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Best (Budget) Telephoto Lenses for Canon

Matic Broz profile picture By Matic Broz Updated August 27, 2022
Best (Budget) Telephoto Lenses for Canon

It’s no secret that good telephoto lenses for Canon are expensive. But what most websites don’t tell you is that there are cheap options too, ideal if you’re on a budget. But keep in mind that even the cheapest telephoto lenses are still quite expensive, especially for RF cameras.

Note: Canon lenses are divided into RF, EF, EF-S, and EF-M based on the mount type. To help you quickly find the best telephoto lens for Canon, we also divided this guide into four sections—one for each mount type. Jump to the section that makes sense for you:

Best Telephoto RF Lenses for Canon

RF lenses are compatible with Canon mirrorless cameras, which are denoted with letter “R”. These cameras require RF mount lenses, which we list in this chapter

Generally speaking, RF lenses are the most expensive at the moment, but Canon mirrorless cameras deliver a performance worthy of the price. There’s the high-resolution Canon EOS R5, the budget-friendly Canon EOS R6, compact Canon EOS RP, and the astro option—Canon EOS R—as well as a few others.

  1. Canon RF 100-400mm F5.6-8 IS USM
    Cheapest
    Canon RF 100-400mm f/5.6-8 IS USM
    Canon
    $599 at Amazon Read more
  2. Canon RF 600mm F11 IS STM
    Budget Pick
    Canon RF 600mm F11 IS STM
    Canon
    $699.99 at Amazon Read more
  3. Canon RF 800mm F11 IS STM
    Super-telephoto
    Canon RF 800mm F11 IS STM
    Canon
    $899 at Amazon Read more
  4. Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM
    Great Focal Length Range
    Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1L USM
    Canon
    $2,899 at Amazon Read more
  5. Canon RF 700-200mm F4 L IS USM
    Best Value
    Canon RF 70-200mm F/4L IS USM
    Canon
    $1,749 at Amazon Read more

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

Review Summary

The bottom line

Canon RF100-400mm F5.6-8 USM is a telephoto zoom lens designed for Canon RF cameras. It’s ideal for sports and wildlife photography, but difficult to achieve nice bokeh with this lens because of its small aperture of f/5.6.

3.9

Good
Canon RF 100-400mm F5.6-8 IS USM

Pros

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

Cons

  • 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’s a focal length of 100-400mm and is perfect for sports and wildlife photography. The optical image stabilizer (IS) reduces blur when shooting handheld in difficult lighting conditions. However, it’s difficult to achieve nice bokeh with this lens because it’s a small aperture of f/5.6. When you zoom in on the lens, the aperture even drops to f/8.

Also, it’s impossible to achieve fast shutter speeds unless you shoot in bright light or increase the ISO. To make the camera as light as possible, Canon didn’t weatherproof it. However, the front and rear lens elements have a fluorine coating to prevent flare. The lens has two Nano-USM motors for autofocus and image stabilization. So 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

Review Summary

The bottom line

The Canon RF 600mm F11 IS STM is reasonably priced for amateurs, considering its long focal length. It is light, delivers good performance, and supports teleconverters.

4.2

Great
Canon RF 600mm F11 IS STM

Pros

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

Cons

  • No weather sealing.
  • Narrow aperture.Long minimum focus distance.
  • Not the best AF.No weather sealing.
  • Narrow aperture.

The Canon RF 600mm F11 IS STM is one of two lenses of this type not available for any other camera system. Its narrow field of view brings distant subjects up close, making it ideal for backyard birding and zoo visits. To make it work, you’ve to turn a locking ring, extend the barrel, and then lock it back in place. Since the lens has no aperture mechanism, the aperture can only be set to f/11. The defocused blur is of good quality, with mostly circular highlights. With a narrow aperture of f11, the optics stay bright, but you need to center your subjects.

3. Canon RF 800mm F11 IS STM

Review Summary

The bottom line

The Canon RF 800mm F11 IS STM is very heavy, which is expected from such a big lens, but it delivers very long telephoto focal length at an affordable price.

4.3

Great
Canon RF 800mm F11 IS STM

Pros

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

Cons

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

The Canon RF 800mm F11 IS STM is a high-performance telephoto lens compatible with full-frame cameras. It’s the first stabilized 800mm lens on the market that lets you shoot at slower shutter speeds than non-stabilized lenses. Although it’s lightweight, you’ll need a tripod or monopod to shoot handheld. It’s also compatible with Canon’s inexpensive teleconverters STM RF. Although the lens takes high-quality photos, its optical performance falls short of our expectations. When shooting at wide apertures, the lens isn’t sharp, especially in the corners. Bokeh quality is also disappointing, with visible chromatic aberration errors.

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

Review Summary

The bottom line

The Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1 L IS USM offers a short- to super-telephoto range in a compact and portable package. The small maximum aperture allows for a relatively handy design that’s ideal for handheld use.

4.6

Excellent
Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM

Pros

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

Cons

  • No weather sealing.
  • Narrow aperture.

The Canon 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1 has a wider focal range and aperture than the Canon 100-400mm f/5.6-8, making it much more adaptable, but it’s also more expensive. Despite its small size, this lens has sharp optics and a fluorine coating to protect against dust, splashes, and moisture. It features Hybrid Stabilizer technology, which combines optical and digital image stabilization to improve sharpness.

Despite its fame and reputation, the Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM isn’t without its flaws. First, the lens’ tripod base doesn’t fit on the Arca-Swiss dovetail. Second, the lens has a narrow aperture at the end of the focal length range, which limits its usefulness in low-light conditions. The lens’ adjustment ring is also awkwardly placed, which can be a problem when shooting outdoors. Finally, the Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM lens is quite expensive.

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

Review Summary

The bottom line

The Canon RF 70-200mm f/4 L IS USM is a new interpretation of a familiar focal length. The slim and lightweight design is ideal for their full-frame mirrorless cameras. The optical image stabilizer compensates for camera shake by up to 7.5 stops.

5.0

Superb
Canon RF 700-200mm F4 L IS USM

Pros

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

Cons

  • 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 excellent image and construction quality and a wide focal length range. The front element is weather sealed and has a fluorine coating that repels water and dirt. The lens has a fast and nearly silent ultrasonic autofocus ring motor and the zoom ring is well damped. At the wide-angle position, 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 offers a lot of performance for a very low price. Center sharpness is as good at 200mm as it’s at 70mm, and with up to 7.5 stops of stabilization, this is excellent performance for both stills and video. Unfortunately, the price is in contrast to its compactness, as it costs up to 50% more than its counterpart EF.

How Our RF Picks Compare

FeatureCanon RF 100-400mm f/5.6-8 IS USMCanon RF 600mm F11 IS STMCanon RF 800mm F11 IS STMCanon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1L USMCanon RF 70-200mm F/4L IS USM
Focal length100 to 400mm600mm800mm100 to 500mm70 to 200mm
Maximum Aperturef/5.6 to 8f/11f/11f/4.5 to 7.1f/4
Minimum Aperturef/32 to 45f/11f/11f/32 to 54f/32
Lens mountCanon RFCanon RFCanon RFCanon RFCanon RF
Lens Format CoverageFull-FrameFull-FrameFull-FrameFull-FrameFull-Frame
Minimum Focus Distance2.9′ / 88 cm14.76′ / 4.5 m19.69′ / 6 m2.95′ / 90 cm2′ / 60 cm
Maximum Magnification0.41x0.14x0.14x0.33x0.28x
Optical Design12 Elements in 9 Groups10 Elements in 7 Groups11 Elements in 8 Groups20 Elements in 14 Groups16 Elements in 11 Groups
Focus TypeAutofocusAutofocusAutofocusAutofocusAutofocus
Image StabilizationYesYesYesYesYes
Filter Size67 mm (Front)82 mm (Front)95 mm (Front)77 mm (Front)77 mm (Front)
Dimensions (ø x L)3.1 x 6.5″ / 79.5 x 164.7 mm3.66 x 10.61″ / 93 x 269.5 mm4 x 13.85″ / 101.6 x 351.8 mm3.69 x 8.17″ / 93.8 x 207.6 mm3.3 x 4.7″ / 83 x 120 mm
Weight1.4 lb / 635 g2.05 lb / 930 g2.77 lb / 1260 g3 lb / 1365 g1.5 lb / 695 g

EF to RF Converters

An EF to RF converter allows you to use EF lenses on an RF camera, including autofocus. You can pick between Canon’s and 3rd party converters. The main difference between them is that Canon’s converters usually perform better but are also more expensive, while 3rd party converters can slow down autofocus.

  • Canon Mount Adapter EF – EOS R: This mount adapter is the most reliable way to use EF /EF-S lenses with the EOS R camera system. The built-in control ring is convenient for quick access to camera functions. Its external design is compatible with EF lenses and is dust and water resistant. The metal mount on the lens and camera side ensures durability. $199 at Amazon
  • Meike Metal Lens Adapter EF – EOS R: With this adapter you can use a EF or EF -S lens on a EOS -R or EOS-RP mirrorless camera. The adapter has electrical contacts that connect to the lens and the camera. So you can use the features of Canon EOS EF EFs lenses and EOS R camera, such as auto exposure, auto focus, auto iris and auto iris adjustment. The adapter is lightweight and user-friendly, and is easy to install and remove. $53.99 at Amazon
  • Viltrox EF – R2: This adapter maintains the focusing speed of the original lens and can track and fix objects quickly. It also supports the image stabilization function of the IS lens, which effectively eliminates ghosting and blurring caused by sports photography or hand shake (Note: The lens itself must’ve the image stabilization functionIS). It contains pure copper and gold-plated electrical contacts. The surface is coated and durable, and it weighs only 152g. $99.00 at Amazon
  • KRORUX Lens Adapter EF -EOS R: This EOS RF lens adapter is designed for use with gold-plated copper metal electronic contacts for fast autofocus, aperture and exposure control, and EXIF signal transmission. The adapter is made of lightweight and durable aluminum alloy and comes with a tripod mount for easy installation. A carrying case, instruction manual, and front and rear lens caps are also included in the package. $49.99 at Amazon

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. But cheap lenses can perform well too…

Under $500

Telephoto lenses for under $500 can be good, especially if you’re not shooting commercial projects. So they’re best for beginners or amateurs who use the telephoto lens as a secondary lens.

Most cheap telephoto lenses are made of inferior materials. First, the bodies are made of soft plastic that feels pretty cheap. Also, the lens switches and focus ring don’t rotate and tilt smoothly. Second, the lens mounts are often plastic instead of metal, which means they’ll wear out over time.

Finally, cheap lenses are made of cheap glass that’s not anti-reflective. As a result, flare and chromatic aberration are a problem when shooting high contrast. Image sharpness is also significantly 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, have 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.

Zoom or prime Telephoto Lenses?

Zoom lenses are generally better for telephoto purposes than prime lenses. The main reason is that they give you more flexibility, which is usually preferred in photography.

The same applies to shorter focal lengths as well, except for portrait or product photography, where you don’t need a wide range of focal lengths.

Best 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.

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

Price:

$219.00

The EF 75-300mm III lens isn’t the best Canon telephoto lens, but it’s many advantages that make it ideal for beginners and those looking for an inexpensive telephoto lens. First and foremost, the lens is small and lightweight. It’s also reasonably priced and has a reliable autofocus that’s comparable to more expensive models. Also, despite its low price, it’s remarkably sharp and takes good photos for such an inexpensive device. It’s not the sharpest lens I’ve ever used, but it’s inexpensive and has a wide zoom range. Plus, it’s compact enough to fit in any camera bag alongside the rest of your gear.

Pros
  • Surprisingly sharp.
  • STM focus.
  • 4.5x zoom.
  • Lightweight and compact.
Cons
  • Plastic mount.
  • No lens hood.
  • Narrow aperture.
MountCanon EF
Minimum focus distance1.5m
Max magnification0.25x
Elements/groups13/9
Diaphragm Blades7
AutofocusYes
StabilizerNo
Filter size58mm
Dimensions (W x L)71x122mm
Weight480g

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

Price:

$599.00

The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM is a versatile and compact telephoto lens with a balanced performance/cost ratio. It’s an updated version of the 70-300mm full-frame lens with improved AF, optical quality and a new electronic display. A lens hood is sold separately, but you may not need it because the lens isn’t prone to flare. Manual focusing is electronic. The AF is fast, quiet and very effective at setting the subject. The zoom ring can be pushed and pulled to switch between AF and MF, which is very useful for videography. Overall, sharpness in the center is very good and the CA is very well controlled for a small budget zoom lens. Images taken with this lens are esthetically pleasing. If you want sharp photos at a low price, this lens seems like a good option for you.

Pros
  • Fast autofocus.
  • Good stabilisation.
  • Decent build-quality.
  • Portable yet powerful.
Cons
  • Hood not included.
  • No weather seal around the mount.
  • Poor quality at 300mm.
MountCanon EF
Minimum focus distance1.2m
Max magnification0.25x
Elements/groups17/12
Diaphragm Blades9
AutofocusYes
StabilizerYes
Filter size67mm
Dimensions (W x L)80×145.5mm
Weight710g

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

Price:

$209.99

SP 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di VC USD is Tamron’s only lens with a silent ultrasonic focusing motor. Despite its sturdy plastic construction and compact design, the lens is very lightweight. The AF and VC switches are ergonomically designed and located on the left side, while the zoom ring is located on the back of the lens and is easy to grip. Since focusing is internal, there’s no need for external rotation, but even with ultrasonic focusing, it’s still slow compared to other Tamron lenses. Zooming in at 135mm reduces sharpness, but at f/11 the center and edges are sharpest. In addition to low distortion, chromatic aberration and light fall-off are also well under control. When you shoot handheld, camera shake is reduced. This feature isn’t available on other Tamron 70-300mm lenses.

Pros
  • Excellent optical performance.
  • Good build quality.
  • Ultrasonic drive.
  • Vibration reduction system.
Cons
  • Slow focusing.
MountCanon EF
Minimum focus distance1.5m
Max magnification0.25x
Elements/groups17/12
Diaphragm Blades9
AutofocusYes
StabilizerYes
Filter size62mm
Dimensions (W x L)81.5×142.7mm
Weight765g

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

Price:

$635.78

$799.00

If you don’t mind using third-party lenses, the Sigma 100-400mm f/5-6.3 is a very good and affordable telephoto Sigma lens for Canon. It combines good optical construction with a compact and lightweight design. The ergonomics of the lens are quite comfortable and you won’t have any problems with handling. However, there’s no weather protection, except for a rubber seal on the lens mount that prevents water from entering. The switches near the camera body for speed AF and optical stabilization can be reprogrammed by connecting them to a computer via a USB dock. Thanks to the Hyper Sonic Motor, the lens tends to capture and focus on the subject efficiently and quickly. The sharpness at the edges isn’t the best, but it improves when you lower the aperture to f/11. Then you get a sharp image over the entire frame. Chromatic aberration and distortion are well controlled, but you may find some edge fringing. You should put this lens on your wish list if you’re looking for a powerful, compact, and affordable lens for distant subjects like wildlife, sports, and birds.

Pros
  • Impressive image quality.
  • Optical stabilization.
  • Compact and lightweight.
  • Inexpensive.
Cons
  • Poor edge performance at 100mm.
  • Strong vignette at maximum aperture.
  • Some distortion.
  • No tripod collar.
MountCanon EF
Minimum focus distance1.6m
Max magnification0.26x
Elements/groups21/15
Diaphragm Blades9
AutofocusYes
StabilizerYes
Filter size67mm
Dimensions (W x L)4×182.3mm
Weight1,160g

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

Price:

$799.00

The compact Tamron 100-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD has a useful focal length range. Its magnesium alloy construction makes it lightweight, durable and suitable for harsh weather conditions. The lens doesn’t extend when focusing, but it does when zooming. As with other Tamron lenses, there are switches for vibration compensation, AF and MF. The VC system helps minimize camera shake and makes for sharper handheld shots. The Ultra Silent Drive autofocus motor makes the lens fast and precise and is suitable for shooting moving subjects. Sharpness in the center and corners is remarkably good up to f/22, but as the lens approaches f/32, photos soften. Despite the short focal length of 100 mm, chromatic aberration increases at higher focal lengths. In general, you can get this lens as an alternative to more expensive lenses for wildlife photography, sports, and portraits, but you may find the bokeh a bit disappointing.

Pros
  • Optical stabilization.
  • Fluorine lens coat.
  • Dust and moisture sealing.
  • Tripod collar option.
  • Pretty light and compact.
  • Affordable.
Cons
  • Soft edges at 100mm and 400mm.
  • Vignetting at max aperture.
  • Some pincushion distortion.
MountCanon EF
Minimum focus distance1.5m
Max magnification0.28x
Elements/groups17/11
Diaphragm Blades9
AutofocusYes
StabilizerYes
Filter size67mm
Dimensions (W x L)86.2x199mm
Weight1,135g

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

Price:

$1,199.00

$1,299.00

The Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8SP Di VC USD G2 is a high-quality lens that lives up to expectations. Not only is it moisture and dust resistant, but it also has an ergonomic shape for better handling and use. Both the focus ring and zoom ring operate smoothly. The ring-shaped Ultrasonic Silent Drive autofocus motor improves responsiveness and performance. There’s also an advanced VC system for stabilization. The lens indicates the distance to the subject via the focus scale and doesn’t extend when you zoom or focus. The lens seems to be quite susceptible to flare in bright and high-contrast shots, but sharpness is generally well maintained. Compared to similar and more expensive lenses, the Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8SP Di VC USD G2 doesn’t compromise image quality. This factor makes up for slight handling issues. The long range of AF makes it suitable for shooting distant subjects.

Pros
  • Excellent image quality.
  • Bright f/2.8 aperture.
  • Comes with a tripod collar.
  • Affordable.
  • Sturdy.
Cons
  • Flaring.
  • Not sharp beyond 200mm.
  • Dim corners.
MountCanon EF
Minimum focus distance0.95m
Max magnification0.16x
Elements/groups23/17
Diaphragm Blades9
AutofocusYes
StabilizerYes
Filter size77mm
Dimensions (W x L)87.9x193mm
Weight1,500g

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

Price:

$1,499.00

The Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II USM is very compact and features Canon’s Super Spectra coating and Fluorin coating, which repel dust and moisture and make the lens weather resistant. The manual focus ring turns smoothly and the AF is fast, quiet and precise. The zoom is smooth, but firm enough to prevent accidental focal length changes. The lens is sharp throughout the frame and offers a top aperture of f/4. The Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II USM is better than many competing lenses when it comes to controlling CA, reaching near zero in the center. Overall, the lens is ergonomically excellent and perhaps one of the best wildlife photography lenses on this list. With a bokeh that offers beautiful out-of-focus backgrounds, this lens is ideal for you if you’re into macro and telephoto photography.

Pros
  • Quite light.
  • Optical stabilisation.
  • Sharp.
  • Fixed aperture through zoom range.
Cons
  • Soft edges when zoomed in.
  • Expensive tripod collar.
MountCanon EF
Minimum focus distance1m
Max magnification0.27x
Elements/groups20/15
Diaphragm Blades9
AutofocusYes
StabilizerYes
Filter size72mm
Dimensions (W x L)80x176mm
Weight780g

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

Price:

$1,464.99

The Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Sport is incredibly adaptable and the favorite of many professional wildlife photographers. The lens stands out from similar budget lenses with its ease of use and ergonomically placed controls. The rugged and solid construction and magnesium body ensure that it can withstand rough use. You can set the focus limiter to full range or a limited range of 10 feet to infinity, making AF easier on distant subjects. The built-in Hyper Sonic Motor makes autofocus work faster and smoother, while also being quieter. The Intelligent Stabilizer helps reduce camera shake during handheld shooting. The Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Sport features Super Multi-Layer Coating to minimize flare and produce high-contrast, color-neutral images even in low-light conditions. The Special Low Dispersion element helps improve color quality, minimizes distortion and increases overall image sharpness. As part of the Sports Line, the lens offers exceptional speed, optical performance, and adjustment capabilities that make it the first choice for wildlife, sports activities, action, and other photography genres that involve photographing fast-moving subjects.

Pros
  • All weather sealings.
  • Good optical performance.
  • Image stabilisation.
  • Internal zoom.
Cons
  • Not sharp at 200mm.
  • Distortion.
  • Heavy.
MountCanon EF
Minimum focus distance1.2m
Max magnification0.21x
Elements/groups24/22
Diaphragm Blades11
AutofocusYes
StabilizerYes
Filter size82mm
Dimensions (W x L)94.2×202.9mm
Weight1,800g

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

Price:

$2,099.00

The Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM lens is the successor to the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM, but comes with a fast and bright f/2.8 maximum aperture. The lens is very compact and handy and you can easily carry it around all day. It features Canon’s Air Sphere coating and a fluorine coating that repels dust and moisture, making it all-weather capable. The lens has a wide manual focus ring on the front that lets you get a good grip on the lens. Sharpness in the center is excellent throughout the zoom range up to an aperture of f/2.8, and clarity is pretty good as well. However, both decrease towards the edges. CA and distortion are very well controlled and shouldn’t cause any problems. Although the lens is ergonomically excellent, it’s heavier and costs more than its younger brother. However, for photographers who need an aperture of f/2.8 in their Canon telephoto lens, its sharp image quality makes it an excellent choice. The lens produces impressive bokeh, making it a good choice for wildlife and even macro photography.

Pros
  • Sharp across the frame.
  • Excellently built.
  • Fluorine coating.
  • Image stabilisation.
Cons
  • Some distortion and vignetting.
MountCanon EF
Minimum focus distance1.2m
Max magnification0.21x
Elements/groups23/19
Diaphragm Blades8
AutofocusYes
StabilizerYes
Filter size77mm
Dimensions (W x L)88.8x199mm
Weight1,480g

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

Price:

$2,399.00

The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM is undoubtedly Canon’s best super telephoto lens. At the same time, it’s one of Canon’s professional lenses that doesn’t use a push-pull mechanism like its predecessor, which was often criticized for sucking dust into the camera. The lens is weather sealed, so you can shoot even in bad weather conditions. Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM follows Canon’s signature L-series design and offers superior build quality that stands up to the rigors of daily professional use. An ultrasonic motor drives the AF, so the AF focuses very quickly. The focus ring rotates smoothly so you can easily adjust focus manually, while the filter ring doesn’t rotate when focusing, which is ideal if you’re using graduated and polarizing filters. The Canon EF 100-400mm is also compatible with Canon teleconverters, which let you extend the zoom range even further. Center sharpness is excellent throughout the zoom range, and clarity toward the edges is also excellent. 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 in terms of performance. The excellent zoom mechanism and high resistance to flare make it a good choice for street photography and close-ups. It’s a great Canon telephoto lens for wildlife photography.

Pros
  • Superb sharpness.
  • Optical stabilisation.
  • Fast autofocus.
  • Quite compact.
Cons
  • Expensive.
  • Barrel distortion at 100mm.
MountCanon EF
Minimum focus distance0.98m
Max magnification0.31x
Elements/groups21/16
Diaphragm Blades9
AutofocusYes
StabilizerYes
Filter size77mm
Dimensions (W x L)94x193mm
Weight1,640g

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 excellent 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...

Best Telephoto EF-S Lenses

The EF-S lenses are designed to be used with Canon Digital SLRs with an APS-C 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 listed in the previous chapter EF lenses.

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

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

Price:

$299.00

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 stepper motor technology, which promises smoother and quieter AF, which is helpful when shooting video. It’s a small lens made of high quality plastic, just like the previous version. Unlike many Canon USM lenses, the focus cannot be overridden manually. Still, the focus ring is quite light and easy to use, so you can make manual changes quickly. The side switch toggles between AF and MF. When using filters, the filter ring doesn’t rotate when focusing, which is very helpful. Across the zoom range, sharpness in the center and clarity at the edges are exceptional. Distortion and chromatic aberration are well managed, reaching relatively low levels that should be easy to eliminate in post-processing.

Pros
  • Surprisingly sharp.
  • STM focus.
  • 4.5x zoom.
  • Lightweight and compact.
Cons
  • Plastic mount.
  • No lens hood.
  • Narrow aperture.
MountCanon EF-S
Minimum focus distance0.85m
Max magnification0.29x
Elements/groups15/12
Diaphragm Blades7
AutofocusYes
StabilizerYes
Filter size58mm
Dimensions (W x L)70×111.2mm
Weight375g

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

Price:

$599.00

$649.00

The Tamron 18-400mm f3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD lens isn’t a typical zoom lens. The lens has an excellent wide-angle to super telephoto range that lets you capture wide landscapes or small wildlife up close. Because you can shoot both up close and far away with this lens without having to change lenses, you can carry it in your camera backpack for extended periods of time – ideal for long trips where bulky gear isn’t possible or practical. This hyper-telephoto zoom features 16 elements in 11 groups that eliminate chromatic aberration and distortion while maintaining high sharpness throughout the zoom range.

Pros
  • Very sharp.
  • Bright f/1.8 aperture.
  • No distortion.
  • Sigma USB Dock compatible.
  • Rotating tripod collar.
Cons
  • Short zoom range.
  • Heavy.
  • No image stabilisation.
  • Expensive.
MountCanon EF
Minimum focus distance0.98m
Max magnification0.31x
Elements/groups21/16
Diaphragm Blades9
AutofocusYes
StabilizerYes
Filter size77mm
Dimensions (W x L)94x193mm
Weight1,640g

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

$599.00

$649.00

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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.

3. Samyang Reflex 300mm f/6.3 UMC CS

Price:

Price not available

The Samyang 300mm f/6.3 Reflex Lens is a unique small telephoto lens with Cassegrain construction and the ability to achieve a focal length of 480mm in 35mm film format. This fixed focal length lens is designed for DSLR cameras with APS-C sensor and Canon mount EF and takes this into account with a significant reduction in size and weight. Samyang’s lens lineup has a long history of providing its customers with the best photographic equipment. The architecture of the 300mm f/6.3 lens with ultra multi-coating reduces surface reflections and ghosting for better imaging. It also eliminates chromatic aberrations for sharp, stunning images. The fixed f/6.3 aperture with eight elements in eight groups provides a zoom of up to 3.6′.

Pros
  • Very light and compact.
  • Decent optical quality.
  • Inexpensive.
Cons
  • No AF or image stabilisation.
  • Donut bokeh.
MountCanon EF (for APS-C)
Minimum focus distance1.1m
Max magnification/
Elements/groups8/8
Diaphragm Blades/
AutofocusNo
StabilizerNo
Filter size58mm
Dimensions (W x L)64.5×76.1mm
Weight270g

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

Price:

$999.00

Sigma combines tradition and technology in this lens with EF mount. The Sigma 50-100mm f/1.8 DC HSM is ideal for professional and amateur photographers who want to capture portraits and landscapes with a shallow depth of field at a fast f/1.8 aperture.

The Sigma design uses a range of low dispersion, high refractive index components to reduce aberrations, color fringing and distortion. The lens has been treated with a Super Multi-Layer coating that reduces ghosting and flare and increases contrast and color accuracy.

The optical advantages of this Sigma 50-100mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art lens are balanced by an Advanced Hyper Sonic Motor that offers fast, quiet and precise AF performance. This Sigma lens comes with a tripod clamp for added stability when used on a tripod or monopod.

Pros
  • Very sharp.
  • Bright f/1.8 aperture.
  • No distortion.
  • Sigma USB Dock compatible.
  • Rotating tripod collar.
Cons
  • Short zoom range.
  • Heavy.
  • No image stabilisation.
  • Expensive.
MountCanon EF (for APS-C)
Minimum focus distance0.95m
Max magnification0.15x
Elements/groups21/15
Diaphragm Blades9
AutofocusYes
StabilizerNo
Filter size82mm
Dimensions (W x L)93.5×170.7mm
Weight1,490g

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
SALE
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.

Best Canon EF-S (APS-C) Cameras

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

Quality 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, these are 10 budget telephoto zoom 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 Canon 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

Price:

$399.00

This is an ideal telephoto lens EF -M mount for any EOS -M camera. It’s a 1.6x crop factor, giving it an effective focal length of 88-320 mm. 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 more expensive lenses, but without their weight and size. This makes it very useful for traveling and hiking when you don’t want to carry a heavy bag. It’s also very compact, so you can easily carry it in your bag. It’s also very lightweight, so it’s easy to handle. The lens isn’t suitable for professional use due to its lack of quality and small aperture, but it’s perfect for amateurs or beginners. It’s also very lightweight, inexpensive and easy to use. The Canon EF -M 55-200mm f/4-5.6 is best suited for wildlife photographers who want to shoot animals from a distance.

Pros
  • Good central sharpness.
  • Image stabilisation.
  • Compact.
Cons
  • Soft towards edges.
  • Some distortion.
  • Plastic mount.
  • Narrow aperture.
MountCanon EF-M
Minimum focus distance1m
Max magnification0.21x
Elements/groups17/11
Diaphragm Blades7
AutofocusYes
StabilizerYes
Filter size52mm
Dimensions (W x L)60.9×86.5mm
Weight260g

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...
EF-EOS M Lens Adapter Auto-Focus Lens Converter...
  • Compatibility: EF-EOS M mount adapter compatible for Canon EF and...
  • AF Function & Aperture Control: fast auto-focus(AF) speed;...
  • Built-in IS(Image Stabilizer): built-in image stabilizer, making...
  • EXIF Signal Transmission: use gold-plated needle/PIN to transmit...

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 constant 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 lengths instead of a single one.

Summary

While buying a 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.

About your guide

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Matic Broz

Matic Broz is a photographer, graphic designer, and stock photographer. For over ten years he's been helping photographers improve their photos and graphic designers find the best images for their designs. His work has been featured by Lifewire, Skylum, and PetaPixel. In his free time, he enjoys photography, hiking, and petting random dogs. Read more

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