It might be difficult to choose the best zoom lens for Canon. We’ve narrowed it down for you so you can pick the best lens for your shooting style.
A close-up of a 24-70mm lens with a background of an out-of-focus 70-200mm lens. The Canon zoom recommendations for 2021 have been revised and reprinted in this post.
What is the best Canon zoom lens? That’s a huge question that may rapidly overwhelm customers. A zoom lens is a way to choose if you want a lens that can be used in a variety of shooting settings. Consider the following considerations while selecting a lens, as well as a list of our favorites.
Most people believe that zoom lenses are only useful for photographing distant subjects, however, that isn’t the case. A zoom lens, in technical terms, is one that allows you to alter focus lengths. Photographers adore zoom lenses for their versatility and ability to capture a wide range of settings and objects with a single barrel twist, rather than lugging multiple primes (single focal length lenses).
What is the Best Zoom Lens for Canon?
Here are eight of our favorite Canon zoom lenses…
- Canon 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye
- Canon 11-24mm f/4L
- Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L III
- Sigma 24-35mm f/2 Art
- Canon 24-70 f/2.8 L II
- Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS III
- Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II
- Canon 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II
What to Consider When Choosing a Zoom Lens
The way you intend to use your zoom lens will play a big part in determining which one is best for you. Landscapes, real estate, cityscapes, street photography, and events all benefit from a lens in the 16-35mm range. Longer zooms, such as those in the 70-200mm range, are great for sports, wildlife, and some portrait shooting. If you just want to purchase one lens, a 24-70mm or 24-105mm is an excellent choice, according to most people. This mid-range lens can handle a wide range of topics while remaining compact.
Primes vs Zooms
Zoom lenses have a range of focal lengths, unlike prime lenses, which have fixed focal lengths. This is what gives them their versatility, albeit it occasionally comes at the expense of sharpness and speed. A single zoom lens may be utilized for a variety of topics depending on the focus range. A zoom lens may be the way to go if you don’t want to change lenses all the time (or simply can’t afford a fleet of primes). Remember that, despite their many advantages, zoom lenses do have certain drawbacks. They don’t usually have as large a maximum aperture as prime rivals. Zoom lenses are also heavier and more costly than regular lenses.
The aperture of a lens refers to how wide or narrow its inner ring (or diaphragm) can open to let light in. Consider how your eye’s iris expands and contracts when light conditions change – that’s how aperture works. Because the aperture is measured in fractions, an aperture of f/2.8 is really bigger than an aperture of f/18.
The wider your lens opens and the lighter it allows in, the bigger your aperture (i.e. the smaller the bottom number of the fraction). A larger aperture allows you to photograph in low light with a quicker shutter speed and produce more blur to separate your subject from the backdrop, as well as generate more blur to separate your subject from the background.
Zoom lenses don’t have as wide an aperture as prime lenses, but they may commonly reach maximum apertures of f/2.8, which is more than enough for most people. On a long lens like 70-200mm, an aperture of f/2.8 will allow you to blur the backdrop of your subject, creating a lovely bokeh effect. In general, the larger a lens’ maximum aperture is, the more costly it is.
The further you zoom with a zoom lens, the more camera shaking may affect your photos. While some lenses have built-in stabilization, others benefit from using a tripod while shooting at extremely long focal lengths. Whether or not you need built-in stabilization depends on how you want to use your lens. Although stabilization might increase the cost and weight of a lens, it can also be quite beneficial.
Which lenses you may use depends on the sensor size of your camera (APS-C or full-frame). Not all lenses are compatible with all sensor types. Another thing to remember is that an APS-C sensor’s crop factor (usually 1.6x) will have the effect of “adding” to your zoom. In other words, on a crop sensor camera, you’ll feel like you’re getting greater reach out of the same lens, but your photos will be less broad.
Size and Weight
Even within the same focal range, zoom lenses come in a variety of sizes and weights. The good news is that many of them are rather light. The bad news is that the best lenses tend to be rather heavy. When picking a zoom lens, think about how much weight you’re comfortable carrying. In general, the longer the lens, the heavier it is.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the greatest Canon zoom lenses, ranked from widest to longest. We’re also thinking about pricing ranges. All of these lenses work with Canon EF mount cameras with full-frame and APS-C sensors (or with Canon RF mount mirrorless cameras when paired with the right adapter).
Summary of our Best Zoom Lenses for Canon
Here are 8 great Canon zoom lenses to consider, based on a combination of quality, price range, and user reviews:
Fisheye Canon 8-15mm f/4L
The Canon 8-15mm f/4L zoom lens is at the broad end of the zoom lens range. This fisheye lens captures extraordinarily broad vistas and gives you a unique 180o view. This lens generates a lot of distorted pictures, which is part of its appeal. Aspherical picture in the middle of a black frame appears at 8mm, but as you approach 15mm, the subject fills the frame and takes on a dreamlike, distorted-reality appearance.
Since 1987, this autofocus lens has been compatible with every Canon camera that has autofocus, whether it’s a film camera, a digital camera with an APS-C sensor, or a full-frame sensor. It has a minimum focus distance of 6 inches, allowing you to get close to your subject. Fisheye lenses aren’t for everyone, but if you want to experiment with perspective, this is the lens for you.
Canon 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye
One of the widest non-fisheye lenses available is the Canon 11-24mm f/4L. This lens is intended for professional photographers who require a wide-angle, high-resolution zoom lens. While this lens will operate on an APS-C camera, it is best for full-frame photographers. Even while shooting at 11mm with an f/4 aperture, this lens retains clarity throughout the frame. It’s ideal for landscape and real estate photography, where the super-wide lens comes in handy.
Despite this lens’ excellent features, one thing to bear in mind before purchasing one is that an ultra-wide lenses can be tricky to operate. The more of a scene you want to squeeze into the frame, the more attention you need to pay to composition and any distracting clutter. The Canon 16-35mm f/4L is a better choice for non-professionals looking for a wide-angle lens. But what about professionals who require an extra-wide lens? There isn’t anything better on the market.
Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L III
One of the most popular super-wide Canon lenses for landscape, event, and architecture photography is the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L III. Beautiful, crisp photos are produced by this professional-quality lens. It’s also quite adaptable and simple to use. This lens is wide enough to capture huge vistas at 16mm, but zoom to 35mm for a more conventional focal length that works well for a variety of applications, including portraiture.
This lens is also available in an f/4 variant from Canon, which is slower but has built-in image stabilization. If picture stabilization is essential to you, the f/4 may be a better option, especially if you rarely shoot wide-open. Go for the f/2.8L III if you want to shoot any kind of low-light photography or want the most bokeh-y photos imaginable.
Sigma 24-35mm f/2 Art
Sigma’s Art lenses, including the 24-35mm f/2 zoom lens, are among the best in the market. This lens delivers exceptionally crisp photos and has a helpful wide-to-moderate zoom range. The fact that it boasts a maximum aperture of f/2, the widest on our list, maybe its most remarkable attribute. It’s nearly like having many quick prime lenses while using this lens, which is great for individuals who want to shoot primes but don’t want to switch lenses all the time.
This lens is sturdy, hefty, and well-constructed. It has the appearance and functionality of a professional-grade piece of equipment. If there’s one criticism of Sigma’s Art lenses, it’s that they have focus difficulties. They may go out of calibration with your camera at times. But, to be honest, this is true of any lens. Sigma’s USB calibration dock addresses these focus difficulties by allowing you to fine-tune focusing to your individual camera.
Canon 24-70 f/2.8 L II
The 24-70mm lens range is perhaps the most flexible, and the Canon 24-70 f/2.8L II is one of the best in this category. This lens is great for anybody looking for a high-quality, versatile lens that can be used for landscapes, portraiture, and sports photography. This lens is frequently mentioned when people ask what one lens they can use for almost anything. While it lacks the image stabilization seen in some of its competitors, the optics and pictures it creates are unrivaled.
This lens’ body is composed of extremely tough plastic, making it somewhat lighter than its predecessor, the Canon 24-70 f/2.8L. A plastic body on such an expensive lens may come as a shock, but all it takes is picking it up and using it for a while to evaluate whether it is worth the financial strain. This is a high-quality professional lens that produces stunning photos. Year after year, it is a consumer favorite.
Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS III
This Canon telephoto lens is one of the best and most popular on the market. Because of its lightning-fast focusing and beautiful pictures, the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS III is a mainstay in the backpacks of many professional sports, wedding, and wildlife photographers. Throughout its focal range, this lens keeps its maximum aperture of f/2.8. You may isolate your subject against a wonderfully blurred background by shooting at f/2.8 at 200mm.
This lens is composed of heavy-duty aluminum and is weatherproof. This means it can withstand almost everything you can throw at it, but it also means it’s quite hefty. The 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS III is a beast to transport, but it might be the finest Canon DSLR lens on the market for photographers in need of a long zoom lens. The prior versions of this lens have stood the test of time, so now that the Mark III version is out, search for excellent bargains on the older models.
Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II
For professional photographers looking for an extra-long zoom, Canon’s 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens is one of the best on the market. This lens is great for sports and wildlife photographers. Fun fact: I leased the original version of this lens while I was in high school (for a jousting event).
The maximum aperture of f/4.5 is sufficient for most applications, but if you plan on photographing indoor sports, you might want to consider the 70-200mm f/2.8 instead. This is a fantastic portrait lens as well. When you shoot portraits at 400mm and f/5.6, your backdrop will be heavily blurred, isolating your subject and generating gorgeous bokeh.
The lowest focusing distance is 3.2 feet, which is extremely tight for a lens of this length. You know how annoying it is to be unable to concentrate on a subject that is too close using a long zoom lens. This close-focus distance offers you more area to work with and allows you to continue shooting even as your subject moves closer.
Canon 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II
The 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 IS II is a wonderful place to start if you’re a beginning photographer searching for the finest budget-friendly zoom lens for Canon. While this lens doesn’t have the same wide aperture or outstanding image quality as its closest Canon counterpart, it’s still worth a look. At a low price, this lens provides good image quality, built-in stabilization, and a long reach. The on-lens LCD display shows the focus distance, focal length, and stabilizer settings.
This is an excellent choice for photographers who are just starting out or want to try their hand at long focal length photography. It’s much lighter and smaller than the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8, making it much more convenient to carry about all day.
The fact that its maximum aperture is just f/4.5 may be the largest disadvantage, but for most beginning photographers, this will not be an issue. In low-light situations, when you’re forced to slow down your shutter due to a lack of a very wide aperture, the stabilizer will assist compensate. You’ll still get gorgeous bokeh because of the length. This is an excellent lens for learning and getting started with photography.
On a table, Canon zoom lenses
The Best Zoom Lens for Canon Depends on Overall Subject Matter
You still haven’t decided on a genre? The 24-70mm lens will be your best bet. Do you primarily photograph landscapes? Take a look at the 16-35mm lens. Are you primarily interested in birds, sports, or want to spend on a picture safari? The 70-200mm will not let you down.
Zoom lenses are quite popular for a reason: they are really helpful. They’re also available in a variety of pricing points and focal lengths. If you’re having trouble deciding which Canon zoom lens is perfect for you, consider renting a few before making a purchase.