Congrats on getting your first DSLR or upgrading to a great professional-level camera body! The Canon Rebel T6i is a versatile shooter that will produce great photos and videos…providing you match it with the right equipment. Since you probably landed on this article intentionally, you are likely in one of three categories: considering the purchase of a Canon T6i, already ordered one and now furiously researching your incoming new toy, or are currently in possession of one.
In this article, I will outline a small range of lenses that will get you started in creating great photos and videos both. The article is written with the idea that dear reader is a novice when it comes to DSLR shooting and lens selection, but –since the Canon T6i is not usually an impulse purchase– you know the basics of photography.
A selection of three lenses is an effective way to cover the widest range of focal lengths while still maintaining quality photos. The wider a single lens goes, the more lens elements (pieces of glass) the lens needs, which means more layers between your shot and your camera’s sensor, and higher potential for distortion and lens aberrations.
Since the Canon T6i uses the Canon EF lens mount and an APS-C size sensor, we will look at three lenses compatible with this mount and sensor size. Let’s have a look:
The “Nifty Fifty” Fixed 50mm
A mainstay of the photography world, the fixed-zoom 50mm lens is both a useful learning tool and a great lens for portraits and closer range photography, and no camera bag should be without one. Being a fixed lens, there are fewer lens elements between your subject and and the sensor, resulting in consistently clear images. Yet another reason to add a 50mm to your arsenal is that a high quality unit can be had on the cheap (at least relatively in the world of lenses).
Also lucky for us, Canon recently upgraded their EF 50mm f/1.8 lens with an STM stepping motor which improves the speed, smoothness, and quietness of autofocus, a great addition for more seamless video. And a wide open aperture of 1.8 provides wonderful depth of field to really emphasize your subject.
If you want to step up to much higher quality glass and even more depth of field goodness, you can jump to either Canon’s drool-worthy L series f/1.2 50mm for $1,399 or the Zeiss ZE Planar 50mm at f/1.4 for $625.
The Zoom Lens
Next on the list is a lens that you will really be able to run and gun with, covering a fairly wide range for both close in shots and a bit more telephoto while still maintaining print-worthy image quality.
A 18-135mm lens fits the bill nicely. For this, we dig the new Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens for its range of features and approachable price. If the lens’ name looks like alphabet soup, we’ll go through it step-by step: “EF-S” is the name of the lens mount system (the actual connection between the body and lens) with the -S indicating that the lens is to be used with APS-C sized sensors, “f/3.5-5.6” indicates the aperture of the lens ranges from 3.5 (wider opening) to 5.6 (smaller opening) stops, “IS” is short for ‘image stabilization’ and indicates that the lens is equipped with tech that improves handling even when the camera is subject to movement, and finally, “STM” stands for “Smooth Transition for Motion” and is an improved stepper motor that makes focusing smoother and quieter than previous motors.
With a range of 18mm to 135mm, you’re given the ability to zoom in fairly close for more long-range photos, or dial out to 18mm to get a nice wide view. The Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens is available for $549, and with a near-perfect 4.8/5 star rating, it’s well worth the price.
For a higher quality zoom lens, check out the Canon EF 24-105mm L series lens with a fixed aperture of f/4. A fixed aperture is a premium feature, and it means that the aperture doesn’t need to shrink at higher focal lengths in order to keep focus, so you can retain a nice depth of field even when fully zoomed in. Get it from Amazon for $999.
There will come a day when you won’t be able to stand next to your subject and still get the shot you want. This is where a telephoto lens comes into play. A good focal length to aim for in a starter telephoto should be between 250 and 300mm. At this length, you can stand a field away from someone and still be able to take a photo of their face.
There are plenty of great options for lenses that hit this criteria and the prices range anywhere from under $200 to tens of thousands. For the more budget-conscious, Canon’s EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 USM lens can be had for $199. For much higher quality glass and even more zoom, have a look at Canon’s EF 100-400mm L series version II lens. With the highest quality glass Canon offers, an aperture range of f/4.4 to 5.6, image stabilization, and Ultrasonic Focus Motor for fast, smooth focusing, you’ll be able to take tack sharp photos from a football field. Version 1 of this lens is a favorite with nature and sports photographers alike, and version II fixex all the niggling issues of its predecessor.
There are plenty of other fixed length, long-range, tilt shift, ultra-wide angle, and other specialty lens to fill every niche photographic need, but as with many things, the 80/20 rule also applies to lenses: these three lenses will cover 80% or more of your everyday shooting.