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The Best Canon Sports Lenses: Our Top Picks for Stunning Sports Photos

Sports photography generally requires specialist equipment. If you want to capture pristine quality action shots, you need a high-quality camera and a powerful lens. Canon offers some incredible prime and telephoto lenses that are worthy of the title “Best Canon Sports Lens”. If you want to get into sports photography and capture some incredible shots, you need one of these lenses.

The Best Canon Sports Lenses: Prime Lenses

Prime lenses offer some seriously impressive quality. Canon has a magnificent array of prime lenses for sports photography. When using a prime lens, you should consider your positioning and purpose. Remember that you cannot zoom in on a subject – you have to physically move if you want to get different zoom levels.

As a result, prime lenses are suitable for when you have more flexibility in your positioning. Or, when you know that you want to work specifically within that focal range.

Related Post: Prime vs Zoom: A Guide to Choosing the Perfect Lens

1. Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS III USM

Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L is III USM Lens, Black (3045C002)
Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS III USM
  • Focal Range: 400mm
  • Aperture Range: f/2.8 Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Weight: 6.3lbs
  • Dimensions: 343 x 163mm

Widely regarded as the best telephoto sports lens Canon has to offer, the Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS III USM is exceptional. Of course, it has an insane price tag, but impressive prime lenses like these are often rented, as opposed to outright purchase.

The 400mm focal length is perfect for a range of different indoor and outdoor sporting events – it allows you to capture the action in great detail. Moreover, the f/2.8 aperture provides ultimate flexibility and control over the depth of field.

This is an L-series lens, and therefore has an improved build quality and design features. It has dust and water-resistant coatings and improved heat shielding for prolonged outdoor usage.

Overall Winner

Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS III USM

The EF 400mm f/2.8L is often considered the best Canon sports photography lens.

Related Post: Best Canon EF Lenses

2. Canon EF 600mm f/4L is III USM

Canon EF 600mm f/4L is III USM Lens
Canon EF 600mm f/4L is III USM
  • Focal Range: 600mm
  • Aperture Range: f/4 Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Weight: 6.7lbs
  • Dimensions: 448 x 168mm

If you want an ultimate super-telephoto zoom lens, there is no other choice but the Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS III USM. It is one of the best Canon sports lenses and perfect for capturing fine detail or shooting from a distance in the stands of sporting events.

In comparison to the II USM version, it has improved portability – the weight has been reduced by 20%. Sure, it’s still heavy, but any improvement is welcomed.

This lens has a brilliant high optical performance and has a myriad of lens coatings to eliminate distortion and flare. Furthermore, it benefits from both image stabilization, and silent motor functionality. For sports photography, this is the best super-telephoto option.

Canon EF 600mm f/4L is III USM

Ultimate super-telephoto lens

This superior super-telephoto lens has a 600mm focal length and offer unrivalled quality for sports photography.

3. Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM II

Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM II Super Telephoto Lens for Canon EOS SLR Cameras
Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM II
  • Focal Range: 300mm
  • Aperture Range: f/2.8 Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Weight: 5.18lbs
  • Dimensions: 248 x 128mm

If you do not require a super-telephoto focal length, why not consider something smaller, like the Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM II? This is still one of the best Canon sports lenses that are suited for indoor sports photography, and a range of outdoor activities too.

The image stabilization and USM motor allow you to work effectively and focus quickly on moving subjects. The maximum aperture of f/2.8 allows you to create fantastic bokeh backgrounds whilst the subject remains sharp and in focus.

As the latest iteration of this L-series lens, the Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM II also has a reduced weight and is more portable than its predecessor. It also looks great and has a durable and protective exterior that is weather resistant.

Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM II

If you don’t require a huge zoom, the EF 300mm is the perfect choice and still offers ultimate quality.

4. Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM

Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM Lens
Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM
  • Focal Range: 400mm
  • Aperture Range: f/4 Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Weight: 4.62lbs
  • Dimensions: 232.7 x 128mm

If you do not require a maximum aperture of f/2.8 and want something cheaper, the Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS USM offers a great compromise. It is still one of the top Canon sports lenses and benefits from a generous 400mm focal length.

Whilst it does not have that larger maximum aperture, f/4 should still offer excellent creativity for both indoor and outdoor sports photography. This is complemented by the optical image stabilizer and the silent motor functionality.

Although not an L-series lens, this device still provides fantastic quality and performance. It has a range of enhanced optical features that eliminate chromatic aberration, flare, and other distortions.

Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM

If your budget doesn’t stretch to the EF 400mm f/2.8L, the EF 400mm f/4 is a great alternative.

The Best Canon Sports Lenses: Zoom Lenses

If you require greater flexibility, maybe a variable zoom lens is a better option? Canon has some of the best variable zoom lenses for sports photography available.

Variable zoom lenses mean that you can generally remain static. Instead of continually moving and adjusting your position, you can use the variable focal lengths to capture different shots. This is ideal, for example, if you are shooting from a fixed position in a stadium at a sporting event.

Related Post: Best Cameras for Sports Photography

1. Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x

Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x
Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x
  • Focal Range: 200-400mm
  • Aperture Range: f/4 consistent Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Weight: 7.93lbs
  • Dimensions: 366 x 128mm

Starting off, we have the groundbreaking Canon EF 200-400mm f/.4L IS USM Extender 1.4x. This telephoto zoom lens has a basic focal range of 200-400mm. In addition, it has a built-in extender that increases the maximum focal distance to 280-560mm at f/5.6.

This range is perfect for capturing a variety of different shots and makes it a versatile lens for sports photography. Regardless of your positioning, you can use the flexibility of the focal range to capture the action in crisp detail.

It has a range of features that provide great autofocusing too, including a high-speed CPU, and optimized AF algorithms. Due to its features and build quality, this is certainly one of the best Canon sports lenses.

Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x

This is certainly the best telephoto zoom lens available for Canon DSLR cameras.

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

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens, Lens Only
Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM
  • Focal Range: 100-400mm
  • Aperture Range: f/4.5-5.6 Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Weight: 3.46lbs
  • Dimensions: 193 x 94mm

If you require a greater zoom range than the 200-400mm and don’t have time to swap lenses, the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM is an amazing alternative. This lens is also somewhat lighter than the other telephoto lenses featured in this article at 3.46lbs.

The combination of wide focal range (100-400mm), and solid aperture range (f/4.5-5.6) make this ideal for sports photography where the subjects and angles are continually moving. You can use the powerful autofocus system to quickly capture moving subjects and keep track of the action.

This current version of the 100-400mm also has an improved zoom tension and torque which makes transitioning between different focal distances easier.

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

The 100-400mm offers a superior zoom range and still provides brilliant image quality and clarity.

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

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras, White -...
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM
  • Focal Range: 70-200mm
  • Aperture Range: f/2.8 consistent Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Weight: 3.16lbs
  • Dimensions: 190 x 63mm

Finally, we have a slightly cheaper telephoto zoom lens. The Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM is one of the best Canon sports lenses for indoor photography. Although it doesn’t have the same focal range as some of the other models, it is still a great option.

This L-series lens is relatively lightweight and has a great design. It has optical image stabilization and Canon’s ASC (Air Sphere Coating) which reduces ghosting and flare. It also has a specialized fluoride coating which helps keep the lens elements clean.

Whilst specializing in indoor sports photography, the external coatings also make this a suitable lens for some types of outdoor sports photography due to its dust and water resistance.

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

The Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L is a great choice for indoor photography when you are closer to the subject

Use Canon sports lenses for superior end-results

We hope you have found this article useful. You may be disheartened by the price of these lenses – don’t be. Most sports photographers who are starting out in this field do not purchase the lenses outright.

As you are gaining experience and building your portfolio, instead of spending thousands on lenses, you could rent them for specific events. There is a myriad of rental companies available who rent Canon sports lenses, and even DSLR cameras too.

The prices are much cheaper, and you can rent a lens for as little or as long as you wish. For example, you could rent the Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS III USM for a weekend or particular sporting event. Once you become established you can consider purchasing these amazing lenses. Don’t forget to check out our article on sports photography tips too to help improve your composition!


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