This article is written for the user who wants to buy the right lenses for cinematic image quality without compromising on important video functionality.
Just a quick note: You can buy third-party lenses for Canon cameras, but we are only focusing on Canon-branded lenses in this article. The assumption being you prefer the interface, Image Stabilization and Dual Pixel Auto Focus features.
What lenses do you need for the Canon 1DX Mark III?
You can theoretically use EF-S lenses if you want to. Some of them do fit the EF mount. However, I don’t recommend it. There are almost always equivalent full frame EF lenses available, and secondly, the image circle isn’t consistent across all focal lengths and lens models.
Why is this such a big deal?
A lens specifically designed for a smaller sensor (like APS-C) will have an image circle just big enough for that sensor. If you try to use that lens on a full frame camera, you get vignetting or a dark/black circle around your videos.
If you know a specific combination works, then sure, go ahead. But I won’t recommend it for EF-S lenses. Cine lenses are a different matter, though.
Does the “L-series” moniker and red ring matter?
Yes. L-series lenses have a red ring, and these are the best lenses Canon makes for photography.
What do you get with L-series lenses?
You get these benefits over cheaper Canon lenses, generally speaking:
- Better image quality overall, and over the entire focal length range.
- Consistent image quality over multiple samples.
- A wider aperture, in most cases.
- Faster autofocus performance.
- Quieter focus and zoom motors.
- Better construction and weather sealing.
- A more consistent size and weight range.
- Better ergonomics. E.g., the focus and zoom rings are smoother and larger.
- Better resale value.
- More consistent filter-size threads.
For simplicity-sake, I’m going to divide this article into two groups, so you can find what you want quickly:
- The best budget Canon lenses for the 1DX Mark III.
- The best Canon lenses for the 1DX Mark III, price no problem.
- The best cine lenses for the Canon 1DX Mark III.
I will cover cine lenses in a separate article.
I’m going to recommend one must-have lens, which should probably be your first purchase. Then I’ll recommend three others that will complement your kit and help you achieve more. Let’s go.
What is the best budget Canon lens for the 1DX Mark III?
You might not need another lens!
Three amazing budget lenses to add to your kit:
- Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM (Amazon, B&H) – for low light work and a general-purpose walk-around lens. However, it doesn’t have IS.
- Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM (Amazon, B&H) – when you want to go wider.
- Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III USM (Amazon, B&H) – when you want to go “poor-man’s” safari.
To some image stabilization (IS) is important – especially for video where your shutter speeds tend to hover around 1/50s. The problem is, not all Canon lenses have IS so you might want to look for third-party options that specifically have this feature.
Or, just use a 3-axis gimbal instead.
What is the best Canon full frame lens for the 1DX Mark III?
This range will single-handedly cover 90% of most shooting needs. To know why, read What lens to get?
Three amazing lenses to add to your kit:
- Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens (Amazon, B&H) – the telephoto sibling. Or if you want to go “rich-man’s” safari, get this: Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM (Amazon, B&H).
- Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM (Amazon, B&H) – the wide-angle champ you can’t leave home without.
- Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM (Amazon, B&H) – the low-light legend, and it works great as a general-purpose walk-around lens.
What are the best cine lenses for the 1DX Mark III?
Cine lenses are not cheap. They are for working professionals who earn money from their cameras, and who need the extra features a cine lens brings.
What do you get with cine lenses?
Generally speaking, you get the following benefits with cine lenses (though not all might be true):
- Less focus breathing.
- Some zoom lenses are parfocal.
- The construction is solid and designed for heavy use under many scenarios. Being heavy, they also don’t shake much on touch.
- Manual focus rings are precise so a focus puller can use tape to nail focus. You can also use wireless follow focus systems standardized for this.
- The aperture ring is de-clicked so you can smoothly ride the aperture during a shot.
- The size, shape and weights are very similar so you can swap lenses without readjusting balance on gimbals, steadicams, cranes, etc.
- True cine lenses should be color matched, so they cut well together.
To know more about how a cine lens is different from a photo lens, read this article.
Canon cine lenses come in both primes and zooms. Let’s start with cine primes.
Canon makes two sets of cine lenses:
|Sumire Primes||PL and EF mounts||14, 20, 24, 35, 50, 85, 135^|
|CN-E primes||EF mount only*||14, 20, 24, 35, 50, 85, 135^|
*Some companies offer a conversion service from EF to PL convert it to PL at an additional cost.
^Average T-stop is T1.5, though the range is from T1.3 to T2.2, and the 14mm for both is a T3.1.
The Sumire lenses are almost twice the price. What is different about them? Canon claims these are completely new optical designs, and the lenses were designed for a more aesthetic look to them. I’ll let Canon explain the difference:
The advantage of the EF mount cine lens is you get great dual pixel autofocus with Canon cameras. So you can use any of the lenses listed above even on expensive Canon cine cameras like the Canon C700 – and you can use these expensive cine lenses on Canon DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. The ecosystem is seamless and integrated, and that is very important to a lot of professionals.
To be honest, at this price range and budget, you owe it to yourself to test both sets and see which one you like. To my eyes, I prefer the CN-E primes, though they don’t come in PL mount. That’s a big negative in this price range and market.
If you’re interested to know more about other full frame cine primes, read this comparison.
One key difference between the cine primes and cine zoom lenses are that the primes cover full frame cameras, while the zoom lenses are designed for APS-C and Super 35mm cameras.
This means you’ll have to use the 1.3x crop mode to guarantee coverage with them.
If you could only pick one, get this: Canon CN7x17 KAS S Cine-Servo 17-120mm T2.95 – you could shoot entire projects with just this one lens.
Three amazing lenses to add to your kit:
- Canon CN-E 15.5-47mm T2.8 L S – for wide angles.
- Canon CN-E 30-105mm T2.8 L S – for telephoto work.
- Drool over this, the most popular lens among wildlife documentary filmmakers: Canon CINE-SERVO 50-1000mm T5.0-8.9
That’s it! These are my suggestions for the best Canon lenses for video and cinema work. Hope you found it useful!