Best lenses for your Canon EOS 700D: more than 120 lenses tested!

By Kevin Carter - Monday, June 10, 2013

Lens Recommendations
Introduction | 700D best lenses (prime and zoom) | Standard zooms, primes, and moderate telephoto lenses | Super zooms wide-angles and telephoto lenses | Conclusion

For this review we’ve amassed the data on a number of ‘standard’ lenses made for both APS-C (with a smaller imaging circle) and full frame models that serve double duty on both formats. The lenses that make up this group are arguably the most versatile of their type, and are likely to be your first choice when buying a new camera. They also offer some of the highest imaging performance of any of the groups – the more extreme the focal length, the more difficult it is to correct the anomalies (or aberrations) that are inevitable in lens design.

Standard focal length on a Canon EOS 700D

1- Specification and type of use

For the EOS 700D we’ve measured and evaluated 35 different standard and moderate telephoto lenses from 40mm through to 135mm full-frame (24x36mm) format. A 35mm full-frame lens on a Canon APS-C format body, for example, has a similar angle of view to a 56mm.

We’ve not yet had a copy to review of the new Art series Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM, an intriguing model for its high-speed constant aperture and promise of high IQ. There are bound to be other lenses, new and old, that are in the scope of this overview but please leave comments below, and we’ll try add the popular models to our database.

For clarity, we’ve organized the 35 lenses that we have seen into their respective groups:

  • Normal primes between 40mm and 50mm (8 models)
  • Primes of focal length from 70mm to 135mm (16 lenses)
  • Standard Zoom (11 lenses)

2- Best lens kit for EOS 700D?

Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM25013
Canon EF-S 18-135mmm F3.5-5.6 IS STM54912

If bought as a kit, the main two lenses supplied with the EOS 700D are the EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM (28-90mm equivalent) and EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM (equivalent to 28-215mm on a full-frame camera). 

Both these STM and IS equipped lenses are close in optical performance, the shorter focal range 18-55mm performing just ahead overall of the 18-135mm. The former has less distortion and is the sharper of the two over the focal range even though both score an averaged 9P-Mpix for Sharpness. Overall, the lenses are well specified for their targeted audience but there are better performers available.

3- Standard or normal lenses: get the best “every day” prime

Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM85023
Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM A Canon89923
Carl Zeiss Distagon T 35mm f/1.4 ZE Canon184322
Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM142021
Samyang 35mm F1.4 AS UMC Canon59920
Sigma 30mm F1.4 DC HSM A Canon49920
Carl Zeiss Distagon T 25mm f/2 ZE Canon170019
Carl Zeiss Distagon T 35mm f/2 ZE Canon103019
Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM69918
Sigma 30mm F1.4 EX DC HSM Canon44017
Sigma 28mm F1.8 EX DG ASP Macro Canon44917
Tokina AT-X M35 PRO DX AF 35mm f/2.8 Macro Canon59917
Canon EF 35mm f/240017
Carl Zeiss Distagon T 28mm f/2 ZE Canon128017
Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM47016

With DxOMark scores of 23 points, the top slot is occupied by two lenses:

Narrowly missing the coveted no 1 spot is the manual focus Carl Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 ZE, and in third place sits Canon’s own high-speed L-series offering the EF 35mm f/1.4L USM.

For the value choice, look no further than the new Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC HSM A. Unlike the slightly better performing Samyang it has autofocus (with a built-in ultrasonic type motor), and good imaging performance (except for the wider aperture f/1.4) for $500.

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Best value for money for a APS-C lens has to be the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC HSM

4- Short telephotos: select the best lens for portrait

Sigma 85mm F1.4 EX DG HSM Canon96924
Canon EF 85mm F1.2L USM159922
Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM186921
Samyang 85mm f/1.4 Aspherique IF Canon28520
Sigma 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM Canon49920
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM38520
Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar T 50mm f/2 ZE Canon128020
Carl Zeiss Planar T 85mm f/1.4 ZE Canon128019
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II9918
Sigma 70mm F2.8 EX DG Macro Canon49918
Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM157418
Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM37918
Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM39018
Carl Zeiss Planar T 50mm f/1.4 ZE Canon72517
Tamron SP AF 60mm F/2 Di II LD [IF] MACRO Canon49913

Canon is well represented in the top 10 best (equivalent) short telephoto lenses, but the independent manufacturer, Sigma, occupies the top slot. In fact, achieving 24 points the full-frame Sigma 85mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM has the highest DxOMark Score of all 130 lenses tested.

In second place with a DxOMark score of 22 Canon’s original EF 85mm f/1.2L USM, followed very closely by the current mark II version with 21 points.

Newcomer Samyang lies in fourth place but at $285 for a high-speed (large aperture) 85mm, it’s easy to forgive the lack of AF, stopped down metering and zero lens-oriented EXIF data. One point to note is that these 85mm lenses have an equivalent angle of view to that of 135-140mm lenses, which are fine for outdoor portraits but not so good when moving indoors. That’s the time to switch to 50mm - on the EOS 700D they’re the equivalent to 80mm. 

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Choose from the Samyang 85mm f/1.4, Sigma 50mm f/1.4 and Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 if value is a concern

5- Standard Zoom

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM229920
Tamron SP 24-70mm F2.8 Di VC USD Canon129919
Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM Canon66916
Sigma 17-70mm F2.8-4 DC MACRO OS HSM C Canon49915
Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 IF EX DG HSM Canon89914
Tamron SP 17-50mm F/2.8 Di II XR VC LD Aspherical IF Canon64914
Tokina AT-X 16-28 F2.8 PRO FX Canon84914
Tamron SP AF 17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di II LD Aspherical [IF] Canon45914
Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 EX DC Macro Canon41914
Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM104614
Canon EF 28-70mm f/2.8L USM126914
Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM139914
Sigma 17-70mm F2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM Canon46013
Tamron SP AF 28-75mm F/2.8 XR Di LD Aspherical [IF] Canon49913
Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM150013
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM122113
Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS14913
Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM25013
Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L USM167413
Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II17812

Inevitably, some blurring of the categories occurs with Standard zooms made for full-frame and APS-C and is the reason for the wide range of lenses available. It doesn’t come as any surprise to see Canon’s highly regarded EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens sitting at the top nor is it a shock to see the new Tamron occupying the runner-up position.

However, after the Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM, which is a solid performer for $499, it’s largely anyone’s game. Most of what follows are lenses covering the APS-C format but the Tokina AT-X 16-28mm f/2.8 Pro FX and Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM lenses are in fact full-frame ultra-wide angle models, and would be good choices if you’re already own (or are also considering) a full-frame body.

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Value choice includes the FF Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD, and APS-C Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM

Please look out for Part 3, the final installment of this series - Best wide angle and telephoto and super zoom, for the Canon EOS 700D.