Are you looking for Canon’s best zoom lenses in 2021?
Look no further.
Because this article will give you the rundown on the best-quality zooms you can get from Canon, no matter your budget.
In fact, there’s something here for everyone. If you’re looking for a wide-angle zoom to capture stunning landscapes, we have some great options for you. If you’re hoping to grab a standard zoom for portrait or street photography, you’ll love our choices. And if you want to take some gorgeous photos of distant birds, wildlife, or sports, we’ve got you covered.
So if you’re ready to determine the best Canon zoom lens for your needs, let’s dive right in.
Choosing the Best Canon Zoom Lens
When it comes to picking a zoom lens, there are a few key factors you should take into account.
After all, you want to make sure you get a zoom lens that will capture gorgeous images with ease.
So the first thing you’ll want to look at is obvious:
Lenses vary widely in their ability to produce sharp, high-quality photos.
This is especially true when dealing with zoom lenses. Zooms are known for their inconsistent image quality. And while there are some impressive zoom lenses out there, it can be tough to find them.
Now, the best Canon zoom lenses have a few key optical features.
First, the best zoom lenses should be decently sharp at the center of the frame, even while using a maximum aperture. While corner softness isn’t a dealbreaker, you don’t want your photos to be noticeably blurry at the edges. Sharpness should improve as you stop down to f/8. This should remain constant across all focal lengths; you should be able to achieve sharp shots in the center of the focal length range, as well as the extremes.
(Note that this is often where zoom lenses fall down. Poorly constructed zoom lenses can’t produce sharp photos at the wide or long end of the focal length range.)
The precise levels of sharpness you’re willing to accept depends on your needs. But I prefer zoom lenses that are tack-sharp in the center at all focal lengths.
Second, you want a zoom lens that has minimal optical imperfections. These are manifested as chromatic aberration (i.e., color fringing along high-contrast edges). The more chromatic aberration you have, the less professional your photos will look. And while you can correct chromatic aberration in Lightroom or Photoshop, it’s far easier to avoid the problem in the first place.
Distortion is another key optical problem, which results in photos that look slightly warped. You should get a zoom lens that manages to minimize distortion as much as possible.
Finally, the absolute best zoom lenses produce beautiful bokeh–that is, a stunning background blur. The best bokeh is described as creamy, and helps your photos stand out from the crowd.
Build Quality and Handling
If you plan to subject your zoom lens to harsh conditions, you’re going to want a well-built, rugged piece of kit. At minimum, you’ll want a weather-sealed body, preferably metal.
However, excellent build-quality usually comes with a tradeoff: It’s heavy. So I don’t recommend jumping for a rugged lens unless you can see yourself using one. If you primarily shoot portraits in a studio, a durable build may be a hindrance, not a help. And if you want a lens for casual walkaround shooting, a heavy lens will cause you a lot of frustration.
Note also that some lenses handle much more smoothly than others. If you’re going to be doing a lot of manual focusing, you’ll want a manual focus ring that turns smoothly. And if you’re going to be working on long exposures with a tripod, you’ll want to avoid zoom lenses with creep–where the lens extends on its own while shooting.
So make sure you get a lens that fits your shooting needs.
Aperture and Image Stabilization
Wide maximum apertures (e.g., f/2.8) allow you to capture shots in low light–something that’s tough to do with a narrower maximum aperture, such as f/5.6. So if you’re an indoor event photographer or a night photographer, or you often find yourself shooting in dark conditions, you’ll want to get the widest maximum aperture you can afford.
Wider maximum apertures also contribute to better background blur. A lens with an f/2.8 maximum aperture can create a deeper blur than a lens with an f/4 aperture. So if stunning background blur is important to you, aim for a lens with an f/2.8 maximum aperture.
These days, many of the best lenses have image stabilization, a technology that minimizes camera shake when shooting handheld. Image stabilization is a nice addition if you like to shoot still scenes in low light, and this is something we all do from time to time.
So I recommend you get a lens with image stabilization if you can.
One of the biggest choices you have to make when choosing between Canon’s best zoom lenses is the focal length. Different focal lengths result in radically different types of images, and can restrict (or enhance) your ability to capture certain types of photos.
Here are my recommendations for focal length:
Get a wide-angle zoom (in the area of 10mm to 40mm) if you’re interested in shooting sweeping landscapes (nature or urban), if you’re interested in photographing architecture, or you’d like to capture real-estate images. You’ll also appreciate a wide-angle zoom if you’re interested in a creative perspective for portrait or street photography. In all these cases, the wide perspective will allow you to include a breathtaking amount of your subject, displaying an open, inviting scene.
Get a standard zoom (in the area of 30mm to 70mm) if you’d like to capture stunning street, portrait, or event images. A standard zoom will let you isolate your subject, but will keep enough of the environment for slightly more scenic shots. That’s what makes standard zooms a staple of wedding photography gear bags.
You can also use standard zooms for landscape photography, but make sure you get a lens with corner-to-corner sharpness, something that the cheaper standard zooms lack. Standard zooms, unlike wide-angle zooms, are also great for generating bokeh, especially on the long end.
Get a telephoto zoom (in the area of 70 to 200mm) if you’re looking to capture tighter portrait shots, such as half-body and headshots. Lenses in this range are also great for producing stand-out bokeh, another reason why portrait photographers tend to keep one in their gear bags. Sports photographers and event photographers are also big fans of this focal length range, especially when coupled with an f/2.8 aperture.
Note that, while the longer focal length can be nice for street photography, telephoto zooms tend to be a bit too conspicuous; I wouldn’t feel comfortable taking photos of strangers with such a long, noticeable lens.
Another great use for a telephoto zoom is tight landscape photography. While many landscape photographers like to use a wide-angle for sweeping photos, others prefer capturing more subtle landscape shots. Because 70-200mm lenses tend to be both sharp and relatively inexpensive, they’re a common choice for these types of landscape shooters.
Get a long telephoto or super-telephoto zoom if you want to capture photos of wildlife, birds, or (distant) sports. The best long telephoto zooms give you sharp photos even at the end of the focal length range, which is necessary for anyone shooting small critters. You’ll rarely manage to get close enough to birds to work with the middle of the zoom range, so you’ll want to make sure your long end can satisfy you.
Also note that bird photographers need the longest focal length they can afford. Think seriously before putting money on a telephoto zoom that tops out at 300mm. While 400mm telephoto zooms are more expensive, the extra 100mm is often worth the cost.
Before you purchase a Canon zoom lens, make sure you’re getting a lens that fits your camera mount. APS-C (crop-sensor) cameras can use both EF-S and EF lenses, while full-frame Canon cameras can only use EF lenses. Don’t make the mistake of buying an EF-S lens, only to find it doesn’t work on your camera!
Canon’s Best Zoom Lenses: The Rundown
Now that you’re familiar with the key factors in choosing a zoom lens, it’s time to get into the good stuff:
Choosing a zoom lens that fits your needs.
We’ve broken down the recommendations by focal length, so that you’re able to easily see the lenses you might want.
Canon’s Best Wide-Angle Zoom Lenses
When it comes to wide-angle lenses, you have several fantastic options.
If you’re shooting landscapes, you’ll want to concentrate less on the maximum aperture, and more on the overall optical performance of the lens. But if you’re shooting indoor events, pay careful attention to the lens’s maximum aperture; f/2.8 is ideal for low-light photography.
Here’s the absolute best wide-angle zoom lens that Canon has to offer:
What makes this lens so great?
First, the focal length:
16mm to 35mm is perfect for all sorts of photography. A lens like this sees lots of use from landscape and architecture photographers, but you can also use it for event photography, street photography, and even portrait photography. At 16mm, you can capture ultra-wide scenic shots, then you can zoom to 35mm for some detail shots, or even portraits of people.
Second, this lens offers outstanding image quality across the board. At f/4, this lens is tack-sharp, even in the corners; this improves slightly by stopping down to f/5.6. Chromatic aberration is limited to 16mm, and distortion is barely present.
Third, autofocus is very fast, allowing you to lock onto your subjects with ease. And if you like to take your equipment on outdoor expeditions, you’ll appreciate the weather-sealing. Build quality is impressive, and handling is smooth and comfortable.
The image stabilization on this lens adds a nice touch, especially if you like to shoot indoors or in low light. An f/4 aperture isn’t ideal for low light shooting, but the IS technology will allow you to drop your shutter speed several stops below what you can normally expect, making handholding far easier.
All in all, this is a powerful wide-angle option for landscape photographers, architecture photographers, event photographers, and more. While the lens doesn’t come cheap, the price is reasonable given the quality.
To purchase the amazing Canon 16-35mm f/4, click here:
- Make sure this fits by entering your model number
- Full-time manual focus permits critical focusing precision, even in AF mode. Help provide excellent color balance
- Rounded 9-Blade Diaphragm
If you’re on a budget and need a wide-angle lens, look no further than the Canon EF-S 10-18mm IS.
Right off the bat, you’ll notice that this is an EF-S lens, which means it can only be used on crop-sensor cameras. This give you an effective focal length of 15-27mm, which should satisfy landscape and architecture photographers alike. If you’re an event shooter, you might want a wide lens like this, as well, but just bear in mind that a 16-35mm might serve you better, offering a bit more reach (for a price).
One great thing about the Canon 10-18mm is its size: It’s small and light. You’ll love using it as a walkaround wide-angle, even if the lack of weather-sealing makes it less than ideal for outdoor shoots in tough weather.
Also noteworthy is the image quality that the 10-18mm produces. No, it’s not as sharp as a Canon L lens, but it’s tough to find a better option for the price. The lens is sharp, especially in the center, across the entire focal length range and wide open. Corner performance isn’t quite as good as center performance, but it’s certainly usable.
That said, image quality does take a hit from chromatic aberration, which is noticeable throughout the focal length range of this lens. Vignetting, too, is a problem across all focal lengths, as is distortion, though you can correct these problems with a bit of work in post-processing.
Related Post: How to Select the Best Canon DSLR Lenses (For Beginners)
The aperture on this lens isn’t impressively wide, which makes it less than ideal for low light and indoor event shooting. But the image stabilization will help you shoot handheld at slow shutter speeds, and you’ll also be able to use it if you’d like to shoot at narrow apertures under decent light (assuming that your subject is stationary).
The bottom line is that this is a great lens for the price, but you should be aware that a bargain EF-S lens can only stretch so far. For those looking for a budget wide-angle zoom, the Canon EF-S 10-18mm is the way to go.
To purchase the bargain Canon EF-S 10-18mm, click here:
- EF S ultra wide zoom lens. Drive System Lead screw and rack system driven by stepping motor
- Focal Length and Maximum Aperture: 10 18 millimeter,1:4.5 5.6
- Closest Focusing Distance: 0.72 feet. / 0.22 meter
- Stepping motor for noise free video shooting
- Optical image stabilizer
The Canon 17-40mm offers a focal length and a maximum aperture similar to the 16-35mm discussed above, which makes it good for most of the same things: landscape photography, architecture photography, and some types of portrait photography. Unfortunately, the lack of IS makes any indoor or low light photography much more difficult, and will likely prevent serious event photographers from being interested.
Note that the Canon 17-40mm performs very well optically, with excellent center sharpness that falls off slightly toward the corners. As usual, sharpness improves when the lens is stopped down. The 16-35mm is slightly sharper, but not significantly so, though it does manage chromatic aberration better than the 17-40mm.
Yet the 17-40mm does have some advantages over its slightly wider counterpart. First, the focal length includes a few extra millimeters on the long end, which can translate into critical reach for tighter landscape shots, or even portrait or street shooting.
The 17-40mm is also more compact and lighter than the 16-35mm f/4, while still retaining weather-sealing and good L lens build-quality.
However, the biggest reason to go for the 17-40mm over the 16-35mm is price. The 17-40mm is several hundred dollars cheaper than the 16-35mm, despite offering a lot of the same features. So for those on a budget, the 17-40mm may be the better option. You’ll still manage to get stellar landscape photos, especially if you bring a tripod and stop down, which is what most landscape photographers plan on doing, anyway.
To purchase the Canon 17-40mm f/4, click here:
- 17 40 millimeter ultra wide angle zoom lens with f/4 maximum aperture for Canon SLR Cameras. Diagonal angle of view 104°...
- 3 aspherical lens elements and super UD glass element create superior optics in all conditions, Closest focusing distance:...
- Powerful ring type ultrasonic monitor (USM) produces fast and silent autofocusing, Focuses as close as 11 inches, supports...
- Suitable for Wedding/Nature Photography, Weather resistant construction, Water and Dust Resistant, measures 3.3 inches in...
- Purchase this product between May 1, 2016 and July 30, 2016 and get 13 months of free damage protection from Canon. The...
The Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM is potentially Canon’s most technically impressive wide-angle lens, but there’s a reason it’s not as highly recommended as the Canon 16-35mm f/4L IS: It’s expensive.
Really, really expensive.
The Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 costs around double that of the 16-35mm f/4, and the 16-35mm f/4 came with a hefty price tag to begin with. However, for those who can afford the difference, the 16-35mm f/2.8L II is definitely a powerful piece of kit.
Optically, the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L is on part with the Canon 17-40mm f/4L. It’s very sharp in the center and nicely sharp at the corners wide open, though with some chromatic aberration on the short end and vignetting on the long end.
Build quality is outstanding, with Canon pulling out all the stops: a rugged body, weather-sealing, and smooth handling that’s perfect for all types of photography.
I wouldn’t hesitate to use this lens for landscape or architecture photography. But where this lens really shines is in event photography and low light shooting. The f/2.8 aperture takes in enough light to give workable shutter speeds for indoor shoots, and while the lack of IS is a bit frustrating, the wide-open performance of this lens will satisfy even professionals. Note that the wide maximum aperture will also be appreciated by astrophotographers, who shoot at wide-open apertures to pull in as much light as they can get.
For the budget-conscious photographers, I’d recommend sticking with the 17-40mm or the 10-18mm lenses discussed above. But for photographers who require an f/2.8 aperture and don’t mind paying for it, it’s tough to go wrong with this lens.
- 16 35mm ultra wide angle zoom lens with f/2.8 maximum aperture
- 3 high precision aspherical lens elements produce superior image quality, Closest focusing distance: 0.92 feet
- Circular aperture produces natural background blur at wider apertures, Ring type USM for fast and quiet autofocusing;...
- Measures 3.5 inches in diameter and 4.4 inches long; 1 year warranty
Canon’s Best Standard Zoom Lenses
Standard zoom lenses are key for many genres of photography: street photography, portrait photography, travel photography, and more.
There are three amazing standard zoom lenses for Canon, all of which are worth a look:
The Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS is a popular choice among Canon shooters, and for good reason.
As this is an EF-S lens, you’ll only be able to use it on crop-sensor cameras, so you’ll always be working with a focal length of 27.2-88mm. This is a very useful focal length, perfect for a combination of wider, environmental-focused shots and tighter portraits, making this lens an excellent option for portrait photographers, event photographers, and even beginning landscape photographers.
Of course, none of that would matter if this lens weren’t sharp. Fortunately for all the pixel-peepers out there, this lens offers amazing image quality. It’s sharp wide open at every focal length, both in the center and in the corners. Chromatic aberration, too, is well-controlled. In fact, the 17-55mm f/2.8 rivals the sharpness of the professional-grade 16-35mm f/2.8L II.
While this lens isn’t an L lens, it offers a solid build and fast autofocus. And its biggest selling point is the fast, f/2.8 aperture that remains fixed across the focal length range, making this an excellent choice for indoor sports shooters, indoor event photographers, and portrait photographers of all kinds. Plenty of astrophotographers will also be interested in this lens. And if you’re looking for more reasons to take this lens to low-light photoshoots, check out the image stabilization, which will give you a few extra stops of handholding.
Here’s the bottom line:
The Canon 17-55mm f/2.8 is a great choice for any crop-sensor shooter who cares primarily about low-light shooting and optical quality. It’s one of the priciest EF-S lenses that Canon offers, but it’s also one of the sharpest.
To purchase the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM, click here:
- 17-55mm wide-angle zoom lens with f/2.8 maximum aperture for Canon DSLR cameras
- AD and aspherical elements deliver impressive image quality through entire zoom range, Closest focusing distance : 1.15 feet
- Image Stabilizer lens groups shift to compensate for image shake even in dim lighting
- Large circular aperture produces shallow depth of field; ring-type ultra-sonic monitor (USM)
- Measures 3.3 inches in diameter and 4.4 inches long; weighs 22.8 ounces; 1-year warranty
The Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 is one of Canon’s longer-range zoom lenses, going from wide to telephoto and offering some nice standard focal lengths in between.
It’s also relatively small and light. The compactness combined with the great focal length range makes this lens perfect for all sorts of uses: portrait photography, street photography, travel photography, even a bit of landscape photography. It’s even a strong contender as one of Canon’s best walkaround lenses–keep it on your camera all day long, and you’ll rarely find that you needed anything else.
Of course, such compactness comes at a price: While the lens is decently well-built, it’s not weather-sealed. And a lot of the weight was only shaved because of this lens’s EF-S designation, which prevents it from being mounted on full-frame cameras.
Take a look at the Canon 18-135mm price tag and you’ll be impressed, especially once you realize that this lens offers good optical quality in the center of images. It does drop off toward the corners and toward the longer end of the range, and chromatic aberration is something you’ll have to contend with. But at this price you’ll be hard-pressed to find kit that offers such a great focal length range on top of its relatively high-quality optics.
The main drawback to this lens is its variable maximum aperture. At f/3.5 on the wide end and f/5.6 on the long end, you’re not going to have much luck shooting indoors or at night. This will make plenty of sports photographers think twice about grabbing this lens, though the image stabilization may make this lens tempting enough to keep low-light portrait and landscape shooters around.
Even if you don’t shoot action, it’s always nice to know your lens can handle it if the need arises. And the Canon 18-135mm does well in this regard. Its autofocus isn’t lightning fast, but it’s not slow, either, providing sufficient speed for most situations.
Ultimately, APS-C Canon shooters will appreciate the bargain price and decent image quality offered by this lens. I recommend it as a great walkaround option, or even a primary lens in the kit of a hobbyist travel photographer.
To purchase the Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM, click here:
- Focal length and maximum aperture: 18 135mm, 1:3.5 5.6
- Closest focusing distance: 0.39 metres/1.3 feet
- Lens construction: 16 elements in 12 groups
- Diagonal angle of view: 11 Degree 30 feet; 74 Degree 20 feet
- Inner focusing system
Canon's 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens features a formidable combination of focal length range, optical quality, and a reasonably fast fixed aperture, making this one of the best zoom lenses Canon offers (and one of the best lenses out there, period).
Such quality does come with a price tag that’s higher than most of us would like to see, but for most shooters, it’s worth it.
To start, the Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS USM offers a great focal length range. There’s something for pretty much everyone. At 24mm, you can shoot landscapes, interiors, or architecture; at 50mm you can shoot portraits; at 105mm you can shoot tighter landscapes, half-body portraits, headshots, and more. You’ll also notice that the 24mm to 105mm focal length is great for event photography or even walkaround shooting, because you can capture practically anything (with the exception of wildlife and distant sports, but if you want to shoot either of those genres, look at a telephoto zoom).
While this lens isn’t extremely heavy, it’s fairly well-made. Weather-sealing is included, and you’ll appreciate the solid feel of the 24-105mm in your hands. Autofocus is very fast, so you won’t have to worry about missing critical moments.
One of the great things about this lens is its optics: It’s very sharp wide open at every focal length, though slightly improved in the center over the corners. There is some distortion present on the short end and the long end, but this is to be expected. Overall, this lens offers professional-grade optics at every focal length.
One more thing that bears mentioning is the f/4 maximum aperture. While this isn’t perfect for low-light shooting, it’s far from bad. And you might be able to eke out some sharp shots in low-light scenarios, given that the 24-105mm offers some nice image stabilization.
To purchase the Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS USM, click below:
- 24 to 105 millimeter standard zoom lens with f/4 maximum aperture for Canon EOS SLR cameras
- 1 Super UD glass element and 3 aspherical lenses minimize chromatic aberration and distortion
- Ring type USM system delivers silent but quick autofocus (AF); full time manual focus
- Image Stabilizer technology steadies camera shake at up to 3 stops; weighs 23.6 ounces
- Dust and moisture resistant; measures 3.3 inches in diameter and 4.2 inches long; 1 year warranty
The Best Canon Telephoto Zoom Lenses
Telephoto zoom lenses are bigger, heavier, and more powerful than their shorter zoom counterparts.
So I recommend you only get a telephoto zoom if you need one.
However, telephoto zooms help you capture details that you just can’t get with other lenses–so for those interested in taking their photography portfolio to another level, a telephoto zoom might be the way to go.
The Canon 70-200mm focal length is a favorite among portrait photographers and event photographers, for those tighter headshots and detail shots. But the focal length is also commonly found in the gear bags of landscape photographers, because it’s both versatile and excellent for compressed landscape scenes.
Now, Canon offers a number of 70-200mm lenses, but the f/4L version is the best Canon telephoto zoom out there. Here’s why:
First, the 70-200mm f/4L offers a great balance of image quaity and price. No, it’s not a budget lens, per se, but the price is very reasonable. And the optics are outstanding: The 70-200mm f/4L is extremely sharp wide open across the entire focal length range, offering images that even professional landscape photographers will appreciate. Chromatic aberration is nicely managed, as is distortion.
While the f/4 aperture and lack of IS isn’t ideal for low-light handheld shooting, this won’t be a problem for landscape photographers who shoot with tripods. And while the f/4 aperture might not give you a background blur to rival an f/2.8 lens, the 70-200mm does produce some stunning bokeh, making it perfect for professional-looking portrait photography.
If you’re planning to shoot portraits or sports, you’ll probably want a lens with speedy autofocus. Fortunately, the Canon 70-200mm f/4L doesn’t disappoint, focusing quickly and quietly.
While the 70-200mm f/4L does lack weather-sealing, the build-quality is still impressive. It is a well-built, rugged lens, even if it can’t withstand harsh weather conditions.
Note that 200mm is a bit too short for wildlife or bird photography. But couple this lens with a 1.4X teleconverter, and you’ll be able to shoot at nearly 300mm, which might be just enough to photograph wildlife on a crop-sensor camera.
So if you’re looking for an ultra-sharp, high-quality telephoto zoom (admittedly without IS or an f/2.8 aperture), go for the Canon 70-200mm f/4L.
To purchase the Canon 70-200mm f/4L USM, click here:
- Optical Image Stabilization at up to 5 Stops* of Shake Correction.
- One Fluorite Element and Two UD Elements for High Image Quality.
- Highly Resistant to Dust and Water, and Improved Durability Even in Harsh Conditions.
- Three Image Stabilization Modes for Outstanding Results. Other Accessories : optional A II (W II) tripod mount ring
- IS Mode 3 Effective When Tracking Moving Subjects and Assists When Panning**. Minimum Focusing Distance Shortened from 3.9...
The focal length range is nice and big, giving photographers a lot of flexibility when shooting. At the 70mm to 200mm end, you can shoot tighter portraits and headshots; at the 200mm to 300mm end, you can photograph wildlife and backyard birds, especially on a crop-sensor camera.
With such a low price tag, you shouldn’t expect stellar optical quality. But images are only a little soft at the maximum aperture, getting better when stopped down and remaining consistent even at the long end of the focal length range. Distortion and chromatic aberration are both noticeable, but overall this lens does a decent job of capturing technically strong images.
One of the biggest drawbacks of these longer telephoto zooms is the variable maximum aperture: while you can shoot at f/4 when at 70mm, you’re forced up to f/5.6 at 300mm. This makes low-light shooting, already difficult at f/4, basically impossible when using longer focal lengths. The image stabilization helps this problem somewhat, but doesn’t make it go away–you’re just not going to be using this lens for indoor shooting.
Fortunately, the lens does have some upsides (in addition to the price). While the build isn’t L lens quality, the body does feel strong. And Canon’s USM focusing is impressively fast and accurate, which is important for fast-paced shooting such as wildlife or backyard bird photography.
So if you’re looking for your first telephoto lens and can’t justify the larger price tag of other options, go with this one.
To purchase the Canon 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II, click here:
- Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM Lens
- Front-focusing method with helicoid ring drive
- No deductibles or hidden fees. Free shipping on all repairs. Fully transferable.
- Plan contract will be emailed from Asurion within 48 hours of purchase. This will not ship with your product.
While the Canon 100-400mm has since been upgraded to the Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II, the original lens is still very powerful–and far less pricey than its successor.
That makes it a great option for anyone looking to break into that 400mm focal length without paying an exorbitant price.
What can you do with 400mm?
First, 400mm is an excellent focal length for shooting wildlife and even medium-sized birds. While small songbirds are going to cause trouble even at 400mm, you should be able to get decently close to larger birds and even the less-wary small birds. And the focal length range on this lens makes it a great candidate for experienced sports photographers, especially those shooting outdoor games from a distance (e.g., baseball, football, soccer). At the wider end, you can shoot portraits or even tighter landscapes, but I’d recommend against grabbing this lens for just those purposes–you’d be better off with a shorter, smaller, lighter lens. Get the 100-400mm if you need the 400mm focal length.
Of course, if you’re planning to shoot at 400mm, you’re going to need a lens that’s sharp even at its longest focal lengths. Fortunately, the 100-400mm does quite well in this regard. It offers impressive sharpness on the long end, and while chromatic aberration is present at 400mm, it’s hardly a dealbreaker.
Now, this is a well-built lens, and you can feel it: At 3 lbs (1.4 g), it’s not light, though it’s not the heaviest lens out there. It is partially weather-sealed, so while I wouldn’t take it into the rain, you don’t have to worry too much about adverse weather.
Sports and wildlife photographers require the fastest and most accurate autofocus available, and the Canon 100-400mm delivers, featuring speedy autofocus that’s perfect for working in the thick of the action.
As is the case for the Canon 70-300mm lens discussed above, the variable f/4-5.6 aperture makes this lens a poor choice for low-light shooting. If you need a telephoto lens with a fast aperture, consider a long prime (e.g., the Canon 300mm), or a shorter, wide zoom (e.g., the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8). But the image stabilization does make shooting in shade or at dusk much more doable, enough to satisfy even more serious wildlife photographers.
You can purchase the Canon 100-400mm f/4-5.6L IS lens below:
- Compact, high performance L-series super-telephoto zoom makes it ideal for sports and wildlife photography
- Rotation-type zoom ring allows for more precise composition and excellent balance when handholding
- Improved zoom torque adjustment ring allows easy setting of zoom tension, Focal Length & Maximum Aperture:100-400mm...
- New Air Sphere Coating (ASC) helps to significantly reduce backlit flaring and ghosting, Highly resistant to dust and water,...
- German (Publication Language)
Canon’s Best Zoom Lenses in 2021: Conclusion
Choosing the best zoom lens for your needs may seem difficult, but you should now have an idea of the perfect option for your needs.
If you’re looking for a wide-angle lens, I recommend the 16-35mm f/4L or the 17-40mm f/4L, depending on your budget.
If you need a standard zoom lens, the 17-55mm f/2.8 is an excellent choice for APS-C shooters, while the 24-105mm f/4L is a higher-priced, more flexible alternative.
And if you need a longer lens, check out some of Canon’s best telephoto zoom lenses: the Canon 70-300mm for budget wildlife shooting, or the Canon 100-400mm for sports and serious wildlife photography.
The best telephoto zoom for wildlife photography is the Canon 100-400mm IS; it combines high-quality optics with good autofocus and a reasonable price tag. If you’re on a budget, I recommend the Canon 70-300mm IS II, which doesn’t offer the impressive optics of the 100-400mm, but does offer decent quality for the price.
A telephoto zoom lens offers a range of long focal lengths, often in the area of 70mm to 400mm. Any focal length below 50mm is considered wide-angle, and focal lengths from around 50-70mm are considered standard. Anything beyond that is telephoto.
The best Canon zoom lens for landscape photography is the Canon 16-35mm f/4L, which provides stunning optics, excellent build-quality, and a decent price. If you prefer to spend less, the Canon 10-18mm is a great choice for those using APS-C cameras.
The best zoom lens for Canon cameras depends on your needs. If you’re looking to shoot landscapes or architecture, I recommend a wide-angle lens such as the Canon 16-35mm f/4L. If you want to shoot portraits or street photography, the Canon 17-55mm f/2.8 or the Canon 24-105mm f/4L are great options. And if you want to shoot tight landscapes, wildlife, sports, or birds, it’s tough to go wrong with the Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L, though you do have a good budget option in the Canon 70-300mm f/4-5.6, and the Canon 70-200mm f/4L offers amazing optics for landscape and portrait photographers.
The best budget telephoto zoom lens for Canon is the Canon 70-300mm f/4-5.6 lens. It’s not the sharpest lens out there, but it does offer reasonable quality for an unbeatable low price. Plus, the 70-300mm focal length will allow you to capture lots of different photos: shots of landscapes at the wide and middle of the focal length range, and shots of larger wildlife, sports, and backyard birds at the 300mm end.
Canon’s best budget zoom lens is the Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6. This lens combines amazing flexibility with a fantastic price, and the optics are satisfying, if not stellar. At 18mm, you can capture landscape photos; at 50mm you can capture portraits; at 135mm, you can capture detail shots, among others. All in all, this is a great choice for photographers on a budget. Note, however, that it only works on crop-sensor cameras.
The best Canon zoom lens for APS-C cameras is the Canon 17-55mm f/2.8, which features incredibly sharp optics, a great focal length range, and amazingly fast aperture. With this lens, you’ll be able to capture professional-quality photos, no matter your genre of photography.
The best Canon zoom lens for full-frame cameras is the Canon 16-35mm f/4L. This lens offers amazing optics, a reasonable price, and a good focal length for landscape photography, event photography, and more. Another excellent choice would be the Canon 24-105mm f/4L, which offers a longer, more flexible focal length range and comparable optics.
The best Canon standard zoom lens is the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS, if you’re an APS-C shooter. This lens is very impressive optically, and offers IS as a nice bonus. If you’re a full-frame shooter, then I recommend the Canon 24-105mm f/4L, which offers a great focal length range, as well as excellent sharpness and build-quality.
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