Canon EOS 300D and EOS 10D Lenses

by Bob Atkins

The first question a lot of new EOS 300D (and EOS 10D) owners will ask is "what lenses should I buy?". If this is their first digital SLR, perhaps even their first SLR or digital camera, this is a reasonable question. Those with previous experience with the Canon EOS system will probably already have a bag of lens, or at least enough experience to know what they want!

Canon EF lenses for the EOS 300D and EOS 10D

Canon give you a LOT of choices!

This review is for the new users. The assumption is that they don't want to spend $7000 on an EF 600/4L IS USM, and indeed they probably don't even want to spend $1150 on an EF 300/4L IS USM. I've chosen a series of lenses which the new user might be most interested in. These are mostly zooms and mostly priced in the $200-$400 range. I've avoided recommending most of the low end, plastic mount, inexpensive lenses normally sold with Rebel series bodies because, quite frankly, they aren't all that good. If you're spending $900-$1500 on a digital SLR it really doesn't make sense to buy the cheapest lens you can find for it when spending another $100-$200 can give you significantly better performance. I'm also assuming that most EOS 300D owners probably won't be interested in prime (non-zoom) lenses. All the Canon prime lenses are excellent and they can all be recommended if you have particular need for a fast lens of a particular focal length. I have included the 50/1.8 though since it's so cheap and so useful, it's almost a crime not to own one!

Focal Length Equivalent Focal length on 35mm full-frame Aperture Range USM* Filter Size Estimated Price Lens Mount Distance Scale
17-40 [27-64] 4 Yes 77mm (or rear gel) $800 Metal Yes
18-55 [29-88] 3.5-5.6 No 58mm $100 - with 300D Plastic No
20-35 [32-56] 3.5-4.5 Yes 77mm $370 Metal Yes
24-85 [38-136] 3.5-4.5 Yes 67mm $310 Metal Yes
28-105 [45-168] 3.5-4.5 Yes 58mm $220 Metal Yes
28-135 [45-216] 3.5-5.6 Yes 72mm $400 Metal Yes
55-200 [88-320] 4.5-5.6 Yes - micro USM (no FTM) 52mm Plastic No
75-300 [120-480] 4-5.6 Choice (no FTM) 58mm $140-$390 Metal No
100-300 [160-480] 4.5-5.6 Yes 58mm $270 Metal Yes
50 [80] 1.8 No 52mm $70 Plastic No
70-200 [112-320] 4 Yes 67mm $550 Metal Yes

*USM = Ultrasonic Motor. Ring USM motors are silent and manual focus (FTM = Full Time Manual) is possible without switching out of autofocus. Micro USM motors are quiet, but do not allow full time manual focus.

Both the 300D and the 10D have sensors smaller than the normal 35mm film frame. The consequence of this is that the image formed is effectively a cropped version of a 35mm image. Since it's cropped it has a smaller angle of coverage - and another way to say this is that the effect is equivalent to putting a longer lens on the full frame camera. So, for example, if you shoot with a 50mm lens on an EOS 300D or EOS 10D, you get the same coverage (or FOV - Field of View) as you would with a lens 1.6x longer - 80mm - on a full frame 35mm camera. This is sometimes called a "1.6x" multiplication factor, though it's more accurately called a "1.6x" cropping factor.

In the table above the first column lists the actual focal length and the second column lists the focal length you would need to use on a full frame 35mm camera to get the same angle of view. As you can see, a 300mm lens "becomes" a 480mm lens on an EOS 300D or EOS 10D - which is great if you want a telephoto lens! At the other end of the range though the effect may be less desirable. Your super wide-angle 20mm lens now has the coverage of only a 32mm lens on a full frame 35mm camera and 18mm becomes the equivalent of a 29mm lens on 35mm full frame.

EF 17-40/4L

Though it's a pretty expensive lens at $800 and probably not likely to be high on the list for new Canon EOS 300D owners, many EOS 10D owners are buying this lens. It does give you true wide angle coverage (equal to a 27mm lens on a full frame 35mm camera) and being an "L" series lens it's built to professional standards with high quality optics, a silent USM ring motor, distance scale and comes with a hood. It's certainly a recommended lens if you can afford it.

EF-S 18-55/3.5-5.6 USM

Canon have addressed the wide-angle problem with their 18-55mm lens specifically designed for the EOS 300D (it will NOT fit on an EOS 10D or any other EOS camera). This lens gives the coverage of a 29-88mm lens on a 35mm camera - very similar to the popular 28-90mm lenses often sold in camera "kits". The only drawback of this lens is that it's one of Canon's low end, very inexpensive lenses. Typically they do not perform as well as Canon's mid-range lenses. They usually show lower contrast, especially wide open and lower sharpness, especially at the edges of the image. However, for $100 you get a lens with coverage it might cost you $700-$1000 to get with Canon's better lenses so I think it is a lens well worth considering. You have to buy it as part of the EOS 300D kit - it is not sold separately - so you have to decide whether or not you want it when you order the camera. For $100 I'd say it's probably worth getting. It's not expensive, it will give you a wide-angle lens, and if you eventually decide you want a better lens (like a $700 17-40/4L), I'm sure there will be a market for used 18-55 zooms since those who didn't get one with the EOS 300D might change their minds and wish they had!

EF 20-35/3.5-4.5 USM

This is the least expensive of Canon's higher quality wide-angle lenses. Performance is good, even wide open and it has a ring USM motor giving silent operation and full time manual focus (i.e. you don't have to switch from AF to manual focus). It's well built with a metal lens mount, distance scale and IR focusing marks. It also works very well on Canon EOS 35mm film bodies. The cost is higher than the 18-55 and the zoom range is smaller, so you have to decide whether it's worth spending more. A lot depends on what other lenses you buy since you don't want too much overlap in focal length.

EF 24-85/3.5-4.5

Another higher quality lens with ring USM and full time manual focus. It matches pretty well in focal length with either a 75-300, 100-300 or 70-200mm lens without to much overlap or too much of a gap, so it's a good choice for the semi-wide to semi-telephoto lens of a higher quality lens pair. The only drawback is, of course, it's not very wide on an EOS 300D or EOS 10D, 24mm being the equivalent of a 38mm on a 35mm full frame camera.

EF 28-105/3.5-4.5 USM

This is a workhorse 35mm lens, highly recommended as a relatively low cost, high quality alternative to Canon's cheap "low end" lenses. Much better built, ring USM motor with full time manual focus, distance scales, IR focus marks and a metal mount. It takes 58mm filters. The only reservation is that 28mm isn't all that wide on an EOS 300D or EOS 10D since it gives the same field of view as a 45mm lens on a full frame 35mm camera. If that's not a problem for you this lens is maybe the best $220 you can spend.

EF 28-135/3.5-5.6 IS USM

One of my personal favorite lenses. It has IS (Image Stabilization) which is a scheme which allows you to hand hold this lens at shutter speeds 2 to 3 stops slower than you could without IS and still get sharp images. If you don't like carrying a tripod this is invaluable. It's also a very sharp lens, one of Canon's best mid-range zooms if not the best.. Again the 28mm wide end equates to 45mm in full frame 35mm terms, but the lens also goes out to 135mm - which is 216mm in full frame terms and that's a respectable telephoto.

EF 50/1.8 II

It's under $70, it's small, it's light, it's sharp and it's 2-3 stops faster than any of the zooms. What more can I say. Buy one. You won't regret it.

EF 55-200/3.5-5.6 II

Another of Canon's low end lenses. Originally designed to be sold with APS film cameras and then discontinued since APS never took off, it's now back in a "mark II" version for use with the EOS 300D digital version of the "Rebel". Plastic lens mount, no distance scales, no ring USM or full time manual focus (though it's a USM lens, it's a different type of USM). It does match the 18-55 in focal length (and probably in quality) but it's a lens I'd have a hard time recommending on any basis except for price.

EF 75-300/4-5.6

There are three of these, a non-USM version, a USM version and a USM version with IS (Image stabilization). Though the lens has a metal lens mount, it has no distance scale and the USM motor isn't a ring type so it isn't silent and you don't get full time manual focus. The USM version is probably marginally quieter and marginally faster focusing then the non-USM version. Optically all three lenses are very similar. The two non-IS lenses have identical optics but the IS lens has additional lenses as part of the IS mechanism. All three lenses are very sharp at the short end but start to become a little soft at the long end. They're still not bad - but not as good as a 300/4L lens. The IS version is one of my favorite lenses. You can shoot hand held at 300mm at speeds down to 1/125, maybe 1/90 and still get images which are sharp. At 300mm you have an "effective" 480mm lens compared to the view with a 35mm full frame camera which is very useful for sports and wildlife.

EF 100-300/4.5-5.6 USM

This is an "upscale" version of the 75-300. It adds a ring USM motor for fast focus, silent operation and full time manual focus, plus a distance scale and a front element which does not rotate during focusing (making the use of a polarizer a little easier. You do lose 25mm on the short end though. Optically it performs on about the same level as the 75-300 lenses. Sharp at the short end but starting to get a little soft at the long end. IS is not available on this lens. It's more expensive then the non-IS versions of the 75-300, but cheaper than the 75-300 USM IS.

EF 70-200/4L USM

This is one of Canon's professional quality "L" series lenses. For the extra cost you get better construction, better optical performance, a case and hood included in the price. It of course has a ring USM motor with full time manual focus. It can also take an accessory tripod ring and it will accept both the 1.4x and 2x Canon TCs (teleconverters or multipliers). With the EOS 300D and EOS 10D, full autofocus is maintained with the 1.4x TC, giving you a 98-280/5.6 autofocus zoom (157-448 equivalent). The 2x TC gives you a 140-400/8 zoom (224-640 equivalent), but you have to focus manually. It's a great lens and the price - around $550 - is quite low for an "L" series lens. You can't beat this one for quality, so if the price is within your budget it's highly recommended.

My Lens Recommendations for the EOS 300D and EOS 10D

There are dozens of possible lens combinations and the one that's best for you depends on your particular needs and how much you want to spend. Here are three suggestions, but they are by no means the only good combinations.

I'd say that the best low cost solution would be the 18-55 coupled with a 50/1.8 and a 75-300. This gives you one wide-angle zoom, one telephoto zoom and one fast lens ideal for portrait work. I wouldn't worry too much about the gap between 55mm and 75mm.

The best single lens solution is probably the 28-135 IS. It doesn't go very wide (45mm equivalent), but it does go quite long (216mm equivalent) and it has image stabilization so you can hand hold the system in conditions where you'd need a tripod to get sharp shots with a non-IS lens. It's a very sharp lens too! Of course I'd throw in a 50/1.8 for really low light work and portrait work where you want blurred backgrounds. Add the 18-55 if you need wide-angle. I know this is 3 lenses, but what's two more cheap lenses between friends!

The best higher end solution might be the 24-85/3.5-4.5 coupled with the 70-200/4L. Both are high quality lenses, both take 67mm filters and they don't overlap in range too much. Again, add the 50/1.8 for the reasons described above. You don't get a really wide-angle lens, but for $100 you can add the 18-55 for use in the 18-24 range (29-38mm equivalent).

But I really want a WIDE lens

Don't we all, but you can't have one! There's a Sigma 15-30mm lens which is pretty good by all accounts. It costs around $550 and is the equivalent of a 24-48mm lens on a 35mm full frame camera. Still not really wide and pretty expensive. It's possible at some point someone (probably Sigma) may make a 12-24mm lens with coverage of the EOS 300D and EOS 10D sensor. This would be equivalent to a 19-38mm zoom on a 35mm full frame camera. Nikon have such a lens, but of course it only fits Nikon cameras. Both Canon ($1800) and Sigma ($800) make 14mm lenses (22.4mm equivalent on full frame 35mm), but their price makes them fairly unattractive!

What about 3rd party lenses

Sigma, Tamron, Tokina and several other manufacturers make autofocus lenses for Canon EOS cameras, so why not use one of them? Well, the main reason is that in general the Canon lenses are of higher quality and are more compatible. If there's a problem and you have a Canon lens and a Canon body, then there's no doubt that it's Canon who will fix the problem. If you have a Sigma lens on a Canon body, who has responsibility for them working togther? There are also a lot of examples (especially with Sigma lenses) of older lenses not working on newer EOS bodies. Often the lens maker can "rechip" the lens and make it work, but can you depend on that?

Of course 3rd party lenses are often cheaper and some lenses made by 3rd party manufacturers just aren't made by Canon (e.g. Sigma's 15-30 zoom and 50-500 zoom), so if you want one of those lenses, you don't have a lot of choice but to go 3rd party. Many people are quite happy with 3rd party lenses and equally happy to have saved some money by buying them. So I'd recommend sticking with Canon if Canon make the lens you want at a price you can afford. If they don't, then 3rd party lenses are always an option.

Where to buy

Deal with reputable stores. There are LOTS of less than reputable photo stores out there, most of them based in the NYC area. They advertise low prices, but make up the difference by inflating shipping costs and various other tricks that you don't want to learn about first hand. The stores which support (Ritz Camera, Adorama, B&H Photo) are all reputable, all have fair prices, low shipping costs and responsive customer service. In addition, if you place web orders with these stores via the links we have below, receives support from your purchase and that enables us to bring you more articles like this one, as well as the forums and galleries on this site.

?Copyright 2003 Robert M. Atkins All rights reserved