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The Most Popular and Favorite DSLR Lenses – According to Our Readers

my-favorite-lens.jpg10 days ago I asked readers to answer the question – What is your favorite Lens?

Today I spent a few hours collating the 233 responses to the question in the hope that it might turn out to be useful information for those in the market for a new lens.

Overwhelmingly the most popular brand of lenses mentioned were Canon and Nikon. Of the 302 lenses mentioned 52% were Canon, 24% were Nikon, 12% were Sigma and the rest were a mixture of Pentax, Olympus, Tamron, Tokina, Minolta and a couple of others.

As a result of the makeup of these results I’ve decided to give you some overall winners and then drill down a little further into three categories of Canon, Nikon and ‘Other’. I could have drilled down into the ‘other’ section more but there were just not enough lenses for each manufacturer.

  1. Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM Telephoto Zoom Lens (pictured right)
  2. Nikon 50mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor Lens
  3. Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Lens
  4. Canon EF 50mm f1.4 USM Standard & Medium Telephoto Lens
  5. Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM Standard Zoom Lens

I was quite surprised by the the first place winner because by no means is it a cheap lens but the result was extremely clear – 22 of the 302 lens mentions were for the 70-200mm f/2.8 IS lens. Of course following it up are the ‘nifty 50’ lenses which are always popular.

Of course the question of this reader survey was asking about favorite lenses – and the winner is a worthy one as it is fast, has image stabilization, has a great focal range for all kinds of applications and is superbly sharp.

Now lets drill down further and look at manufacturer specific lists.

You’ve already seen the top 4 – so let me give you the top 10. I’ve included a few comments on each which I’ve taken from the comments left in the previous post as well as my own experience as a Canon user with many of these in my bag.

  1. Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM Telephoto Zoom Lens – fast, great for portraits, weddings, sports, versatile focal length. Quite a heavy lens and not cheap.
  2. Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Lens – for its price perhaps the best value lens in terms of the quality of output.
  3. Canon EF 50mm f1.4 USM Standard & Medium Telephoto Lens – a step up from the f/1.8 in terms of build quality and results but more expensive.
  4. Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM Standard Zoom Lens (pictured right) – a great walk around lens. Faster than the 24-105 but no image stabilization.
  5. Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM Lens – often compared with the 24-70mm this lens is not as fast but has image stabilization and an extra 35mm reach. A worthy contender for a great walk around lens.
  6. Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM Telephoto Zoom Lens – not as fast as the 70-200mm f2.8 and without image stabilization but still a very sharp lens, a considerably cheaper option and lighter too. Note: between these two lenses is also a 70-200 f2.8 lens without image stabilization (this lens came in at #11).
  7. Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens – another alternative for a walk around lens if you take wide angle shots. A fast lens and loved by many.
  8. Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Telephoto Lens – a prime lens that gets great reviews. Also check out the f/1.2 version which is super fast but pricey.
  9. Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM Ultra Wide Angle Zoom Lens – I love this lens. It’s not as fast as some but has been great for landscapes.
  10. Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens – another of my personal favorites. If you want to take Macro shots this is well worth considering. Interestingly it also takes great portraits.

I’m going to keep this list to a top 8 rather than a 10 – simply because there were less Nikon lenses mentioned and a few less clear favorites. Please excuse my comments on each lens – I’m not a Nikon user and so have relied upon the comments of others more.

  1. Nikon 50mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor Lens – Nikons ‘nifty 50’ is a much loved lens and similar to the Canon version – for its price and quality it is a must have in your bag.
  2. Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 G ED-IF AF-S VR DX Lens – this lens makes a great option for everyday shooting with a fantastic focal range which gives both a reasonably wide angle and reach. The vibration reduction makes it particularly attractive and it is a reasonably affordable lens.
  3. Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR Zoom Nikkor Lens – this lens has had some great reviews and is renowned for being a high quality camera. Again it has vibration reduction, is relatively fast and is great for portraits, weddings, sports. It’s not cheap though.
  4. Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8D ED AF Zoom Nikkor Lens – lenses in this focal range featured heavily in both the Canon and Nikon lens and it is no wonder – its a really handy focal range. This one is quite a bit cheaper than the previous 70-200 but you lose Vibration reduction. Those mentioning it in our survey raved about it.
  5. Nikon 105mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor Lens – it is interesting that Macro lenses feature on both Nikon and Canon lists. This one however has vibration reduction making its fast aperture even more useful.
  6. Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S DX Nikkor Zoom Lens – another fast zoom lens with wide angles yet a little length – making it a good choice for every day use if you don’t need lots of reach. On Amazon this lens has 52 reviews and only 3 of them didn’t give it a perfect score of 5 stars (and two of those gave it 4 stars). I guess it isn’t just DPS readers who love this lens.
  7. Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G ED AF-S Nikkor Wide Angle Zoom Lens – another zoom with a 2.8 aperture and a reasonable focal range. Those recommending it say its sharp, fast focusing and a joy to use.
  8. Nikon 10.5mm f/2.8G ED AF DX Fisheye Nikkor Lens – rounding out the Nikon list is a fisheye lens which looks like being a lot of fun.

A few other lenses were mentioned multiple times and in while most of them (with the exception of one) were not as popular as the above lenses I thought I’d mention a few:

  1. Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM Lens (Nikon) (also for Canon) – this lens was actually mentioned quite a few times – so many that it only just missed the overall winners list! It looks like a fun wide angle lens to have in your camera bag.
  2. Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DG APO Macro Telephoto Zoom Lens for Canon – (also for Nikon) – this lens certainly has a wide focal range and is certainly on the more economical end of the spectrum of lenses in this category.
  3. Pentax SMCP-FA 50mm f/1.4 Lens – again the 50mm lenses pop up.
  4. Pentax-m 50mm 1:1.7″ (Asahi) – the Pentax nifty fifty.
  5. Olympus 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5 Zuiko ED Digital SLR Lens – The winning Olympus lens with 3 people recommending it.

By no means are any of the above lenses complete. There were many other lenses mentioned – but these were the ones which kept coming up again and again in the comments left on the previous post. I hope you find them interesting and useful as you think about your next lens purchase.

Read more from our Cameras & Equipment category

Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse

is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals.

He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

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