The Evolutionary Tree of EF Lenses – 1987 to 2016 (huge chart!)

For some time now I’ve been working on a flowchart showing the evolutionary development of Canon EF lenses from the original lenses of 1987 through to today’s lineup of EF, EF-S and EF-M lenses. This is very much a work in progress and I’d appreciate your feedback.

Please note: Most of the connections I have put between lenses are quite subjective and do not indicate any true connection in design between the two lenses, especially with the dotted lines. But it’s more to show how the lines of lenses developed, how the different Standard Zooms connect with each other, and more.

Click on the small version below for the full size PNG file!  Read below for some FAQ about the chart. I’d value your feedback in the comments please 🙂

EF Lens Evolution Chart – Click image below to Download (UPDATED AGAIN)


Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Is it finished?

No. It’s a first draft

Q. You did something wrong! I must tell you!

Yes, please do! If you’re nice about it I might update the chart. Leave a comment below.

Q. How are things grouped?

Well, originally it was planned to be a chart of just the standard zooms, starting with the EF 35-70 from 1987, but it started to grow out of control. Originally it was only EF and not EF-S, but those got added in too. I then told myself that it would be silly to add in EF-M lenses, but changed my mind.

So, standard lenses first, covering mostly the 24-135 range (fullf rame)

Q. Will you add EF Cine lenses to it?

No. That would be silly. However, I reserve the right to change my mind.

Q. Will you go back to show the evolution from the FD lens lineup?

Maybe. That might be another chart altogether.

Yes, now done 🙂

Q. How do EF-S lenses connect in to the chart?

They fit in more or less where they would be if scaled out to match their full-frame comparables (ie multipled by 1.6), hence the EF-S 18-55 lens links to the EF 28-90 rather than the EF 17-40

Q. What interesting things does the chart show?

Notice the rapid evolution of standard ‘kit’ lenses, the 28-80/28-90 line primarily – and how these spawned the EF-S 18-55 lenses . But also, you’ll see that development has slowed down in recent years with the lowest-end EF-S 18-55 kit lenses being five years old now.

Also notice how slow development is in the world of prime lenses compared to zooms.

Just some of the lenses available in the past.

Q. Can I use this chart on my website, blog, bedroom wall, etc, etc.

As long as there is a prominent link to this page and you don’t edit the copyright or link out of of the image you can do whatever you want with it. I’ve yet to print it out myself so if someone does manage to print the whole thing out I’d love to see it!

Note Canon and all other EF lens trademarks are trademarks of Canon, Inc and their subsidiaries and I do not make any claim on them.

Q. How will I know there are updates?

Keep checking this blog 🙂  We have other interesting articles too. For example, this one.  Or this one.


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1 Response

  1. Jolyon says:

    I’ll comment to my own post with the first error – the EF 35-350L is missing!

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