Difference between Canon EF and EF-S lenses
By Theydiffer - October 27, 2015

Canon produces a large variety of lenses suitable for different kinds of film and digital cameras. The difference between Canon EF and EF-S lenses is that each type of lens can only be adjusted to the correspondent mount of the Canon camera. We will discuss the differences between the two types of lenses further.


Canon EF is the most popular class of lenses among professional photographers. EF stands for “Electro-Focus.” “Electro” means that an automatic focusing on EF lenses is done by an electric motor built into the lens. There are no mechanical parts in the EF lens that are responsible for communication between camera and lens. The EF mount is considered standard in the Canon family of digital cameras.

Getty Images/Future/Digital Camera Magazine

Canon EF-S lenses are made to be put on the Canon EF-S mount of the body of a digital camera. The EF-S lenses are engineered to make a small (relative to a normal EF lens) image circle to match the sensor of a camera.

Comparison chart

Canon EF lensesCanon EF-S lenses
Suitable for full-frame and APS-C sensor camerasSuitable only for APS-C cameras
Bigger and heavierSmaller and lighter

Canon EF lenses vs Canon EF-S lenses

What is the difference between Canon EF lenses and Canon EF-S lenses? Let’s compare them by their application as far as size of the sensor is concerned, by their size and weight characteristics and by the price.

  • Because EF lenses have a larger image circle, they will cover full frame sensors and APS-C sensors. The Canon APS-C sensor is smaller than a full frame sensor at 22.3mm x 14.9mm. On the other hand, Canon EF-S lenses are designed for use strictly with APS-C sensor cameras.
  • Compared to Canon EF lenses, Canon EF-S lenses are smaller and lighter because they have less glass in their construction.
  • Canon EF lenses are more expensive than corresponding Canon EF-S lenses. That is, a 50 mm EF lens is typically 50 to 100 percent more expensive than a 50 mm EF-S lens.