Since you landed here, you are probably wondering what the best lens for Canon 70D might be. After all, you decided to skip the Rebel series and go for something a little more sophisticated, but without breaking the bank.
After spending a nice chunk of your hard-earned paycheck on the camera, your remaining budget for lenses might be lower than you expected (especially if you plan to buy more than just one). In this product roundup, I’m going to review a few high quality yet affordable lenses that will cover most of your needs.
Table of Contents
The Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM has been my go-to lens for shooting landscapes on APS-C cameras for the past year or so. While I wouldn’t use this lens in low light, the price, weight, and optical quality makes it very hard to beat. On top of that, it has IS.
The Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM is an excellent budget-friendly lens for portraits and low-light photography. At 50mm, the 70D’s 1.6x crop factor gives it a similar view to an 80mm lens on a full frame camera. If you liked the Canon 50mm f/1.8, this is a nice step up.
The Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 SP XR Di II VC would be a great choice as your first general-purpose lens. While it won’t win any awards, I can say that it is solid in most aspects. With this highly popular focal length, you have an f/2.8 lens that can shoot pretty much anything that you need.
The Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM is an absolute beast for both crop and full frame cameras. As the entry to L-series lenses, it is moderately priced. However, the sharpness and color reproduction is superb right out of the camera. If you can get by with limitations such as f/4 and lack of IS, I am confident that this lens won’t disappoint you.
Reviews of the Best Lens for Canon 70D
Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM
Straight up, I don’t think you’ll find any other Canon ultra-wide zooms for this price. However, it is one of those cases where cheap (subjective) does not mean poor quality. Before the release of this lens, I would have pointed you towards the EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM but this is much better.
This little guy comes with Image Stabilization (IS). For me personally, this is an absolute lifesaver as I shoot a ton of HDR photos that require blending up to 7 exposures. During midday, this isn’t much of an issue. However, from dusk and on, my shutter speeds can easily fall below 1/10. Without IS, the brightest exposures in my set would be unusable.
The autofocus is just as fast as my 70-200mm (instantaneous) and also silent and accurate. I haven’t encountered any situation (yet) that gave it any trouble. Canon’s STM (Stepper Motor) technology also helps the AF system to be much smoother during video recording.
Optically, the 10-18mm produces very clear and sharp photos throughout the entire range. It is also much smaller and lighter than other ultra wide-angle lens.
The bad parts? Apart from the mount, the lens is made out of plastic (not a big deal to me). With widest apertures being f/4.5-5.6, bokeh is virtually non-existent. Some barrel distortion can be seen at 10mm. It goes away completely at 14mm while mild pincushion distortion shows up at 18mm.
Putting it all together, if you’re looking for a lens in this focal range, I don’t think there’s anything that can beat this one. It is at least 2x cheaper than most other ultra wide-angle lenses, while being much smaller, lighter, and optically superior.
Things I Liked
- Very small and light
- Low price
- Super sharp
- Has IS and STM technologies
- Instantaneous autofocus
Things I Didn’t Like
- Made out of plastic
- Small apertures
- Mild distortion at 10mm and 18mm
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM
If you’re considering this lens, you’ve probably used the Canon 50mm f/1.8 before. I started my photography career with just the Nifty Fifty and found it surprising that a cheap tiny lens can blur my backgrounds so much. As I got more into shooting portraits, a good friend recommended the f/1.4 version to me.
These days, I’m a big fan of the 85mm focal length (and my Canon 85mm f/1.2L). On an APS-C camera, this lens provides roughly the same perspective at a tiny fraction of the cost.
If you enjoy shallow DOF portraits, this is a great lens to own. Wide open, it is decently sharp at the center, but doesn’t get very sharp until f/2.8 and on. Many photographers who want the hazy, dreamy look enjoy using this lens at wider apertures.
The biggest selling point of this lens is the f/1.4, especially for available-light photographers. This allows you to shoot in less than optimal lighting conditions without having to jack up your ISO or drop your shutter speed too low.
Another vote for the Canon 50mm f/1.4 is due to its smaller size and lighter weight. Compared to the 50mm f/1.2L, this lens is easy to carry and use for extended periods of time.
While the build and IQ are pretty decent, the bokeh is nothing too special. In fact, the out-of-focus areas can sometimes look jagged and busy, as you can see in my example below.
All in all, if you’re looking for a fast 50mm lens for your 70D, this is the most logical choice. You get a good quality prime lens that lets you shoot handheld in places that your zoom-using friends can’t.
Things I Liked
- Wide aperture
- Great image quality for the price
- Very sharp from f/2.8 and on
- Small and light
- Perfect focal length for portraits (on APS-C)
Things I Didn’t Like
- Soft wide open
- Average bokeh
Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 SP XR Di II VC
My search for a good budget-friendly walk-around lens pointed me towards the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8. Like many Canon shooters, I was very wary of using 3rd party lenses. However, the only Canon zooms in this range were either out of my budget or had variable apertures.
The Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 was actually a solid lens with a good build. The AF system was pretty fast and accurate despite being accompanied by an annoying high pitch buzz when hunting in low light situations. Sharpness-wise, it has no problem keeping up with my Canon 24-105L.
Apart from the price, having f/2.8 was probably the main reason that I chose this one. If you’ve ever had to use a lens with variable aperture (f/3.5-5.6), then you know how important this is.
There are two versions of this lens — one with VC and one without. VC is Tamron’s version of IS, allowing you to combat camera shake and shoot handheld using lower shutter speeds. While some may argue that the non-VC version is slightly sharper, I find this feature extremely useful for photographers who rely on available light.
What I don’t like is that with 3rd party lenses, you have a higher chance of getting a “bad copy”. My first copy of this lens was somewhat inconsistent. I can take the same shot three times but one or two will be out of focus. Your copy might also front- or back-focus a tiny bit. However, Tamron offers a lengthy warranty and will help you calibrate or replace your lens if needed.
The 17-50mm f/2.8 has visible barrel distortion from 17mm up until 24mm or so. In certain shots, I’ve been able to spot chromatic aberration near the wider end of the focal range. However, just know that these issues can easily be corrected with software.
If you were on a budget and can afford only one lens, this one should be it. While there are a few drawbacks, the constant f/2.8 aperture as well as highly useful focal range makes it the ideal general-purpose lens.
Things I Liked
- Good build
- It has VC
- Razor sharp
- Useful focal range
- Constant f/2.8 aperture
Things I Didn’t Like
- Sample variation
- Visible distortion and CA at the wider end
- Buzzing noise when hunting in low light
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM
The Canon 70-200mm f/4L is the youngest brother of the four 70-200mm zooms, as well as the cheapest entry to Canon’s L-series lenses. It is priced lower due to having only f/4 and no image stabilization.
Even with its shortcomings — being an L lens — it has the strongest IQ of all the lenses in this article. If you primarily shoot in bright daylight and only care about picture quality, this is the lens for you.
I’ve owned this lens for many years and I can say that it’s responsible for some of my best shots. Even wide open, it easily goes toe-to-toe with some of the sharpest primes in the Canon lineup. At 200mm, the bokeh quality is extremely beautiful like you’d never expect from a zoom lens.
The colors and contrast are very good, with very little editing required after each shoot. The build quality is excellent; this brick can easily handle the occasional ding without much of an issue. The autofocus is silent and fast, on every single camera that I’ve used it on. Due to its internal zooming mechanism, there’s no movement on the outside when focusing or zooming.
When considering this lens, there are a few drawbacks that you should be aware of. As you would expect, the f/4, no IS, and longer focal lengths mean limited handhold-ability in any situation other than broad daylight without greatly increasing the ISO. The 70-200L is also long, white, and heavy — you may or may not like that.
Additionally, my copy of this lens had a tendency to back-focus at 200mm and f/4 (it’s perfect at f/5.6). However, sending it in to Canon for calibration was quick and painless. Moreover, this issue is easily fixable with the Canon 70D’s AFMA feature.
If you enjoy shooting sports or candid portraits — situations where you have to photograph from afar — this lens belongs on your camera. Despite shortcomings — the superior build, performance, and image quality makes it worth every penny.
Things I Liked
- Sharpest zoom lens that I’ve ever used
- Best contrast and color reproduction
- Beautiful swirly bokeh on the longer end
- Smooth and quiet internal zoom
- Accurate and instantaneous autofocus
Things I Didn’t Like
- Limited handhold-ability due to f/4 and lack of IS
- Big and heavy
- My copy slightly back-focused at 200mm and f/4 (easily fixable)
How to Pick the Right Lens
It’s a tough choice, I know. The matter of fact is that there is no perfect lens out there; each one comes with limitations that you will have to work around. However, after shooting for a while you’ll gain a much better understanding of your style and the kind of equipment that could make your life easier.
For starters, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Are you planning to upgrade to a full frame camera at any point in time?
If so, prioritize lenses that are useable by both types of cameras. Also, without the 1.6x crop factor, will the new focal range still make sense to you? For me personally, I loved the Canon 70-200mm f/4L on my T2i, but upgrading to the 5DMarkII really made it shine.
2. What types of photography are you into the most?
If you mainly shoot landscapes, the 50mm prime and telephoto zoom probably won’t be as useful to you as the ultra wide-angle. In my case, I strictly shoot outdoor posed portraits so my ideal setup would consist of the 35L, 85L, and 135L — all super fast primes with wicked bokeh.
3. What kind of lighting situations do you most often encounter?
If you typically use available light (or will often be in low light), a fast prime or zoom that has IS would make the most sense. Without IS, the 70-200mm f/4L limits you to shooting only during bright daylight. If you plan to use artificial lighting, then that limitation won’t apply since flash often freezes motion.
4. What matters more to you, image quality or versatility?
Apart from a few amazing zooms, most people will agree that a lens optimized for one focal length should have superior IQ to one that is optimized for many. But with a prime lens, you are forced to zoom by foot, and changing lenses means losing precious time. For wedding photographers, every second counts. If you shoot portraits, probably not so much.
To tie it all together, I’m going to pick lens one out of this list and tell you why. For me, the best lens for Canon 70D on a budget is the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM. Since I use flash for 90% of my portraits, I don’t find the f/4 and lack of IS limiting in any way. In addition — the sharpness, contrast, color reproduction, and AF performance is the best that I’ve ever seen. As you may have guessed, this is one of the few zoom lenses that can go toe-to-toe with the most expensive prime lenses in the Canon lineup.