The Best (Budget) Telephoto Lenses for Canon

Written by Matic Broz Updated on December 2, 2021

The Best (Budget) Telephoto Lenses for Canon

It’s no secret that finding a good telephoto lens for Canon is difficult and expensive. But what most websites don’t tell you is that there are cheap options for those on a budget too. So, I composed the most thorough list of budget telephoto lenses for Canon EF, EF-S, EF-M, and RF mounts.

What is the best telephoto lens for your Canon camera will vary depending on what you’re looking for. I will explain the difference between each budget option and why the more costly lenses are (sometimes) worth it.

Read this blog post for all of the information you need, including budget options.

How much should I pay for a telephoto lens?

How much you should spend on a telephoto lens depends on your photographic needs and budget. Expensive lenses generally deliver better image quality (less flaring and colour fringing, sharper), sturdier builds (metal mounts, hard plastic bodies), and brighter apertures throughout the focal range.

Under $500

Telephoto lenses for under $500 can be good, especially if you don’t shoot commercial projects. So, they are the best for beginners or amateurs who use the telephoto lens as their side-lens.

More often than not, cheap telephoto lenses are made of low-quality materials. First, the casings are made of soft plastic, which feels pretty cheap to hold. In addition, the lens switches and focus ring do not rotate and flip smoothly. Second, lens mounts are often made out of plastic instead of metal, which means they wear out over time.

Finally, budget lenses are made of cheaper glass that’s not coated with anti-reflective coatings. As a result, flares and chromatic aberration pose a problem when shooting in high contrast conditions. Also, the image sharpness is considerably worse, especially towards the edges when the aperture is wide open.

$500—$1,500

Moderately priced lenses are the best choice for intermediate photographers, who desire better image quality and durability. Compared to the budget options, they produce sharper photos, less flaring, and are made out of better materials.

In most cases, telephoto lenses in this price range suffice for the majority of photographers. The only downside is that they rarely come with a constant bright aperture, such as f/2.8.

$1,500+

Telephoto lenses that cost more than $1.5K are usually considered professional. They are made out of high-quality materials with durable metal mounts. All glass is coated with anti-glare coatings that reduce colour fringing and guarantee razor-sharpness throughout the focal range across the frame.

Expensive telephoto lenses often come with a constant bright aperture that produces beautiful bokeh. For wildlife, sports, and even macro photography, a well-shaped bokeh is a must, especially for professional photographers.

Telephoto EF Lenses

Canon has a range of EF-mount lenses, with the highest-end L series of lenses costing upwards of $2,000. But there are also cheaper EF mount lenses that are more budget-friendly.

Importantly, EF lenses with every EOS camera ever produces, including Canon EF (full-frame), Canon EF-S (APS-C), and Canon EF-M (via adapter) cameras. However, conversely isn’t true; EF-S lenses are not compatible with EF cameras.

Quick summary

If you’re on a tight budget, the Canon EF 75-300mm is the perfect lens for you. While it costs only $250, it delivers incredible performance for this price tag while also covering a useful focal length range.

If you’re willing to invest a bit more, the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II USM performs almost as well as a pro lens for over $2,000. The only difference is its relatively narrow aperture (f/4 vs f/2.8). However, if a wide aperture is important to you for beautiful bokeh, the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM delivers unparalleled performance.

1. Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III

SPECIFICATIONS

Mount: Canon EF

Minimum focus distance: 1.5m

Max magnification: 0.25x

Elements/groups: 13/9

Diaphragm Blades: 7

Autofocus: Yes

Stabilizer: No

Filter size: 58mm

Dimensions (W x L): 71x122mm

Weight: 480g

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

$279.00

$300.00

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REASONS TO BUY

  • Surprisingly sharp.
  • STM focus.
  • 4.5x zoom.
  • Lightweight and compact.

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Plastic mount.
  • No lens hood.
  • Narrow aperture.

The EF 75-300mm III lens is not the best Canon telephoto lens by any means, but it does contain many qualities that make it excellent for novices and those looking for a low-cost telephoto lens. First and foremost, the lens is compact and light.

It also has a low price tag and reliable autofocus, making it comparable with more expensive models. Moreover, despite its low price, it is remarkably crisp and provides good photos for such a low-cost piece of equipment.

It is not the sharpest lens I’ve used, but it doesn’t cost much, and it can zoom very far. It’s also small enough to fit in my camera bag with the rest of my equipment.

2. Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM

SPECIFICATIONS

Mount: Canon EF

Minimum focus distance: 1.2m

Max magnification: 0.25x

Elements/groups: 17/12

Diaphragm Blades: 9

Autofocus: Yes

Stabilizer: Yes

Filter size: 67mm

Dimensions (W x L): 80×145.5mm

Weight: 710g

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

$549.99

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REASONS TO BUY

  • Fast autofocus.
  • Good stabilisation.
  • Decent build-quality.
  • Portable yet powerful.

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Hood not included.
  • No weather seal around the mount.
  • Poor quality at 300mm.

The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM is a versatile and compact telephoto lens that offers a well-balanced combination of performance and cost. This lens is an updated version of the 70-300mm full-frame lens that offers improved AF, improved optical quality, and a new electronic display. A lens hood is sold separately, but you may not need one anyway because the lens is not susceptible to flare.

The manual focus is performed electronically. The AF is fast, silent, and locks onto the subject very efficiently. The zoom ring can be pushed and pulled to switch between AF and MF, assisting you with video-making.

Overall, the central sharpness of the lens is very satisfactory, and the CA is very well controlled for a zoom lens. Aesthetically speaking, you will find the images from this lens quite alluring. This lens seems to be a fine choice for you if you want sharp photos at a minimum cost.

3. Tamron SP 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di VC USD

SPECIFICATIONS

Mount: Canon EF

Minimum focus distance: 1.5m

Max magnification: 0.25x

Elements/groups: 17/12

Diaphragm Blades: 9

Autofocus: Yes

Stabilizer: Yes

Filter size: 62mm

Dimensions (W x L): 81.5×142.7mm

Weight: 765g

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

$199.00

$449.00

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REASONS TO BUY

  • Excellent optical performance.
  • Good build quality.
  • Ultrasonic drive.
  • Vibration reduction system.

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Slow focusing.

Being Tamron’s Anniversary lens, the SP 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di VC USD is their only lens to date that comes with a silent ultrasonic focusing motor. 

Regardless of the solid and high-quality plastics and compact build, you won’t find the lens too hefty. The switches to control AF and VC are placed on the left side and are designed with comfort in mind to make them easier to use. The comfortably gripped zoom ring is located towards the far end of the lens.

There is no external rotation during focus as it is performed internally. The ultrasonic focusing may contribute towards quicker focusing, but the speed is still lacking compared with Tamron’s other lenses. Overall, the lens has good capability to lock onto moderately fast-moving subjects like cars driving down a street. 

Zooming at 135mm affects the sharpness quality, but the highest and most uniform sharpness towards both the centre and edges is achieved at f/11. In addition to the minimal distortion levels, the chromatic aberration and falloff of illumination are decently well controlled. The effective vibration correction system reduces camera shake while shooting handheld. Also, you will not find this feature in other Tamron 70-300mm lenses. 

In conclusion, this gold-ringed lens is a good choice for you to shoot sports activities, portraits, and nature, providing sharp and contrasty images.

4. Sigma 100-400mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM

SPECIFICATIONS

Mount: Canon EF

Minimum focus distance: 1.6m

Max magnification: 0.26x

Elements/groups: 21/15

Diaphragm Blades: 9

Autofocus: Yes

Stabilizer: Yes

Filter size: 67mm

Dimensions (W x L): 86.4×182.3mm

Weight: 1160g

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

$799.00

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REASONS TO BUY

  • Great image quality.
  • Optical stabilization.
  • Compact and lightweight.
  • Inexpensive.

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Poor edge performance at 100mm.
  • Strong vignette at maximum aperture.
  • Some distortion.
  • No tripod collar.

Sigma is a long 100-400mm telephoto lens for Canon. The Sigma 100-400 f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary lens comes with a long focal length range and is comparatively affordable.

It blends in a decent optical design along with a compact and lightweight structure. The lens ergonomics is quite comfortable, and you won’t experience issues in handling. However, there is no weatherproofing except for a rubber seal on the lens mount to prevent water from entering. 

Near the camera body are switches, including the AF speed and optical stabilization. These switches can be re-programmed by connecting them to a computer via a USB dock, just like other Sigma lenses. Thanks to the inclusion of the Hyper Sonic Motor, the lens tends to pick out and focus on the subject efficiently and quickly.

Sharpness towards the edges is not the greatest. It improves by lowering the aperture to f/11, at which point you can secure the best and even sharpness both towards the centre and edges. Chromatic aberration appears to be close to non-existent in the centre of the frame. You might find a bit of edge fringing in your shots, but it is far less and better controlled than other similar lenses. Lastly, the lens tends to handle distortion quite well.

You should include this lens on your wish list if you are looking for a well-performing, compact, and reasonably priced lens to shoot distant subjects such as wildlife, sports, and birds.

5. Tamron 100-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD

SPECIFICATIONS

Mount: Canon EF

Minimum focus distance: 1.5m

Max magnification: 0.28x

Elements/groups: 17/11

Diaphragm Blades: 9

Autofocus: Yes

Stabilizer: Yes

Filter size: 67mm

Dimensions (W x L): 86.2x199mm

Weight: 1135g

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

$659.98

$799.00

See at Amazon

REASONS TO BUY

  • Optical stabilization.
  • Fluorine lens coat.
  • Dust and moisture sealing.
  • Tripod collar option.
  • Pretty light and compact.
  • Affordable.

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Soft edges at 100mm and 400mm.
  • Vignetting at max aperture.
  • Some pincushion distortion.

Great for telephoto shooting, the compact Tamron 100-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD lens comes with a useful focal length range, and it’s a relatively lightweight lens. 

The magnesium alloy construction on the lens makes it lightweight, durable, and suitable for harsh weather conditions. The extended light bandwidth coating, internal structure, and the decent-sized lens contribute towards omitting flare issues. The lens doesn’t extend while focusing, although it does when you zoom. Similar to the other Tamron lenses, there are switches for Vibration Compensation, AF, and MF. 

The stable VC system helps minimise the camera shake aspect and promotes sharper handheld shooting. The Ultra Silent Drive autofocus motor makes it fast, precise, and suitable to shoot moving subjects. Even when AF is turned on, the manual-focusing ring provides a faster shift. 

The central and corner sharpness until f/22 is considerably good, but you will notice softness in the photos as the lens approaches f/32. Despite being exceptionally low at 100mm, chromatic aberration increases as you move towards higher focal lengths. 

Generally, you can get this lens as an alternative to the other expensive lens for shooting wildlife photography, sports, and portraits. You may find the bokeh to be somewhat underwhelming, but the long side of the lens naturally tends to keep the background well out of focus.

6. Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 SP Di VC USD G2

SPECIFICATIONS

Mount: Canon EF

Minimum focus distance: 0.95m

Max magnification: 0.16x

Elements/groups: 23/17

Diaphragm Blades: 9

Autofocus: Yes

Stabilizer: Yes

Filter size: 77mm

Dimensions (W x L): 87.9x193mm

Weight: 1,500g

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

$1,299.00

See at Amazon

REASONS TO BUY

  • Excellent image quality.
  • Bright f/2.8 aperture.
  • Comes with a tripod collar.
  • Affordable.
  • Sturdy.

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Flaring.
  • Not sharp beyond 200mm.
  • Dim corners.

Intended as a premium quality lens, the Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8SP Di VC USD G2 is smooth and efficient. In addition to being moisture and dust resistant, the lens also has an ergonomic shape for easy handling and usage.

Both the focusing ring and the zoom ring work smoothly. Towards the camera body, you can find switches to adjust Vibration Compensation (VC) and AF. This lens’s fantastic and distinctive feature is the ease with which you can switch between landscape and portrait shots when you mount it on a tripod. 

The ring-type Ultrasonic Silent Drive autofocus motor enhances responsiveness and performance. Along with this, you also get an advanced VC system for stabilisation. The lens indicates the distance to the subject via the focusing scale, and it doesn’t extend when you zoom or focus. 

Even though most of the subject matter doesn’t need any alterations, you may want to use software to correct the uneven chromatic aberration at the edges. The lens seems quite prone to flare even when shooting in bright light and contrast. The sharpness generally remains well maintained throughout. 

Compared with similar and more costly lenses, the Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8SP Di VC USD G2 doesn’t compromise image quality. This factor indeed makes up for the slight handling issues that you may come across. Because of the high range of AF, the lens is quite suitable for shooting distant subjects.

7. Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II USM

SPECIFICATIONS

Mount: Canon EF

Minimum focus distance: 1m

Max magnification: 0.27x

Elements/groups: 20/15

Diaphragm Blades: 9

Autofocus: Yes

Stabilizer: Yes

Filter size: 72mm

Dimensions (W x L): 80x176mm

Weight: 780g

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

$1,119.00

$1,299.00

See at Amazon

REASONS TO BUY

  • Quite light.
  • Optical stabilisation.
  • Sharp.
  • Fixed aperture through zoom range.

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Soft edges when zoomed in.
  • Expensive tripod collar.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II USM lens is very compact and utilizes Canon’s Super Spectra coating and fluorine coating to repel dust and moisture, giving it an all-weather feature.

Towards the front of the lens is the manual focus ring that gives you an excellent grip when applying manual adjustments. The MF is very smooth, coupled with the AF that is fast, silent, and accurate. Zooming is smooth but firm enough so that the focal length is not accidentally changed. The lens offers a higher focusing distance than previous Canon models, which is useful for macro photography.

The evenness of sharpness from centre to edge is excellent, peaking at f/4. This lens is better than many other competitive lenses in controlling CA, coming close to zero in the centre.

Overall, the lens is superb ergonomically and perhaps, one of the best choices for wildlife photography on this list. With a bokeh that offers beautifully attractive out of focus backgrounds, this lens will be ideal for you if you are fond of macro and telephoto photography.

8. Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM S

SPECIFICATIONS

Mount: Canon EF

Minimum focus distance: 1.2m

Max magnification: 0.21x

Elements/groups: 24/22

Diaphragm Blades: 11

Autofocus: Yes

Stabilizer: Yes

Filter size: 82mm

Dimensions (W x L): 94.2×202.9mm

Weight: 1,800g

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

$1,500.00

See at Amazon

REASONS TO BUY

  • All weather sealings.
  • Good optical performance.
  • Image stabilisation.
  • Internal zoom.

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Not sharp at 200mm.
  • Distortion.
  • Heavy.

The Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Sport is incredibly adaptable to various applications and is the favourite of many professional wildlife photographers. 

The lens differs from other similar lenses in terms of the fantastic handling and ergonomically placed controls. The hefty and solid structure, along with the magnesium body, guarantee it will withstand rough use. The zoom ring in this lens is located close to the camera body. Behind it lie three buttons that control AF functioning. With the help of a separately sold USB dock, you can connect and re-program these buttons for alternate functions.

You can adjust the focus limiter to the full range or a limited range from 3m to infinity, making AF easier while shooting distant subjects. The integrated Hyper Sonic Motor works to speed up and smoothen the auto-focusing performance while making it quieter. The Intelligent Stabilizer system helps reduce the camera shake when shooting handheld. You will also find the zoom and focus rings move quite smoothly. 

The lens is coated with Super Multi-Layer Coating to minimize flare, thereby producing high contrast and colour-neutral images even when you shoot in low-light conditions. The Special Low Dispersion element helps improve the colour quality, minimizes distortion, and enhances the image’s overall sharpness. 

As it’s part of the sports line, the lens offers you exceptional speed, optical performance, and customization, making it a top choice for wildlife, sports activities, action, and other photography genres that involve photographing fast-moving subjects. 

9. Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM

SPECIFICATIONS

Mount: Canon EF

Minimum focus distance: 1.2m

Max magnification: 0.21x

Elements/groups: 23/19

Diaphragm Blades: 8

Autofocus: Yes

Stabilizer: Yes

Filter size: 77mm

Dimensions (W x L): 88.8x199mm

Weight: 1,480g

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

$2,099.00

See at Amazon

REASONS TO BUY

  • Sharp across the frame.
  • Excellently built.
  • Fluorine coating.
  • Image stabilisation.

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Some distortion and vignetting.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens is the next version of Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM, but it comes with a fast and bright f/2.8 maximum aperture. The lens is very compact and manageable, and you will have no problem carrying it with you all day long.

It utilizes Canon’s Air Sphere Coating and a Fluorine coating that repels dust and moisture, giving it an all-weather feature.

The lens has a broad manual focus ring towards the front that gives you an excellent grip when applying manual adjustments. AF utilizes a ring-type USM motor that is fast and accurate. Zooming is smooth but firm enough so that you don’t accidentally zoom in or out. 

Central sharpness is excellent throughout the zoom range peaking at f/2.8, while clarity is also pretty good. However, both degrade towards the edges. CA and distortion are extremely well-controlled, and they should give you no problem at all.

Although the lens is ergonomically superb, it is heavier and costs more compared to its younger brother. However, for photographers that require an f/2.8 aperture with their Canon telephoto lens, this is an excellent choice with its sharp image quality. The lens produces quite impressive bokeh, making it a good choice for wildlife and even macro photography.

10. Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM

SPECIFICATIONS

Mount: Canon EF

Minimum focus distance: 0.98m

Max magnification: 0.31x

Elements/groups: 21/16

Diaphragm Blades: 9

Autofocus: Yes

Stabilizer: Yes

Filter size: 77mm

Dimensions (W x L): 94x193mm

Weight: 1,640g

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

$2,399.00

See at Amazon

REASONS TO BUY

  • Superb sharpness.
  • Optical stabilisation.
  • Fast autofocus.
  • Quite compact.

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Expensive.
  • Barrel distortion at 100mm.

The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM is, without a doubt, the best super-telephoto lens for Canon. At the same time, it’s part of Canon’s lineup of professional lenses that do not use a push-pull mechanism like its predecessor, often criticized for sucking dust into the camera. The lens is weather-sealed, allowing you to shoot in poor weather conditions.

The lens follows the typical Canon L-series design with an excellent build quality to withstand the rigours of daily professional use. 

An ultrasonic motor powers the AF, so the AF focuses very fast. The focus ring rotates smoothly, making the manual adjustments to focus simple. The filter ring does not rotate while focusing, a feature that is ideal if you use graduated and polarizing filters. The Canon EF 100-400mm is also compatible with Canon teleconverters. This feature allows you to extend the zoom range even more.

Central sharpness is excellent throughout the zoom range, and clarity towards the edges is also outstanding. CA and distortion are very well-controlled for a telephoto zoom lens.

Although the lens is relatively expensive, it lives up to the reputation of its predecessor performance-wise. The excellent zooming mechanism and high resistance to flare make it a fine choice for street photography and close-up photography. It’s a great Canon telephoto lens for wildlife photography.

The best Canon EF Cameras

If you’re going to buy a new telephoto lens, you should also think about updating your camera. Wildlife, sports, and other types of photography that use telephoto lenses demand the use of a high-quality camera.

Canon EF cameras are well-known for their high quality and long-lasting performance. They are also quite adaptable, making them suitable for usage in a variety of settings. EF cameras are full-frame, which means they have a bigger sensor and can use higher ISO settings.

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame Digital SLR Camera...
  • New 30.4 Megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor for versatile shooting...
  • 4K Motion JPEG video (DCI cinema-type 4096 x 2160) at 30p or 24p;...
  • Superb Dual Pixel CMOS AF for responsive and smooth AF during...
  • Excellent performance - up to 7.0 fps continuous shooting speed...
SALE
Canon EOS 6D Mark II Digital SLR Camera Body,...
  • 26.2 Megapixel full frame CMOS sensor
  • Optical viewfinder with a 45 point all cross type AF system....
  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF with phase detection and Full HD 60p
  • DIGIC 7 Image Processor, GPS, Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth low energy
Canon EOS-1D X Mark III Body
  • High Image Quality with New 20. 1 Megapixel Full-frame CMOS...
  • New DIGIC X Image Processor with an ISO range of 100-102400;...
  • New 191-point AF System Capable of Tracking the Subjects Head and...
  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF for Fast and Accurate Auto Focus using up to...

Telephoto EF-S Lenses

The EF-S lenses are designed to be used with the Canon Digital SLRs with APS-C sized sensor. However, there aren’t many EF-S telephoto lenses. But that shouldn’t be a problem since EF lenses are fully compatible with EF-S camera mounts. Therefore, if you own a Canon APS-C camera (EF-S mount), you may use any lens I listed in the previous chapter EF lenses.

However, if you’re determined you want an EF-S telephoto lens, these are your best options.

Quick summary

1. Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS STM

SPECIFICATIONS

Mount: Canon EF-S

Minimum focus distance: 0.85m

Max magnification: 0.29x

Elements/groups: 15/12

Diaphragm Blades: 7

Autofocus: Yes

Stabilizer: Yes

Filter size: 58mm

Dimensions (W x L): 70×111.2mm

Weight: 375g

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

$198.00

$299.00

See at Amazon

REASONS TO BUY

  • Surprisingly sharp.
  • STM focus.
  • 4.5x zoom.
  • Lightweight and compact.

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Plastic mount.
  • No lens hood.
  • Narrow aperture.

The Canon EF-S 55-250mm IS II is an improved version of the Canon 55-250mm IS II. It focuses using Canon’s innovative stepping motor technology, which promises smoother and quieter AF, which aids in video recording. It’s a little lens made of high-quality plastic, much like the previous version.

Unlike many Canon USM lenses, the focus cannot be manually overridden. Nonetheless, the focus ring is quite light and easy to use, allowing you to make manual changes rapidly. The side switch toggles between AF and MF. When utilizing filters, the filter ring does not spin when focusing, which is helpful.

Throughout the zoom range, the central sharpness and clarity towards the edges are exceptional. Distortion and chromatic aberration are well-managed, reaching relatively modest levels that should be easily removed in post-production.

2. Tamron 18-400mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD

SPECIFICATIONS

Mount: Canon EF (for APS-C)

Minimum focus distance: 0.45m

Max magnification: 0.34x

Elements/groups: 16/11

Diaphragm Blades: 7

Autofocus: Yes

Stabilizer: Yes

Filter size: 72mm

Dimensions (W x L): 79×123.9mm

Weight: 710g

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

$649.00

See at Amazon

REASONS TO BUY

  • Very sharp.
  • Bright f/1.8 aperture.
  • No distortion.
  • Sigma USB Dock compatible.
  • Rotating tripod collar.

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Short zoom range.
  • Heavy.
  • No image stabilisation.
  • Expensive.

The Tamron 18-400mm f3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD lens is not your typical zoom lens. The lens has an outstanding wide-angle to super-telephoto range, allowing photographers to capture large vistas or small wildlife in close-up detail. Because it will enable you to photograph up close and far away without changing lenses, the lens can be carried about in your camera backpack for lengthy periods, making it ideal for long excursions when cumbersome equipment isn’t feasible or appropriate.

This Hyper-Telephoto zoom has 16 elements in 11 groups, which assist eliminate chromatic aberration and distortion while retaining a high degree of edge sharpness throughout its zoom range.

3. Samyang Reflex 300mm f/6.3 UMC CS

SPECIFICATIONS

Mount: Canon EF (for APS-C)

Minimum focus distance: 1.1m

Elements/groups: 8/8

Autofocus: No

Stabilizer: No

Filter size: 58mm

Dimensions (W x L): 64.5×76.1mm

Weight: 270g

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

$499.99

See at Amazon

REASONS TO BUY

  • Very light and compact.
  • Decent optical quality.
  • Inexpensive.

REASONS TO AVOID

  • No AF or image stabilisation.
  • Donut bokeh.

The Samyang 300 mm f/6.3 Reflex lens is a unique small telephoto option that stands out with its Cassegrain construction and ability to reach a 480 mm focal length in 35 mm film format. This prime lens is designed for APS-C Canon EF mount DSLR cameras, and it accommodates this with substantial size and weight reductions.

The Samyang lens line has a long history of offering the best photographic equipment to its consumers. Their 300mm f/6.3 ultra multi-coated lens architecture reduces surface reflections and ghosting for improved imaging. It also removes chromatic aberrations, resulting in crisp, accurate images. The fixed f/6.3 measurement of the eight-element-in-eight-group lens allows it to focus as close as 3.6′.

4. Sigma 50-100mm f/1.8 Art DC HSM

SPECIFICATIONS

Mount: Canon EF (for APS-C)

Minimum focus distance: 0.95m

Max magnification: 0.15x

Elements/groups: 21/15

Diaphragm Blades: 9

Autofocus: Yes

Stabilizer: No

Filter size: 82mm

Dimensions (W x L): 93.5×170.7mm

Weight: 1,490g

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

$1,099.00

See at Amazon

REASONS TO BUY

  • Very sharp.
  • Bright f/1.8 aperture.
  • No distortion.
  • Sigma USB Dock compatible.
  • Rotating tripod collar.

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Short zoom range.
  • Heavy.
  • No image stabilisation.
  • Expensive.

In this EF-mount lens, Sigma combines heritage and technology. The Sigma 50-100mm f/1.8 DC HSM is ideal for professional and amateur photographers looking to produce portraits and landscapes with a shallow depth of field while operating at a bright f/1.8 continuous maximum aperture.

The Sigma design uses a succession of low dispersion and high refractive index components to reduce aberrations, colour fringing, and distortion. The lens has been treated with Super Multi-Layer Coating, which reduces ghosting and flare for increased contrast and colour accuracy.

The optical benefits of this Sigma 50-100mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art lens are balanced with an Advanced Hyper Sonic Motor, which offers quick, quiet, and precise AF performance. This Sigma lens includes a tripod collar for increased stability while operating on a tripod or monopod base.

EF-S teleconverters

Like EF lenses, EF teleconverters are compatible with EF-S cameras. They allow you to achieve even more zoom. To calculate the resulting focal length, multiply the lens’ focal length with the converters magnification. For example, a 50–200mm lens with a 2x teleconverter on an APS-C camera (1.6x), results in (160–640mm).

As a reasonably-priced option with excellent performance, I recommend Sigma 2.0x Teleconverter.

Canon EF 2X II Extender Telephoto Accessory
  • Measures 2.8 inches in diameter and 2.3 inches long; weighs 9.3...
  • Maintains autofocus with any EOD body with f/2.8 or faster...
  • Ideal for shooting close-ups from a distance at sporting events
  • Telephoto extender designed to double Canon EF lens focal length
SALE
Sigma 2.0x Teleconverter TC-2001 for Canon
  • SLD Glass
  • Best Glass
  • Dust and splash proof
Teleconverter 2.0X (Doubler) Extender for Canon...
  • 5-elements Construction
  • Multi-Coated Optical Glass with Anti-Reflection Coating
  • Doubles Focal Length & F Stop of the Canon EF & EF-S Series...
  • Manufacturers' Lifetime Warranty
KENKO - Teleplus 1.4X HD DGX Teleconverter for...
  • Increases focal length from same camera position by 1.4x
  • Better performance for unsurpassed image quality and ease of use
  • Fits easily between lens and camera body
  • Optimised for use with long telephoto lenses
Canon EOS & Rebel Series 2X Teleconverter for EF &...
  • 4-elements Construction
  • Multi-Coated Optical Glass with Anti-Reflection Coating
  • Doubles Focal Length of the Canon EF & EF-S Series Lenses
  • Manufacturers' Lifetime Warranty

EF–EF-S adapters

EF lenses are natively 100% compatible with EF-S mount cameras, meaning you don’t need an adapter.

The best Canon EF-S (APS-C) Cameras

To get the most out of Canon EF-S 55-250mm IS II, you should use it together with a good APS-C camera and a polarizing filter.

Telephoto lenses are amongst the most expensive types of lenses. So, if you want good image quality, you should spend at least $500 on a telephoto lens. Based on pricing and quality, there are 10 great budget telephoto lenses for Canon.

Canon EOS 90D Digital SLR Camera Body with Canon...
  • Canon EOS 90D - 32.5MP APS-C CMOS Sensor - Wi-Fi and Bluetooth -...
  • DIGIC 8 Image Processor - Up to 10-fps Shooting, ISO 100-25600 -...
  • 3" 1.04m-Dot Vari-Angle Touchscreen LCD - UHD 4K30p & Full HD...
  • 45-Point All Cross-Type AF - Dual Pixel CMOS AF w/ 5481 AF Points...
Canon EOS 850D (Rebel T8i)DSLR Camera with 18-55mm...
  • Canon EOS 850D DSLR Camera (Import Model)- 24.1MP APS-C CMOS...
  • Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/4-5.6 IS STM  Lens -EF-S Mount Lens/APS-C...
  • Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III Lens - EF-Mount Lens/Full-Frame...
  • UHD 4K video recording at up to 24 fps, as well as Full HD and HD...

Telephoto EF-M Lenses

Canon EF-M lenses are based on existing Canon EF lenses and are compatible with all EOS M cameras. They have a crop ratio of 1.6x, making them a lighter and smaller alternative to traditional DSLR cameras. Yet, they retain excellent picture quality and performance thanks to intelligent camera architecture.

Canon has released only a few native lenses for the M system. Therefore, it is quite restricted. It’s possible to use adapters with EF and EF-S lenses, but this negates the smaller M system’s size advantage. Canon and third-party manufacturers both make suitable adapters. This approach works well in terms of AF, but it doesn’t benefit from reduced size.

1. Canon EF-M 55-200mm f/4.5-6.3 IS STM

SPECIFICATIONS

Mount: Canon EF-M

Minimum focus distance: 1m

Max magnification: 0.21x

Elements/groups: 17/11

Diaphragm Blades: 7

Autofocus: Yes

Stabilizer: Yes

Filter size: 52mm

Dimensions (W x L): 60.9×86.5mm

Weight: 260g

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

$212.75

$349.00

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REASONS TO BUY

  • Central sharpness.
  • Image stabilisation.
  • Compact.

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Soft towards edges.
  • Some distortion.
  • Plastic mount.
  • Narrow aperture.

This is an ideal telephoto EF-M mount lens for any EOS-M camera. A 1.6x crop factor applies, resulting in an effective focal length of 88-320mm. It’s similar to the EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM II lens, except for the IS system.

The image quality is comparable to that of more expensive lenses but without the weight and size. This makes it very useful for travelling and hiking when you don’t want to carry a heavy bag. It’s also very compact, which makes it easy to carry around in your bag. It is also very light, which makes it easy to handle.

The lens is not for professional use due to its lack of quality and narrow aperture, but it’s perfect for amateurs or beginners. It’s also quite light, inexpensive, and easy to use. The Canon EF-M 55-200mm f/4-5.6 is best suited for wildlife photographers interested in photographing animals at a distance.

EF to EF-M adapters

If you can’t find the right EF-M lens, choose any EF lens listed in the EF chapter together with an EF to EF-M adapter.

Canon EOS M Mount Adapter
  • Allows Canon EF and EF‐S lenses to be mounted on the Canon EOS...
  • Fully compatible with all lens functions including image...
  • Detachable tripod adapter provides support for longer Canon...
Commlite cm-EF-EOS M Auto-Focus Lens Mount Adapter...
  • 【Compatibility】EF-EOS M mount adapter ring allows Canon EF...
  • 【AF function & Aperture Control】This EF-EOS M lens converter...
  • 【EXIF signal transmitting】Use gold-plated needle PIN to...
  • 【Built-in IS Stabilization】Built-in IS stability, making...
Lens Adapter EF-EOS M Auto-Focus Lens Converter...
  • Compatibility: EF-EOS M mount adapter ring allows Canon EF and...
  • AF Function & Aperture Control: Interior built-in aperture motor...
  • Built-in IS Stabilization: built-in IS stability, making focus...
  • EXIF Signal Transmission: use gold-plated needle PIN to transmit...

Telephoto RF Lenses

RF denotes Canon’s mirrorless system. Generally speaking, it’s more expensive than the DSLR systems. However, Canon mirrorless cameras deliver a performance worthy of the price. There’s high-resolution Canon EOS R5, the budget-friendly Canon EOS R6, compact Canon EOS RP, and an astro option—Canon EOS Ra.

Consequently, RF lenses are costly too. Get an adapter to avoid spending too much money on RF lenses, especially if you’re migrating from EF to RF. For less than $200, you can get Canon’s mount adapter from EF to RF. The original adapter ensures the working AF, although it might be a bit slower.

1. Canon RF 100-400mm f/5.6-8 IS USM

SPECIFICATIONS

Mount: Canon RF

Minimum focus distance: 0.88m

Max magnification: 0.41x

Elements/groups: 12/9

Diaphragm Blades: 9

Autofocus: Yes

Stabilizer: Yes

Filter size: 67mm

Dimensions (W x L): 79.5×164.7mm

Weight: 635g

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

$649.00

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REASONS TO BUY

  • Useful focal range.
  • Quite compact and lightweight.
  • 5.5-stop optical IS.

REASONS TO AVOID

  • No weather sealing.
  • Narrow aperture.

The Canon RF100-400mm F5.6-8 USM is a versatile and relatively lightweight telephoto zoom lens designed for Canon RF cameras. It features a focal length of 100-400mm, perfect for shooting sports and wildlife. The Optical Image Stabilizer (IS) reduces blur when shooting handheld in difficult light conditions.

However, it’s difficult to get beautiful bokeh with this lens, due to its f/5.6 narrow aperture. By zooming in, it gets even narrower to f/8. Plus, achieving short shutter speeds is impossible unless you shoot in bright light or bump up the ISO.

By trying to make it as lightweight as possible, Canon hasn’t added weather-sealing. But it has a fluorine coating on the front and rear lens elements, helping with flaring. This lens features two high-precision, ring-type USD (Ultrasonic Silent Drive) motors. The first is for autofocusing, while the second is for image stabilization. Thus, the Canon RF100-400mm F5.6-8 is ideal for photographers looking for a lightweight, compact, and versatile telephoto zoom lens with a long focal length.

2. Canon RF 600mm F11 IS STM

SPECIFICATIONS

Mount: Canon RF

Minimum focus distance: 4.5m

Max magnification: 0.14x

Elements/groups: 10/7

Diaphragm Blades: N/a

Autofocus: Yes

Stabilizer: Yes

Filter size: 82mm

Dimensions (W x L): 93×269.5mm

Weight: 930g

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

$699.00

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REASONS TO BUY

  • Optical stabilisation.
  • Super-light.
  • Good price for a telephoto lens.
  • Supports teleconverters.

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Long minimum focus distance.
  • Not the best AF.

3. Canon RF 800mm F11 IS STM

SPECIFICATIONS

Mount: Canon RF

Minimum focus distance: 6m

Max magnification: 0.14x

Elements/groups: 11/8

Diaphragm Blades: N/a

Autofocus: Yes

Stabilizer: Yes

Filter size: 95mm

Dimensions (W x L): 101.6×351.8mm

Weight: 1,260g

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

$899.00

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REASONS TO BUY

  • Affordable for an 800mm lens.
  • Prime telephoto lens.
  • Optical stabilisation.
  • Retractable design.
  • Works with RF converters.

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Long minimum focus distance.
  • Long and bulky.
  • Not super-sharp.
  • Narrow aperture.

The Canon RF 800mm F11 IS STM is a powerful telephoto lens that is compatible with full-frame cameras. It’s the market’s first stabilized 800mm lens, allowing you to shoot at slower shutter rates than non-stabilized lenses. Although it is lightweight, shooting handheld with it requires the use of a tripod or monopod. It is also compatible with Canon’s STM brand of low-cost RF teleconverters.

While the lens is capable of producing high-quality photographs, its optical performance falls short of our expectations. When photographing at wide apertures, the lens isn’t crisp, especially in the corners. The bokeh quality is likewise disappointing, with visible chromatic aberration errors.

4. Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1L USM

SPECIFICATIONS

Mount: Canon RF

Minimum focus distance: 0.9m

Max magnification: 0.12-0.33x

Elements/groups: 20/14

Diaphragm Blades: 9

Autofocus: Yes

Stabilizer: Yes

Filter size: 77mm

Dimensions (W x L): 93.8×207.6mm

Weight: 1,365g

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

$2,799.00

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REASONS TO BUY

  • 1:3 macro focus.
  • Adjustable zoom tension.
  • Lightweight.
  • Dush, splash, and fluorine protection.
  • Overall very sharp.
  • Hybrid stabilisation.

REASONS TO AVOID

  • No weather sealing.
  • Narrow aperture.

The Canon 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1 has a larger focal range and a wider aperture than the Canon 100-400mm f/5.6-8. This makes it significantly more adaptable, but it is also more expensive. Despite being small, this lens has crisp optics and a fluorine coating to protect from dust, splash, and moisture. It features hybrid stabilizer technology, which combines optical and digital picture stabilization to improve sharpness.

Despite its fame and high regard, the Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM isn’t without flaws. The tripod foot of the lens, for starters, does not fit the Arca-Swiss dovetail. Second, it features a narrow aperture at the end of its focus range, limiting its utility in low-light conditions. The control ring on the lens is also oddly located, which might be an issue while shooting in the field. Finally, the Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM lens is rather pricey.

5. Canon RF 70-200mm F/4L IS USM

SPECIFICATIONS

Mount: Canon RF

Minimum focus distance: 0.6m

Max magnification: 0.28x

Elements/groups: N/a

Diaphragm Blades: N/a

Autofocus: Yes

Stabilizer: Yes

Filter size: 77mm

Dimensions (W x L): 83x120mm

Weight: 695g

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

$1,599.00

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REASONS TO BUY

  • Dirt, splash, and fluorine protection.
  • Quick, quiet AF.
  • On-lens controls.
  • Lightweight and compact.
  • Optical stabilisation with IBIS.

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Narrow aperture (compared to f/2.8).
  • Focus breathing.

The Canon RF 70-200mm F4 L IS USM is a small and lightweight telephoto zoom lens with great picture and construction quality and a wide focal range. The front element is weather-sealed and has a fluorine coating to repel water and dirt.

The lens boasts a quick and almost silent ring-type ultrasonic autofocus motor, and the zoom ring is nicely damped. Wide open, it’s sharp from edge to edge and has great bokeh. The sensor-based image stabilization of the Canon EOS R, EOS RP, and EOS R Mark II is compatible with optical image stabilization. In short, it delivers a lot of performance for a very low price.

Center sharpness is as good at 200mm as it is at 70mm, and with up to 7.5 stops of stability, this is a superb performance for both stills and video. Unfortunately, the price contrasts with its compactness, since it costs up to 50% more than the EF counterpart.

Converters for RF lenses

EF to RF converter allows you to use EF lenses on a RF camera, including autofocus. By choosing a 3rd party converter, you risk a slow or non-functional AF.

Canon Mount Adapter EF - EOS R, Compatible with...
  • Standard mount adapter allows EF/EF-S Lens compatibility with the...
  • Built-in control ring provides quick access to camera functions
  • Exterior design matched to EF lenses. Extender is not compatible
  • Dust- and water-resistant
Canon EF-EOS R Mount Adapter – Compatible with...
  • Standard Mount Adapter allows EF/EF-S lens compatibility with EOS...
  • Exterior design matched to EF lenses
  • Dust- and water-resistant
  • Metal mount on both lens and camera sides provides rugged...

FAQ

What is the best super-telephoto lens for Canon?

Overall best super-telephoto lens for Canon cameras is Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM. This lens has an outstanding focal length range, great vibration control. It’s sharp at every focal length and aperture.

What is the best cheap telephoto lens for Canon?

At around $550, Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM is Canon’s best cheap telephoto lens. While it does not have a fixed aperture, its photos are sharp and have very little chromatic aberration.

Which is the best zoom lens for Canon?

Which is better, telephoto or zoom lens?

The two are not mutually exclusive; telephoto lenses are often zoom lenses. For telephoto lenses, I recommend zoom lenses over primes as they give you more manoeuvrability. It means you get a range of focal length instead of a single one.

Summary

While buying new lens and spending a lot of money is daunting, I simplified your decision by listing all the best lenses.

A quick rundown of the best telephoto lenses:

This is more than simply a list of the greatest Canon telephoto lenses. Instead, I’ve considered the most crucial characteristics to consider when selecting a cheap lens for your camera. Anyone wanting to acquire a telephoto lens will find the information in this article quite valuable.

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