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If you're looking for some great ways to tack on some additional versatility to your camera, look no further than our collection of the best lenses for DSLR cameras. These lenses expand the possibility of what's possible for your camera, offering everything from wide-angle shots with the Sigma 10-20mm at Amazon, to intense optical zoom levels made possible with the Tamron Auto Focus 70-300mm at Amazon.
If you're just getting settled with photography as a hobbyist or an aspiring professional, make sure to read our guide to makings heads and tails of mirrorless cameras vs. DSLR cameras before diving into our picks for the best lenses for DSLR cameras.
Sigma is widely regarded as one of the top lens manufacturers in the industry and is actually the largest independent lens manufacturer in the world. They are trusted to produce sturdy, dependable lenses for a variety of cameras and shooting purposes, and this ultra-wide-angle lens is no different. With a focal range of just 10-20mm, you know it will deliver a huge depth of field, helping to capture entire buildings, large rooms, and other colossal subjects.
They are mostly intended for shooting architecture, subject-heavy landscapes, and interiors. It offers quick focusing, precision settings, a sturdy build, and bright and beautiful color reproduction. Versions of this lens can be attached to Canon, Nikon, Pentax, and Sony DSLR cameras.
If you’re a Nikon shooter in the market for a similarly versatile but affordable prime lens, check out the Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G. It’s got more or less the same specs and features as the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM at a slightly higher price point. It can be used for anything from portraits to action photography — you just have to have a Nikon DSLR camera (ideally an FX model).
It’s fast, compact and a solid option for beginners and intermediate DSLR photographers. Images come out sharp and detailed, even in low light, and the build itself is sturdy with few signs of breaking or aging. Keep in mind, though, that this lens has a minimum focus distance of about 1.48 ft, meaning you can’t get too close to your subjects. For that, you’ll need a macro lens.
For folks looking for an affordable, versatile Canon prime lens, your best bet is probably Canon’s EF 50mm f/1.8 STM. It’s compatible with full-frame and APS-C DSLR cameras and features a 50mm focal length with a maximum aperture of f/1.8. It’s got an effective focal length of 80 mm on APS-C cameras and 50mm on full-frame cameras.
It’s also got a stepping motor for smooth, silent autofocus for stills or video. All these specs make it an ideal tool for anything from portraits to nighttime photography, but, as we mentioned in the intro, it’s best if you already know what style of shooter you are. Lenses are very game-specific, and this prime lens from Canon is no different.
Macro zoom lenses are among the most versatile for DSLR cameras, with a wide range typically around 40-200mm. At 70-300mm, this Tamron lens is ideal for handheld shooting, particularly nature, wildlife, sports, and portraits. Like any macro lens, images will come back sharp and highly focused—almost too focused, if there is such a thing. Tiny, close-up images of insects and flowers are also possible, although, depending on the size of the subject, you may not be able to capture its entirety within focus.
More distant subjects, however, will be highly focused and richly detailed through the zoom range. In the normal setting, the lens has a minimum focus distance of 59 inches, but with the macro mode engaged that distance shrinks to 37.4 inches. This makes it a versatile lens for a variety of purposes. With versions available for most Nikon, Canon, Sony, Pentax and Konica Minolta DSLRs, this Tamron is a powerful option for avid photographers on a budget.
It may not have the brand recognition of Nikon or Canon, but if you're looking for great value — a DSLR lens with features, high build quality, and dependable performance — Tamron is a great option. What makes this all-purpose lens really shine is just how many features you get for the respectable low price. First, with a built-in motor, it’ll autofocus with your camera’s spec, which is especially important if you’re zoomed in really far and need to catch a fleeting moment.
The 70–300mm focus depth covers a pretty healthy range for an all-purpose lens. The max aperture for those levels is f/4.5–5.6 respectively, which is pretty middling. But if you do want to capture something with a shallower depth of field, flip it into macro mode to photograph things about three feet away with 180–300mm focal lengths. Finally, it’s built with LD glass, which offers a much tighter aperture and more focused image plane when compared to standard photo glass.
Wrap that all with a 6-year warranty, and this is a solid choice for your all-around lens.
This EF lens from Canon is honestly one of the best deals we’ve ever seen for a solid telephoto lens. It checks many of the boxes we look for in a lens: decently fast aperture peaking at f/4, a solid DC autofocus mode, a 5-meter minimum focus distance, and a super-far 300mm focal length. Of course, it’s built with a telephoto focusing mechanism, and the rest of the 13-element construction is crafted to the same standards as every Canon lens. That also means that the Canon EF 75-300mm will work seamlessly with your EF mount Canon camera body.
When it comes down to it, our favorite part of this lens is its affordability; ringing in under $100, you really won’t find another name brand telephoto option for a better price. It’s important to note that it is refurbished, so if you want something brand new, then you’ll need to look elsewhere. But, for our money, this is a great choice for the entry-to-mid-level photographer.
Nikon owners should look to the Tamron AF 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6 lens because it is one of the first Tamron lenses to come equipped with an Ultrasonic Silent Drive (USD), which enables hyper-fast focusing. That means this lens ideal for capturing action shots during races, sports or other fast-moving subjects. The Tamron also adds vibration compensation to assist photographers with steadier shots in a hand-held mode no matter the outside condition.
Integrating full-time manual focus is another highlight, which allows a photographer to make adjustments in the moment without the need for switches or menus. This manual inclusion from Tamron allows for highly impressive results even under circumstances where a photographer’s depth of field is limited. Boasting sharper contrast than other lenses in its class, the Tamron was designed to focus on excellent performance and deliver a nearly noiseless experience all while thriving on fast-moving action shots.
By all accounts, this lens is considered an “ultra”-wide-angle lens as its largest focal point jumps higher than most upper ends of the standard wide-angle range. Despite its steep price point, the Canon EF 17-40mm makes our top choice here because of the sheer quality you get. The aperture maxes out at a pretty decent f/4, which at these focal lengths is impressive. As it is a wide-angle lens, bokeh — the aesthetically pleasing blur you get with a narrow depth of field — might be a bit of a challenge, but that’s probably not why you're purchasing it to begin with.
Based on customer reviews, the manual focus action seems smooth, but the internal Ultrasonic Motor allows for an even smoother, faster, silent autofocus. It’s built with 12 elements including aspherical lens construction, which will ensure clean, rich optics, and at only 1.1 pounds it’s not an anchor, either. It isn’t going to run you the same quality as Canon's f/2.8 counterpart, but then again, it also won’t run you the even steeper price. Even at this level, you’ll still get the weather-resistant build, an Ultrasonic Motor, and plenty of quality for your money.
The best lens for your DSLR camera is more of a subjective decision than an objective one, but no matter what you need your camera to do for you, there's a lens for you. However, if you're in need of an excellent generalist lens, its tough to go wrong with the Nikkor 50mm. But if you need an excellent wide-angle or macro zoom lens, turn your attention to the Canon EF 17–40mm and Tamron Auto Focus 70-300mm respectively.
Compatibility - Like smartphones, DSLR cameras have very specific technologies that make it difficult to change between manufacturers. A Nikon lens, for instance, cannot be mounted on a Canon camera. Thus, the most important factor when buying a lens is its compatibility with your current camera.
Focal length - Focal length dictates whether a lens captures a wide or narrow-angle of view and thus the type of picture you can take. Wide-angle lenses, for example, have a focal length of 14-35mm and are ideal for shooting landscapes or working in tight spaces. Telephoto lenses, on the other hand, range between 70-200mm and are popular for wildlife, sporting events, and wedding ceremonies.
Price - Photography is an expensive hobby. Once you’ve bought your DSLR, you still have to buy a lens, a camera bag, and perhaps a tripod or editing software. Luckily, there are many reasonably priced lenses on the market for those on a tight budget. You may need to make some compromises on features, but you should be able to find a solid option around $100.