10 Best Budget Telephoto Lens for Canon

Written by Matic Broz @matic_broz
(Updated on September 18, 2021)

Best Budget Telephoto Lens for Canon thumbnail

10 Best Budget Telephoto Lens for Canon

Telephoto lenses are expensive. But not all of them.

I sorted the telephoto lenses for Canon based on their price. Starting with the cheapest and high-quality lenses.

They are compatible with EF (more expensive) and EF-S (less expensive) mount for Canon. EF lenses go on full-frame cameras and EF-S lenses on APS-C cameras.

Telephoto lenses are amongst the most expensive type of lenses. So, if you want good image quality, you should spend at least $500 on a telephoto lens.

I recommend this one:

SALE
Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM Lens
  • 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.

Last update on 2021-09-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API. Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalize a purchase.

Best Budget Telephoto Lens For Canon

Based on pricing and quality, there are 10 great budget telephoto lenses for Canon.

Last update on 2021-09-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API. Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalize a purchase.

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

Canon EF-S 55-250mm f4-5.6 IS STM thumbnail

Compatibility: Canon EF, EF-S
Minimum Focus:
  0.85 m
Filter Diameter:  58 mm
Diameter × length:  70 x 111.2 mm (2.76 × 4.38″)
Weight: 375 g (13.2 oz.)

Canon EF-S 55-250mm is an updated version of the Canon 55-250mm IS II. But it includes Canon’s new stepping motor technology to focus. It promises a smoother and quieter AF that helps with video recording. It’s a very compact lens. And like the previous version, it’s built out of high-quality plastic.

Unlike many Canon USM lenses, you cannot manually override focus. Nonetheless, the focus ring is very light to operate, enabling you to make manual adjustments very quickly. The switch on the side switches between AF and MF.

The filter ring does not rotate while focusing, which si convenient when you use filters.

Central sharpness and clarity towards the edges are outstanding throughtout the zoom range. Distortion and chromatic aberration are well-controlled, reaching only low levels that shouldn’t you can easily remove in post-production.

Key Takeaways:

  • Exceptionally sharp and clear images for a lens of this zoom range;
  • Quite expensive compared to its predecessor;
  • Great for architecture photography and close-ups.

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

Canon EF 70-300mm f4-5.6 IS II USM thumbnail

Compatibility: Canon EF, EF-S
Minimum Focus:
  1.2 m
Filter Diameter:  67 mm
Diameter × length:  80 x 145.5 mm (3.2 × 5.7″)
Weight: 710 g (25.1 oz.)

Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM is a versatile and compact telephoto lens that offers a well-balanced combination between performance and cost. This lens is an updated version of the 70-300mm full-frame lens that offers an improved AF, improved optical quality, and a new electronic display. Lens hood is sold separately, but you may not need it anyway because the lens is not susceptible to flare.

The manual focus is performed electronically. The AF is fast, silent, and locks onto the subject very efficiently. The zoom ring can be pushed and pulled to switch between AF and MF, assisting you with video-making.

Overall central sharpness of the lens is very satisfactory, and CA is very well-controlled for a zoom lens.

Aesthetically speaking, you will find the images from this lens quite alluring. This lens seems to be a fine choice for you if you want sharp photos for minimum cost.

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

Tamron SP 70-300mm f4-5.6 Di VC USD thumbnail

Compatibility: Canon EF
Minimum Focus:
  0.95 m
Filter Diameter:  62 mm
Diameter × length:  81.5 x 149.9 mm (3.21 × 7.9″)
Weight: 765 g (1.68 lb)

Being Tamron’s Anniversary lens, the SP 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di VC USD is their only lens to date that comes with a silent ultrasonic focusing motor. 

Regardless of the solid and high-quality plastics and compact build, you won’t find the lens too hefty. The switches to control AF and VC are placed on the left side and are designed with comfort in mind to make them easier to use. The comfortably gripped zoom ring is located towards the far end of the lens.

There is no external rotation during focus as it is performed internally. The ultrasonic focusing may contribute towards quicker focusing, but the speed still lacks compared with Tamron’s other lenses. Overall, the lens has good capability to lock onto moderately fast-moving subjects like cars driving down a street. 

Zooming at 135mm affects the sharpness quality; but, the highest and most uniform sharpness towards both the centre and edges is achieved at f/11. The chromatic aberration and falloff of illumination are decently well controlled in addition to the minimized distortion levels. The effective Vibration Correction system reduces camera shake while shooting handheld. Also, you will not find this feature in other Tamron 70-300mm lenses. 

In conclusion, this gold-ringed lens is a good choice for you to shoot sports activities, portraits, and nature, providing sharp and contrasty images.

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

Sigma 100-400mm f5-6.3 DG OS HSM thumbnail

Compatibility: Canon EF
Minimum Focus:
  1.6 m
Filter Diameter:  67 mm
Diameter × length:  86.4 x 182.3 mm (3.4 × 7.18″)
Weight: 1,160 g (2.55 lb)

Sigma is a long 100-400mm telephoto lens for Canon. Sigma 100-400 f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary lens comes with a high focal length range and is comparatively affordable.

It blends in a decent optical design along with a compact and lightweight structure. The lens ergonomics is quite comfortable, and you won’t experience issues in handling. However, there is no weatherproofing except for a rubber seal on the lens mount to prevent water from entering. 

Near to the camera body lie switches, including the AF speed and Optical Stabilization. Like other Sigma lenses, these switches can be re-programmed by connecting to a computer via a USB dock. Thanks to the inclusion of Hyper Sonic Motor, the lens tends to pick out and focus on the subject efficiently and quickly.

Sharpness towards the edges is not the greatest. It improves by lowering the aperture to f/11, at which point you can secure the best and even sharpness both towards the centre and edges. Chromatic aberration appears to be close to non-existent in the centre of the frame. You might find a bit of edge fringing in your shots, but it is far less and better controlled than other similar lenses. Lastly, the lens tends to handle distortion quite well.

You should include this lens on your wish list if you are looking for a well-performing, compact, and reasonably priced lens to shoot distant subjects such as wildlife, sports, and birds.

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

Tamron 100-400mm f4.5-6.3 Di VC USD

Compatibility: Canon EF
Minimum Focus:
  1.5 m
Filter Diameter:  67 mm
Diameter × length:  86.2 x 199 mm (3.39 × 7.83″)
Weight: 1,135 g (2.5 lb)

Great for telephoto shooting, the compact Tamron 100-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD lens comes with a useful focal length range, and it’s a relatively lightweight lens. 

The magnesium alloy construction on the lens makes it lightweight, durable, and suitable for harsh weather conditions. The extended light bandwidth coating, internal structure, and the decent-sized lens contribute towards omitting flare issues. The lens doesn’t extend while focusing, although it does when you zoom. Similar to the other Tamron lenses, there are switches for Vibration Compensation, AF, and MF. 

The stable VC system helps minimize the camera shake aspect and promotes sharper handheld shooting. The Ultra Silent Drive autofocus motor makes it fast, precise, and suitable to shoot moving subjects. Even when AF is turned on, the manual-focusing ring can be used to provide a faster shift. 

The central and corner sharpness until f/22 is considerably good, but you will notice softness in the photos as the lens approaches f/32. Despite being exceptionally low at 100mm, chromatic aberration increases as you move towards higher focal lengths. 

Generally, you can get this lens as an alternative to the other expensive lens for shooting wildlife photography, sports, and portraits. You may find the bokeh to be somewhat underwhelming, but the long side of the lens naturally tends to keep the background well out of focus.

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

Tamron 70-200mm f2.8 SP Di VC USD G2 thumbnail

Compatibility: Canon EF
Minimum Focus:
  0.95 m
Filter Diameter:  77 mm
Diameter × length:  87.88 x 193.04 mm (3.46 × 7.6″)
Weight: 1,500 g (3.31 lb)

Intended as a premium quality lens, the Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8SP Di VC USD G2 is a smooth and efficient lens. In addition to being moisture and dust resistant, the lens also has an ergonomic shape for easy handling and usage.

Both the focusing ring and the zoom ring work smoothly. Towards the camera body, you can find switches to adjust Vibration Compensation (VC) and AF. This lens’s fantastic and distinctive feature is the ease with which you can switch between landscape and portrait shots when you mount it on a tripod. 

The ring-type Ultrasonic Silent Drive autofocus motor enhances responsiveness and performance. Along with this, you also get an advanced VC system for stabilization. The lens indicates the distance to the subject via the focusing scale, and it doesn’t extend when you zoom or focus. 

Even though most of the subject matter doesn’t need any kind of alterations, but you may want to use some software to correct the uneven chromatic aberration at the edges. The lens seems quite prone to flare even when shooting in bright light and contrast. The sharpness generally remains well maintained throughout. 

Compared with other similar and more costly lenses, the Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8SP Di VC USD G2 doesn’t compromise image quality. This factor indeed makes up for the slight handling issues that you may come across. Because of the high range of AF, the lens is quite suitable for shooting distant subjects. 

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

Canon EF 70-200mm f4L IS II USM thumbnail

Compatibility: Canon EF
Minimum Focus:
  1.0 m
Filter Diameter:  77 mm
Diameter × length:  80 x 176 mm (3.2 × 6.9″)
Weight: 780 g (27.5 oz.)

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II USM lens is very compact and utilizes Canon’s Super Spectra coating and fluorine coating to repel dust and moisture, giving it an all-weather feature.

Towards the front of the lens is the manual focus ring that gives you an excellent grip when applying manual adjustments. The MF is very smooth coupled with the AF that is fast, silent, and accurate. Zooming is smooth but firm enough, so that focal length is not accidentally changed. The lens offers a higher focusing distance than previous Canon models, which is very useful for macro photography.

The evenness in sharpness from centre to edge is excellent, peaking at f/4. This lens is better than many other competitive lenses in controlling CA that is close to zero in the centre.

Overall, the lens is superb ergonomically and perhaps, one of the best choices for wildlife photography on this list. With a bokeh that offers beautifully attractive out of focus backgrounds, this lens will be ideal for you if you are fond of macro and telephoto photography.

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

Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 DG OS HSM S thumbnail

Compatibility: Canon EF
Minimum Focus:
  1.2 m
Filter Diameter:  82 mm
Diameter × length:  94.2 x 202.9 mm (3.71 × 7.99″)
Weight: 1,800 g (3.97 lb)

The Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Sport is incredibly adaptable to various applications and is the favourite of many professional wildlife photographers. 

The lens differs from other similar lenses in terms of the fantastic handling and ergonomically placed controls. The hefty and solid structure, along with the magnesium body, guarantee it will withstand rough use. The zoom ring in this lens is located close to the camera body. Behind it lie three buttons that control AF functioning. With the help of a separately sold USB dock, you can connect and re-program these buttons for alternate functions.

You can adjust the focus limiter to the full range or limited range from 3m to infinity, making AF easier while shooting distant subjects. The integrated Hyper Sonic Motor works to speed up and smoothen the auto-focusing performance while also making it quieter. The Intelligent Stabilizer system helps reduce the camera shake when shooting handheld. You will also find the zoom and focus rings to move quite smoothly. 

The lens is coated with Super Multi-Layer Coating to minimize flare; thereby, producing high contrast and colour-neutral images even when you shoot in low-light conditions. The Special Low Dispersion element helps improve the colour quality, minimizes distortion, and enhances the image’s overall sharpness. 

As it’s part of the sports line, the lens offers you exceptional speed, optical performance, and customization, making it a top choice for wildlife, sports activities, action, and other photography genres that involve photographing fast-moving subjects. 

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

Canon ef 70-200mm f 2.8l is iii usm thumbnail

Compatibility: Canon EF
Minimum Focus:
  1.2 m
Filter Diameter:  77 mm
Diameter × length:  88.8 x 199 mm (3.5 × 7.8 in.)
Weight: 1,490 g (52.6 oz.)

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens is the next version of Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM, but it comes with a fast and bright f/2.8 maximum aperture. The lens is very compact and manageable, and you will have no problem carrying it with you all day long.

It utilizes Canon’s Air Sphere Coating and a Fluorine coating that repels dust and moisture, giving it an all-weather feature.

The lens has a broad manual focus ring towards the front that gives you an excellent grip when applying manual adjustments. AF utilizes a ring-type USM motor that is fast and accurate. Zooming is smooth but firm enough so that you don’t accidentally zoom in or out. 

Central sharpness is excellent throughout the zoom range peaking at f/2.8, while clarity is also pretty good. However, both degrade towards the edges. CA and distortion are extremely well-controlled, and they should give you no problem at all.

Although the lens is ergonomically superb, it is heavier and costs more compared to its younger brother. However, for photographers that require an f/2.8 aperture with their Canon telephoto lens, this is an excellent choice with its sharp image quality. The lens produces quite impressive bokeh, making it a good choice for wildlife and even macro photography.

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

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

Compatibility: Canon EF & EF-S
Minimum Focus:
  0.98 m
Filter Diameter:  77 mm
Diameter × length:  94 x 193 mm (3.7 × 7.6 in.)
Weight: 1,640 g (57.8 oz.)

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM is without a doubt the best super-telephoto lens for Canon. While it’s part of Canon’s lineup of professional lenses that does not use a push-pull mechanism like its predecessor, often criticized for sucking dust into the camera. The lens is weather-sealed, allowing you to shoot in poor weather conditions.

The lens follows the typical Canon L-series design with an excellent build quality to withstand the rigours of daily professional use. 

AF is powered by an ultrasonic motor, so the AF focuses very fast. The focus ring rotates smoothly, making the manual adjustments to focus simple. The filter ring does not rotate while focusing, a feature ideal if you use graduated and polarizing filters. Canon EF 100-400mm is also compatible with Canon teleconverters. This feature allows you to extend the zoom range even more.

Central sharpness is excellent throughout the zoom range, and clarity towards the edges is also outstanding. CA and distortion are very well-controlled for a telephoto zoom lens.

Although the lens is relatively expensive, it lives up to the reputation of its predecessor performance-wise. The excellent zooming mechanism and high resistance to flare make it a fine choice for street photography and close-up photography. It’s a great Canon telephoto lens for wildlife photography.

FAQ

What is the best super-telephoto lens for Canon?

Overall best super-telephoto lens for Canon cameras is Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM. This lens has an outstanding focal length range, great vibration control, it’s sharp at every focal length and aperture.

What is the best cheap telephoto lens for Canon?

At around $550, Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM is the best cheap telephoto lens for Canon. While it does not have a fixed aperture, its photos are sharp and have very little chromatic aberration.

Which is the best zoom lens for Canon?

The best zoom lens for Canon cameras is Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM if you’re not concerned about the price. It produces excellent photos and it has a constant f/2.8 through the zoom range.

Which is better telephoto or zoom lens?

The two are not mutually exclusive; telephoto lenses are usually zoom lenses. I recommend zoom lenses over prime as they give you more manoeuvrability.

Final Words

If I had to choose best budget telephoto lens for Canon, I would choose these lenses:

  1. Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM
  2. Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM
  3. Sigma 100-400mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM

Let me know which one you chose, in the comment below!

Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalize a purchase.

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