Best Canon Telephoto Lens

Are you looking for the best Canon telephoto lens with reach and top image quality?

This article I will let you know which lenses I recommend to achieve your goals. I’ve been shooint professionally as a sports, landscape, and event photographer for a couple decades and I’ve had the opportunity to condense my experience to save you time and money.

Check the quick list below for links to customer revies and prices for the best Canon telephoto lens picks or read on for the full review

  1. Canon EF 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS STM
  2. Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM
  3. Tamron SP 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di USD
  4. Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM S
  5. Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM
  6. Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2
  7. Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II USM
  8. Tamron 100-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD
  9. Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS II USM
  10. Sigma 100-400mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM C

[The Main Museum is supported by readers just like you. Some links on TheMainMuseum are affiliate and we earn a small commission when you make a purchase. As always, all recommendations are based on performance and value for you]

This list of recommendations are geared toward covering all photographer experience and budget levels. No matter which Canon camera you use and whatever your budget is, I have combined the best lenses for you to accomplish your goal of capturing the best images possible. If you want a lower cost lens the beginning of the list is for you, and if you have a larger budget to invest in your telephoto lens, then the end of the list is where you want to go.

The unifying theme is that each of these lenses will allow you to reach far off subjects and capture stunning images. Keep in mind, as with most things in life, you did get what you pay for. But if you are on budget, fear not, you can still get amazing telephoto lenses for your Canon and they are right below.

Best Canon Telephoto Lenses

Whether you are shooting sports, wildlife, or even panoramic landscapes a high quality telephoto lens is a must to have the reach to capture your subjects and tell a story through your photographs. This is true for the football or basketball photographer, or the intrepid wildlife adventure photographer.

I’ve shot all of the above and more and there is no better investment than a high quality lens that can put any subject within reach. Top lenses will allow you to do this without image distortion or aberrations while offering great focus and flattering image capture.

You will find both Canon and third party compatible lenses that are up to the challenge. And depending on your budget, you can get some really cool features to help you take your telephoto photography to the next level.

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

Great Value APS-C Format EF-S Lens

  • Mount: Canon EF-S
  • Not Full Frame Compatible
  • Stepping Motor Autofocus
  • Image Stabilization
  • Minimum Focus Distance of 0.85m
  • 58mm Filter Thread
  • Dimensions: 70x111mm
  • Weight: 375g

This budget friendly Canon telephoto lens is incredibly lightweight and easy to use. It offers a great autofocus system that is silent and performs consistently. The build quality is not as robust as more pricey models as plastic is used but that is why this model is so lightweight. It is designed for APS-C DSLR’s which means it is smaller than most other models as well.

This is an updated version of the highly popular IS II model and the AF motor is upgraded for silent and consistent performance. The autofocus is fast and accurate and works well for both still shots and video. It does not come with a hood but the price is extremely reasonable making this lens a great model for the budget conscious photographer.

Check current price and customer reviews

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

Best Value 70-300mm Canon Lens

  • Mount: Canon EF
  • Full Frame Compatible
  • Nano USM Autofocus
  • Image Stabilizer
  • 1.2m Minimum Focus Distance
  • 67mm Filter Thread
  • Dimensions: 80x146mm
  • Weight: 710g

This excellent value telephoto lens provides great performance perfect for still shots and video. The autofocus performs very well and offers silent and accurate function without the focus ring rotating. You also get great image stabilization with 4 stop rating that helps you achieve impressive image quality at this low price point. Images come out with great contrast and little distortion. One of the best features is the LCD screen that allows you to seamlessly go through display modes on the fly. This lens also does not come with a hood but the price can’t be beat.

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

Impressive Autofocus Performance

  • Mount: Canon EF
  • Full Frame Compatible
  • Ultrasonic Ring Type Autofocus
  • Image Stabilizer
  • 1.5m Minimum Focus Distance
  • 62mm Filter Thread
  • Dimensions: 82x143mm
  • Weight: 765g

This is an exceptional third party Canon compatible telephoto lens. The price is a bit more than the first lenses but it is a great model worth the investment. The ring type ultrasonic autofocus is impressively fast and accurate which is an upgrade over the budget models. You won’t get this AF performance in a cheaper lens. This lens allows you to shoot in hand thanks to the high quality image stabilization. While not top in class, it is a great performer that doesn’t break the bank. You will get beautiful image quality with great contrast and subject sharpness. And this lens comes with the hood!

Check current price and customer reviews

Top Premium Telephoto Lenses

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

True Professional Image Quality and Performance

  • Mount: Canon EF
  • Full Frame Compatible
  • Ultrasonic Ring Type Autofocus
  • Image Stabilizer
  • 1.2m Minimum Focus Distance
  • 82mm Filter Thread
  • Dimensions: 94x203mm
  • Weight: 1805g

This modern telephoto lens provides absolutely jaw dropping performance and image quality. It is from Sigma’s sports line and is very popular with professional sports and wildlife photographers. The autofocus is high end and provides lighting fast and accurate performance thanks to the ring type ultrasonic system. You get on/hold buttons on the lens barrel which is customizable with most Canon DSLR’s.

You get full range automatic lens aberration correction as well with the addition of two custom modes that you can setup for your particular needs. Setup is easy with Sigma’s optional USB dock. Your images will be extremely sharp and this is maintained even when shooting wide open. And the image stabilizer will ensure your images look amazing every time.

This lens is big though. It is bulky and weighs a lot even when the tripod foot is removed. But that is the only complaint I can come up with for this amazing Canon telephoto lens.

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Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM

Incredibly Fast AF and Excellent Image Stabilization

  • Mount: Canon RF
  • Full Frame Compatible
  • Dual Nano USM Autofocus
  • Image Stabilizer
  • .7m Minimum Focus Distance
  • 77mm Filter Thread
  • Dimensions: 90x146mm
  • Weight: 1070g

This telephoto offers exceptionally fast autofocus that works so well it’s hard to go back to a lower quality lens. It is compatible with the Canon EOS R series cameras and offers a barrel that extends when using longer zoom settings. It is smaller than most lenses in it’s class and fits well in most camera bags. It is also lightweight for it’s size and pairs exceptionally well with Canon mirrorless cameras. The Dual Nano USM AF is special and offers the best autofocus I’ve found in a lens this price. The build quality is what you expect from a high quality lens and it provides truly impressive image quality. The only downside is that dust can be drawn into the lens but with proper care this should not be an issue.

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

Professional Performance at Third Party Price Point

  • Mount: Canon EF
  • Full Frame Compatible
  • Ultrasonic Ring Type Autofocus
  • Image Stabilizer
  • .95m Minimum Focus Distance
  • 77mm Filter Thread
  • Dimensions: 88x194mm
  • Weight: 1500g

The Tamron SP 70-200mm is currently outperforming the Canon 70-200mm which is great for you as you will save a lot of money for even better performance. You get pro quality AF that is incredibly fast and accurate with dual microprocessors. The image stabilizer is also top level offering 5 stops with multiple operating modes.

You can set it for static and panning shots as well as a setting specifically for stabilizing during actual exposures. This will no alter the viewfinder image. This is great for tracking moving subjects. Image quality is eye popping and this lens is also compatible with Tamron tele-converts. This is one heck of a lens at a great price.

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

Lightweight with Pro Autofocus and Image Stabilization

  • Mount: Canon EF
  • Full Frame Compatible
  • Ultrasonic Ring Type Autofocus
  • Image Stabilizer
  • 1.0m Minimum Focus Distance
  • 72mm Filter Thread
  • Dimensions: 80x176mm
  • Weight: 780g

The Canon EF 70-200mm was upgraded and now offers better image quality than it’s predecessor. Color contrast is amazing and images absolutely pop. The glass elements were also upgraded with more refined coating to stop flare and ghosting. The front and read elements come with a fluorine coating that keeps moisture and grease from damaging your lens. It provides you with optical stabilization with 5 stops and three switchable operating modes. This lens is very lightweight making it a breeze to shoot with for long sessions in hand but it performs equally as well on a tripod.

While not as fast as the Tamron above, if you can live with a slightly slower AF, the image quality you get with this Canon lens is well worth the investment.

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Top Long Range Canon Telephoto Lenses

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

Great Price with Incredible Reach

  • Mount: Canon EF
  • Full Frame Compatible
  • Ultrasonic Ring Type Autofocus
  • Image Stabilizer
  • 1.5m Minimum Focus Distance
  • 67mm Filter Thread
  • Dimensions: 86x199mm
  • Weight: 1135g

This is a very lightweight long range telephoto lens that packs a lot of bang for your buck. It actually costs less than most 70-200mm lenses while providing serious reach. This Tamron lens is built well and is designed to provide years of exceptional performance. The autofocus is super fast and offers 4 stop dual mode stabilization with an autofocus limiter switch.

You get weather proofing and exceptional image quality that is almost as good as the costlier Canon 100-400mm.

Check current price and customer reviews

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

Professional Telephoto Lens with Great All Around Performance

  • Mount: Canon EF
  • Full Frame Compatible
  • Ultrasonic Ring Type Autofocus
  • Image Stabilizer
  • .98m Minimum Focus Distance
  • 77mm Filter Thread
  • Dimensions: 94x193mm
  • Weight: 1640g

This big Canon lens offers everything a professional requires. It has a price that goes with it but if you will not compromise on performance this lens fits the bill. You get a tripod mounting ring included along with the superb build quality of Canon’s L-series lenses. It comes fully weather sealed so you can handle any weather without concern for damaging your lens. The Mark II model utilizes the conventional twist ring zoom instead of the more cumbersome push pull style on previous models. You do still get the adjustable friction damper for the zoom mechanism. This will prevent zoom creep.

The glass offers fluorite and super ultra low dispersion elements in addition to air sphere coating which will all but eliminate flare and ghosting. It is also designed with fluorine coating on the front and rear elements. Add in a 4 stop triple mode image stabilization and you start to understand how truly special this lens is. This lens is incredibly popular and it has earned that popularity through uncompromising performance.

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

Amazing Performance and Handling

  • Mount: Canon EF
  • Full Frame Compatible
  • Ultrasonic Ring Type Autofocus
  • Image Stabilizer
  • 1.6m Minimum Focusing Distance
  • 67mm Filter Thread
  • Dimensions: 86x182mm
  • Weight: 1160g

This lens is a bit lower priced but still provides great performance in a lightweight and manageable package. It is well built and designed making it an exceptional lens for your bag. Zoom performance is solid and smooth providing easy push pull action. It comes with a lens hood that is designed for this lenses zoom.

You get 4 special low dispersion elements that provide exceptional optics. The ultrasonic ring type autofocus is fast and accurate with three switchable focus modes. This will allow you to prioritize manual and AF modes. You get the option to customize your settings of image stabilization and AF through the Sigma USB dock.

Image quality is not as good as Canon and slightly less than Tamron but at this price the Sigma 100-400mm lens offers exceptional long range telephoto performance for the price.

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Conclusion

  1. Canon EF 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS STM
  2. Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM
  3. Tamron SP 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di USD
  4. Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM S
  5. Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM
  6. Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2
  7. Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II USM
  8. Tamron 100-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD
  9. Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS II USM
  10. Sigma 100-400mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM C

Whether you are seasoned pro or a beginning to the world of telephoto photography it is well worth investing in the best Canon lens you can. Depending on your budget, any of the lenses above will provide you with excellent performance and image quality allowing you to improve your images to the best they can be.

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