Rest of the Kit
Lens selection is a very personal topic and there are many, many good lenses to choose from. Take my recommendations here as a reference point only. You should take the time to visit a camera shop and try out as many lenses as possible to see what works for you.
Notice that some of these lenses are specifically designed for the APS-C sensor size. They will work perfectly on the T2i or 7D but will likely have vignetting issues when used on a full sensor camera like the 5D.
All of the lenses listed here are Canon. There are many other good lenses on the market and there are lots of sites that compare them to the Canon lenses. I trust these will work well with Canon DSLR’s for video.
|The Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM lens is a significant quality upgrade from the kit lens on the T3i. It’s also recommended as a good walk-around lens for the 7D.
Priced at USD$1,000, it may seem strange recommending a lens that cost more than the T2i camera body. But this is a lens you’ll use for a long time and it’s fast enough you can shoot video in moderately low light.
It may be less expensive than buying two or three prime lenses to cover the same range. Check the reviews on Amazon and try it for yourself – your camera will shoot much better looking video with this lens.
Pros: excellent zoom lens that covers the regular needs for video on the T3i or 7D.
|The Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM is what I use for a long zoom lens. On a T3i the 1.6x crop factor makes this lens into about 300mm on full zoom. The f/2.8 exposure stays through the full zoom range so you can change focal length without resetting exposure.
And the quality is superb. This is “L” glass, the top of the Canon line. Stills and video shot with this are stunningly better than with a kit lens. It’s a big, heavy lens with a sturdy tripod mount. You mount this lens on your tripod with the camera body handing off the back.
Canon has released an improved version of this lens – the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L II IS USM. With faster autofocus, better image stabilization and improved optical quality, it’s roughly twice the cost of the previous version.
Pros: highest quality zoom lens
|The Tokina 11-16/2.8 AT-X 116 PRO DX is the lens I reach for when I need a wide angle shot. It’s a constant aperture lens which means I can zoom to fit the image to the frame without resetting exposure. The guy at the camera store said it’s a standard for every wedding photographer because they can shoot the whole family so easily.
It may not seem like there’s much to zoom between 11mm and 16mm but it turns out to be very useful. Wide open at 11 the lens does show some “fish eye” distortion but it’s perfect for shooting in very tight small places. Zoom in to 16mm and it’s still a 25mm field of view on a T3i with no distortion.
AT f/2.8 it’s not as good in low light as the Sigma 50mm but it’s still much better than f/4 which is what most wide angle lenses run. Traditionally, the only people using extreme wide angle lenses were shooting landscapes so they had plenty of light from the sun. Shooting video with a wide angle lens is very common so this lens gets a lot of use in my kit.
Pros: great wide angle lens on a T3i at a reasonable price, enough zoom to help set the frame, contant aperture
|The Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM lens on a T3i or 7D will look like an 80mm lens. An 85mm lens is considered to be perfect for portrait work and this lens is perfect for interviews and shooting people in general. This is a full frame lens so on a Canon 5D it will be a great go-to lens for regular use.
At f/1.4 the low light capabilities of this lens are astounding. And, when I’m not pushing it to the limits, I can use normal light and work with the lens at a higher f-stop to make focus easier to manage. It makes very clear video and stills and I reach for it in my kit a lot. It’s perfect when I want to walk around with just one lens on a day out and about.
Pros: awesome low light quality, much lower cost than Canon alternatives