What Is the Difference Between Canon EF & EF-S Lenses?

Written by sharika sanku
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What Is the Difference Between Canon EF & EF-S Lenses?
SLR lens (dslr camera lens studio isolated image by dinostock from Fotolia.com)

The EFS lens mount from Canon is a specific series of lenses that was released in 2003. From 1987 until 2003, Canon SLR cameras were based off of a single lens series called the EF lens series. In 2003, however, the Canon Digital Rebel was released sporting a new mount, the EFS lens mount. Since then, most of the consumer to midrange cameras released have been made compatible with both EF and EFS lenses.

Short Back Focus

EFS lenses, the S standing for "short back focus", were created as a more cost-effective way to manufacture lenses. EFS lenses differ in that the rear element (the back of the lens) sits farther back within the camera, closer to the image sensor. This major difference allowed Canon to manufacture a smaller, lighter, and faster lens all while reducing cost.

Benefits of EFS

A benefit of choosing an EFS lens is the low cost. Despite the cost-cutting, Canon was able to produce lenses with similar speeds and quality. Also, because the rear element is closer to the image sensor, it became much more cost-effective to produce wide angle and extreme wide angle lenses. Using an EFS lens does not really affect image quality when compared with an EF lens with the same speed.

What is Available

The EFS series is well varied and growing as of 2010. This includes standard kit lenses as well as high-end lenses with image stabilisation.


A limitation of EFS lenses is that they are not compatible with all Canon digital SLR cameras. Generally, only the lower- to middle-range of cameras accept them. This is because they use a smaller image sensor that allows the lens to fit into the camera. The professional line of cameras use a full-size image sensor, meaning the same size as a 35mm film frame. Because of its larger size, it is unable to accept EFS Lenses.


To see whether your Canon digital camera is compatible with EFS lenses, you can take a look at your camera's body, specifically the lens mount. If you see a red dot and a white square, your camera is compatible with both EF and EFS lenses. If you only see a red dot, your camera will only accept Standard EF lenses.

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