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Are Canon Camera Lenses Universal?

Are Canon Camera Lenses Universal?

Ask any photographer out there what the most critical piece of equipment is to them, and they will be most likely to tell you that it is their lenses. This is because Canon camera lenses are incredibly high quality and can be a massive investment for full-time photographers. If you’ve been in the business for a while, you may have collected a few different kinds of lenses. You must be wondering if they’re compatible across Canon Cameras.

All Canon camera lenses are not universal with all camera bodies. However, some Canon lenses are compatible with different types of bodies. If you notice a red circle on the lens mount, it is a sign that all EF lenses can work with that body. On the other hand, a white circle shows that the camera body can only work with EF-M lenses. 

There is a lot more to learn about compatibility issues with lenses, so keep reading this article! We will be talking further about compatibility and what you need to consider before using a Canon lens interchangeably with another camera body. 

What Kind of Canon Lenses Are Compatible?

One of the first lens mounts available in the Canon EOS camera body was the EF lens. This term refers to the Electronic Focus lens, and this was the first time that Canon created a system in which lenses could be interchangeable. At the time, any Canon camera EOS body could be adjustable to any of the EF lenses available. This is still the foundation of how Canon creates lenses and bodies today.

The fact of the matter is that whichever body you use, as long as you have an EOS camera, you can fit an EF lens into the system. After this, another form of compatibility came about in Canon, the EF-S lens mount. This mount helps you attach lenses of both the EF and EF-S types. It is only recently that the EF-M mount has come into play, which allows you to connect the lens to mirrorless Canon cameras.

Canon cameras show compatibility in the way that each lens mount has its symbol. This symbol can help you understand what type of lens it can connect to. These lenses will be able to fit onto the lens mount and can adapt and work with that particular Canon camera body.

Are All Lenses The Same?

While a lot of the lenses from Canon have the ability to be in use in an interchangeable fashion, that does not mean they are the same. For example, certain camera bodies do not have the ability to support the specialist EF-S lens but can support the standard EF lens. 

Related: How to Clean the Viewfinder on Canon Cameras

The Different Kinds of Canon Lenses

Photo: Jonas Svidras

There are four kinds of lenses that Canon has available for photographers. If the Canon body has the lens mount to support any of these lens types, they are interchangeable. For example, you can use all of the RF lenses on a Canon camera with the appropriate lens mount. 

RF Lens

This lens came about for Canon’s R system cameras and allows you to capture photos and videos at high speed and quality. The end result is often brighter and more effective than results from a standard lens. A red line on the lens mount is an indication that your Canon body is compatible with the RF lens. 

EF Lens

The EF lenses are some of the first created by Canon for the EOS cameras. They were unique at the time because they offered an utterly electronic communication pattern, allowing you to take pictures and video faster than ever. red circle on your lens mount is a sure-fire sign that your Canon camera can work with EF lenses.

EF-S lens

When you see a red circle along with a white square on the lens mount, that means your camera can use an EF-S lens. The EF-S lens came about as a need for compactness arose in the modern age. These lenses are portable, lighter, and an effective way of capturing photography despite their size. This also gives you far more choice when it comes to wide-angle photography. 

EF-M Lens

The EF-M are some of Canon’s most compact lens options and are an exclusive offering for the EOS M camera range. Their small size makes them an excellent option for the photographer on the go and in need of portable equipment. A white circle is a symbol that you can look out for to see if your camera is compatible with an EF-M lens. 

TS-E Lens

The TS-E lens is Canon’s specialist lens designed to help photographers utilize tilt-shift in their photography. This is a property that is essential for expert photographers and allows them to control the depth of field. This makes it easier to correct distortion in a manner that is difficult to achieve with a traditional lens. The TS-E lens is compatible with EF lens mounts. 

MP-E Lens

Another one of Canon’s expert lenses is the MP-E option. This is a lens that Canon has brought to the market to assist photographers working in macrophotography. You can use the MP-E lens if you have an EF lens mount on your camera body. The lens has a maximum magnification of 5 times the life-size, which means you can photograph things as small as a grain of rice. 

Lens Adapters 

You can also use lens adapters from Canon to connect your camera to a lens system it would not ordinarily be compatible with. For example, if you have a camera from the EOS M series, you can use the EF-EOS M adapter to connect your camera to a lens in the EF, EF-S, MP-E, and TS-E categories.

Related: 6 Reasons Why Your Canon Camera Is Blurry

Canon Lens Compatibility Chart

To understand what kind of lens works best with different kinds of cameras, have a look at this compatibility chart:

EOS R SystemEOS APC-C SystemEOS DSLR SystemEOS M System
RF LensYesNoNoNo
EF LensWith AdapterYesYesWith Adapter
EF-S LensWith AdapterYesNoWith Adapter
EF-M LensNoNoNoYes
Compatibility chart for various lens and Canon EOS systems.


All in all, one of the best and most versatile camera mounts is the EF lens mount. This kind of camera body can work with most lens types if you have the correct adapter and expand the kind of photography you can undertake.