Reviews of the Best Telephoto Lenses for Canon DSLRs

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens

The wide angle lens may be used more often in landscape photography, but there will certainly be times when a telephoto lens is needed to get the photo that you want. When it comes to deciding which telephoto lens to buy, there is no shortage of options. Since a quality telephoto lens isn’t cheap, it pays to do some research and make sure that you are picking the best one for you. With that in mind, we’ve put together this list of recommended telephoto lenses for Canon users.

All of the lenses we have selected for this list are telephoto zooms. There are prime lenses available as well, rating one prime vs. another is more challenging because getting the right focal length for your needs is probably the most critical factor in the decision. We also find telephoto zooms to be more practical and flexible. Canon offers a few telephoto lenses in their L series that are extremely expensive. Since those lenses are out of the budget for even most professionals, we’re skipping any lens that is priced more like a car than a lens.

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The Best Telephoto Lenses for Canon

5. Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary Lens

The first lens we’ll mention is a third-party lens made by Sigma. Their are some high-quality third-party lenses that allow you to get a good lens without breaking the bank. This lens gives you a huge focal length range with the ability to go from 150-600mm. The extreme reach of this lens gives you plenty of potential. The max aperture varies from f/5 to f/6.3, depending on the focal length you are using. This lens features image stabilization and weighs in at just over 4 pounds, which is heavy, but reasonable for the focal length.

  • For full frame or APS-C sensors
  • focal range: 150-600mm
  • aperture range: f/5 – f/22
  • image stabilization: yes
  • 95mm front filter diameter
  • weight: 4.3 lbs.
Reviews of the Best Telephoto Lenses for Canon DSLRs

Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary Lens

4. Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 Lens

This one is very comparable to the Sigma lens, but made by Tamron and costs a few hundred dollars more. Still, it is a good price for a lens of this quality in the telephoto to supertelephoto category. Like the Sigma lens, it also gives you the range from 150-600mm with a max aperture that varies from f/5 to f/6.3. This lens also features image stabilization and is about the same weight as the Sigma lens, although just slightly heavier. The reasons we’ve rated this one ahead of the Sigma are overall image quality and the minimum aperture, which goes all the way to f/40. If you’re looking to save a few hundred dollars you can always go with the older generation version of this lens.

  • For full frame or APS-C sensors
  • focal range: 150-600mm
  • aperture range: f/5 – f/40
  • image stabilization: yes
  • 95mm front filter diameter
  • weight: 4.42 lbs.
Reviews of the Best Telephoto Lenses for Canon DSLRs

Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 Lens

3. Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM Lens

No, moving on from the third-party lenses we come to a great option made by Canon. This lens gives you a nice range from 70-300mm and a very high image quality and sharpness, which you would expect from a lens in Canon’s L series. The max aperture is slightly better than the lenses previously mentioned, while the minimum aperture goes all the way to f/45.  This lens also has image stabilization. It can be used with a removable tripod collar, but does not come with one. At less than 2.5 pounds, it is much lighter than the previous lenses as well. The price of this lens is comparable to the Tamron lens we have ranked at #4.

  • For full frame or APS-C sensors
  • focal range: 70-300mm
  • aperture range: f/4 – f/45
  • image stabilization: yes
  • 67mm front filter diameter
  • weight: 3.5 lbs.
Reviews of the Best Telephoto Lenses for Canon DSLRs

Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM Lens

2. Canon EF 100-400mm f/4-5.6L IS II USM Lens

Now we start to step up in price. This one is more expensive than the previous lenses, but still reasonable, especially for professionals. This lens gives a little more reach than the previous lens by going all the way to 400mm, and the max aperture is the same. The image quality of this lens is outstanding. It is the same weight as the Canon  EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L.

If you like this lens but the price is out of reach, there is another option. You can save a few hundred dollars by opting for the older generation of the same lens. Of course, the newer generation has some upgrades in terms of the technology and quality, but the older lens is still very good.

  • For full frame or APS-C sensors
  • focal range: 100-400mm
  • aperture range: f/4 – 40
  • image stabilization: yes
  • 77mm front filter diameter
  • weight: 3.5 lbs.
Reviews of the Best Telephoto Lenses for Canon DSLRs

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4-5.6L IS II USM Lens

1. Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens

Now we come to our top-rated lens on this list, the Canon EF 70-20mm f/2.8L IS II USM. This lens is loved by many photographers for its outstanding quality and sharpness. The range is shorter than the others on this list, going only to 200mm. However, if you need more reach this lens will produce quality images with a teleconverter. The max aperture of f/2.8 is a big upgrade over every other lens on this list, although that may not be critical for most landscape photography. It features image stabilization and is about the same weight as the lens we have rated #2 and #3. The price is about the same as our #2 rated lens. While it is no small amount of money, it is a reachable price for many photographers.

  • For full frame or APS-C sensors
  • focal range: 70-200mm
  • aperture range: f/2.8 – 32
  • image stabilization: yes
  • 77mm front filter diameter
  • weight: 3.28 lbs.

If you really like the 70-200mm but can’t afford this one, you do have some other options. First, you could go with the older generation version of the same lens and save several hundred dollars, which is still a quality lens. Next, if the max aperture of f/2.8 isn’t important to you, you could opt for the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM, which is a bargain for an L series lens. There are also some third party options. The Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 is a quality lens at a much lower price than the Canon equivalent. The Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 APO EX DG HSM OS FLD is priced about the same as the Tamron and is also a quality lens

Reviews of the Best Telephoto Lenses for Canon DSLRs

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens

Choosing the Right Telephoto Lens for You

When it comes time to decide on a lens to buy there are several factors that you will need to keep in mind. First of all, budget is always a factor. Our top 3 rated lens, all in the Canon L series, are all priced comparably. The Tamron and Sigma lenses ranked 4 and 5 on our list will save you some money while still giving you a quality lens. With the Canon lenses, in some cases you can save a few hundred dollars by opting for the older version of the lens. The older versions are still good quality, even if they are not 100% as good as the latest versions.

You’ll also want to consider the maximum aperture that you are likely to need. For example, our number 1 rated lens offers a max aperture of f/2.8, while some of the others offer a max aperture of f/4-5.6. This may or may not be a big issue for landscape photography, but it is something to consider.

Of course, you’ll also want to determine just how much reach you need. The lenses on this list reach anywhere from 200mm to 600mm, which is obviously a big difference. Keep in mind that you can also use a teleconverter if you need a little more reach.

Ultimately, there is no right or wrong choice.

Are you a Nikon user? See our Reviews of the Best Telephoto Lenses for Nikon DSLRs.