Gear

Best 5 Canon Lenses for the Canon 5D Mark II on a Budget

The allure of a full frame DSLR has always been there for me. Not saying that cropped sensor DSLRs are no good or inferior in any way but the fact that you are using all of your EF lenses as well as getting the same focal lengths as when shooting film, it just seems more ”complete”. Of course, shooting full frame means that a lot of the so called digital lenses which are designed for APS-C sized sensors won’t work anymore and in fact, can’t be mounted at all. This means that a lot of high performance budget lenses is not longer an option. So do you have to splash out on the best lenses to match a full frame body? Well no but then I wouldn’t advise on buying cheap lenses without consideration for image quality. In a Lens vs Body argument, I would always say that the lens is the more important element in the system. That’s why the selection is based on choosing the most useful set of lens covering the general range of shooting in the most cost effective way possible.

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

The first and only L lens offered as a kit lens is the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM. If you don’t already have this lens or the 5D Mark II, then getting it with the lens kit is definitely the way to go. The 24-105 offers a great focal range for general shooting especially with the image stabilisation feature as well. The 24mm width makes for great landscape or group portraits, while the 105mm reach is sufficient for some close-up shots. Image quality is very good as you would expect from a Canon L lens and I won’t be surprised to see this as the most used lens of the entire selection.

2. Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

The Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM is quite a step up from the f/1.8 version in price but the built quality is also much improved. You also get USM for more responsive focusing which I find is most important especially if you like to shoot candid shots at parties like I do (Rafa: I feel like I am getting evil stares from my friends for saying this). Furthermore, I find that the extra weight of the f/1.4 helps balance the 5D Mark II body much better. Considering that I also choose a 50mm prime for cropped sensor cameras, the reason I didn’t go with an 85mm option in this case (for portrait shots) is mainly to do with a trade-off of price and performance. The EF 85 mm f/1.8 USM is budget friendly but I felt that a faster lens than an f/1.8 was necessary in the collection so hence the choice. Mind you, if price was not considered and I could get one more lens, I would probably go for the EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM rather than the EF 50mm f/1.2L USM and keep the f/1.4.

3. Canon EF 17-40mm f/4.0L USM

This is my favourite landscape lens on the full frame body. Sure, I won’t argue that it’s better than the EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM but considering that you don’t need large apertures for landscapes shots, you can get some amazing results on this at around half the price. There isn’t much I could say about this other than that as I pretty much just look upon it as a great value for money workhorse lens. There are third-party lens options around but we are just looking at Canon lenses in this selection.

4. Canon EF 70-200mm f/4.0L IS USM

The Canon EF 70-200mm f/4.0L IS USM is a Canon great lens which balances budget with performance. The f/2.8L IS II version may be what everyone prefers (I know I do) but once you consider the price, it’s really a tossup between choosing the f/2.8 non-IS or the f/4 IS. I went with the IS so that handheld shooting can be deliver better results. If you do a lot of indoor low-light and shoot with a tripod though, then spend a trifle more and get the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM instead.

5. Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM

The Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM completes my lens selection for the Canon 5D Mark II. Even with my personal preference for a prime portrait lens, I picked this against the EF 85mm f/1.8 USM which would have a good choice for portraits. The reason was that I could use the standard zoom as well as the 100mm macro for portrait shots. The advantage of a dedicated macro lens made it a better option to keep in the bag. It’s a lot cheaper than the L version of the lens but still delivers very good quality results.

If you have a Canon EOS 5D Mark II and want to let us know your favourite lens, please do so in the comments section below.