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Here you'll find a list of things that I use and love, plus some other widely recommended stuff, with descriptions and comments. I'm an amazon.com affiliate, so I've set it up as an online shop (and I get a small percentage every time somebody buys something following my links). I hope you find it useful.








Lenses for Canon

zoom - Canon primes - Samyang manual primes

Zoom lenses

CamerasAccessoriesStuff for video
Lenses for CanonLenses for NikonLenses for others
Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 (non-VC)
A general-purpose zoom for APS-C, with a reasonable price and great quality: constant aperture, moderately fast, and very sharp (see tests here); the best I know for this kind of money.
Being off-brand, it can have bigger deviations in autofocus, but this issue can be easily corrected if the camera has microadjustment (which it should if you're going to use AF).
The version with image stabilization (Tamron calls it VC) looses all the sharpness of the non-VC version. I wouldn't use it (that's why it is not on this list).


Canon 17-55 f/2.8 IS
A great general-purpose zoom for APS-C, sharp and with constant aperture, and also with image stabilization.
The only reason this lens is not on Canon's L range is that it can't work with full-frame sensors, only with APS-C. For example, compared with the 17-40 f/4L, this 17-55 is a lot sharper, a full stop faster, and covers more range.
If you can live without the image stabilization, I'd suggest the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 (non-VC) instead: they are pretty close in performance (the Tamron is a bit better around 35mm, the Canon is better around 50mm), but this one is much more expensive. Given that the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 VC is awful, go for this Canon if you need IS (and are ready to pay for it).


Tokina 11-16 f/2.8
A wide angle zoom for APS-C, very fast, sharp and cheap.
Compared with other lenses from this list, it can look expensive and soft (see tests here), but that is because on a wide angle lens everything is more difficult. Compared with other wide angle lenses, it is awesome. As a proof of that, it has the very bad habit of being out-of-stock most of the time on most stores.
For this focal length on APS-C, it doesn't get any better than this. The only competition would be the Samyang 14mm f/2.8, which is cheaper but only manual focus, doesn't get as wide, and has more distortion.
It works as a 16mm f/2.8 prime on full frame, but there's a posibility that it could hit the mirror, so investigate this issue yourself and use it there at your own risk.


Tamron 70-300 f/4-5.6
A long zoom for APS-C, slow and with very bad construction (all plastic, feels like a toy), but decent and very cheap.
It is only sharp in the 70-180mm range (see tests here). From 180mm onwards, it's not only soft: bokeh also gets pretty bad. I wouldn't use it beyond 180mm, but if you want a long zoom (e.g. 70-200) that's clearly sharper than this, you'd have to spend at least five times as much: below $1000, if you can live with f/4.5 (which is the maximum aperture at 180mm) and without image stabilization, this is the best option I know.
(on the fact that this seems useless beyond 180mm: as a general rule, nearly no zoom with a range of over 3x will be any good; that's why there's no 18-200 or similar in this list)


Canon primes


Canon 50mm f/1.8
A prime lens, with horrible construction (all plastic, feels like a toy), but rather fast, incredibly sharp (see tests here) and really cheap.
Very useful for taking pictures at night without flash of things that move (read: you may not need such a fast lens for buildings, but for everything else it's a must).
Apart from construction, its only drawback is that the bokeh is pretty bad (for a fast prime). If you want a similar lens with a better bokeh and construction, check the 50mm f/1.4 (decent construction, faster, and with good bokeh, but not any sharper).
On a full frame sensor (36x24mm) it has a normal focal distance (the field of view feels similar to human sight); on APS-C (which is what most people use) it is relatively long, more useful for portraits than as a general-purpose lens.
If you're wondering whether you'd appreciate the difference when moving from your current zoom lenses to prime lenses, this is a very good lens to start with.


Canon 50mm f/1.4
A prime lens, very sharp and fast, and with very good bokeh, at a reasonable price.
On a full frame sensor (36x24mm) it has a normal focal distance (the field of view feels similar to human sight); on APS-C (which is what most people use) it is relatively long, more useful for portraits than as a general-purpose lens.
Very useful for taking pictures at night without flash of things that move (read: you may not need such a fast lens for buildings, but for everything else it's a must).
If you're wondering whether you'd appreciate the difference when moving from your current zoom lenses to prime lenses, this is a very good lens to start with.


Canon 24mm f/2.8
A prime lens, sharp but not particularly fast, at a reasonable price.
On a full frame sensor (36x24mm) it is very wide angle. On APS-C, it is normal-to-wide-angle, great as a "walk around the city" lens.
Together with the 50mm f/1.4 and 85mm f/1.8, it is one of the best cheap Canon primes.
On my tests, I've seen that it's good, but actually not sharper than the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 non-VC. But the Canon 24mm works on full frame (the Tamron won't), and bokeh is a lot nicer (though this is not extremely important on such a wide angle lens).
The Samyang 24mm f/1.4 seems better, and has a similar price, but it is only manual focus.


Canon 85mm f/1.8
A great prime lens for portraits (both on full-frame and APS-C). Sharp, fast, and with a very reasonable price.
Bokeh (very, very important for a portrait lens) is nice, but could be better. In fact, The Samyang 85mm f/1.4 is cheaper and much better in this respect... but that one is only manual focus, so if you need AF this Canon lens is the best option.
(I actually haven't used it, but based on what I've read around, it's the next Canon prime I'll get my hands on, after the 50mm and 24mm)


Samyang manual primes


Samyang 8mm f/3.5 fisheye
A super-high quality fisheye lens with a very reasonable price.
This lens is truly awesome, better than alternatives costing five times as much. Check out the raving reviews here and here.
It is designed for APS-C sensors, but it will also work on full-frame sensors if you shave it (cutting the built-in shade; a risky operation for sure; some firms will do this for you).
For such a wide lens, it is not even that important that it doesn't have autofocus: the hyperfocal distance is really low, it is easy to always have everything in focus.
As it is a fully manual lens, I'd get the Nikon version and a dumb adapter to Canon: you never know what cameras you'll end up using in the future, so making your lens kit as future-proof as possible is a very good idea.
Like all Samyang lenses: no AF, and sold under many brands: Bower, Rokinon, Opteka, Polar, Falcon...


Samyang 14mm f/2.8
A moderately high quality rectilinear (not fisheye) ultra wide angle lens with a very reasonable price.
Not as good as other Samyang lenses (the great ones are 8mm, 35mm, 85mm), but better than anything else in its price range. Relatively sharp (except corners on full frame), with controlled chromatic aberration, but some barrel distorion on APS-C and mustache distortion on full frame.
The only better ultra wide angle lens for a reasonable price is the Tokina 11-16 f/2.8, an absolutely stellar lens that is just as sharp and has less distortion (1, 2); but that one won't work on full frame (well, it can work as a 16mm f/2.8 prime, but you have to be careful or it may hit the mirror; not a common occurrence, but beginners better keep out) and is not manual, so it is less future proof (read below).
But mind you: "less distortion" is not an absolute thing: the Tokina is better for shooting architecture, but the Samyang will actually show less distortion when shooting people, precisely because of its barrel distortion: check this thread.
For such a wide lens, it is not even that important that it doesn't have autofocus: the hyperfocal distance is low, and it is very easy to get your subject in focus.
As it is a fully manual lens, I'd get the Nikon version and a dumb adapter to Canon: you never know what cameras you'll end up using in the future, so making your lens kit as future-proof as possible is a very good idea.
Like all Samyang lenses: no AF, and sold under many brands: Bower, Rokinon, Opteka, Polar, Falcon...


Samyang 24mm f/1.4
A high quality fast wide angle prime lens with a very reasonable price.
But not as great as other samyang lenses: the 24 seems to be kind of a lottery, some units are great, others are not so sharp. Moderately wide field of view on APS-C, nearly ultra-wide on full frame.
As it is a fully manual lens, I'd get the Nikon version and a dumb adapter to Canon: you never know what cameras you'll end up using in the future, so making your lens kit as future-proof as possible is a very good idea.
Like all Samyang lenses: no AF, and sold under many brands: Bower, Rokinon, Opteka, Polar, Falcon...


Samyang 35mm f/1.4
A high quality fast prime lens with a very reasonable price.
Better image quality than any other similar lenses, comparable to options three times more expensive: sharper than the $1500 Canon 35mm f/1.4L and similar to the $1850 Zeiss 35mm f/1.4. Normal field of view on APS-C sensors, mildly wide-angle on full frame.
As it is a fully manual lens, I'd get the Nikon version and a dumb adapter to Canon: you never know what cameras you'll end up using in the future, so making your lens kit as future-proof as possible is a very good idea.
Like all Samyang lenses: no AF, and sold under many brands: Bower, Rokinon, Opteka, Polar, Falcon...


Samyang 85mm f/1.4
A very high quality fast prime lens with a very reasonable price. Great portrait lens, both on APS-C and full frame.
Its image quality is much, much closer to the way more expensive Canon 85mm f/1.2 or Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 than to the similarly priced Canon 85mm f/1.8; check these bokeh tests: Samyang - Zeiss - Canon 1.2 - Canon 1.8 - Nikon 1.4 - Nikon 1.4 - Nikon 1.8.
As it is a fully manual lens, I'd get the Nikon version and a dumb adapter to Canon: you never know what cameras you'll end up using in the future, so making your lens kit as future-proof as possible is a very good idea.
Like all Samyang lenses: no AF, and sold under many brands: Bower, Rokinon, Opteka, Polar, Falcon...


Fotodiox Nikon to Canon adapter
A dumb (no optics, no electronics) lens adapter for using Nikon mount manual lenses on a Canon camera (they have to be manual: the camera won't be able to control aperture or focus).
Fotodiox is widely regarded as one of the best brands for this kind of kit. I've also used Chinese cheap adapters, and my conclusion was that at least some of them are just as good as the non-pro Fotodiox; but others may not be as good, and the non-pro Fotodiox are not that expensive.
This is the standard version. The pro version is higher quality and provides a tighter fit.


Fotodiox pro Nikon to Canon adapter
A dumb (no optics, no electronics) lens adapter for using Nikon mount manual lenses on a Canon camera (they have to be manual, the camera won't be able to control aperture or focus).
Fotodiox is widely regarded as one of the best brands for this kind of kit. I've also used Chinese cheap adapters, and my conclusion was that at least some of them are just as good as the non-pro Fotodiox; but others may not be as good, and the non-pro Fotodiox are not that expensive.
This is the pro version, which is higher quality and provides a tighter fit.






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