What is an EF-S Lens?

EF-S Lens
If you are a Canon user, you need to know what the EF-S and EF lenses are. There is a huge difference in technology and price when you are comparing the two. The EF-S lens line was introduced in 2003 with Canon’s reasoning being that the EF-S line was to provide a cheaper version of a quality lens for intermediate photographers and hobbyists. The EF-S lens line sits deeper into the camera body when attached in place, lending the “S” to mean short back focus. This feature especially gives hobbyists an advantage in wide angle photographs with an EF-S lens.

Of course, there are a lot of benefits to the EF-S lens line. They are an amazing option when you are first discovering the vast world of DSLR cameras and digital photography. They are cheaper! Three cheers for cheap photography gear! And they are widely compatible with any EF-S lens mount. You’ll know you have an EF-S compatible DSLR if the lens mount has a red dot and a white square.

600px-Canon_EF-S_camera_mount

A red dot and a white square indicate an EF-S mount.

There are also negatives to the EF-S lens. Once you are ready to make the jump to a full frame DSLR (find out if you are HERE), you will discover that the engineers at Canon have thrown you for a loop. Full frame Canon DSLR cameras are only compatible with the EF lens line (Huh? What’s an EF Lens? Find out HERE). You will no longer be able to use your EF-S lenses unless you keep your beginner and intermediate DSLR. Personally, I’d recommend keeping your EF-S compatible DSLR because the EF lenses will work with every Canon DSLR camera.

So far, I have never had someone ask me if a photograph was taken with an EF-S or EF lens. Probably because you cannot tell the difference at all. Both lines of lenses are very good quality and will produce fantastic photographs if used correctly. If you have more questions on the difference between full frame DSLR cameras and crop sensor DSLR cameras, just click the big red button below to learn more!

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5 Responses to What is an EF-S Lens?

  1. Catherine McCloskey June 10, 2014 at 1:32 pm #

    If I want to expand my camera lenses, would a wide angle lens and a zoom lens be good lenses to have in my bag? If so, can you suggest what type, for example mm’s? I have a Cannon Rebel T3i. Thanks David

  2. Catherine McCloskey June 10, 2014 at 1:36 pm #

    OOPS…I just found your gear recommendation tab. Never mind

    • David Johnston June 10, 2014 at 2:32 pm #

      I’m glad you found it! If you ever want to upgrade cameras to a full frame DSLR, I would get an EF lens vs and EF-S Lens

  3. Jet June 11, 2014 at 10:23 pm #

    So, I’ve got the T3i as well, and as far as I can figure it has a crop/APS-C sensor? The package we bought came with an EF-S lens but also an EF lens. Should I just go straight to the EF lens or learn with the EF-S and step it up to the EF later once I know what I’m doing?

    • David Johnston June 12, 2014 at 6:58 am #

      Yes, the t3i is a APS-C/crop sensor. It doesn’t matter which lens you use. One won’t be easier to use than the other. If you plan on upgrading to a full frame sensor in the future I’d invest in EF lenses when you choose to buy new ones. However, if you plan on never upgrading to a full frame then knock yourself out and buy EF-S lenses because they are way cheaper!

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