Ever since DSLRs have had video capability as a part of their feature list the world of videography has never been the same. Previously video recording equipment that could produce high-quality video was only owned by people truly dedicated to videography. But these days, things are different.
Everyone with a DSLR (that is reasonably modern) will have experimented with its video recording capabilities. Most people will have been impressed. As more and more people experience the world of DSLR videography, the demand for video-friendly lenses increases year on year.
There is a wide range of features that are incredibly important for shooting video (we discuss them in detail at the end of this article). This makes some lenses that are good for photography unsuitable for videography.
Cannon have been pioneers in the DSLR videography arena (as usual) and have produced several of the world best DSLR lenses for video. Today we are going to take a look at what we think are 5 of the best canon lenses for video usage and tell you why we think they are worthy of your consideration.
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The Absolute Best Lenses For Digital Cameras – Canon 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM Lens
It was quite hard to pick the winner of this article. Canon really does make a huge number of excellent lenses. But in our opinion their 10-18mm STM is one of the best canon lenses for video. It is jam packed full of features and will be right at home in any videographers lens kit.
The main thing we like about this camera is just how darn quiet its autofocus motor is. Canon has developed a technology they call a “stepper motor”, and it’s almost silent. We are unsure how they work this black magic, but honestly, we don’t care. It works, and it works well. You could probably hear it in total silence, but with any tiny amount of background noise, it’s not going to be audible at all.
This makes this lens an excellent choice for people who are likely to be shooting a lot of video in quiet and controlled environments (think interviews). But it’s just as capable of shooting in louder more chaotic environments too.
We also love just how darn wide this lens is. Wide angle shots are some of the most dramatic and creative recordings that videographers can take. The super wide angle of this lens (combined with its respectable zoom) ensures that no subject will be too large or far to be captured.
Optical Image Stabilizer
Like most good lenses for video, this product has excellent optical image stabilization technology inside it. This means you will be able to be out and about with this lens without needing a tripod (and it means you can shoot in low light conditions too). We will be honest, there are better image stabilization technologies out there (Canon make some of them). But this is more than up to the job and gets a thumbs up from us.
Flaws But Not Deal Breakers
Honestly, we would have liked this lens to have been a little bit faster. It performs reasonably well in low light conditions thanks to the image stabilization technology, but it does leave a little to be desired. If you are planning on doing a lot of night shots you either need a really good stance or a tripod.
Can You Use Filters With This Lens?
Yes absolutely. As you may (or may not) know, filters are the bread and butter of good videography. This lens can hold 77mm filters, and we highly recommend you invest in some high-quality ones to match the quality of the lens.
The Second Best Of Our Canon Video Lenses – Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens
There is a wide range of excellent canon video lenses on the market, so it was really quite hard to determine the second and third place entries on this list. But in our opinion, the 18-135mm STM lens is worthy of the second spot. It’s a great lens that is lacking a few special features – but it produces excellent quality video time and time again.
What we really like about this lens is the super fast autofocus, it’s probably one of the best on the market in this price bracket. You will have absolutely no focus hunting, and transition times between subjects is quick and seamless. This makes it great for those shots where you have lots of fast paced dynamic action (like on the street).
The lens motor itself is pretty darn quiet, but it’s not silent. Canon decided not to include their silent motor system on this lens for some reason. We are not sure why, but it is slightly missed as it does limit the potential applications of the lens.
This lens has inbuilt image stabilization technology. As you will find out towards the end of this article, this is a big plus point. It makes handheld recording produce much higher quality videos. The image stabilization works well in all lighting conditions but means you can take better shots without blur in low light.
Flaws But Not Deal Breakers
There really isn’t much we don’t like about this lens. If we were being picky we would probably mention that the image stabilization does not work unless you are shooting video. If you are a pure videographer and photography is not something you are planning on doing often, then this is a nonissue for you. But if you are planning to be a dual user who uses the lens for both photos and videos – you may want to bear this in mind.
Is There Much Chromatic Aberration With This Lens?
This is one of the best products Canon produces in terms of chromatic aberration reduction. It’s all down to Canons atmospheric lens technology which produces images that are clear, sharp, and free from aberration.
The Third Best Canon Lens For Video – Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM
If you are looking for a general workhorse lens, then this is one you should consider. It’s one of the best all round canon lenses for video and is adaptable to many different situations. Despite being a good multi-purpose lens, its constant aperture and other special features make it specifically good for interview situations in controlled settings.
The main thing we like on this lens is the image stabilization technology. As you may (or may not) already know, image stabilization technology is not all made the same. This is one of the better ones. If you have a reasonably good stance you will be able to use this camera at full zoom without a tripod, and there will be no wobble whatsoever.
Bokeh is one of the latest trends that has taken the photography and videography worlds by storm. The beautiful blur of an out of focus background against the crisply focused subject produces an effect that is easy to love. One of the issues with many cameras that claim to be good for Bokeh is that their aperture blades make a hexagonal shape when they are closed. This means any points of out of focus light in the background will have the same hexagonal shape. Personally, we think this looks great, but variety is the spice of life and Canon have done something extra special with this lens. It has a circular aperture.
What this means is that when the button is pressed and the aperture closes, the blades come together to make a circle (instead of a hexagon). With this, the out of focus points of light in the creamy Bokeh will be circular in nature. It’s an incredible effect that you don’t know you need until you try it.
The stepper motor on some of the other lenses on this page is very quiet, but Canon does have an even quieter motor that they include on their larger lenses. They call it their USM or an ultrasonic motor, and it is literally silent to the human ear. Interestingly it does make noise that will be noticed by your editing software, but humans will never hear it. It’s too high pitched.
This ingenious motor is exactly the kind of innovation the photography and videography world has come to expect from Canon. We really hope other manufacturers find a way to recreate this technology because it is absolutely awesome.
Flaws But Not Deal Breakers
It’s hard to really fault this lens, it is fast, full of features, and has a great zoom. If we were being super picky we would mention that it’s a very heavy lens weighing in at 22.8 ounces (and its reasonably long too at 4.4 inches). There is not much cannon could do about this, to be honest, if they wanted to save space they would have had to remove features (and we certainly don’t want them to do that). So we didn’t deduct any points for this.
Does This Lens Have The Dust Problem That Other Canon Lenses Has?
Some older Canon lenses have reportedly been a little bit sensitive to dust. One way or another dust particulate managed to find its way to the front element. This dust was visible (on the lens) to the naked eye. As this issue only affects the front element, generally the dust is not visible on any shots you take (apart from the most extreme cases). But people were still worried.
Canon solved the dust issue quickly after it was pointed out to them, and this lens does not suffer from it at all. You could probably use this lens in a sandstorm and the internals would be as good as new (but don’t test that theory).
The Fourth Best Of Our Canon Video Camera Lenses – Canon EF 135mm f/2 L USM
We have mainly been focusing on Canon video camera lenses that are suited to interview and street videography so far on this list. So we thought we should probably include something that more suited to landscape and nature shots instead. The 135mm USM lens is a great telephoto lens that will allow you to get up close and personal with your subjects (without being noticed and disturbing the scene).
Like the lens above, this product also has the super silent ultrasonic motor inside it. This makes it perfectly suited to interview situations and shooting in controlled environments.
But what we mainly like about this lens is the speed.
It’s a super fast lens with its f/2 rating. It’s not very often you will come across fast telephoto lenses that are designed to be used with a DSLR (that also have silent motors and image stabilization built in). It fills a much-needed gap in the market and is an excellent product.
This is one of the best telephoto lenses for videography on the market. Its high magnification makes it incredibly versatile in a wide range of shooting situations. It is used by amateur and professional videographers alike to shoot distance limited subjects (like sports or nature shots).
Flaws But Not Deal Breakers
The only issue we have with this lens is that it has no adjustable zoom – the magnification is set. This means you cannot focus on anything that is closer than 3 feet in front of you, so you need to be sure that your subject is going to be far away. While this does limit some creative possibilities, we don’t feel like it’s a big issue. Because if you have this lens on your camera, you are probably already pretty confident your subject is going to be reasonably far away.
Is The Bokeh Potential Good On This Lens?
This is one of those lenses that will give you Bokeh to die for. It produces copious amounts of creamy blur that many other lenses could only dream of producing. It does not have the circular aperture like some of Canons other lenses, which does mean your Bokeh will have a hexagonal nature to it. But this is not a big issue, especially when you see just how delightful the Bokeh effect is.
The Best Cheap Canon Lens For Video – Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens
We like to provide a little something for everyone on this website. Some of the other lenses on this page are awesome, but they are also reasonably expensive. If you are on a budget, don’t worry, we’ve got your back.
The Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM lens is an excellent, super fast prime lens that will allow you to take shots in all kinds of lighting conditions. If you are looking for a prime lens that’s affordable, this is a product you should strongly consider.
Like the first lens on this list we reviewed, the 50mm has Canons stepper motor technology built into it. This makes focusing nearly silent and avoids any distracting focus noise from running your video.
Aside from the fast auto focus, we highly rate this lens mainly because of its excellent low light capabilities. Its f/1.8 speed is the fastest on this list (and one of the fastest in the world) and as such you are going to be able to take some excellent low light shots.
Great For Interviews
The 50mm focal length of this lens combined with the super quiet motor makes it one of the best options for shooting interviews on this list. You will be able to capture a very “human” likeness feel to a shot, and you can utilize some dramatic zoom techniques to really get the creative juices flowing.
Flaws But Not Deal Breakers
The main issue we have with this lens is the fact that it doesn’t have image stabilization built into it. This does limit the amount of potential applications that the lens can be used in and somewhat reduces creativity. Luckily this is a reasonably fast lens with its f/3.5 speed and as such, there is not much blurring in low light conditions. But you will probably need to use a tripod to get the best results here.
Does This Lens Come With A Lens Hood?
Cannon are a little inconsistent with including lens hoods with their products. Some are lucky enough to have them, and others are not. Unfortunately, this is one of the products that does not have a lens hood included (but they can be purchased separately).
In general, the qualities that make a lens good for photography will make it good for video too. There is not much difference in most respects between the two mediums in terms of the actual specifications that make a lens good.
However this being said, there is a wide range of special features on lenses that are very useful for shooting video that would not be needed for photography. Admittedly some are more beneficial than others. The best lenses for videography often combine several of these features to make shooting video a breeze.
In this section, we are going to take a look at some of these special features to give you an idea of what to look out for when shopping around for the best lens for shooting video.
Image stabilization is a reasonably new feature to be included on lenses but has already changed the way people think about recording video with their cameras. It’s much more difficult to control handshake and wobble over an extended period of time while shooting video compared to a split second for a photograph.
Before image stabilization was a thing, you really needed to carry a tripod around with you. This is particularly true when shooting with a zoom lens. The wobble and shake are amplified by the zoom making many handheld shots simply unusable. You may be able to get away with this issue if you have some professional grade image stabilization software on your computer – but it’s no substitute for having it on the lens too.
Try your best to find a lens that has inbuilt image stabilization. It’s going to be a feature that is worth its weight in gold to you over the years. In our opinion, it’s the most important “special feature” for any videography lens.
Auto Focus Speed
As you can easily imagine, shooting video is a much more dynamic process than taking a picture. During a shot, there are going to be several objects, which often times are going to be moving around. Having a lens that cannot switch focus accurately can totally ruin an entire shot. Focus hunting is the bane of the DLSR videographer, and while it can occasionally be used to creative effect – 99 times out of 100 it’s going to be annoying, to say the least.
The ability to pick out targets to focus on is only half the battle with auto focus. Ideally, you also need to find a lens that can focus quickly too. It’s not as important as ensuring you don’t get focus hunting, but it’s a pretty darn close second. If your lens takes an age to switch focus onto a new subject it severely limits the potential applications of the lens. Just think about all the shots you have taken (or have seen) that have more than one subject in them. If your lens cannot switch focus quickly – then you are going to miss them.
Auto Focus Noise
So if you have found a lens that can focus quickly and can focus accurately then you are on the right path. But there is also one other thing you need to be aware of when it comes to autofocus – the noise.
This is something that will be a little alien to photographers. Mainly because noise is obviously not captured on a photograph, and as such is of no real concern. (The only exception to this is possibly situations where you need to be ultra discreet with your shots). However, with video, the noise of the autofocus motor in a lens is picked up easily.
You will instantly be able to recognize the sound in your head as you read this. It’s an annoyance that totally detracts from the video and audio when it is present, and immediately takes a viewer out of the scene.
How important this depends largely on what kind of videos you are intending to shoot. If you are mainly going to be doing interviews in quiet rooms it could be a problem. But if you are mainly going to be shooting in noisy environments (like concerts or on the street) it will be less of an issue as the noise gets drowned out.
Whatever the ambient noise level of your intended shooting area, there is no situation where a noisy lens is better than a quiet one. Do your best to find the quietest lens possible, (but don’t do it at the expense of image stabilization or high-quality auto focusing).
So there you have it, the top 5 best Canon lenses for video usage.
The Canon lens and Canon camera combination is something that many photographers and videographers cannot imagine living without. Canon is almost like Apple with the dedication many of their devoted followers give them – and for good reason too. Canon makes some of the best camera products in the world.
Every single one of the lenses on this list is an excellent choice and you will find a lens on this list suitable for almost any situation.
They are long lasting products that are suitable for both professional and amateur use. Some of them may be a little expensive, but they are well worth the investment – especially when you see the end results.
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