Canon system overview

From the broad view, Canon offers a complete range of cameras, lenses, Speedlite flashes, and accessories. There are so many options, in fact, that choosing among them is a challenge. Throughout this blog, you get detailed information on individual components of the Canon photography system as well as help in choosing components based on your shooting preferences and needs. For now, it’s worthwhile to review the overall scope of Canon’s photography system.


Canon professional dSLRs are distinguished by both advanced features and build quality. For example, the shutter mechanism of the professional cameras is rated at 100,000 to 300,000 actuations (shutter releases) to account for heavier use. In addition, the design of the Mark III series dSLRs includes extensive weatherproofing to protect the camera against the elements and demanding use.

  • EOS-1Ds Mark III. Professional-build camera with a 21.1-megapixel full-frame sensor with a capture rate of up to 5 frames per second (fps) for 56 JPEG or 12 RAW images per burst.
  • EOS-1D Mark III. Professional-build camera with a 10.1-megapixel sensor with a capture rate of up to 10 fps for up to 110 full-resolution JPEG or 30 RAW images per burst.
  • EOS 5D. Professional-level camera with a 12.8-megapixel full-frame sensor with a capture rate of up to 3 fps for 60 JPEG or 17 RAW images per burst.
  • EOS 40D. A semiprofessional camera with a 10.1-megapixel sensor with a capture rate of 6.5 fps for up to 75 JPEG or 17 RAW images.


Canon’s consumer dSLRs provide excellent durability and offer shooting modes similar to the professional cameras, as well as programmed point-and-shoot modes. Canon offers the following cameras in its line of consumer EOS dSLRs:

  • EOS Digital Rebel XT (350D). Offers an 8.0-megapixel sensor with a capture rate of up to 3 fps for up to 14 JPEG images per burst.
  • EOS Digital Rebel XTi (400D). Offers a 10.1-megapixel sensor with a capture rate of up to 3 fps for up to 27 JPEG or 10 RAW images per burst.
  • EOS Digital Rebel XSi (450D). Offers a 12.2-megapixel sensor with a capture rate of up to 3.5 fps for up to 53 full-resolution JPEG or 6 RAW images per burst.


For years, the exceptional quality of Canon lenses, such as those shown in 1-2, has drawn photographers to the Canon brand. As any photographer can tell you, a camera is only as good as the lens that’s mounted on it. Certainly more factors figure into image quality with digital photography than with film photography, but the lens remains an essential component in image quality.

The excellent quality of its lenses is one of the things that make the Canon system the choice of so many photographers.

Each year, Canon adds new lenses to an already extensive selection that covers the range from fisheye to super-telephoto. Here is the Canon EF (electrofocus) lens lineup:

Ultrawide Zoom Lenses

  • EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM
  • EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM
  • EF 17-40mm f/4L USM
  • EF 20-35mm f/3.5-4.5 USM

Wide-Angle Prime (Single-focal-length) Lenses

  • EF 14mm f/2.8L USM
  • EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM
  • EF 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye
  • EF 20mm f/2.8 USM
  • EF 24mm f/1.4L USM
  • EF 24mm f/2.8
  • EF 28mm f/1.8 USM
  • EF 28mm f/2.8
  • EF 35mm f/1.4L USM
  • EF 35mm f/2

Standard Zoom Lenses

  • EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS USM
  • EF-S 17-85mm f4-5.6 IS USM
  • EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 USM
  • EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS
  • EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM
  • EF 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 USM
  • EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM
  • EF 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 II
  • EF 28-90mm f/4-5.6 II USM
  • EF 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 II USM
  • EF 28-105mm f/4.0-5.6 USM
  • EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM
  • EF 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6 USM
  • EF 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6L IS USM

Standard and Medium Telephoto Lenses

  • EF 50mm f/1.2L USM
  • EF 50mm f/1.4 USM
  • EF 50mm f/1.8 II
  • EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM
  • EF 85mm f/1.8 USM
  • EF 100mm f/2 USM

Telephoto Zoom Lenses

  • EF 55-200mm f/4.5-5.6 II USM
  • EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM
  • EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM
  • EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM
  • EF 70-200mm f/4L USM
  • EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM
  • EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DO IS USM
  • EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III USM
  • EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III
  • EF 80-200mm f/4.5-5.6 II
  • EF 100-300mm f/4.5-5.6 USM
  • EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM

Telephoto Prime (Single-focal-length) Lenses

  • EF 135mm f/2L USM
  • EF 135mm f/2.8 with Softfocus
  • EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM
  • EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM
  • EF 300mm f/4L IS USM

Super-Telephoto Prime (Single-focal-length) Lenses

  • EF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM
  • EF 400mm f/4 DO IS USM
  • EF 400mm f/5.6L USM
  • EF 500mm f/4L IS USM
  • EF 600mm f/4L IS USM

Macro Prime Lenses

  • EF 50mm f/2.5 Compact Macro
  • EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM
  • MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5x Macro Photo
  • EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM
  • EF 180mm f/3.5L Macro USM

Tilt-Shift Lenses

  • TS-E 24mm f/3.5L
  • TS-E 45mm f/2.8
  • TS-E 90mm f/2.8


  • Extender EF 1.4x II
  • Extender EF 2x II


The most expensive components of a photography system are camera bodies and lenses, but a variety of accessories increase your creative options. Additional components include Canon Softmat filters and close-up lenses, teleconvertors to increase the effective focal length of lenses, Speedlite flashes, circular polarizing and haze filters, a variety of remote control accessories, a wireless file transmitter, a data verification kit, a variety of eyecups and extenders, angle finders, and focusing screens.

For lighting on the go, Canon offers the 580EX II, 430EX, and 220EX Speedlites. The ST-E2 transmitter allows control of slave flashes for up to 33 feet outdoors and almost 50 feet indoors. Macro photographers can benefit from the Macro Twin Lite MT-24EX or the Macro Ring Lite MR-14EX. In addition, you can add a variety of battery packs and magazines, hot-shoe adapters, TTL (through-the-lens) distributors, and off-camera shoe cords. A body, lens, and flash made a complete system for this wedding photographer, with great results (see 1-3).

The EOS 1Ds with 24-70mm L lens and 580EX Speedlite make up a high-quality camera system to take lifelike, high-quality professional images such as this wedding shot at ISO 100, 1/60 second at f/4

Category: Photography System

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