The Best Lens For Sports Photography Canon

Photography, once, was a luxury very few could afford to partake. However, it has become an increasingly common and important part of business activities as well as daily life. Sports photography can be put into 2 main categories – photojournalism (for professional sports) and vernacular photography (for amateur sports and other physical activities). Dedicated photographers may be freelancers, self-employed or employed by newspapers, magazines or agencies.

Best Lens For Sports Photography Canon

Sports photography is also useful for advertising, promotions and a range of other business activities. With such diverse applications, the camera and the lens being used must have the right qualities to capture the essence of the sport and the desired image. This list provides you the 10 best lenses that can be used for sports photography.

After human talent and skill, perhaps the most important aspect of sports photography is having the right equipment. These include professional cameras with different shooting speeds, changeable lenses with varying focal lengths, memory cards, batteries and other essentials such as monopods or tripods. These may depend on the type of sport and even the individual pictures that the photographer wishes to capture. For example, lenses with longer focal length are ideal for capturing the actions, whereas wide angled lenses can be used to photograph the crown and close-ups of the athletes.

Professional sports photographers prefer cameras that have the ability to autofocus rapidly and have high burst rates. The Canon EOS-1D X Mark 11, 6D, 5D and EOS R are popular choices among professional sports photographers. The cameras need to be easy to use, efficient and dynamic in order to stay on par with the action.

When it comes to lenses, different sports have different needs. However, some common requirements include speed, wide aperture, telephoto lenses, fast and efficient autofocus and fast shutter speeds etc. The desired lens qualities and features may depend on the different aspects of the sport. Indoor and outdoor sports have different lighting needs. Some sports such as golf are more laid back in nature while football requires faster lens and camera reflexes. Another key aspect is the distance between the photographer and the action. Of course, the photographers’ budget can be an important part of the decision as cameras and lenses can range from affordable to very expensive.

10 Best Lens For Sports Photography Canon

1. CANON EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens

The EF 100–400mm f/4.5–5.6L IS II USM lens is a performance oriented lens that is compact in size and has immense resolving power that makes it ideal for sports and wildlife photography. It comes with one fluorite and one super ultra-low dispersion (UD) element that provides greater contrast and resolution, lesser chromatic aberration and multiple levels of zoom.

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

Specifications

  • Focal Length & Maximum Aperture: 100–400mm 1:4.5–5.6
  • Lens Construction: 21 elements in 16 groups
  • Diagonal Angle of View: 24°–6°10′
  • Focus Adjustment: Inner focus system / USM
  • Closest Focusing Distance: 3.2 ft. / 0.98m
  • Filter Size: 77mm diameter
  • Zoom System: Rotation Type
  • Max Diameter x Length, Weight: Approx. 3.7 x 7.6 in. / 94 x 193mm, Approx. 3.46 lbs. / 1570g (lens only, excluding removable tripod mount) Approx. 3.62 lbs. / 1640g (lens + tripod mount)

Canon’s new Air Sphere Coating (ASC) greatly reduces flaring and ghosting, and the fluorine coating on the front and rear surfaces can be effective in reducing smears and fingerprints. The lens has a 9 blade circular aperture produces beautiful soft results. It has a 3 mode – standard, panning and exposure – Image Stabilizer that allows up to 4 steps of image correction.

The lens has rotatable zoom ring with adjustable torque for better zoom performance. The lens allows a tripod to be attached to the camera without the need for separating the camera and the lens. The lens is dust and water resistant to make it durable and viable for use in different sporting environments. The lens has a hood with a side window that allow the simple adjustment of specialty filters without having to remove the hood.

Pros
  • Compact size
  • Greater resolving power
  • Great contrast and resolution
  • Lesser chromatic aberration
  • Multiple levels of zoom
  • Super telephoto zoom
  • Rotational zoom ring
  • Reduces flare, ghosting, smear and fingerprints
  • 9-blade circular aperture
  • 3 mode image stabilizer for 4 steps of image correction
  • Dust and water resistant
  • Hood has a side window – filters can be adjusted without removing the hood.
  • Comes with a 1 year warranty
Cons
  • May not fit all camera models
  • Heavier than some of the other lenses
  • Inconsistent sharpness between different focal lengths and apertures
  • Slower autofocus than other USM lenses
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2. CANON EF 70-200mm f/4L USM Telephoto Zoom Lens for Canon SLR Camera

Whether you want to take in the bigger picture from afar, or zoom in to capture an intimate moment of success or disappointment, the EF 70-200 telephoto zoom lens is the ideal companion for your camera. It is a high performance L series lens that is distinguishable because of its features such as the f/4 max aperture, inner focusing system and a ring type ultra-sonic monitor. As a result, it delivers rapid and silent autofocusing. Additionally, the lens comes with a 1 year warranty.

CANON EF 70-200mm f4L USM Telephoto Zoom Lens for Canon SLR Camera

Specification:

  • Focal length: 70-200mm
  • Maximum aperture: 1:4.0
  • Lens construction: 16 elements in 13 groups
  • Diagonal angle of view: 34 to 12 degrees
  • Focus adjustment: Inner focusing system with USM
  • Closest focusing distance: 3.9 feet
  • Zoom system: Rotating type
  • Filter size: 67mm
  • Dimensions: 3.0 inches in diameter, 6.8 inches long
  • Weight: 25 ounces

The lens combines a fluorite element with 2 UD glass elements that produce superior contrast and performance. The ring-type USM is fast and silent, and permits a full-time minimum focus as well as the closest minimum focus of any L series 70-200 lenses. It is compatible with various EF extenders (1.4x II and 2x II) and can be used with tripod collar as well.

Pros
  • Compact size and weight
  • Internal focusing system – lens does not grow along with focal length
  • Higher mobility
  • Ring type USM – fast and silent autofocusing
  • Great contrast and resolution
  • Lesser chromatic aberration
  • Multiple levels of zoom
  • Telephoto zoom
  • Full time minimum focus
  • Closest minimum focus of any L series 70-200 lenses
  • Can compress images for dramatic effects
  • Can accommodate an attachable polarizing filter
  • Has an image stabilizer
  • Rotational zoom ring
  • Reduces flare, ghosting, smear and fingerprints
  • Dust and water resistant
  • Compatible with EF extenders
  • Comes with a 1 year warranty
Cons
  • May not fit all camera models
  • Slow aperture at wide end
  • Considered to be pricey
  • Images are cropped when paired with an APS-C (narrower field of view)
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3. CANON EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III USM Telephoto Zoom Lens for SLR Cameras

The Canon EF 75-300mm telephoto zoom lenses are ideal for capturing sports action. They can be used to capture the crowd or the game from a distance, or zoom in for portraits. The lens’ optical system, build and design are similar to the EF 75-300 mm f/4-5.6 III USM, however, it uses a DC motor instead of the USM to work the autofocus. It comes with a 1 year warranty.

CANON EF 75-300mm f4-5.6 III USM Telephoto Zoom Lens for SLR Cameras

Specifications:

  • Focal length: 75-300mm
  • Maximum aperture: 1:4-5.6
  • Lens construction: 13 elements in 9 groups
  • Diagonal angle of view: 32 (at 11 feet) to 8 degrees (at 15 feet)
  • Closest focusing distance: 4.9 feet
  • Zoom system: Rotating type
  • Filter size: 58mm
  • Dimensions: 2.8 inches in diameter, 4.8 inches long
  • Weight: 16.8 ounces

It is one of Canon’s most affortable long telephoto zoom lenses. The optical system is a 13-element one, same as the USM variant, but relies on a DC motor. The closest focusing distance of 4.9 ft (1.5m) allows filling the frame (at 300mm) with very small objects such as the dollar bill. Furthermore, it is compatible with the Canon 58mm Close-up lens 500D which, in combination, can be used to take even clearer pictures of smaller objects.

Pros
  • Compact size and lightweight
  • Impressive focal range
  • Very affordable
  • Has an autofocus
  • Great contrast and resolution
  • Lesser chromatic aberration
  • Versatile zoom range
  • Telephoto zoom
  • Ideal for capturing smaller objects/details
  • Can compress images for dramatic effects
  • Compatible with Canon 58mm Close-up lens 500D
  • Works with all sensors
  • Comes with a 1 year warranty
Cons
  • May not fit all camera models
  • DC motor based autofocus makes it noisy and slow
  • Does not have good aperture value and brightness
  • Does not have an image stabilizer
  • Variable lens brightness can be complicated to handle
  • Not sealed to have water and dust resistance
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4. CANON EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM Telephoto Zoom Lens for Canon SLR Cameras

This lens can be commonly found attached to the cameras covering events such as weddings and sports. The EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM has a useful telephoto to telephoto zoom range, and a maximum aperture of f/2.8 irrespective of the focal range. It also comes with an image stabilization feature. While the lens is on the heavier side, it is quite compact in size for a telephoto zoom lens.

CANON EF 70-200mm f2.8L USM Telephoto Zoom Lens for Canon SLR Cameras

Specifications:

  • Focal length: 70-200mm
  • Maximum aperture: f/2.8
  • Lens construction: 18 elements in 15 groups
  • Diagonal angle of view: 34 to 12 degrees
  • Focus adjustment: Inner focusing system with USM
  • Zoom system: Rotating type
  • Closest focusing distance: 4.9 feet
  • Filter size: 77mm
  • Dimensions: 3.3 inches in diameter and 7.6 inches long
  • Weight: 2.9 pounds
  • Warranty: 1 year
Pros
  • Compact size
  • Impressive focal range
  • Image stabilization
  • Constant max aperture
  • 8 Bladed aperture
  • Internal focusing system
  • Full time minimum focus
  • Has a fast USM autofocus
  • 4 UD lens elements
  • Great contrast and resolution
  • Lesser chromatic aberration
  • Multiple levels of zoom
  • Telephoto zoom
  • Can compress images for dramatic effects
  • Compatible with extenders EF 1.4x II and 2x II
  • Water and dust resistant
  • Comes with a 1 year warranty
Cons
  • May not fit all camera models
  • Heavy (2.9lbs)
  • Pricey
  • Some degree of distortion at 70mm
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5. LIGHTDOW 85mm f/1.8 Medium Telephoto Manual Focus Full Frame Portrait Lens for Canon EOS Rebel

The Lightdow 85mm f/1.8 Medium Telephoto lens is a very practical and efficient lens that provides precision and portability. It is capable of producing sharp images at all apertures. It is made up of 8 pieces of circular aperture and has smooth and large focus rings for easier adjustment and handling. It features internal focusing. The lenses are hybrid aspheric in nature and have ultra multi coating (UMC). The UMC provides protection and enhances the imagery as well.

LIGHTDOW 85mm f1.8 Medium Telephoto Manual Focus Full Frame Portrait Lens for Canon EOS Rebel

Specifications:

  • Lens type: Prime lens
  • Max Format size: Full Frame
  • Focal length: 85 mm
  • Image stabilization: No
  • Lens mount: Canon, Nikon
  • Aperture – Maximum aperture:F1.8, Min: F22, Aperture Ring: Yes
  • Optical Elements: 9
  • Optical Groups: 7
  • Special elements / coatings: 1 aspheric element

Prime lenses with this focal length range are especially useful when photojournalists and sports photographers need to prioritize portraits. The moderate or medium focal length tends to produce a seemingly flatter image that hide imperfections such as having a very large nose. The wide aperture enables the photographers to easily blur out crowds and other background distractions.

Pros
  • High portability
  • Precision
  • Exceptional sharpness throughout
  • Hybrid aspheric
  • UMC
  • Internal focusing system
  • Circular Aperture
  • Smooth focal rings
  • Especially useful for portraits
  • Easily able to blur backgrounds
  • Can hide imperfections
  • Multiple levels of zoom
  • Telephoto zoom
  • Can compress images for dramatic effects
  • Compatible with Canon’s EOS Rebel Cameras
  • Inexpensive
  • Comes with a warranty
Cons
  • Not compatible with most camera models
  • Manual focus
  • Need to change camera settings to allow it to detect the lens
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6. CANON EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS II Telephoto Zoom Lens

This is a telephoto lens designed for Canon cameras. The field of view it covers is nearly equivalent to an 88-400mm zoom on a full frame camera. In other words, it delivers an impressive reach at maximum zoom level.

It incorporates Canon’s Optical Image Stabilizer technology and easily captures clear images across longer distances, and the powerful zoom can be used to capture portraits of athletes while blurring the background easily.

CANON EF-S 55-250mm f4.0-5.6 IS II Telephoto Zoom Lens

The image stabilizer helps achieve an effect that equates shutter speeds that are four times faster. It can even allow the photographer to hand-hold shutter speeds to rates as slow as 1/15th of a second.

It comes with a UD glass element that allows it to tolerate chromatic aberration to a higher degree. This allows greater image quality and consistency throughout the zoom range.

Specifications:

  • Focal length: 55-250mm
  • Maximum aperture: f/4 to f/5.6
  • Lens construction: 12 elements in 10 groups, including one UD-glass element
  • Diagonal angle of view: 27 degrees (at 50 feet) to 6 degrees (at 15 feet), with APS-C image sensors
  • Focus adjustment: DC motor, gear-driven (front focusing design)
  • Closest focusing distance: 3.6 feet (0.31x maximum close-up magnification)
  • Filter size: 58mm
  • Dimensions: 2.8 inches in diameter and 4.3 inches long
  • Weight: 13.8 ounces
  • Warranty: 1 year
Pros
  • Compact size and lightweight
  • Affordable
  • Impressive field of view
  • Image stabilization technology
  • Exceptional sharpness throughout
  • Greater control over shutter speed
  • Internal focusing system
  • UD lens element
  • Great contrast and resolution
  • Greater tolerance for chromatic aberration
  • Multiple levels of zoom
  • Telephoto zoom
  • Can compress images for dramatic effects
  • Compatible with extenders EF 1.4x II and 2x II
  • Water and dust resistant
  • Comes with a 1 year warranty
Cons
  • May not fit all camera models
  • Not compatible with full sensor DSLRs
  • DC motor based autofocus makes it noisy and slow
  • Not highly recommended for low lighting
  • Modest aperture
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7. CANON EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM Lens

The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM allows photographers to close in on the action. It has an incredibly versatile zoom range couples with a fast and nearly silent autofocus to add convenience to the photography.  This is an especially useful element of video recording as the only audio it records is the one intended by the photographer.

CANON EF 70-300mm f4-5.6 IS II USM Lens

It comes with a new Lens Information Display. This provides information such as the focus distance and depth of field, and make it easier to set up the shot. The image stabilization feature makes the tripod a useful accessory instead of a necessity.

The lens has strategically placed UD glass lens element. This allows the lens to produce images with higher contrast and details while ensuring higher chromatic aberration tolerance. It has great zoom range and is useful for APS-C and full-frame camera photographers.

Specifications:

  • Focal Length & Maximum Aperture: 70–300mm f/4–5.6
  • Lens Construction: 17 elements in 12 groups
  • Diagonal Angle of View: 34°–8°15′
  • Focus Adjustment: AF with full-time manual
  • Closest Focusing Distance: 3.94 ft. / 1.2m
  • Filter Size: 2.6 in. / 67mm diameter
  • Max. Diameter x Length, Weight: Φ3.15 x 5.73 in., approx. 25.04 oz. / Φ80 x 145.5mm, approx. 710g
Pros
  • Compact size and lightweight
  • Impressive field of view
  • Fast and silent autofocus
  • Allows full time manual focus even during autofocus mode
  • Circular aperture for beautiful and softer backgrounds
  • Image stabilization technology
  • Exceptional sharpness throughout
  • High build quality
  • Useful lens information display
  • UD lens element
  • Great contrast and resolution
  • Greater tolerance for chromatic aberration
  • Multiple levels of zoom
  • Telephoto zoom
  • Can compress images for dramatic effects
  • Useful for APS-C and full sensor camera users
  • Comes with a 1 year warranty
Cons
  • May not fit all camera models
  • Hood is not included – needs to be purchased separately
  • Does not have a weather protection seal around the mount
  • highlights can look hard edged at higher zoom levels
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8. CANON EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II USM Lens for Canon DSLRs

The EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II USM is compact and lightweight and is a good choice for amateur and professional photographers because of the low price tag. While not as expensive as other L series lenses, it looks just as good. The camera has an internal zoom and focusing system.

Just like other lenses in the series, it is weather sealed for protection against dust and moisture/water.

CANON EF 70-200mm f4L IS II USM Lens for Canon DSLRs

Therefore, it offers great durability and functionality in rough conditions. The front and rear elements are fluorine coated to protect the lenses from smudges and finger prints. This adds to the overall optical abilities of the lens and camera.

While the lens’ barrel has an indentation for a tripod collar, it actually needs to be bought separately which can add to the expense. However, it does come with a reversible hood and a soft casing. It is compatible for use with full-frame and APS-C, SLRs and EOS M mirrorless cameras.

Specifications:

  • Focal Length: 70-200mm
  • Max Aperture: 1:4:0
  • Lens Construction: 20 elements in 15 groups
  • Minimum Focus Distance: 3.28ft
  • Filter Size: 72mm
  • Diameter x Length: 3.1 x 6.9 in
  • Weight: 27.2 oz
  • 1 year warranty

The barrel is 4 switches on the side that can be used to adjust different lense functions. These include the focus limiter, the auto and manual focus switch, and the others are for image stabilization. Image stabilization can be turned on and off, and has three setting modes that can be used for different types of shots such as for capturing a subject moving horizontally or for an object or person moving erratically. The stabilization is effective to 5 stops.

Pros
  • Compact size and weight
  • Internal focusing system – lens does not grow along with focal length
  • Higher mobility
  • Ring type USM – fast and silent autofocusing
  • Manual and autofocusing modes
  • Great contrast and resolution
  • Sharp image even at f/4
  • Optional tripod collar available
  • 5 stop image stabilization
  • Lesser chromatic aberration
  • Multiple levels of zoom
  • Telephoto zoom
  • Full time minimum focus
  • Closest minimum focus of any L series 70-200 lenses
  • Can compress images for dramatic effects
  • Can accommodate an attachable polarizing filter
  • Has an image stabilizer
  • Rotational zoom ring
  • Reduces flare, ghosting, smear and fingerprints
  • Dust and water resistant
  • Compatible with EF extenders
  • Comes with a 1 year warranty
Cons
  • May not fit all camera models
  • Slow aperture at wide end
  • Considered to be pricey
  • Some visible distortion
  • Dimmed corners
  • Not as good as an f/2.8 lens in terms of optical performance
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9. CANON EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens

The EF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens is often the first choice for amateurs and new professional photographers. It provides a wide aperture and is great for high quality portraits and low light photography. It also comes with a very low price tag. The STM based focus is smooth and quiet.

CANON EF 50mm f1.8 STM Lens

Specification:

  • Focal Length & Maximum Aperture: 50mm f/1.8
  • Lens Construction: 6 elements in 5 groups
  • Diagonal Angle of View: 46°
  • Focus Adjustment: AF with full-time manual
  • Closest Focusing Distance: 1.15 ft. / 0.35m
  • Filter Size: 49mm
  • Max. Diameter x Length, Weight: Approx. 2.7 x 1.5 in. / 69.2 x 39.3mm, Approx. 5.6 oz. / 159g

The lens has a single control switch to toggle between manual and auto focus. The focus can be adjusted using the zoom ring, which activates the autofocus. It is an improvement from previous models of the lens with manual focusing systems.

Pros
  • Very small in size (can even fit in the pocket)
  • Very low price tag
  • Smooth and quiet autofocus
  • Great contrast and resolution
  • Wide aperture
  • Ideal for low light photography
  • Lesser chromatic aberration
  • Multiple levels of zoom
  • Rotational zoom ring
  • 7-blade circular aperture
  • Manual and autofocus
  • Metal mount
  • Dust and water resistant
  • Comes with a 1 year warranty
Cons
  • May not fit all camera models
  • Slower autofocus than USM lenses
  • Barrel distortion
  • Can flare
  • No image stabilization
  • Narrower field of view when paired with APS-C cameras
  • Hood has to be purchased separately
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10. CANON EF 17-40mm f/4L USM Ultra Wide Angle Zoom Lens for Canon SLR Cameras

The zoom on this lens ranges from normal to ultra wide, and when paired with a full-framed body, it provides an extremely wide field of view (17mm) on the wide end and a 40mm view on the long end. The aperture is a constant f/4 and the USM based focusing motor works fast and silently. It is also extremely budget friendly.

CANON EF 17-40mm f4L USM Ultra Wide Angle Zoom Lens for Canon SLR Cameras

The lens is very light in weight but comes with comparatively larger 77mm filters. It can focus as close as 10.8 inches irrespective of the focal length and has a focus ring near the front element that can be used to adjust the focus manually. It has a switch that can be used to shift between auto and manual focusing modes. This lens comes with a hood and case.

Specifications:

  • Focal length: 17-40mm
  • Maximum aperture: 1:4
  • Lens construction: 12 elements in 9 groups
  • Diagonal angle of view: 104 to 57 degrees (at 30 feet)
  • Focus adjustment: Inner focusing system with USM
  • Closest focusing distance: 0.9 feet
  • Zoom system: Rotating type
  • Filter size: 77mm
  • Dimensions: 3.3 inches in diameter, 3.8 inches long
  • Weight: 1.1 pounds
Pros
  • ⦁ Compact size and weight
  • ⦁ Ultra wide field of view
  • ⦁ Internal focusing system – lens does not grow along with focal length
  • Higher mobility
  • Reasonable price
  • Ring type USM – fast and silent autofocusing
  • Manual and autofocusing
  • Great contrast and resolution
  • Good center sharpness
  • Multiple levels of zoom
  • Telephoto zoom
  • Full time minimum focus
  • Closest minimum focus of any L series 70-200 lenses
  • Can compress images for dramatic effects
  • Can accommodate an attachable polarizing filter
  • Has an image stabilizer
  • Rotational zoom ring
  • Reduces flare, ghosting, smear and fingerprints
  • Dust and water resistant
  • Dust and water resistant
  • Compatible with EF extenders
  • Comes with a 1 year warranty
Cons
  • May not fit all camera models
  • Soft and muddy edges
  • Some distortion at different settings
  • Some color fringing or chromatic abberation
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Conclusion

There are so many types of cameras and even more types of lenses, that buying the right camera requires careful thought. For a sports photographer, the first consideration is to decide if the purpose if amateur or professional photography. Once that is clear, take the following tips into consideration:

  1. Think about what you want to capture – the type of sports, athletes, environments and events you will need the lens for
  2. Know your budget
  3. Decide your aperture, focal length, zoom and other requirements
  4. Know your camera’s model and features
  5. Do your research and decide what kind of lens will be most compatible with your camera and other equipment, as well as the most suitable lens in relation to the nature of the photography
  6. Never hesitate in seeking advice and testing the equipment before you buy it (lens can be expensive)