Canon Users: Hands Down the Best Value Lens for your Money

Real Estate Agent with Georgia Elite Realty

I've been on quite the lens research kick these last few weeks.  When I started doing my Atlanta real estate photography business in earnest I only had a Wide-Angle lens.  I choose the Canon 10-22mm EF-S and honestly I couldn't have made a better decision.  I love this lens and use it for about 60% of my real estate photography.  But this post isn't about wide angle lenses.  Nope, for all the great things about the Canon 10-22mm there is still one glaring weakness: all it can do is wide angle.

Canon EF 50mm f1.8 II lensWhile most of those that will read this did choose their camera and lens for the purpose of photographing real estate, I'm assuming that they would also like to use that new camera for something other than real estate.  Why not, right?  I want to tell you about a very inexpensive lens that I have found to be an incredible value for those looking for another lens to add to your collection.  Enter the Canon EF 50mm f1.8 II.

There are several things I like about this lens and really only a couple of reasons why there is still room for improvement.  First and foremost is the price.  At less than $100, this is actually one of the cheapest quality lenses Canon offers.  Anyone that has shopped around for lenses for DLSR cameras have discovered that a high quality lens can sometimes cost as much if not more than the camera itself.  This shouldn't come as a surprise as the lens is the part of the camera that is directly responsible for "how" the camera captures the image.  Sure, the sensor, the megapixels, noise ratio, etc. are all important, but rarely can the camera or its functions correct or compensate for a poor quality lens.  Conversely, a good lens means that those other functions don't have to be cutting edge technology for you to get a good photo.

The second reason I really like this lens is because it is very fast.  It has a aperture value of f1.8 which betters most of Canon's other lens, including the coveted "L" lens by at least half a stop.  What does this mean exactly?  Well a fast lens will allow the camera to take in more light at a faster rate.  If you are shooting in low light or you want to capture images in which action is frozen in time, a fast lens is a huge asset.  A wide aperture of f1.8 lets you use lower ISO settings which in turn decrease the amount of noise commonly associated with digital images taken in low-light conditions.  It also allows you to use a faster shutter speed which assists in freezing subjects that may be moving very fast or just moving at all in low light.

Another reason a fast lens comes in handy is that it makes it easier to get a shallow deep of field.  For those not familiar with this term, a shallow depth of field is where a foreground image is sharp and in focus whereas the background is smooth and blurry.  There is a very appealing look for portraits and detail shots as you are able to isolate your subject and effectievely make it jump out from the background.

Finally, this lens also features a very accurate auto-focus feature.  One of the last things we want to worry about when taking photos is manually focusing on our subject for every single shot.  Those that are used to using point and shoot cameras almost take this feature for granted as there are lens still being sold in which you have to manually adjust the focus.

Now at the starting of this post I did mention there was room for improvement.  Actually, this lens is perfect as is, what a lot of people find is that they have to adjust their shooting technique in order to get the most out of this lens.  Most notably, this is not a zoom lens.  If you want to zoom in on something you have to move the camera closer to it.  If you want to show more of a scene you have to back farther away from it.  In other words, your feet are the zoom feature.  This is the primary reason why this lens is limited for real estate purposes.  Not that you can't get some great shots with it, it's just that its limited especially for interiors.

Another shortcoming is that the housing is made of plastic.  If you treat your equipment with care, this may never be an issue but there have been some claims that it doesn't hold up well with strenuous use.  I will also add that on an APS-C sensor camera, like Canon's EOS line, the effective focal length of this lens is approximately 81mm, just a little short for making it idea for portraits and a little too long to approximate the focal length of the human eye.  Nevertheless, these are all acceptable compromises for what you do get, strong contrast, excellent color and a sharp image even at close to wide open apertures.

If you are looking for a new lens for yourself or another Canon shooter, I highly recommend this lens.  Of course don't just take my word for it. currently has close to 1300 reviews and it has maintained a solid 4.5 star rating.  See for yourself here:


Here are a few examples of the shots I took with this lens and a Canon Xti:

Emily Smiling by Atlanta real estate photographer Iran Watson Mark caught a fish by Atlanta Real Estate Photographer Iran Watson Red Barn and Well by Atlanta Real Estate Photographer Iran Watson Dining Room Homes for Sale in Marietta Atlanta Real Estate Photography by Iran Watson


Comments (38)

Mark Gridley
eXp Realty, Reinventing the National Real Estate Office! - Fountain Hills, AZ
TecKnow Real Estate Agent, Fountain Hills, AZ

Iran; Thanks for your post I've been looking for a wide angle for my canon T2i. I busted the budget buying it and really can't afford a decent wide angle for shooting RE. I think I'll invest in the 50mm until I can afford a wide angle. I've heard good stuff about Tokinas. Any opinion?

Jan 31, 2011 12:28 PM
Mark Gridley
eXp Realty, Reinventing the National Real Estate Office! - Fountain Hills, AZ
TecKnow Real Estate Agent, Fountain Hills, AZ

BTW: read an interesting article on reversing this lens with a simple attachment that allows you to do macro work with it. A $100 lens that can do macro too? I bought one of the rings for $8 at B&H.

Jan 31, 2011 12:42 PM
Mark Gridley
eXp Realty, Reinventing the National Real Estate Office! - Fountain Hills, AZ
TecKnow Real Estate Agent, Fountain Hills, AZ

Iran: Dumb this down for me. I'm shooting a canon T2i with a canon 18-135 mm AF. Is this lens shooting at a wider angle then a 50 mm which is in the middle of my settings on this lens? I'm not sure I understand what determines wider angle. Is it just mm? Like your 10-22 would cross over to my 18-135 between 18 and 22? and the 50mm would be way less wide angle then even the highest setting on your 10-22 and the lower settings on my 18-135? If I set my 18-135 to 50 mm I'm I duplicating the 50 mm lens? If you set the 10-22 on 18 are you duplicating the shot I would get on mine set at the same?

Jan 31, 2011 01:01 PM
Iran Watson
Georgia Elite Realty - Marietta, GA
Marietta Real Estate Agent - Photographer

Mark, the short answer is yes, mm is what determines your field of view.  The lower the number, the wider the field of view.  So 20mm on my 10-22mm would be the same effective focal length as 20mm on your 18-135mm.  The same holds true for any focal length that overlaps, so 50mm on your lens would be the same as the 50mm I posted about.  Often that is where the similarities stop however.  There are other components that affect the quality of the image but since you just asked about focal length I'll leave it at that.

There are other things to consider.  An image shot at 18mm on my lens would look noticeably different than 18mm on your lens, primarily in terms of distortion.  When a zoom lens has to cover a wide range of focal lengths the extremes generally yield a less than optimal result.  So if you knew that you were going to be shooting around 18mm most of the time you might want to get a lens in which 18mm isn't the widest you can go.  I hope that helps.

Feb 03, 2011 01:07 AM
Douglas Belcher
Chateau Realty - Nanaimo, BC

I got the 50 mm lens and it takes amazing photos. I got the 1.4 lens. The only issue i have is that it has a very short focal range and it is a narrow field of view so interior photos are pretty much out.

The sharpness and colour is amazing. It really makes me want to upgrade other lenses in my bag.

Feb 03, 2011 03:49 AM
Mark Gridley
eXp Realty, Reinventing the National Real Estate Office! - Fountain Hills, AZ
TecKnow Real Estate Agent, Fountain Hills, AZ

Thanks Iran!

Feb 13, 2011 02:40 AM
Lori Young
Young Realty Group, Inc. - Naples, FL

I also carry one in my bag along with a mini tripod. 

Feb 13, 2011 02:55 AM
Christopher Johnston
The Johnston Team - Metairie, LA

I love this lens and it almost never comes off my camera. I'm looking to add a 70-200 f/2.8 soon but till then this will probably be my favorite lens. 

@Douglas, I have had several people tell me the 1.4 is hit or miss on performance(one of those is a professional sports photographer). I've heard it enough that I'm going to stick with the 1.8 till I can buy the 1.2 which is waayyyyy expensive but can practically take pictures in the dark.

Mar 12, 2011 02:25 AM
Mike Yeo
3:16 team REALTY - Frisco, TX

I love the 50 mm lens. I even bought another for my wife because I don't want to share. To my surprise when I bought the first one, I only pay $60 on Amazon but a year later, the price went up. Glad I got them early.

Mar 24, 2011 02:05 PM
Loreena and Michael Yeo
3:16 team REALTY ~ Locally-owned Prosper TX Real Estate Co. - Prosper, TX
Real Estate Agents

Wow. I love the picture of the fish. The 50mm is indeed a great lens to have.

May 19, 2011 03:21 AM
Evan Little
Surterre Properties - Santa Ana, CA
Eco, Live/Work, Sales and Management

Thanks!  I love my 10-22mm and is basically all I use, but will go rent a 50mm and check it out.

May 31, 2011 07:12 PM
John Manuwal
Keller Williams Northwest Montana - Kalispell, MT
Kalispell Montana Agent and Photographer

Canon's 50mm 1.8 is a great lens. I would buy this new so I could return it if I had a bad copy. The 50mm 1.4 I got use and also the 85mm 1.8 lens. They seem a bit better and so I bought them used to save some money. They are really nice but $100 for the 50mm 1.8 is hard to beat.

Jun 14, 2011 05:38 PM
Wendy Tomm
Beyond the Walls - East St Paul, MB
CCSP, RESA-PRO, BBB - Wpg Realtors

Gosh a lot of information but am glad I read it all and will keep for future consideration.

Sep 25, 2011 12:28 PM
Scott Farmer
Charlotte Waterfront, Making Clients Successful! - Mount Holly, NC
Broker, Realtor, Scott Farmer Properties, Inc.

Thanks for this awesome review! I had actually read a number of reviews recommending this lens and bought it for my Canon T1i!  I'm learning how to effectively use my new camera and lens, so your examples and ideas are particularly helpful! 

Nov 11, 2011 02:43 PM
Team Honeycutt
Allen Tate - Concord, NC

Thanks for the amazing review! Your pictures show great quality and prove how valuable a good lense can be!



Dec 10, 2011 12:31 PM
Paul Viau
Nova Scotia Real Estate Blog - Halifax, NS
Nova Scotia Real Estate Blog + Photo Services

Iran - I too use the 10-22 mm with my 40D . It is an awesome lens.  Thinking of expanding my horizons with maybe a 50mm as well.  I'm currently trying out a new E-mp1 Olympus pen camera . I got it for some pole photgraphy but I am learning more and more about it every day.

Mar 15, 2012 11:54 AM
Joni Bailey
101 Main St. Realty - Huntsville, TX
Your Huntsville / Lake Livingston Area REALTOR®

I havecthus lens but dislike having to walk to or away from the subject to frame it. That drives me crazy.

Jun 03, 2013 09:15 PM
Sam Miller
RE/MAX Stars Realty - Howard, OH
Knox County Ohio Real Estate Specialist

Your blog caught my attention and I am a huge fan of the 10-22mm lens for interior photography on a cropped sensor camara.  The thing I learne about this lens over time is that the camera needs to be held very level and your subject needs to be framed near centered or you can pick up some distortion that will need to corrected with editing software.  

May 15, 2014 08:02 PM
Laura Filip
Laura Filip Broker , Opening doors for All Seasons of Life - Whitesboro, TX
What can we do for you today?

Looking for a good camera to take photos at night with. What is your thoughts on this. 

Nov 17, 2014 08:39 AM
Mario Gattavara
Coldwell Banker Lifestyle Properties - Oroville, CA
(Lake Oroville Area)

Awesome. Great post. Any suggestions on lenses that brighten up those real estate photos? You know, the ones you see in magazines enhancing the lighting making the actual image look 10 times greater than it should?
Appreciate your knowledge and feedback...

Feb 23, 2015 04:16 PM