss design is an excellent one, built in Korea to very high standards. The Irix 15mm f/2.4 is a beautifully engineered lens that produces beautiful images.
14. Sigma 50-100mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art
The Sigma 50-100mm f/1.8 DC Art lens is a fine example of the lens maker’s art. The zoom range is limited, it’s heavy and it could perhaps focus a little closer, but apart from that, it would be difficult to find fault with any aspect of its performance.
The sharpness reaches outstanding levels across the range of focal lengths, distortion is low, CA well controlled and the overall appearance of the images is very appealing. The clincher is, of course, that f/1.8 aperture, which opens up a realm of possibilities in low light and for control of depth of field. A lovely lens that’s a pleasure to use.
15. Sigma AF 100-400mm F/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary
Very long lenses have always been more expensive, with the affordable telephotos ending around 300mm. That extra 400mm is very valuable for wildlife and sports and we have here from Sigma such a lens, but one that is much more reasonably priced.
The features cost is in lens speed, so cameras with good high ISO performance are the order of the day. Other advantages are a more compact and lighter optic, still quite large but nowhere near the bulk of some of the alternatives.
Performance is sound, giving excellent sharpness and lovely bokeh at an excellent price.
16. Zeiss Milvus 15mm f/2.8 Distagon T*
15mm lenses are beautiful to use and offer unique results. There are several excellent choices on the market, and Zeiss enthusiasts will welcome this moisture and dust resistant lens straight into their kit bags. The Zeiss Milvus 15mm f/2.8 is a beautifully built ultra-wide lens with exemplary performance.
17. Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art
The Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens is a high class, highly competent design that performs confidently and efficiently. It is of the modern breed of 85mm lenses, sharp from open aperture, as opposed to older designs that were intended to be softer wide open for the purposes of flattering portraits. This lens is sharp throughout, although not cruelly over-sharp, so subjects should be pleased enough.
It is also delightful to use, the only omissions being vibration reduction and weather sealing, but the performance itself is not in question.
18. Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II VC HLD
The Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II VC HLD Lens is an excellent lens that can be highly recommended. It is designed with the centre of the field very much in mind, so depending on use, it should be possible to enjoy the outstanding sharpness when the main subject is fairly centrally placed. However, it is still possible to have excellent edge sharpness if the aperture used is chosen with that in mind.
It is an attractive optic, not only for its sharpness and other optical qualities but also for its smart new design ethos, matching nicely with other new Tamron lenses. Add the moisture resistance and a price competitive with its peers and we have a very useful general purpose wide angle zoom capable of very satisfactory results.
19. Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD
The Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD lens offers premium features, such as weather sealing, silent autofocus and Vibration Compensation, which will make it an interesting alternative to other similar lenses. It is certainly capable of delivering excellent quality images, with high sharpness in the centre of the frame and travellers, in particular, will find the Vibration Compensation and weather sealing invaluable to them.
20. Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD
Tamron has created an excellent lens which is certainly more than capable of delivering excellent results in a wide range of conditions. It sports premium features such as weather sealing, exotic optical coatings and Vibration Compensation in a reasonably lightweight body. Travellers, in particular, will appreciate the relative lightweight for its size, Vibration Compensation, weather sealing and robust build.
The Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD delivers excellent results with premium features including weather sealing and Vibration Compensation.
21. Zeiss Milvus 35mm f/1.4
The Zeiss Milvus 35mm f/1.4 lens is a bright, high-quality optic with smooth bokeh and a very well balanced set of properties. It handles beautifully and is a pleasure to use. It exudes a feeling of quality. It is very likely that it will last for many years before needing any attention. The manual focus is utterly smooth and the point of focus is very easy to achieve. High quality, ease of handling and a classic focal length make the Milvus a superb lens.
22. Zeiss Milvus 25mm f/1.4
As always, there will be a price to pay for excellence. None of the 24/25mm f/1.4 bright lenses are cheap, but they do represent the cost of high-quality optics. The Milvus represents a variation, sacrificing the AF and pulling no punches in weight or bulk, just delivering solid engineering and optical quality.
Manual focus does become more difficult the wider we go and this may well not be for everybody, but there are others who will revel in the sheer tactile joy of handling a precision, traditional style lens.
High quality, smooth handling and a fast, bright f/1.4 aperture make the Milvus 25mm f/1.4 an attractive proposition.
23. Laowa 105mm f/2 T3.2 Smooth Trans Focus
Laowa certainly knows how to make exciting and different lenses. It’s always good to see lenses that go beyond the pure technicalities, offering some unique “feel” or “character” to images. The Apodization filter is very clever, it works and the bokeh offered is indeed superb, whilst the sharpness of the main subject is not compromised in the slightest.
Despite some handling inconvenience, the lens is fun to use and a challenge to become proficient with. It may not be for everyone, but for those willing to get to grips with it the reward will be in that sublime, creamy smooth bokeh.
The Laowa 105mm f/2 T3.2 STF lens is an unusual and high-quality optic – highly recommended.
24. Venus Laowa 12mm f/2.8
A unique lens, well made, with extraordinary performance. There are those who will struggle with the manual focus, but there are solutions to this with various techniques. There’s no doubt that the lens performs exactly as claimed and should give excellent service for a very long time. It has to be Highly Recommended.
The Laowa 12mm f/2.8 is a unique ultra-wide lens that delivers its promise of high quality and minimal distortion.
25. Irix 11mm f/4 Firefly
What an exciting lens the Irix 11mm f/4 Firefly is. It opens up a whole new world of creative possibilities in a well-made, well-designed package that delivers the image quality. It will not be for everybody, perhaps because of the ultra-wide style of the images, or maybe because of difficulties using the manual focus system, but if the lens appeals to the individual photographer’s creativity then it will be a rewarding experience.
26. Zeiss Milvus 85mm f/1.4
The Milvus 85mm f/1.4 is, without doubt, a superb lens. It is fairly bulky, quite heavy, but well balanced. It is a gorgeous example of fine engineering. But above all the fast 85mm is a very exciting lens to use, offering a very pleasant perspective on the world, whether for portraits, landscapes, street photography, close-range sports or any other short telephoto applications. The wide aperture offers the ability to continue shooting as the light fails. The price may be high and there’s no AF, but the other qualities shine out and certainly justify giving it very serious consideration.
27. Zeiss Milvus 21mm f/2.8
The Zeiss Milvus 21mm f/2.8 lens is a very fine example of quality lens manufacturing. Its main drawback may be the lack of AF, but if that can be accepted then its optical quality is impeccable and it would be difficult to find a more pleasing lens to use. Yes, the price is high, but I would expect it to be a very long-term investment and spread over many years hard use that price may well be acceptable.
28. Samyang 20mm f/1.8 ED AS UMC
20mm lenses are very attractive for the wide angle photographer, wide enough to be interesting, but not so wide as to be very difficult to handle. We have here a lens that is well made, has a very high standard of performance, and a reasonable price tag. Without a doubt, the Samyang 20mm f/1.8 ED AS UMS adds up to being a very good deal.
29. Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
This Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 lens proves to be an excellent performer and that performance is well maintained at all focal lengths. It is heavy but relatively compact, so carrying over several hours is not too onerous, providing a suitable sling or strap is employed. The VC system works well, the controls operate smoothly, nothing is placed so that it might be accidentally switched on or off. All in all, the Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 is a very soundly designed optic that offers excellent results.
30. Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Art
This is a very attractive proposition for full frame users. A reasonable cost, a sound general performance, gorgeous bokeh and the potential for portrait shooting, low distortion, in fact, a variety of positive aspects that make for a quality end result. It’s a pity the weather resistance isn’t a bit stronger and the weaker performance at 70mm will not suit everyone, but even this may well delight others as the portrait and perhaps flower study potential is very real. Overall, the Sigma 24-70mm lens comes recommended.