As a generalization, the above lists are sorted in camera performance, features, and price descending sequence.
Nearly everyone needs a general-purpose zoom lens — also referred to as a standard/normal zoom lens or a walk-around lens.
Typically, this is the most important lens in your kit. You leave this lens on your camera for everyday needs. With this lens, you photograph your family and all of life. You capture events with this lens. You travel with this lens. You hike with this lens. This lens is responsible for the preservation of your most precious memories.
Because this lens will probably be your most-used, because this lens will capture what is most important to you, and because the quality of the lens makes a huge difference in your photographs, I highly recommend buying the highest quality standard zoom lens you can afford.
A critical factor in lens selection is the focal length range, and I consider the heart of the general-purpose focal length range to the angles of view provided by the approximately 28-70mm focal length range on a full-frame camera or 18-45mm for an APS-C format mirrorless camera with the 1.6x FOVCF involved. Since these two focal length ranges are quite different, and because some APS-C lenses are not compatible with full-frame format cameras, the recommendations are separated below. Read on for the Canon full-frame general-purpose mirrorless lens recommendations or jump ahead for the APS-C recommendations.
Here is the 24-105mm focal length range illustrated by a full-frame camera:
1. Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens
The Entire Package: Impressive image quality and Overall Performance, Wide Aperture, the Right Focal Lengths, Image Stabilization, Pro-Grade Build
The Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens is my go-to general-purpose zoom lens. This lens is the right choice for a very high percentage of photography needs, from landscapes to portraits and from night skies to weddings, with most needs between covered.
Few want to compromise image quality, and this L-series lens delivers greatness in that regard. Fast and accurate AF? That box is checked. Pro-grade, weather-sealed build quality? Ruggedness is built in. High-performing image stabilzation is there for you when the tripod is not.
2. Canon RF 24-105mm F4 L IS USM Lens
Great Focal Length Range, Excellent Image Quality, Relatively Light Weight, Modest Cost, Moderately Wide Aperture, Image Stabilization, Pro-Grade Build
The focal length range is a strong criterion for general purpose lens selection, and the 24-105mm range is superb. While this range is long, it is not so long that image quality to becomes compromised, and the RF 24-105 F4 L IS produces stellar image quality.
Like the RF 24-70mm F2.8 L IS, this rugged pro-grade, weather-sealed lens has fast and accurate AF and is image stabilized. While the f/4 lens can allow only half as much light to reach the imaging sensor as f/2.8 models, the f/4 lens weighs less and costs considerably less.
3. Canon RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM Lens
The 10x Zoom Range is Awesome, Relatively Compact and Light, Image Stabilized
The focal length range is always the top reason to get a superzoom lens, and that is indeed a good reason to get this one. With the angles of view of two normal zoom lenses, this lens has an extremely high convenience factor.
While this lens's image quality shows some impact from the extreme range, the impact is not too bad. The overall lens size and weight is modest as is the price.
4. Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens
Economical, Compact, Light, Image Stabilized, Great Focal Length Range
The little RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens was a long awaited model, finally providing an entry-level lens option for the Canon R-series cameras. This lens is not the highest-performing, but it arrived as the lightest and most afforable general-purpose Canon RF mirrorless camera lens. If your budget stops here, this is your lens.
5. Canon RF 24-50mm F4.5-6.3 IS STM Lens
Compact, Lightweight, Affordable
I'll say that again: the Canon RF 24-50mm F4.5-6.3 IS STM Lens is a compact, lightweight, and affordable zoom lens. Despite those features, it still produces good image quality, and image stabilization helps ensure that quality is achieved.
This lens's short range of general-purpose focal lengths has a steady supply of subjects requesting them.
The Canon RF 24-50mm F4.5-6.3 IS STM Lens is a good choice for travel, for kids, for long carrying periods, and any other time the primary features of this lens are needed.
6. Adapt a lens from The Best Canon General-Purpose DSLR Lens List
Huge Selection, Excellent Options
APS-C General-Purpose Focal Length Range
1. Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens
Super Focal Length Range, Decent Good Image Quality, Reasonable Price, Image Stablization, Extreme Convenience
When you want to cover all of your photo needs for a trip, an event, an outing, etc. with a single lens, you may want a superzoom lens. When that one lens needs to be light, compact, and affordable, the Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens is even more likely be the right choice.
When a lens features an exceptionally long focal length range, I always question the image quality it will deliver as compromises are usually involved. While this lens does not provide outstanding image sharpness, it does produce good images, and image quality is not everything. Sometimes having the right focal length immediately available gets a shot that an optically superior lens not mounted completely misses.
Don't forget the fun of photography. A small, light superzoom lens, always convenient for whatever subject shows up, aids in that fun.
2. Canon RF-S 18-45mm F4.5-6.3 IS STM Lens
Tiny, Ultralight, Inexpensive, Image Stabilized, Short Focal Length Range
This lens is tiny, measuring only 1.7" (44.3mm) in length and mostly 2.5" (62.4mm) in width. The 4.6 oz (130g) weight is barely noticeable.
While the focal length range is not especially long, it has the most-used focal lengths included. This lens produces decent image quality and physically performs well. It even has image stabilization that coordinates with IBIS.
Everyone will love the price tag.
3. Select one of the best Canon full-frame general-purpose mirrorless lenses
Huge selection, though most are not optimally sized for APS-C format EOS R-Series cameras
Other Important General-Purpose Mirrorless Camera Lenses
While the general purpose/normal/standard zoom lens is going to get the most use by the typical photographer, a kit of lenses will work best for most. Here are the most-recommended next-lenses: