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What Is an EF Lens?

Published: 01/09/2021

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When investing in lenses, one of the things you might wonder is, what is an EF lens? We're going to share the history, features, and benefits of EF lenses, so you can determine how you can use them in capturing superb real estate photos.

What Is an EF Lens?

EF stands for Electro-Focus, a built-in motor in the lens that provides automatic focusing. An EF lens is the major product for Canon's autofocus revolution, and it eventually became the standard lens for Canon cameras with an EF mount

Canon's Electro-Focus series now has over 80 lenses, covering focal ranges from 8 to 1200 mm. With several options, it's vital that you understand how an EF lens can become a reliable tool for real estate photography.

Canon EF lens with filters

Overview of EF Lenses

Canon developed the EF line for SLR cameras in 1987 to replace the FD mount. The introduction of Electro-Focus in a lens served as a level up from traditional mechanical control linkages between a lens and camera body.

An EF lens has better data control and a larger mount diameter. Unlike other Canon lenses with levers and plungers, an EF lens has a bayonet-style mount that uses electrical metal contacts to communicate with the camera body. 

Mechanical Aspects of an EF Lens

The Electro-Focus lens is among Canon's most popular series because of its technical brilliance. The larger camera opening also contributes to better flexibility in the optical design.

Its flange distance, the gap between the sensor plane and front of the lens, is only 44mm. This is smaller than other lens systems, making an EF lens suitable with mechanical adapters. 

An EF lens also contains leaf springs in the receptacle for a spring-loaded registration. This feature allows the one-hand hold and twist system to attach the lens to the camera body.

Features of an EF Lens 

Reports from Nikkei show that despite the shrinking digital camera market and the economic impact of COVID-19, Canon accounts for 47.9% of the 8.85 million digital cameras shipped in 2020. Moreso, the brand's lenses continue to dominate the market.

The key innovation in the EF lens is an Electro-Focus system that drives the mechanics of the focus. While the number of controls and switches vary from lens to lens, these are the standard features in an EF lens that you can use in real estate photography.

  • Distance scale window: This feature is valuable to real estate photographers who need assistance in setting or determining the focus distance of the lens.
  • Focus mode switch: This is a common feature among EF lenses due to the autofocus feature. The focus mode switch enables you to switch from autofocus to manual, which is ideal if you prefer more control over the sharpness.
  • Focusing distance limiter switch: Real estate images often have several elements in a frame, causing some lenses to do focus hunting for a while. With this feature, the EF lens would shorten the autofocus time according to the focus distance range.
  • Focus preset: The focus preset is a handy feature that recalls and focuses on the distance you last used. This feature is beneficial if you only have a few minutes to shoot a property during golden hour, and you need to focus on the subject quickly.
  • Filter mounting: It's challenging to take real estate photos, particularly if a house has many reflective materials that cause glare. An EF lens accepts filters to minimize reflections, control light, and enhance colors.
Shallow focus of Canon EF lens

Kinds of EF Lenses for Real Estate Photography

The global interchangeable lens market expects a 2.6% compound annual growth rate by 2026. One of the key players in the industry is Canon, which produces EF lenses of various focal ranges, mechanisms, and features.

The best lenses for real estate photography are those with large maximum aperture values to capture broad angles. It's essential that you invest in a quality wide-angle lens to fit more of the room or landscape in the frame.

You can also use ultra-wide-angle or tilt-shift lenses for versatility. For detailed shots of interiors and exteriors, it's ideal to use EF prime, standard zoom, telephoto, and macro lenses.

Related Questions

What's the Difference Between an EF-S and EF Lens?

EF lenses have a larger image circle that works for both full-frame and crop-sensor cameras. On the other hand, EF-S lenses have a smaller image circle that's only suitable with APS-C cameras. Using EF-S lenses on full-frame cameras would cause heavy vignetting.

What Are L-Series Lenses?

L-Series lenses are Canon's luxury line of professional lenses aimed at the needs of seasoned and high-end photographers. These lenses have a distinctive red ring around the lens barrel and an off-white color for longer focal lengths.


EF refers to Electro-Focus, which is a dedicated motor inside the lens that supports automatic focusing. It is among Canon's oldest line of lenses that continue to innovate with features. Whether it's for real estate or other kinds of photography, an EF lens can help you achieve sharp, high-quality photos.

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