Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The best walkaround lenses for a crop-body camera

For this post, a Canon crop body will be my point of reference

Some factors to consider when buying a lens:

  • Maximum aperture (lowest f-stop)
  • Focal range
  • Image quality
  • Build quality

For a walkaround lens on a crop body, you will want the minimum focal range to be around 17mm. The range of any lens you attach to your camera will be magnified 1.6x. 17mm will be 27mm and so on. This is important because you will want some wide-angle options. On a full-frame, 17mm stays as is.

The list

17mm+ lenses


Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM

Has constant f/2.8 aperture and Sigma’s version of image stabilization (IS)

Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM

Has macro, but doesn’t have a constant f/2.8 aperture.


Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di II VC LD Aspherical IF SP AF

Has image stabilization but average build quality. f/2.8 aperture


Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM

This lens has the best build quality of all the lenses I’m listing since it’s in the L series. It’s the most durable and heavy of all the lenses in this list. It’s a bit slow at f/4 and doesn’t have IS, but if you ever decide to upgrade to a full-frame body in the future, this lens will give you great wide-angle shots. Your body can accept EF and EF-S lenses, but full frames can only take EF. This particular lens is an EF lens.

Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM

In the EF-S walkaround range, all lenses compete with this. It’s not an L lens, but has L lens elements and great image quality with a constant f/2.8 aperture. Build quality is not the greatest though.


Canon EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM

People seem to like this lens because of its overall quality, but it’s not very fast if you take a look at its aperture.

Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS

This is Canon’s best superzoom lens. Has an amazing range, but sacrifices speed and image quality. This is a lazy traveler’s lens.

Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM

L lens with great everything, but its range is more suited for full-frame bodies. Also not the fastest at f/4