Best lenses for your Canon EOS 6D

By Kevin Carter - Tuesday July 09 2013

Lens Recommendations
Introduction | Best primes and zoom for the Canon EOS 6D | Canon EOS 6D vs 5D Mark III, Canon EOS 6D vs Nikon D600 | Moderate telephoto and standard models | Wide-angle telephoto and super-zoom models


Best standard primes for the Canon EOS 6D

1.1 standard primes from 40mm to 70mm

Sharing the number one spot for the best performing standard or ‘normal’ lens for the 20Mpix Canon EOS 6D is the $499 Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM, the macro-oriented, manual focus Zeiss Makro-Planar T* 50mm f/2 ZE and the ultra-compact and portable Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM, each achieving a DxOMark score of 28. In second place, Canon’s ultra-high speed EF 50mm f1.2L is a popular choice for imaging pros but with a price of just under $1,600 this isn’t an option for everyone. Canon’s value proposition for a high-speed lens is the modest EF 50mm f/1.8 II. At just $99 it’s the most affordable lens in the firm’s range. 

Sigma 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM Canon49928
Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar T 50mm f/2 ZE Canon128028
Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM24928
Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM157427
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II9926
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM38526
Carl Zeiss Planar T 50mm f/1.4 ZE Canon72523

Top three standard primes compared: Sigma 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM Canon Versus Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar T 50mm f/2 ZE Canon Versus Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM all three mounted on Canon EOS 6D:


All three lenses share the same DxOMark Score but this is a benchmarking exercise to compare the overall image quality of the lens and camera in use. To assess the relative optical qualities of the lenses the individual metrics should be compared.

In overall sharpness, the Zeiss and Canon compare favorably and offer consistent performance across the field over the aperture range. The Sigma’s full aperture performance, on the other hand, isn’t particularly impressive  which accounts for the lower overall score. For more in-depth comparisons, we recommend studying the sharpness field maps, here.  In other respects the lenses fair well.

1.2 Best moderate telephoto primes for the Canon EOS 6D

Sigma 85mm F1.4 EX DG HSM Canon96934
Canon EF 100mm f/2 USM44031
Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar T 100mm f/2 ZE Canon184030
Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM107030
Canon EF 85mm F1.2L USM159930
Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM186929
Samyang 85mm f/1.4 Aspherique IF Canon28529
Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM37927
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM96927
Sigma 70mm F2.8 EX DG Macro Canon49927
Carl Zeiss Planar T 85mm f/1.4 ZE Canon128026
Tamron SP AF 90mm F/2.8 Di MACRO Canon46026
Sigma 105mm F2.8 EX DG Macro Canon64026
Sigma 105mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM Canon96925
Tamron SP 90mm F/2.8 Di MACRO 1:1 VC USD Canon71824
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM53623
Canon EF 135mm f/2.8 Soft Focus87023

As we’ve noted before, with a DxOMark Score of 34 points, the Sigma 85mm f1.4 EX DG HSM is a superb performer optically and it performs equally well on the Canon EOS 6D. At £969, it’s a pricey option, and at odds perhaps with the more modest, entry-level aspirations of the Canon EOS 6D.

The same can be said for the excellent Zeiss Makro-Planar T* 100mm f/2 ZE. At $1,840 it’s a rather specialist, manual focus only macro-lens (though it will serve double duty as a excellent portrait lens, albeit a rather sharp one). Canon’s L-series lenses are equally impressive but also releatively expensive.

Top three moderate telephoto primes under $500 compared:


Of the three lenses compared, the Canon EF 100mm f/2 USM doesn’t quite have the sharpness of the firm’s EF 85mm f/1.8 USM but it achieves high overall DxOMark Score on the Canon EOS 6D, putting it in second place behind the pricier and much heavier Sigma 85mm f//1.4. Achieving a decent DxOMark Score of 29, the best value based on optical quality must be the Samyang 85mm f/1.4 Aspherical IF at just $285. Remember this lens is manual focus only and it lacks the usualdata-bus connections of the EF mount, meaning there’s no aperture control from the camera (limiting the choice of exposure modes) and only stopped-down metering can be performed.

1.3   Best performing standard zooms, from 24mm to 135mm:

Tamron SP 24-70mm F2.8 Di VC USD Canon129926
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM229926
Canon EF 28-70mm f/2.8L USM126923
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM122121
Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 IF EX DG HSM Canon89921
Tamron SP AF 28-75mm F/2.8 XR Di LD Aspherical [IF] Canon49920
Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM150020
Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM125019
Canon EF 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 USM24919
Canon EF 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 USM50017
Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM41315

Tying in top place, predictably, are the two new 24-70mm f/2.8 lenses from Tamron and Canon, which in turn are followed by Canon’s previous iterations, the EF 28-70mm f/2.8L is now only available on the second hand market, while the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L is now unlikely to be found new.

While the two current lenses vie for the top slot, for around $1,000 less than the Canon model the Tamron seems to be the better value, based on optical quality at least - professional users will likely value the durable build of the Canon.

If working on a lower budget, the older more modest Tamron SP AF 28-75mm f/2.8 XR Di LD Aspherical IF lacks an ultrasonic AF motor and stabilization but at $499, it achieved a very respectable DxOMark Score of 20, just one point less than the $899 Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 IF EX DG HSM Canon.

Top two standard zooms compared:


Although the pair achieve the same DXOMark Score of 26 points, the Canon has been optimized for Sharpness and has excellent uniformity across the zoom range, and at full aperture and each aperture setting thereafter. With performance close to that of some primes it’s one of the reasons why the Canon costs what it does. The Tamron, on the other hand, is similarly sharp at 24mm but fails to match the Canon across the frame (corner-to-corner) at full aperture over the rest of the focal lengths. One stop down from the maximum aperture, though, and the Tamron performs very well indeed.


The Tamron SP24-70mm f/2.8 performs similarly to the Canon at 24mm but can’t match that model across the field at full aperture over the rest of the focal lengths.

With that in mind, the Tamron also has better transmission (2.9 v 3.2 TStops), slightly lower distortion and vignetting and, surprisingly lower chromatic aberration. With the Tamron offering stabilization, weatherproofing and featuring an ultrasonic AF motor, this lens is a convincing alternative to the pricier Canon model.

Please look out for the Part III - Best wide-angle and telephoto lenses for the Canon EOS 6D.

If you have a Canon EOS 6D and a favorite lens, we would very much like to hear from you. Please leave a comment below stating what model it is and why you like it.