Shooting in low light situations can be difficult. Striking the right balance to achieve the perfect camera settings and produce photos that are sharp and in focus, without too much background noise, is no easy task. But one surefire way to make your low-light shooting experiences better is to equip yourself with one of the best low light lenses for Canon cameras.
In this guide, we have listed a host of high-quality lenses that will help you create fantastic low-light photos. Whatever Canon mount you use, we’ve got you covered all the way from the M-mount to the trusty EF-mount.
Best Low Light Lenses for Canon Full-Frame Cameras
Canon has an excellent choice of lenses for its full-frame cameras that are suitable for low light photography. Its basic EF range has some great choices, and there are also the extensive EF L-series lenses too. We have listed the best low light lenses for Canon full-frame cameras below to suit all budgets:
Best overall low light lens for Canon cameras
If you can afford a premium rate, the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM offers unparalleled quality.
The ultimate low light lens or Canon full-frame cameras is quite possibly the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM. It offers the best maximum aperture on this list, and benefits from a solid lens design and numerous enhancements. This includes lens coatings to reduce distortions and improve light transmission.
The outer shell also has weather-resistant coatings so you can comfortably use this lens outdoors. It also features Canon’s USM autofocusing motor which further helps in low light photography. This is certainly one of the best low light lenses for Canon full-frame cameras but it, unfortunately, comes at a hefty price tag.
This lens offers excellent sharpness and clarity, and the f/1.4 aperture offers great control.
One of the best low light lenses is the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM. It is more expensive than the 50mm f/1.8 but it does provide greater control and flexibility for low light photos. This lens features a compact design and makes a great prime lens for general usage.
It also benefits from Canon’s Ultra Sonic Motor for autofocusing. This means that you can focus quickly and accurately, even when there is low contrast. It also has an advanced lens construction with numerous coatings to improve light transmission and reduce distortions.
Best affordable low light lens for Canon full-frame cameras
If you want a budget lens for low light photography, the EF 50mm f/1.8 STM is the best choice.
If you are working on a budget and don’t want to spend a fortune, the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM is an excellent affordable option. This is one of the best low light lenses for Canon cameras due to its affordability and a maximum aperture of f/1.8.
This affordable lens is also lightweight and compact and has a simple but robust design. It utilizes Canon’s STM autofocusing motor which also allows for quick and accurate focusing even in low light compositions. The lens construction is also made from 6 elements in 5 groups and features rounded aperture blades.
Best for wide-angle low light photography
The 24mm f/1.4L II USM offers excellent low light quality for wide-angle shots.
The Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM is one of the best low light lenses for Canon full-frame cameras, and a brilliant wide-angle option. It offers superior quality as an L-series lens and looks great. It has a large textured grip and features an array of coatings to help protect the lens when used outdoors.
Also, the maximum aperture of f/1.4 provides fantastic control and allows maximum light transmission in low light situations. The lens elements also feature advanced coatings which help reduce flare and ghosting, but further improve light transmission to the sensor.
Best zoom option
If you want a quality kit lens that performs well for low light shots, this is the best option.
If you want a high-quality kit lens that also performs well in low light situations, the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM is one of the best options. This L-series lens offers unrivaled quality and has an advanced lens construction the provides sharp and clear images with great contrast.
For low light photography, the lens has a constant aperture of f/2.8 and benefits from the USM autofocusing motor. The Ultra Sonic Motor is virtually silent and offers quick and accurate focusing. This lens also has a superior design and features numerous coatings to improve its durability.
Best Low Light Lenses for Canon APS-C Cameras
There is also a decent selection of lenses for Canon APS-C sensor cameras too. Cameras like the Canon EOS 90D and Canon Rebel T8i offer fantastic quality and when equipped with suitable lenses, can produce great low light photos. The following are two of the best low light lenses for Canon APS-C cameras:
Best APS-C wide angle choice
This prime EF-S lens is a great wide angle option.
This pancake lenses is a great portable option and makes an ideal travel lens for Canon APS-C sensor cameras. It has a decent maximum aperture of f/2.8 which allows you to shoot fairly good low light shots. It may not have the flexibility of the Canon EF lenses but it still performs well.
Also, the aperture blades are circular which helps create rounded bokeh effects for image backgrounds. It also has a minimum focusing distance of just 0.16m.
Best APS-C kit lens
This lens is a great kit lens that has a strong low light performance.
The Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM is a kit lens option for APS-C cameras and one of the best low light lenses for Canon cameras. The focal length range of 17-55mm is excellent for wide-angle and portrait shots and gives you solid flexibility when exploring. You could use this as your standard kit lens if you didn’t want to carry multiple prime lenses.
It benefits from a constant maximum aperture of f/2.8 for all focal distances. This means you can take low light shots at any focal length range. This is complemented by the built-in image stabilization which corrects for camera shake up to three stops.
Best Low Light Lenses for Canon EOS M Cameras
The EOS M series might be shadowed by the more powerful R series, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some great camera and lens combinations for low-light shooting.
Best wide-angle choice for EF-M
The EF-M 22mm offers fantastic quality for landscapes and low light shots.
If you want a dedicated wide-angle lens for low light photography, the Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM is the best choice for EOS M cameras. It is incredibly small and compact and makes a great travel lens too. It benefits from an STM autofocusing motor which allows you to focus quickly and accurately even in low-light situations.
For low light shots, the f/2 aperture offers excellent control and greater light transmission. The overall sharpness and contrast of photos taken using this lens are of a high standard. It also has a decent close focusing distance.
Best overall EF-M lens for low light photos
This relatively new lens has an excellent aperture of f/1.4 offering greater control for low light shots.
The Canon EF 32mm f/1.4 STM is a new lens for the EOS M series and offers the best maximum aperture of the EF-M lenses. This makes it ideal for low light photography. At 32mm, you have a mid-range focal distance that is suitable for various compositions including landscapes, portraits, and street photography.
This lens also has circular aperture blades which allow you to create beautiful bokeh backgrounds. It has a 0.25x magnification and a decent closest focusing distance. The STM silent autofocusing motor also helps and provides great accuracy and speed. This is one of the best low light lenses for Canon EOS M cameras and is also compact and relatively lightweight.
Best Low Light Lenses for Canon RF-Mount Cameras
Canon is steadily increasing its EOS R range of cameras that use the RF lens mount. It appears this will be the flagship range of cameras and models like the Canon EOS R5 and Canon EOS R6 boast amazing quality and some brilliant features like 8K HD video recording and 45MP image sensors. The RF range of lenses offers superior quality and the L-series, in particular, are some of the best Canon lenses available.
Best RF prime lens for low light photography
The f/1.2 aperture and supreme quality make this a lens that excels at low light shots.
If you can afford a high-quality RF lens for your EOS R camera, the Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L USM is one of the best low light lenses for Canon cameras. It offers amazing quality, and a great mid-range focal distance that can be used for various purposes.
For low light photography, the maximum aperture of f/1.2 provides great flexibility and light control. This is complemented by the superior optics and lens quality. For example, it has Air Sphere Coating which reduces distortions like lens flare and chromatic aberration.
Also, it has numerous external coatings so that it is dirt and dust resistant, and you can easily clean the lens to remove irritating smudges and fingerprints. This is easily the best RF lens for low light photography and its quality is hard to beat.
Best RF kit lens for low light photos
The RF 28-70mm is an excellent all-purpose lens for low light photos.
One of the best kit lenses for RF-mount cameras is the Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L USM. This also happens to be a great lens for low-light photography. This is mainly due to its constant maximum aperture of f/2 and its superior build quality.
The focal range of 28-70mm covers most photo types from wide-angle through to portraits. As an L-series lens, it also features a range of enhancements and design features. This includes aspheric lens elements, and exterior lens coatings for added protection.
It does not have built-in image stabilization which is a minor drawback, and it does have a hefty price tag. However, it’s quality cannot be denied and it is arguably the best RF kit lens for low light photography.
A decent RF prime lens
The RF 85mm is perfect for low light portraits and events photography.
The Canon RF 85mm f/1.2L USM is a brilliant prime lens that is suitable for low-light portrait photography. The 85mm aperture is perfect for portraits, and event photography. Also, the f/1.2 aperture means you can comfortably take photos in low like situations like parties.
We also like that it has a programmable control ring – this can be used for various different settings including aperture and ISO. For quality, the lens also features one aspheric element and one UD element – these help reduce distortions and improve contrast.
The lens also features ASC coating which significantly reduces ghosting, chromatic aberrations, and lens flare. Overall, you can expect amazing photo quality from this durable lens.
What Else to Consider for Low Light Photography?
Aside from the lens, you should also consider the camera itself. The camera sensor size is important as this dictates how much light it can receive, and how the final frame is captured.
You will also want to look at the available ISO range of the camera. Ideally, the camera should have a large ISO range as this gives you greater control to deal with low light photos. Remember, however, that at higher ISO levels, you start to see more background noise.
A tripod is a useful item to have for shooting low light photos. Using a tripod gives extra stability, but it also means you can use larger apertures and longer shutter speeds whilst still producing photos that don’t have motion blur.
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