In order to get the best lenses for the Canon 80D, we looked at everything Canon has to offer and selected the very best choices based on image quality, price and usefulness.
When it comes to image quality, your camera is important, but it’s the lenses (and your skills) that make the difference between an average shot and a professional-like shot regardless of what it is you’re photographing.
It’s a combination of everything; sharpness, colors, contrast, depth of field and focal length. You’ve already got the Canon 80D, an amazing semi-professional DSLR, now it’s time to invest into building a lens system (even if just one).
The lenses we’ve selected are not only super affordable, but are just as good for professionals and complete amateurs.
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Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM
The Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM is the best-selling lens from Canon, which already says a lot. It’s affordable, compact and delivers high quality images.
It’s amazing for low light photography because the maximum f/1.8 gathers a ton of light, meaning you’ll be able to shoot at night without getting so many blurred images.
Another reason why f/1.8 is so good is because it allows you to completely blur the background, making your subject stand out (called shallow depth of field). It’s the easiest and quickest way to make your shots look professional.
Auto focus is quick, silent and accurate thanks to STM (Stepping Motor), which is also a plus for videographers because you won’t have any noise from auto focusing in your videos. Combine that with Dual Pixel AF technology on the Canon 80D and you’ve got an excellent setup!
Who is this lens good for? Everyone. The 50mm focal length is truly good for almost all types of photography, from food, portrait, street, product, low light, animal, to sports and travel photography.
Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM
The Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM is a “pancake” like lens because of its looks. It’s light, super short and simple to carry around (you’ll forget you have it with you).
While it looks like a lot of it is missing, that’s not the case with its performance. Great colors, sharpness and quality, and fast auto focus. It’s a lot of wider than the 50mm above and comes with a slightly smaller aperture (f/2.8), but that’s still considered big.
Who is this lens for? It’s great for landscape shooters, club/indoor photographers and street/travel photographers.
Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM
How to describe the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM? Beautiful colors, razor sharp images, superb quality, creamy bokeh and most importantly, affordable! For less than $400 (at Amazon) you get one of the sharpest prime lenses Canon has ever made.
Featuring an Ultra Sonic Motor, it’ll quickly focus on your subject even in darker conditions. With f/1.8 and 85mm focal length, you can’t even imagine what kind of amazing photographs you’ll be able to take!
Where this lens truly shines at is portrait, wedding and concert photography.
Often shoot in low light? At f/1.8 you’ll be able to get crisp shots without having to raise your ISO speed to extreme sensitivities, although the Canon 80D is good at handling those speeds.
Who is this lens for? Portrait, concert, street, animal and even sport photographers. If you’ve never used anything but your kit lens, you’ll be blown away by what the 85mm f/1.8 can do. Hands down my favorite prime lens for price/performance, I’ve been using it for years and love it.
Best Zoom Lenses for Canon 80D
Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM
Released in 2014, the Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM is an amazing choice for anyone looking to do landscape, architecture or real estate photography.
Replacing the older and much more expensive 10-22mm version, the 10-18mm comes with Image Stabilization up to 4 stops, an STM motor for silent and accurate auto focus (this applies to videos as well) and the same high image quality.
The Image Stabilization is perfect for those who plan on shooting at night or generally without a tripod, as you can shoot with speeds you otherwise couldn’t.
Who is this lens for? At such wide angles, you see the whole world differently, which is why I think every photographer should own a wideangle lens! It’s great for landscape, traveling, architecture, real estate, clubs/indoor and group shots.
Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS STM
Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS STM is your best choice for the 80D if you want to photograph wildlife, sports or things that are quite far away without breaking the bank.
If you own the 18-55mm kit lens or are also planning on buying the 50mm prime above, this telephoto lens continues right where they both stop, so you’re covered on all ends!
First of all, it’s not heavy (13.2oz/375g) like the majority of telephoto lenses, meaning you won’t be tired after shooting with it for hours. It obviously doesn’t come with the best build design but then again, it feels solid and well-built.
Then there’s the Image Stabilization system which helps you up to 3.5 stops, but this works only for subjects that are still.
It’s sharp from 55 to 250mm and also comes with STM like the rest of the lenses we covered.
Who is this lens for? Anyone who feels their current lens just doesn’t get them close enough. Length wise, it’s great for races, outdoor sports (indoors you’ll have to increase your ISO speed), pets and wild animals, but 250mm might still be a bit short for serious bird photography.
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM
The Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM is the most affordable 70-200mm telephoto zoom from Canon (out of 4 versions, ranging from $600 to $2,000). This one comes without Image Stabilization, meaning you’ll have to bump up the ISO speed when photographing in low light situations. On the bright side, that makes it the lightest lens of those 4.
For any outdoor situation, it will be perfect. It’s one of the sharpest Canon’s zoom lenses, even when used at f/4, let alone when stopped down. Ring USM results in very fast and accurate auto focusing, and it also features Full Time Manual focus.
If you need Image Stabilization, check out the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM here. It offers just as good image quality and good build quality, but is heavier and costs a little bit over $1,000.
Who is this lens for? Sports, portraits, anything outdoor, animals (200mm is too short for serious wildlife), landscape, traveling (although not as light as many other lenses). It’s also good for indoor action, but only with ISO above 1,600/3,200.
A couple of years ago, large apertures were only possible on prime lenses, but Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM changed that in 2013. You’re looking at an optically superb, wide-to-standard large aperture lens that could save you a lot of money and weight (1 zoom with f/1.8 instead of 3 primes with f/1.8).
Not familiar with Sigma’s terms? The lens features HSM (Hyper Sonic Motor), which means the lens is very quick and accurate at focusing. You can also expect beautiful background blur thanks to 9 diaphragm blades, especially when wide open.
Besides amazing quality in still photography, the lens is perfect for videos as well, thanks to its smooth focus and zoom rings. There’s absolutely no focusing issues for stills or videos on the Canon 80D, it behaves like the rest of Canon’s lenses.
It weighs 1.79 pounds (810 grams) and is quite long, meaning your neck will probably get tired after a couple of hours of shooting. If you want ‘pancake’ like lenses (24mm f/2.8 STM) and something super light, the Sigma 18-35mm is not for you. However, in a way, it’s like 3 x f/1.8 lenses in one so it’s just something you have to live with.
Who is this lens for? Anyone who shoots around the 18-35mm range but wants to stick with 1, high quality lens that offers f/1.8. That includes street, night, sky, club and indoor photography, but it’s just as good for traveling if you’re okay with carrying it for such long periods.
5 More Recommended Lenses for Canon 80D
Looking for some more lenses, or perhaps already own a few that we recommend? Here are our top picks if you’re willing to spend a bit more to get even better image quality.
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM – An excellent walk-around lens that covers the lengths most of us use on a daily basis. With excellent image quality, a large f/2.8 aperture and USM focusing, you’re ready to shoot in any situation.
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM – For weddings, sports, animals, portraits, it’s the perfect choice. It’s sharper than many prime lenses, features an f/2.8 aperture and is blazingly fast at auto focusing. Perfect companion for the Canon 80D.
Sigma 150-600mm f/4.5-6.3 USM – If you’re into wildlife/action photography and want something that reaches 600mm without emptying your wallet, check out the Sigma monster zoom.
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM – Perfect for product and animal photography.
Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC HSM – Razor sharp and simply one of the best lenses out there from any company.
Canon Lens Terms Explained
EF – A lens with EF mount will fit on all Canon DSLR cameras.
EF-S – This mount is designed for cameras that use an APS-C sized sensor, just like the 80D and all entry-level models. They’re often lighter and have a wider focal length to make them useful for landscape photographers (because of the 1.6x crop). They can not be mounted on full frame Canon cameras.
USM – Ultra Sonic Motor, super fast and silent way of focusing, found in Canon’s more expensive lenses.
STM – Stepping Motor, first introduced in an EF lens in 2014. While it’s also quick at focusing, its main advantage is for video because it doesn’t make any sounds while auto focusing. If you’re into video recording and often use the sound recorded from you camera’s microphone, an STM lens won’t mess with your audio. For detailed information about EF technology, check out this article.
IS – Stands for Image Stabilization, a helpful feature when shooting static objects with slow shutter speeds. For example, taking a picture indoors at 1/30 is most likely going to be blurry, especially if you’re not totally still. Having IS enabled on your lens can help you up to 4 stops with most lenses, meaning the same picture taken indoors would look much sharper.
L – Canon’s L lenses are the best you can get (L stands for Luxury). Best optics, super fast focus, improved build design and better for difficult weather conditions (rain, dirt etc.).
Macro – Simply states that the lens has a 1:1 magnification (the size of an object in real life equals the size of it on a photograph). Ideal for taking pictures of smaller objects, but also good for portraits and casual photography.
Now you know that absolutely all Canon EF and EF-S lenses will fit and focus on your Canon 80D. If you’re interested in only prime lenses, make sure to read our list of best prime lenses for Canon 80D.
If you’re going to record videos and use the original audio, chances are a regular lens with USM is going to pick up the focusing noise. This is why Canon’s new STM (Stepping Motor) technology is awesome, as their lenses are quiet and there’s no focusing noise being picked up by the microphone.
More and more STM lenses are going to be released over the next few years, and the most popular ones for now are the Canon EF-S 18-135mm, Canon EF-S 10-18mm and Canon EF-S 55-250mm. The new kit 18-55mm included in the 80D bundle is also a great choice for starting out.
You shouldn’t worry about focus noise if you’re going to use an external microphone or music over your videos.