6 Best Lenses For The Canon EOS Rebel SL3 (…and 2 to avoid)

The Canon EOS Rebel SL3 is one of the most compact and affordable Canon cameras you can buy, but it still packs in an excellent quality 24.1 megapixel sensor and a rich feature set, so choosing the right lens is essential to getting the best performance from the camera.

If you want to know my top pick right away, it’s the Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD. The combination of excellent image quality, a very versatile focal length for a crop sensor camera, and an affordable price tag make it the perfect choice if you want something better than the kit lens.

For more info on that lens and my full breakdown of the other options you may want to consider depending on what you’ll be shooting…keep reading.

Top Pick

1. Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD

This is an affordable but excellent quality option that gives you a lot of versatility in shooting.

I find the 35mm to be the perfect focal length for a crop sensor camera, it’s not too wide and not too long while still giving sharp prime performance and a wider maximum aperture.

On the crop sensor SL3, this lens will give you the same field of view as 56mm on a full frame cameras, which gives you the ability to shoot a variety of subjects. The only thing you would need a different lens for is very wide angle landscapes or subjects that require a long telephoto, such as sports or wildlife.

In terms of sharpness and image quality, this lens is a great balance of quality and affordability. It’s far better than the native Canon 35mm f/2 (which I don’t recommend) and it’s still in a pretty affordable price range.

It has image stabilization, is weather sealed, light weight, and has a fast and reliable autofocus motor.

If you want a bit of an upgrade in sharpness and don’t mind paying about double the price, then check out the Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM Art.

Budget Pick

2. Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM

This classic nifty fifty lens should be in every photographer’s bag because of its quality and affordability.

There’s a reason this is one of the most popular Canon camera lenses of all time. It gives you excellent image quality at a very affordable price.

In fact, when I started my portrait photography business, all I had was a crop sensor camera and a 50mm f/1.8. I was able to produce images that my clients loved and grew my business fast without having to invest in expensive gear right away.

On the crop sensor SL3, this lens will give you the field of view of 80mm on a full frame camera. That means you’ll be somewhat limited in your ability to shoot wider scenes, but you can always shoot multiple images of a wide scene and stitch them together.

Because 50mm is a relatively easy focal length for manufacturers to produce, the result is a lens that doesn’t need many elements to make and also allows manufacturers to make it quite sharp at low cost.

The wide f/1.8 maximum aperture means you can shoot shallow depth of field images like portraits. At f/1.8 you’ll see a bit of softness around the edges of the frame but this is relatively common, even with more expensive primes and it goes away when you stop down only a stop or two.

Lastly, the compact size and decent build quality rounds this lens out as the best value you can get for your dollar in the Canon lineup.

A better quality, wider aperture, but still pretty affordable upgrade here would be the Canon 50mm f/1.4 USM lens.

Most Versatile

3. Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC Art HSM

A solid all around performer for the SL3 that can serve as the only camera in your bag for years.

This is the answer to the question, “why shouldn’t I get the kit lens that comes with the camera.” Because excellent third party lenses like this exist that give you the same versatility as a zoom kit lens but at a much higher quality.

The Sigma 18-35mm 1.8 DC HSM is the first wide/standard zoom lens to have a max aperture of f/1.8.  It’s designed specifically as a “pro-leve” option for crop sensor cameras like the SL3.

On the SL3, the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 is equivalent to 28.8mm-56mm lens would produce on on a full frame camera.  This makes it ideal for a wide variety of photography including distant landscapes, casual snap shots, or even close-ups. 

The f/1.8 maximum aperture stays constant through the entire zoom range which is a big upgrade from the kit lenses with a variable aperture.

It also has a fast and accurate focusing motor that is good enough to shoot fast moving objects and works well with the fast phase detection AF of the SL3.

Overall, this is a lens that can replace a number of lenses and be the only one in your bag for years.

Best Wide Angle

4. Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM

A wide angle lens designed specifically for crop sensor cameras like the SL3.

When shooting with a crop sensor camera like the Canon SL3, it can be difficult to find a lens that is wide enough to give you that ultrawide landscape look. That’s where this Canon EF-S 10-18mm lens comes in.

It’s designed specifically for crop sensor cameras and can give you an ultrawide 10mm focal length (which is the equivalent of 16mm field of view on a full frame camera).

So if wide angle is important to you then this is the lens you need.

You do have to give up a few things that the lenses above have in order to get that wide angle, though. The variable aperture means that you’ll need higher ISOs for low light shots. But if you’re shooting landscapes, then you can use a tripod to slow down the shutter speed instead.

Another thing to keep in mind is that crop sensor specific lenses tend to be a little less durable than many full frame lenses. This lens has some plastic parts and isn’t as weather sealed as some others.

But you are going to save money with this lens as it comes in under $500.

If you want to spend a little more and improve the image quality and durability of the lens, then upgrade to the Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM instead.

Best Telephoto

5. Tamron 70-210mm f/4 VC

A telephoto lens with the reach to shoot sports and wildlife that won’t break the bank.

If you want to shoot subjects like sports or wildlife, then you need a lens with some reach and this is an excellent option for your SL3.

The Tamron 70-210mm f/2.8 is a lens specifically designed to replace the significantly more expensive 70-200 f/2.8 Canon lenses that have been a staple in the bags of sports and wildlife shooters for decades.

Before this lens came out, you had to choose between those very expensive lenses and the 70-300mm options that had poor sharpness and a variable max aperture.

While this lens doesn’t have the f/2.8 aperture of the pro models, f/4 is often enough to shoot fast moving action in a variety of lighting conditions.

You’ll get premium optical performance in a much lower priced and lighter weight package that is a breeze to carry with you on hikes or work with for an entire game. Plus you get an extra 10mm of reach.

For many shooters a lens like this 70-210mm f/4 lens will hit the sweet spot. Not too big, not too expensive, optically excellent, and feature rich.

Pro Pick

6. Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 G2

A pro level lens that can shoot a variety of situations in almost any light conditions.

I saved this one for last, but not because its the worst lens on this list. In fact, it may be the best in terms of image quality, build, and handling. But its overkill for most SL3 shooters.

The 24-70mm f/2.8 lens is another lens that you’ll see in the bags a many professional photographers. And the Tamron version gives you about 90-95% of the performance you’ll find in the Canon version, at a fraction of the cost.

So if you want a lens that can handle a variety of situations, has a wide max aperture, and exceptional sharpness and image quality, then this is a great option (if you want to spend the money for it).

Lenses To Avoid

Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/4-5.6

This is the standard “kit lens” that comes with the SL3. Skip it.

Yes, it’s inexpensive, but it doesn’t really give you much of anything other than being able to take photos at a decent focal length variety. It’s like the auto mode on your camera, good for snapshots, but easily outgrown when you start improving your skills.

The f/4-5.6 variable max aperture will start to seem limiting when you want to shoot portraits or any other shallow depth of field shot and the 18mm wide end is ok for shooting some landscapes, but is lacking in the sharpness that you want with a landscape photo.

Your money will be far better spent on a 35mm or 50mm prime lens than this kit lens.

Canon EF-S 55-250mm 4-5.6IS II

This is one of the popular “do everything” lenses that I see often bundled with crop sensor Canon DSLRs as well.

Like the one above, it has a nice focal length range but the lack of image quality or wide aperture options make it very limiting for anyone that wants to advance their skills in photography.

But if you just want something to take photos of your kid’s sports in bright daylight then this will be ok.

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