You have bought a brand new Canon T3i. Most probably it has been bundled with an 18-55mm kit lens that would allow you to learn the basics about your new DSLR camera.
But the T3i is an excellent entry-level camera that is capable of magnificent results in spite of being economically priced if fitted with other lenses. Canon offers you a massive array of lenses – telephoto, zoom, macro – for every type of photography from the great outdoors to close up wedding photos.
We have tested the best of these lenses and reviewed them thoroughly. Of course, no one will buy all of them. But one telephoto and one prime lens are at least needed if you want to take up photography as a serious hobby.
Best Canon Rebel T3i Lenses of 2020
1. Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM
Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM is the new inexpensive lens for a Canon camera with a small sensor. It is ideal for all APS-C cameras. It is a newer version of its more expensive cousin, the 10-22mm.
This camera comes with Canon’s own Stepper Motor technology. It grants the satisfaction of near-silent photography. It has quiet and smooth autofocus. It is an electronic mechanism that signals the change in focus position. This makes AF instantaneous and accurate. You can handle the focus ring for a manual override if you want.
IS stands for image stabilization. For this camera, IS is quite sharp from 1/4th second to 1 second. Your images will never show any camera shake. It boasts of a four-group optical zoom lens. There is almost no flare visible in bright light focus. But there is a slight chromatic aberration with wide aperture images.
There is a slight image size changing or ‘breathing’ at 18mm. This is not visible at 10mm. If you are a landscape or architecture photographer, this might be the camera for you. Canon EF-S 10-18mm is an ultra-wide-angle lens. This keeps every element of the picture in sharp focus.
The look and feel of this camera is perfect for amateurs as well as professionals. The IS and focus controls are at finger-tips. We found that the manual override is possible with just a thumb. Its plastic body makes it light-weight and cheap. Canon keeps it sturdy and durable.
- Small and light
- Maintains clarity and sharpness of image
- Canon’s latest technology
- Attractively priced
- Slight ghosting and chromatic aberration
- Very slight barrel distortion at wider focal lengths
2. Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM
Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM is a superior quality full-frame lens ideal for Canon EOS cameras. On APS-C cameras, it works as a standard lens and not as an ultra-wide lens.
Like all modern Canon lenses, this one boasts of electronic focus. This EF technology complements the 16-35mm wide lens. It makes the autofocus silent, accurate and instantaneous.
There is rarely any ‘bokeh’ or out-of-focus image if you use this lens. The ‘L’ series of Canon lenses have better protection against the elements. They have a gasket to seal the sensor from any stray dust. They use expensive techniques to create high-speed zooms. The lens also has a fluorine coating.
It has image stabilization to correct any camera shake. It is comfortable to click using the hand-held method. Its ultrasonic motor helps with superfast capture. Most USM designs resort to jerky movements. But in Canon EF 16-35mm, IS helps control these erratic movements.
Our tests have shown slight image distortion at 16mm. This is much less evident on the other end. Various measures handle the flaws to some extent. Super Spectra coating reduces ‘ghosting.’ Two ultra-low dispersion elements and three aspherical elements control the other distortions. Picture clarity and additional lens protection make Canon EF 16-35mm a wise choice for outdoor photography.
- Image stabilization to counter camera shake
- Excellent for cameras with full-frame lens
- Very thoughtful lens protection
- USM for speed
- Slight image distortion
- Unsuitable for small sensor cameras
3. Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM, the much-awaited upgrade of the 24-year-old Canon lens EF 50mm f1.8 II, has all the features to take photos with standard coverage as well as portraits. It feels great in hand with the rubber-like grip band on both sides.
Keeping the same 6 elements and 5 group build of the previous version, the latest advanced lens gives you a better out-of-focus effect with its all-new 7 blade diaphragm. It surely gives an improved depth of field with f1.8 STM and 35cm focusing distance.
The f1.8 focal ratio makes it easier to blur the background for any kind of shoot. We have observed that even with lower ISOs, it works very well with the brighter aperture. Unlike its ancestor, it has a better STM system allowing swifter and less noisy focus.
Throughout our use, we found the focus ring to be smoother and broader than the old model. The plastic lens mount is also replaced with the metal one with a finer filter thread that is 49mm. Well-controlled Chromatic Aberration is very much impressive. When we took photos with settings at f3.5 and ISO 1600, the results were surprising even in low light. So, it’s definitely an advanced version of the older one.
- Too good image quality
- Affordable price
- Accurate auto-focus
- Sturdy build
- Quieter zooming
- Sharpness at the edge is not satisfactory
- Light drop at the corners while shooting
4. Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III Telephoto Zoom
A small and light pocket-friendly lens is what you get in the form of Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III with Telephoto Zoom. Though the build is mediocre, its lightweight makes it mobile all the time. The silver lining on the focus ring gives it an elite touch.
When we zoomed in the lens from 75mm to 300mm, we observed a gradual decrease in the sharpness. However, the 7 blade aperture is a great feature found in such a low-cost lens.
We observed significant Chromatic Aberration in high contrast, especially from 200mm to 300mm. Stopping down helps improve this condition but will not remove the same permanently. It was also a hard task for us to take good pictures in the absence of bright light.
The telephoto zoom enables the lens to capture portraits and wildlife scenes. It is also suitable for shooting outdoor games. But, in our tests, it disappointed us with slow Autofocus and jerky zooming in AF mode. Strikingly, with manual mode on, we experienced a smoother focus-ring function.
It will do an excellent job for the budget-savvy DSLR fans. We would call it an average performer but provides an exceptional experience for beginners. If you are an aspirant professional, this lens is right to start with.
- Affordable price
- Compact and Lightweight
- Easy to carry
- Comfortable to hold
- Moderate quality pictures
- Low sharpness
- Performance is not at par with USM models
- CA is a constant problem
- Smooth focusing is unexpectedly absent
5. Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Medium Telephoto Lens for Canon SLR Cameras – Fixed
Even after being budget-friendly, the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM lens produces good images with great sharpness. Small and light, this lens will make your professional heart happy.
The USM (Ultrasonic Motor) enables it to focus faster and smoother. Almost entirely, noise-free focusing is provided with this lens. We found that low light is not a constraint for it because its wide aperture makes the lens great for indoor shoots and dim-light photography.
The blurry background (bokeh) effect is too good. Pictures we took are also prominent, making the subject of the photography stunningly noticeable. Creating dreamy shots is now easy with this lens.
Falloff at the corners is manageable when stopped down, and with 1.6x camera, the darkened corners become insignificant, as we have tested and found.
Chromatic Aberration is almost zero with the 8 blade diaphragm and f1.8 focal ratio. It also provides the benefit of low depth of field, improving the out-of-focus quality. It also demonstrates a better Shading and center sharpness.
Operating this lens with AF on is exceedingly satisfying. The USM feature gave us no hassle to tweak its focus manually at any moment. And most impressively, nothing at the exterior moves while using focus-ring, it stays fixed while internal cams do the job. We would call it a professional’s lens.
- Easily portable
- Good focal length
- Very sturdy built-up
- Instant focus
- Smooth zooming
- Slightly darkened corners
- Focus breathing is not too good, but acceptable
6. Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM
The Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM is an extremely lightweight pancake lens, at 125 gm. It provides a handy 38 mm focal length. It also has a perfect pairing with Canon’s APS-C DSLRs.
The lens is quite compact at 68 x 23 mm. As we found out, that makes it perfect for street photography. More so, when we mounted this beauty on a smaller Canon camera model like the 250D, as also a 2000D.
We discovered that the wider angle lens would focus more on the subject, which is closer to the camera than on the background. E.g., we clicked a human at a close range – akin to a headshot – and we found that his nose was looking noticeably bigger compared to the rest of his face! So, we won’t recommend using this for a headshot.
The focusing ring is very narrow; as we found out, you may not want to use it! And we found it tough to set the focus at infinity, as hard stops aren’t available at both ends of the range. The autofocus can be manually overridden. And this lens is quick to autofocus. We shot in both good & bad lights – and found the focus to be uniformly accurate.
- Very sharp
- Quite compact
- STM (Stepping Motor) focus is noiseless
- A nice package at a low price
- Lack of IS
- Resolution may be a cause of worry, especially at the corner of the image
- If shooting in bright sunlight, expect some ghosting
7. Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras
The Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM facilitates high-quality closeup shots. It is an L-series short telephoto prime. You can also shoot portraits and subjects that are in the mid-range. This 100mm lens also facilitates 1:1 magnification, plus a minimum focusing distance of 11.8″.
This lens makes shooting a fun affair, as we found out. We got superb image quality, a light body and – important – Hybrid Image Stabilization (HIS). You can use this lens atop all EOS (Electro-Optical System – both film and DSLR) cameras.
We mounted this lens atop Canon’s EOS 7D DSLR. And we got an impressive focal range for capturing wide-angle scenic shots and telephoto shots zoomed in.
One major area where this lens scores high is Image Stabilization. It will almost zero out the effects of camera shakes. It also helps you to work better in conditions with lesser light, and with slower shutter speeds.
To our delight, we also discovered that this lens is sealed against moisture & dust – a feature it enjoys being part of the privileged Canon L-series. Thus, you can work with this lens in adverse weather conditions without worrying about causing any damage to the lens.
- Sharp image quality
- Tough build and weather-protected
- Image stabilization
- USM Autofocus facility
- The lens is versatile – you can use it as more than a simple macro lens
- Priced on the higher side
- The lens hood is a wee bit too long, for using at close distances
8. Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 is USM Standard Zoom Lens for Canon SLR Cameras – White Box
Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM is a high-performance lens for professional use. It falls in the bracket of easy-to-carry lenses. It is ideal for EOS DSLR cameras from Canon.
The most attractive feature of this lens is the focal length. It gives a fairly wide view as it is 135mm. It can cover a lot – from landscapes to architecture to family shots. Portraits and telephotos become easy because of the 5x zoom lens.
The image stabilizer is a great addition to this lens. This clears up any camera shake in hand-held photographs. You can capture images at low light without any blur. When you turn on the IS switch, the image jumps a bit. Then the viewfinder becomes still and you can shoot clear images. The gyro-sensors and microprocessors help control blurring.
The optical performance of Canon EF 28-135mm is reasonably sharp. There is effective vignette control at mid-level. The aspherical lens element contributes to color clarity and sharp images.
The advanced ultrasonic motor adds high-speed to your work. It is capable of capturing accurate images. This precision increases quality in still images. The IS nullifies any jerk from the USM. The Ring USM does a silent job. This is a variable maximum aperture lens. The range starts at f/3.5 at 28mm. It moves up to f/4.5 at 50mm — the range peaks to f/5.6 from 85mm to 135mm. The images display good ‘bokeh’.
On the downside, there is slight chromatic aberration at the ends of the focal length. There is barrel distortion visible at 28mm. Pincushion disturbance is an issue. There is a crossover at about 40mm. Also, there is no focal length lock. So, gravity-zooming will be a problem in a downward position.
Despite everything, Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM zoom lens is value for money. It offers a lot in a compact and light body. And the price is quite low for the benefits.
- Fast and silent photography
- Excellent focal length
- Reasonably sharp images
- Attractively priced
- Mild CA and distortions visible at some points
- Gravity-zooming possible
9. Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens for Canon DSLR Cameras
The Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM Zoom Lens is an improved version of the EF-S zoom lens. The 17-55mm lens comes with a broader opening that is compatible with, but a few select Canon models.
And because the lens comes with a large aperture, photographers can now create special effects like blurring and super focus. Other features like image stabilizers ensure that you click sharper, clearer images. This feature is particularly useful when you’re taking hand-held shots in dim lighting.
The lens offers a great deal of versatility to your photography, giving you the freedom to take images at different focal lengths and angles. You can take wide-angle landscape shots and high-quality portrait photos with relative ease and efficiency.
Also, the lens is surprisingly durable. We noticed that the surface was dust-free even when we used it for outdoor locations like forests and rough terrains.
On the downside, we wish the lens came with a lens hood. Even in the relatively new models, you will have to purchase the hood separately.
- Sturdy, durable construction
- Wider aperture for better focus and sharper images
- Dust-free framework for easier maintenance
- The autofocus also works well
- Image stabilization feature works well for hand-held shots and videos
- The length and diameter of the lens might be a bit too large for some users
- The lens is not optimized for all Canon camera models
- Doesn’t come with a lens hood
10. Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L IS USM Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras
The Canon EF 70-200mm is a small and lightweight zoom lens that comes with the image stabilization option for getting crisp and clear images. It is excellent for capturing fast-paced motion images even in dim lighting.
The lens also incorporates an advanced technology that allows the user to take four breaks in a single click and a unique shake correction facility to get that perfect shot. This will enable you to click pictures both indoors and outdoor locations.
Moving on to the technical features and efficiency of the lens. The Canon EF 70-200mm is sturdy, with flexible autofocus and durable weatherproof design. The lens is well protected against dust and moisture, plus the surface is scratch-resistant and almost unbreakable.
The lens is especially great for clicking landscape images and nature photography. And armed with powerful battery support, the lens can be a great addition for camping trips and treks.
The 70-200mm lens clicks perhaps some of the sharpest images. You can attach these lenses to a wide variety of Canon models.
- Beautiful, clear images with vibrant color gradations
- Advanced autofocus feature for creating special effects like superzoom and blurring
- Compact and lightweight construction
- Dust-free and waterproof framework
- Suitable for clicking pictures in low lighting
- Image stabilizer allows you to click fast-moving images as well
- The tripod support has to purchased separately
- Some users found the lens not suitable for indoor usage and portrait images
- Slightly expensive than its peers in the market.
Buyer’s Guide for Canon Rebel T3i Lenses
- Format – Lenses are both full-frame and APS-C. T3i is the latter type. Any Canon lens will fit, provided the mount is the same.
- Type – Wide-angle, standard, telephoto, super-telephoto, macro, fisheye.
- Focal length – Different focal lengths from 17 to 300 mm or more are needed depending on the distance from the object.
- Image Stabilization – Reduces or eliminates the blur due to hand tremor.
1. How many types of lenses are there?
There are 4 types:
- Macro – For close-ups
- Prime – These give a field of view closest to the human eye
- Telephoto – For objects far away
- Zoom – For a close-up of something far away
2. Is in-lens image stabilization needed?
It does help, but even without it, great photos are possible. In case your lens does not have IS, try and use a tripod.
3. Do FX lenses work on APS-C cameras?
Yes, they do but will provide a cropped field of vision on the center of the frame. Modern lenses are designed to optimize the use of both full-frame and cropped sensor.
4. What is a Canon USM lens?
USM stands for a small motor known as Ultra Sonic Motor that is housed inside the lens and helps autofocus. It is faster than many other autofocus mechanisms.
5. What if I don’t want to spend any more than my kit lens?
That is perfectly fine. The 18-55 mm kit lens is more than capable of superb images. For your everyday use, it is absolutely perfect and well-matched with Rebel T3i.
In our review and tests, we found the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens to be a perfect lens. It is ideally suited for indoors but not bad outside. The silent STM focus and the super spectra lens coating makes this a winner. In fact, few of us graded it a notch higher than the more expensive Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM. It is also robust and amazingly versatile.
The runner up was Canon EF 70-200mm f/4. Priced a bit high, it is an all-time classic. Definitely a professional grade lens, it offers beautiful images that are sharp and pristine.