I am a beginner to the DSLR world, and have just purchased a Canon 60D body. I am struggling to make a choice for the first lens(es) I should buy. My primary usage would involve video rather than straight photography. I'm unsure whether I should get something standard and (relatively) cheap, or invest more and get something that I would be happy to use for much longer. Ideally I wouldn't be spending more than $1000 (even more ideally, much less).

I have been mainly considering the nifty fifty and other assorted cheap fixed focal length lenses, or the cheaper side of zoom lenses. Ideally I would have IS as well, so that I can move the camera comfortably during filming.

Any suggestions or ideas (and questions for clarification) would be welcome, as I am yet to learn a lot. Thanks in advance.

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    Primary usage = video. This is a photography website. Stack exchange has a video site for a reason: avp.stackexchange.com – dpollitt Aug 21 '12 at 22:58

If you're going to be using your DSLR primarily for video, you have many cheaper options for lenses.

Still photography utilizes the full resolution of your camera's sensor, so a sharp lens will go a long way. When you shoot video, each frame is a much lower resolution than a regular still photo from your camera. For the Canon EOS 60D, a still frame has a resolution of 5184x3456, which is roughly 18 million pixels. Full HD video has a resolution of 1920x1080 which is just over 2 million pixels. The sharpness of your lens when taking video is not nearly as important.

Something you'll want to look for is maximum aperture. Depending on what type of videos you make, you can do most of your work with a maximum aperture of f/4.0, but a larger one like f/2.8 will obviously give you more options and flexibility.

Another thing to look for is a constant maximum aperture. If you plan on zooming during shots and your lens has a variable maximum aperture, you'll notice the shot get visibly darker throughout the zoom. For example, my Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4.0-f5.6 lens changes the aperture as I zoom from 17mm to 85mm.

If you're considering buying a third-party lens, you should also consider whether or not you want autofocus in movie mode. If you decide to use it, skip this paragraph; you won't like what you read. Otherwise, you might consider purchasing a third-party lens that only has manual focus. If you think about it, autofocus is really nice for still photos, but not necessary for video.

That being said, I'd look into the Tokina 11mm-16mm f/2.8 lens for wide-angle shots. It's about $700 on Amazon right now. It doesn't have AF nor does it have image stabilization, but it's $250 cheaper than Canon's 10mm-22mm lens and has a larger (also fixed) aperture. I know that the guys at Warialasky use this lens in many of their videos.

The Canon 17-85mm f/4.0-5.6 is also a good option since it covers a wide range of focal lengths, has a reasonable maximum aperture, and has image stabilization. Also, it's fairly reasonably priced at $569 new. Just don't zoom during your shots since the maximum aperture isn't fixed.

Here's a video that gives some good insight for picking video lenses.


Lens choice is personal and really depends on your subjects in photography and video. You did not mention what type of videos you do and under what conditions. Are shooting in low light? Are you shooting sports? ..etc. Without knowing this, all answers are pure guesses.

The very minimal advice I can offer it to get a lens which a wide focus ring. If it has a larger throw you will be able to focus more precisely. This is critical as manual focus is essential for high quality videos. Even if you had a camera which could autofocus, doing so during video is very risky. The camera may focus on the wrong subject, lag the action and make noise which get recorded into your audio track.

If you like to take advantage of the cinematic feel a DSLR can offer, you should also look for lenses with a wide maximum aperture, something like F/2.8 for a zoom or brighter even for prime lenses.


Consider the Canon EF-S 17-85mm. It's affordable (400$ new, 240$ used) and gives you Image Stabilisation (IS) ultrasonic focus (USM), which allows you to focus manualy while the autofocus is enabled.

For low light situations I suggest a manual and fast m42 lens with adapter (24mm f/2.8, 50mm f/1.8, 85mm f/2.8), they are cheap (30$ - 80$) and solid.


Canon has a new line of lenses (with the STM focus motor) that are designed for video, your 60D can't take full advantage of those lenses but I believe they are still better for video and you will get to use their full capabilities on your next camera upgrade.

The EF 40mm f/2.8 STM pancake lens is tiny, costs about $200 and according to the reviews has great image quality.

I would take the EF 40mm f/2.8 over the "nifty fifty" EF 50mm f/1.8 because it's closer to a normal lens on your camera (a normal lens on the 60D is about 28mm) and the 50mm is both very slow to auto-focus and inconvenient to manual focus.

On the other end there's the EF-S 18-135 f/3.5-5.6 IS STM ($550 list price) - this lens will not win any awards in the image quality department but what you lose in image quality you will gain in the versatility of the zoom range (and I'll bet that while it's definitely not a pro lens its still pretty good - especially for video where you don't use the camera's full resolution)


for video the vintage lenses with stepless aperture rings are best. Luckilly, you chose Canon which can easily use these nice many-bladed vintage lenses, thourgh a lensless adaptor. Look for M42, pentax K and Y/C mount lenses. Especially, the old russians have stepless apertures.

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