Your camera lenses are an essential piece of equipment you own. You probably have a wide selection of Canon lenses that you use for various purposes, and you may have upgraded your Canon camera body a few times. With so many lenses in your collection, you might be asking yourself the question, “Are all Canon lenses compatible?”
Not all Canon lenses are compatible with all Canon camera bodies. If your Canon camera body has a red circle on the camera lens mount, then your Canon camera will work with EF lenses. If there is a white circle on the camera lens mount, your Canon camera will only accept EF-M lenses.
To further understand this lens compatibility issue, let’s dig deeper into which lenses are compatible with which camera bodies and what you need to be on the lookout for when looking to use an older Canon lens on a newer Canon camera body.
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What Lenses Work With Canon?
In 1987 when Canon launched the EOS system, they introduced the EF Lens mount as well. Thus began the most effective lens system for interchangeable lens cameras. If you had a Canon EOS camera body, then any EF lenses would fit onto that camera body. That system of lenses remained the same for the last sixteen years and is still true today.
All EF lenses will fit all EOS cameras in some way or the other. When Canon introduced the EOS 300D camera body in 2003, they also introduced the EF-S lens mounting. Canon did this to make it possible for more affordable lenses to fit onto the new EOS 300D camera body.
The newer EF-S lens mounting was a hybrid that fits EF-S lenses and the older EF-type lenses. Approximately nine years later, the EF-M lens mounting was introduced, a dedicated lens mounting for the newer model APS-C mirrorless system and the EOS-M lens series.
So, this made it possible for you to attach the EF and the EF-S lenses onto the newer Canon camera bodies via the EOS-EF M adapter.
In 2018, Canon introduced the fourth generation of lens mounts for the new full-frame mirrorless camera, the RF lens mounting. Now, you could attach the older EF and EF-S lenses onto your Canon camera body using the EOS-EF R mount adapter.
The EOS R camera body could now accept EF-S lenses; however, the camera automatically turns to cropped mode to accommodate the smaller image circle created by, the older EF-S lenses.
Canon has uniquely marked each lens mount with a symbol indicating the type of lens the camera body accepts. The mark shows the lenses that fit onto your camera body and tells the mounting point for the lenses.
How Would I Know If A Lens Is Compatible With My Canon Camera?
When you remove your camera lens from the lens mount, you will see either a red circle at the top of the lens mount, a white square or a combination of the red circle and the white square.
If there is a red circle on the lens mount, then it means that your camera will work with EF-type lenses. If you see only a white circle on the lens mount, your camera will only accept EF-M lenses. But, when you see both the red circle and the white square, then it means that your Canon camera body will also fit the EF-S lenses.
All of the EF lenses are compatible with any EOS cameras, including the newer EOS-M lens series when fitted with the EF to EOS M adapter. The original EF mounting has remained the same even with the recent developments in focusing systems, image stabilizers and other newer, more advanced technologies.
Are All Canon Lenses The Same?
If you are wondering whether all Canon lenses are the same, you might be mistaken in thinking that all Canon lenses are made equal. They are not all the same, as there are various Canon lenses made for different camera bodies. The Canon 1D, 5D, and Canon 6D cameras will not support EF-S lenses.
When Canon created the EF lens system in 1987, they made the EF-S lens system to work on the APS-C camera bodies only. The EF-S lenses all have a smaller image circle that is only big enough for the small sensors on the Canon APS-C cameras.
If you wonder what the term “EF” stands for, it is just an abbreviation for “Electro Focus.” Electro Focus means that inside the camera is a little motor that helps the lens focus on the subject in the camera’s view.
“EF-S” is the abbreviation for “Electro Focus Small.” The “S” in “EF-S” means that the lens has a small image sensor. EF-S lenses are cheaper in their build quality, making them more affordable for you, the consumer. It is important to note that the EF-S lens would only fit onto Canon crop-sensor cameras such as the APS-C cameras.
A full-frame Canon camera would not work with a Canon EF-S lens, as it would create black corners known as vignetting, which is due to the image circle being too small to cover the bigger sensor.
Canon EF lenses have a much bigger image circle, making it possible to cover both the full-frame and APS-C sensors. The image quality from an EF-S lens is not as good as an image taken with an EF lens made for a full-frame professional camera.
Can You Use Other Brand Lenses On A Canon?
If you have several different brands of cameras that you use, you may be wondering whether your Canon lenses are interchangeable with other brands. More often than not, other brands of lenses would not work on other DSLR cameras.
You would not be able to use a Nikon lens on a Canon camera, and you also would not be able to use a Canon lens on a Nikon camera either.
A few smaller independent lens manufacturers manufacture lenses that would fit onto most camera brands, but there may be some lack in image quality or build quality. While the price comparison may be cheaper than the original equipment manufacturer, you would eventually compromise on the final image quality.
You can also use adaptors to swap lenses between different camera brands, and it might not be advisable to do this too often. The reason for this is that you may not be able to use all of the features of your camera when you do use an adapter for your camera lenses.
So, think twice before attempting to use an adapter to swap your camera lenses across different camera brands.
The main reason for lenses not being interchangeable across brands is the lens mount system that the various camera manufacturers use. Canon lens manufacturers use the EF and EF-S lens mounts, while Nikon uses the Nikon F-mount. In 2011, Nikon also introduced the Nikon 1-mount, which operates across the Nikon compact camera system.
The brands Sigma, Tamron and Tokina manufacture lenses based on the EF and EF-S lens mounts.
When you consider which lens to buy for your camera, I will opt for an EF lens. EF lenses are much better in terms of build quality and can also be used interchangeably on both a crop-sensor camera and a full-frame DSLR Canon camera. The EF lenses also have a better resale value than the EF-S lenses as they do not depreciate as much as the EF-S lens.