The best lens for Canon 6D


Canon 6D: shoot with sharp and affordable bokeh

The best lens for a Canon 6D after 25 comprehensive lens tests with a Canon full-frame camera

Maybe you chose the Canon 6D due to the higher dynamic range of this camera in comparison with Canon camera’s fitted with an APS-C sensor, such as the Canon 7D MK2 or the Canon 70D. Or because of the better signal-to-noise ratio or the higher sharpness. It is nearly certain that you were surprised by relatively low weight and the compact dimensions for a camera with such a large sensor. And most probably, you were charmed by the idea of shooting pictures was a beautiful bokeh on an affordable camera with a full-format sensor.
But with the acquisition of a good camera, you’re not done yet. Then you need to get an equally good lens, with an attractive price-to-quality ratio, which was almost certainly an important consideration in choosing the Canon 6D. There is an art to choosing a lens for the lowest price possible that still offers high image quality. And if you’re not careful, your account will be drained by the purchase of a set of beautiful lenses for a full-frame camera. We will soon be putting that into practice with the best lens for a Canon 5D MK3, 5Ds or 5DsR, where the emphasis lies on the highest possible image quality, there we are going to give recommendations without consideration of the price of a lens. But in this article, we are going to assume that you chose a Canon 6D due to the attractive price-to-quality ratio of this full-frame camera. We have adjusted our lens recommendations accordingly. We have chosen almost entirely for lenses with a shop price below a thousand euros, with an outlier on the low side of just a bit over 200 euros.

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f/4 FF = f/2.8 APS-C In order to achieve the same focal depth as with the Canon 6D at f/4, you need a more expensive f/2.8 lens on a camera with an APS-C sensor (Canon 70D, Canon 7D MK2).

Best Lenses for Canon 6D:
Affordable lenses for a full-frame sensor

Universal kit lensundecidedThe Sigma 24-105mm Art is at the top of our list, but until we have reviewed the Canon 24-105 mm STM, we are withholding judgment. 
Low lightSigma 50 mm f/1.4 DG HSM ArtBright, razor-sharp standard lens with beautiful bokeh and extremely little flare.Test
MacroCanon EF 100 mm f/2.8L Macro IS USMBy choosing this macro as a portrait lens as well, you have 2 lenses for the price of 1.Test
Wide angleSigma 24 mm 1.4 ArtWe already did the tests of this one; the review will appear soon.Test
FisheyeCanon EF 8-15 mm f/4L USM FisheyeFor those who love spectacular shots.Test
PortraitCanon EF 100 mm f/2.8L Macro IS USMBy choosing a macro as a portrait lens, you have 2 lenses for the price of 1.Test
Telephoto lensCanon EF 70-300 mm f/4-5.6L IS USMMore than 1,000 euros, but a good full-format telephoto lens costs that much.Test
Standard lensCanon EF 40 mm f/2.8 STMSmall, sharp and sharply priced. There is visible vignetting, and it might be a strange combo ergonomically, such a small lens on a big SLR.Test
BokehSigma 50 mm f/1.4 DG HSM ArtBeats out the Canon 50 mm f/1.2L in our test. Not only with bokeh.Test

The best 6D kitlens: Canon 24-105 mm L, Canon 24-105 mm STM or Sigma 24-105 mm?

The Canon 6D, together with the Canon 24-105 mm STM lens, can be bought as a kit for less than 2,000 euros. The zoom range of this lens runs from wide angle, through documentary and standard to portrait lens. A 24-105 mm zoom is thus an ideal lens type as a first (and only) lens to start with when you make the switch to your first Canon with a full-format sensor. If you’re certain that next to the standard zoom (24-70 of 24-105mm) you also want to have a telephoto zoom (70-200mm), then consider a more compact and often also slightly better 24-70 zoom lens instead of the 24-105 mm kit lens. And if you’re seeking the highest possible quality for an affordable price, then consider starting with a fixed focal length. In particular for cameras with a full-format sensor, most lenses with a fixed focal length deliver a higher image quality than zoom lenses.
The Canon 6D body costs around 1,600 euros, and the Canon EF 24-105 mm f3.5-5.6 IS STM, around 450 euros. If you do not yet have a camera body, then Canon makes it a bit more attractive (50 euros on the 2,000) to buy the camera including a kit lens. We have not yet reviewed the STM version, but we have reviewed the more expensive, professional L version (Canon EF 24-105 mm 1:4L IS USM). The finish level of the L version is of a bit higher level than that of the STM version. The L version is thus for example extra-well sealed against dust and splashwater. Last year, Sigma, in order to make the choice a bit more difficult, released a Sigma 24-105 mm Art zoom lens, which can compete with the professional Canon L version in terms of finish quality, but that beats out the Canon 24-105mm L where image quality is concerned. Macrophotography with a Canon 6D: our choice is simple.

Macro photography with a Canon 6D: our choice is simple

In this category, the choice is a simple one for us. The Canon EF 100 mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM is the only macro that we have reviewed on a Canon with a full-format sensor, and both the build and the image quality are good. It may be that we can say something next year about the build and image quality of less expensive alternatives like the Sigma 105 mm f/2.8 or the Tamron 90mm macro.
The Canon EF 100 mm f/2.8L IS USM makes up part of Canon’s prestigious L-series and offers Image Stabilizer equipped with corner and shift detection, which is effective at short focal distances. The robust construction is fitted with dust- and moisture-resistant seals for protection against bad weather conditions.

Wide angle lenses

We have (in alphabetical order) reviewed the following wide-angle lenses on Canon cameras with a full-format sensor:

  • Canon EF 16-35 mm f/2.8L II USM
  • Canon EF 16-35 mm f/4L IS USM
  • Canon 24 mm f/1.4L
  • Canon EF 24-105 mm f/4L IS USM
  • Sigma 24 mm f/1.4L
  • Sigma 24-105 mm F4 DG OS HSM Art
  • Tamron SP AF 28-75 mm/2.8 XR Di
  • Tokina 16-28 mm f/2.8 AT-X PRO FX SD
A very nice wide-angle from this list, which we previously recommended to every Canon 6D owner, is the Sigma 24 mm f/1.4 Art, for which the review will appear soon on our site. The practice test in which we compare the Sigma 24 mm 1.4 Art with the Canon 24 mm f/1.4 LII has already been published.

Fisheye lens: Canon 8-15 mm or Tokina 10-17 mm?

If you are thinking about a Fisheye lens for Canon, then you’re thinking about the Canon 8-15 mm. The build quality of the Canon 8-15 mm is flawless, and you make beautiful, characteristic fisheye shots with it. This lens, however, is not inexpensive, and at the shortest focal distances with the Canon 6D, you have to deal with black corners. The same applies—to a greater degree—for the much less expensive Tokina 10-17 mm, which is sold for use on cameras with an APS-C sensor. I know photographers who don’t worry about a black edge, but prefer the unique fisheye character and therefore choose this attractively priced Tokina as a fisheye on a full-format camera.
Most Canon 6D owners will initially focus their attention on less specialized lenses. When you’re ready for a fisheye, I would certainly try out this Tokina 10-17 mm at a specialty camera shop. If you find it disturbing to crop the black edges, then you can without hesitation save up for the Canon 8-15 mm Fisheye.

Portrait lenses

A good portrait lens is bright (f/2.8 or lower) and has a focal distance between 85 mm and 135 mm. Honestly, I think we still have a vacancy here because we have not reviewed any real portrait lenses on a Canon camera with a full-format sensor. But by using the (not without reason) popular Canon 100 mm f/2.8 as both a macro lens and portrait lens, the purchase price of around 800 euros is a bit easier to swallow.
The Canon EF 100 mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM is a macro lens with high image quality, that is also good to use as a portrait lens. If you balk at the price of this macro lens and you are not yet planning to make macro shots, then you can always opt for a Tamron SP AF 28-75 mm/2.8 XR Di, for which the price is nearly 50% lower.

Telephoto lenses for Canon 6D


The Canon 70-200 mm f/2.8 IS L II is a lens with perfect image quality, but it also comes with a price tag far above the range (up to about 1,000 euros) in which we select the best lenses for the Canon 6D. In addition, a focal distance of 200 mm is a bit short for many people on a camera with a full-format sensor. With the best telephoto lens (with a focal distance of at least 300 mm) for the Canon 6D, we have a couple of perfect candidates as far as image quality is concerned.

  • Canon EF 70-300 mm f/4-5.6L IS USM
  • Sigma 150-600 mm f/5-6.3 DG HSM OS Sports
  • Sigma 120-300 mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Sports
  • Canon EF 200-400 mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4X

The Canon EF 70-300 mm f/4-5.6L IS USM seems to us to be a good choice for the Canon 6D, because the zoom range is greater and the price is remarkably lower than that of the 70-200 mm IS from Canon. There is also a less expensive version of the Canon 70-200 mm f/2.8, without built-in image stabilization. Don’t choose that one. If you’re going for the highest possible sharpness, then always choose—certainly for a telephoto lens—a version with built-in image stabilization. The extra investment will pay for itself for years in extra image quality.

In the Netherlands, 600mm is not an unnecessary luxury. A lion is bigger than a tomtit.

In Africa, you get surprisingly close to your subject with a car, so that a 200 mm or 300 mm focal distance on a Canon 6D is usually sufficient for a beautiful shot. If you want to photograph wildlife in the Netherlands with a Canon 6D, then even 300 mm on a camera with a full-format sensor is not sufficient. Without a hide, it’s not easy to get close enough to your subject (bird photography manual). Instead of using a teleconverter with the Canon 70-300 mm L, with loss of brightness, a small loss in image quality and the loss of AF as a result, we prefer the Sigma 150-600 mm Sports. The AF is fast and accurate, and the image quality of this super-telephoto zoom with an extremely large zoom range is surprisingly good, particularly in relation to its price, which is not much higher than that of the Canon EF 70-300 mm f/4-5.6L IS USM.

Lenses with a fixed focal length?


Experienced photographers enjoy working, due to creative considerations, with a fixed focal length. Because you cannot zoom in or out, a fixed focal length forces you to think more carefully about the composition of a photo. But on a camera with a large, full-format sensor, it is the lenses with a fixed focal length that set the tone when it comes to an affordable lens with flawless image quality. We have reviewed 8 lenses with a fixed focal length (and 17 zoom lenses) on a Canon camera with a full-format sensor:
  • Sigma 24 mm f/1.4 Art
  • Sigma 35 mm f/1.4 Art
  • Sigma 50 mm f/1.4 Art
  • Canon 24 mm f/1.4L
  • Canon 50 mm f/1.2L
  • Canon EF 40 mm f/2.8 STM
  • Canon EF 35 mm f/2 IS
  • Canon EF 100 mm f/2.8L Macro IS US

Several of these lenses are absolutely recommended when it comes to image quality. Most photographers choose a bright 50 mm as their first standard lens with a fixed focal length. In that case, you cannot beat the Sigma 50 mm f/1.4 Art, which is better (but also more expensive) than the older f/1.8 and f/1.4 lenses from Canon. The Sigma 50 mm f/1.4 is also exceptionally good when it comes to low-light performance and the quality of the bokeh. Hopefully, Canon will shortly release a new version of the Nifty Fifty (50 mm f/1.8).  

Low Light: Concert photography, night photography

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Concert photography and night photography make heavy demands of a lens, in particular when it comes to brightness, sharpness at full aperture and the prevention of internal reflections. Because a photo often includes much darker parts and some bright light sources, ghosts and reduced contrast as a result of internal reflections are more noticeable in concert shots or night photos. The Sigma 50 mm f/1.4 Art scores very well on this point. This lens offers very good image quality starting at full aperture, which is an extra plus point when you photograph in low light. The build quality of this lens is fantastic. And as far as the bokeh is concerned…

Beautiful  bokeh with the Canon 6D?

Bokeh is not only dependent on sensor size and aperture. Naturally, a small focal depth helps with isolating a subject from the background. But rounded aperture blades (preferably as much as possible) and the quality of the applied (achromatic) lens elements are also important for the quality of the bokeh. The Canon 70-200 mm f/2.8 IS L II delivers a fantastically beautiful bokeh at 200mm f/2.8, but it lies outside our budget. 

The Sigma 50mm 1.4 Art surprised us with its beautiful bokeh in direct comparison with shots made with the brighter Canon 50 mm f/1.2L. The Sigma lens also shines with a surprisingly higher sharpness at full aperture and less longitudinal chromatic aberration/color bokeh.

Which lens is high on your list?

We only recommend lenses that we have reviewed ourselves, and we think that the number of lenses that we have reviewed on a camera with a full-format sensor is still modest, even though it has taken us many months to review those 25 lenses. In particular the zoom lenses, for which, independently of the zoom range, we also publish individual test results for the focal distances of 24, 28, 35, 50, 85, 135, 200, 300 and 400 mm (useful for a fair comparison of the image quality of a zoom lens with that of a fixed focal length!), take up a lot of time.
There are, of course, many more lenses for sale. And there are certainly also a few jewels among them. We have focused our attention since the start of CamerasStuffReview more on lenses for the Canon 700D, Canon 70D, and Canon 7D MK2 than on lenses for cameras with a full-frame sensor. This choice is informed by the simple fact that there are many more photographers with a camera with a smaller APS-C sensor, so that we are of service to more readers by reviewing APS-C lenses. The steady growth of compact system cameras means that we have to even further divide our testing attention. If there is a lens that you absolutely want to read a review of this year (we make no promises, since we are already up to our ears in the cameras and lenses that we are testing for you right now), send us an email with a lens test suggestion.


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