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11 Best Canon Lenses for Sports Photography (2022)

Sports photography is one of those fields where the outcome relies heavily on the gear you have, especially in low-light situations. The gold standards for professional fast-action sports lenses are 24-70mm and 70-200mm, which cover about 90% of sports photography.

In this article, we’ll cover the best lenses for sports photography from the Canon product lineup as well as other brands which manufacture lenses that are compatible with Canon cameras. These lenses will be judged on their general quality, autofocus, ability, and many other factors.

We Recommend

Sports Gold Standard

Canon 70-200mm

Best for Indoors

Canon 24-70mm

Best Budget Option

Sigma 150-600mm

Best Lens for Sports Photography Canon

1. Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Zoom Lens

camera lens on a white background

The first item on our list is the Canon EF 24-70mm f/28L II USM Zoom Lens. This is a zoom lens with a fixed aperture of f/2.8L.

The constant maximum aperture exposure is a great attribute when it comes to sports photography. The focal length of this lens can be adjusted, which is another essential function for shooting sports scenes. You can adjust the focal length between 24mm and 70mm.

This is one the best sports photography lens that Canon has to offer when it comes to indoor events. The pricing is reasonable and the product comes with a complete bundled kit.

All of the accessories included are Canon-branded, ensuring that you get high-quality accessories to complement your Canon lens.

The lens construction includes 18 elements in 13 groups. There is a diagonal angle of view that can be adjusted between 34 degrees and 84 degrees. The lens features an inner-focusing adjustment system with USM. The closest focusing distance of the lens is 1.25 feet. Overall, this lens is versatile and well-suited to indoor sports. It does, however, suffer from a lack of image stabilization.


What we liked

  • Complete lens kit included
  • Comes with travel bag
  • Focal length can be adjusted
  • Includes an EW-88c Tulip Lens Hood
  • Official Canon branded lens

What we didn’t like

  • No image stabilization
  • A bit heavy

Type: Zoom Lens
Sensor: Aspherical Lens Element
Shutter speed: 1/2500 sec
Aperture: f/2.8
Autofocus: Yes
Image Stabilization: No
Weight: 4.65 lbs
Best for: Indoor sports

2. Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Sports Lens

camera lens on a white background

The Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens is another great option for sports photography. This lens can be easily combined with some great cameras for filming sports. The EF 70-200 is slightly pricier than the previous lens, however its features along with the addition of image stabilization justifies this slight jump in price..

This is a USM lens that is officially manufactured by the Canon brand. The lens features an adjustable focal length, which can be adjusted between 70mm and 200mm. The lens uses an AF sensor, which is known to allow more light to enter the lens. This means the lens is a strong option for low light settings. Dim conditions, such as outdoor evening sporting events, are no trouble at all for this lens.

This lens is for Canon DSLR camera. It features a constant maximum aperture exposure of f/2.8. This cannot be adjusted. The entire zoom range of the lens features the f/2.8 aperture range. The lens features built-in autofocus and optical image stabilization. The image stabilization function works for up to 3.5 shake correction stops.


What we liked

  • Increased light exposure due to AF sensor
  • Adjustable focal length
  • Built-in autofocus function
  • Image stabilization
  • Can be used as a standard lens
  • Constant aperture exposure

What we didn’t like

  • No lens caps included
  • Slightly pricey

Type: Zoom Lens
Sensor: AF Sensor
Shutter speed: n/a
Aperture: F/2.8
Autofocus: Yes
Image Stabilization: Yes
Weight: 3.18 lbs
Best for: Indoor and outdoor sports

3. Sigma 150-600mm 5-6.3 Contemporary DG OS HSM Lens

camera lens

The Sigma 150-600mm 5-6.3 Contemporary DG OS HSM Lens is one of the most affordable options you can choose when looking at a Canon-compatible lenses suited for sports photography. The lens features adjustable settings that allow you to customize the outcome of your photography sessions.

You can adjust the focal length of this lens between 150mm and 600mm, which is impressive considering the relatively low price tag. This Canon-compatible lens is versatile and easy to use despite being several hundred dollars less expensive than comparable models.

The aperture is also adjustable according to the environment you are taking photos in. The lens features a minimum focusing distance of 110.2 inches and a filter size of 95mm. Because of that minimum focusing distance, this lens may not be suitable for photographing subjects up close. This lens also lacks image stabilization features.


What we liked

  • Very affordable price tag
  • Adjustable focal length
  • Built-in autofocus function
  • Aperture can be adjusted
  • 95mm filter size

What we didn’t like

  • Heavy weight
  • Lacks an image stabilization system

Type: Telephoto Lens
Sensor: EF
Shutter speed: n/a
Aperture: f/5-6.3
Autofocus: Yes
Image Stabilization: No
Weight: 4.25 lbs
Best for: Outdoor sports events

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

camera lens

The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens offers an ideal aperture range for taking professional sports shots, with a focal length that can be adjusted according to your position on the field or in the crowd. The focal length can be set from 100mm to 400mm. The aperture can also be adjusted according to your requirements, with settings ranging from f/4.5 to f/5.6.

The lens features a 21-element construction, built into 16 groups. You can adjust the diagonal angle of view as well.

A USM inner focus system is used for focal adjustment. The lens features a built-in autofocus function, as well as Optical Image Stabilization which provides up to four steps of image correction. For nature photography, outdoor and indoor sports photography, and general purposes, the Canon EF is a strong choice.


What we liked

  • Rotation type zoom system
  • Focal length is highly adjustable
  • .31x maximum zoom 
  • 21 element lens construction
  • USM focal adjustment system
  • 77mm filter size

What we didn’t like

  • Lens caps not included
  • Filters need to be purchased separately
  • Limited angle of view

Type: Zoom Lens
Sensor: USM
Shutter speed: n/a
Aperture: f/4.5-5.6
Autofocus: Yes
Image Stabilization: Yes

Weight: 3.46 lbs
Best for: Outdoor sports photography

5. Sigma 50-100mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art Lens

camera lens on a white background

The Sigma 50-100mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art Lens is a zoom lens that is ideal for APS-C Canon cameras. This is not an official Canon lens, but the Sigma brand manufactures lenses that are compatible with Canon cameras and are trusted amongst photographers and hobbyists.

The lens features a constant maximum f/1.8 aperture exposure throughout all the zoom options that are available. This ensures that you do not have to worry about adjusting the aperture while taking photos. The focal length of the Sigma 50-100mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art Lens can be adjusted according to your requirements for the photo in question.

The focal length ranges from 50mm to 100mm. Focal length at a crop factor can be set to 85mm, 105mm, or 135mm.

This is an art lens from Sigma, however its features make it a strong choice for sports photography and outdoor photography.


What we liked

  • Hand crafted lens
  • Part of the SGV lens series
  • High-refractive index
  • F Low Dispersion glass element
  • Hyper Sonic Motor Autofocus function

What we didn’t like

  • No image stabilization

Type: Zoom Lens for APS-C
Sensor: SGV lens
Shutter speed: n/a
Aperture: F/1.8
Autofocus: Yes
Image Stabilization: No
Weight: 3 lbs
Best for: Basketball and other indoor sports

6. Canon EF 200mm f/2L IS Telephoto Sports Lens

camera lens

If you need a professional sports camera lens and have a large budget to spend, then the Canon EF 200mm f/2L IS Telephoto Lens is a good option that you might want to consider. With a price tag that’s over $5,000, this is a lens that is trusted and beloved by sports photography professionals. While this sizable price tag is definitely intimidating, the Canon EF 200mm absolutely delivers on the quality that one would expect for such an investment.

The Canon EF 200mm f/2L IS Telephoto Lens acts primarily as a prime lens. It does not have an adjustable focal length, which means it is great for indoor sports.

The lens elements used also make this an excellent option for low-light conditions. The lens features a constant f/2L aperture exposure, along with a fixed focal length of 200mm. The lens has a built-in image stabilization system. This system involves a two-stage image stabilization technology that significantly reduces ghosting and flaring. The shutter and autofocus speeds are fast, ensuring you can capture subjects in action on the field.


What we liked

  • High quality professional lens
  • Great compatibility with modern cameras
  • Good for low light sports
  • Fast autofocus and shutter speed
  • Comes with a case
  • Improved sharpness

What we didn’t like

  • Expensive lens
  • Heavy weight
  • No lens cap included

Type: Prime / Telephoto 
Sensor: UD Lens Elements
Shutter speed: n/a
Aperture:
Autofocus: Yes
Image Stabilization: Yes
Weight: 5.56 lbs
Best for: Indoor sports photography, low light sport events

7. Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC G2 Lens

camera lens

The Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC G2 Lens is another great option for a Canon-compatible sports photography lens which is relatively budget-friendly. At just over $1,000, this lens features an adjustable focal length, as well as an aperture that provides constant maximum exposure, regardless of the zoom option you use.

The focal length of the Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC G2 Lens can be easily adjusted by using the focus ring. The adjustment allows you to set the focal length from 70mm up to 200mm. This is also a lightweight lens that makes taking photos on-the-go easier.

It features built-in image stabilization and autofocus functions. A tripod mount is included, but this can be removed if needed.


What we liked

  • An affordable lens option
  • Focal length can be adjusted
  • 6-year limited warranty included
  • 5 Stops VC performance
  • MOD reduction
  • Lightweight option
  • Tripod mount included

What we didn’t like

  • Warranty has several limitations

Type: Telephoto Lens
Sensor: EF
Shutter speed: n/a
Aperture: f/2.8
Autofocus: Yes
Image Stabilization: Yes
Weight: 3.31 lbs
Best for: Outdoor sports

8. Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM II Super Telephoto

camera lens

Next on our list is another high-priced option from Canon which is perfect for professional photographers or hobbyists willing to make a large investment. The Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM II Super Telephoto Lens has a price tag that is closer to the $10,000 mark.

This lens may be pricey, but it does boast superior quality and a sturdy well-made construction. The lens has a seal that protects it from water and dust. The Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM II Super Telephoto lens features a ring USM system. It has a fixed 400mm focal length. This lens also offers a constant f/2.8L aperture exposure.

The Canon EF 400mm has a 16 element construction, divided into 12 groups. It comes with two fluorite systems in its lens construction. There is a drop-in rear filter included too. All in all, this lens is high quality and perfect for capturing professional sports shots.


What we liked

  • Exceptional quality for professional photography
  • Inner focusing system
  • Built-in autofocus function
  • Water and dust sealing design
  • Drop-in rear filter

What we didn’t like

  • One of the most expensive options on our list
  • Limited angle of view
  • Very heavy

Type: Telephoto Lens
Sensor: n/a
Shutter speed: n/a
Aperture: f/2.8
Autofocus: Yes
Image Stabilization: Yes
Weight: 8.49 lbs
Best for: Outdoor sports

9. Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 Sports DG APO OS HSM Lens

camera lens on a white background

The Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 Sports DG APO OS HSM Lens was specifically designed for sports photography. This is a slightly more expensive option, however this lens is specifically oriented towards capturing professional-quality sports photographs.

The Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 Sports DG APO OS HSM features a constant aperture exposure range. This lens is fantastic for both indoor and outdoor shoots.

Regardless of the zoom level you choose, the aperture will remain at a constant F2.8. The focal length can be adjusted. This allows for a customized zoom on the photos you take. The focal length is adjustable from 120mm to 300mm. This lens features two FLD glass elements. It also has a Hyper Sonic Motor for fast and quiet autofocus. An Optical Stabilizer is also included for image stabilization.


What we liked

  • Offers fast focus
  • Two FLD glass elements
  • Optical stabilization
  • Adjustable focal length
  • Hyper Sonic Motor
  • Fast maximum aperture exposure
  • Optimized lens design

What we didn’t like

  • Premium price
  • Heavy

Type: Telephoto Lens
Sensor: APS-C
Shutter speed: n/a
Aperture: f/2.8
Autofocus: Yes
Image Stabilization: Yes
Weight: 6.5 lbs
Best for: Indoor sports

10. Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM II Super Telephoto Lens

camera lens

The Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM II Super Telephoto Lens is another somewhat more expensive option that gives you the ability to take professional shots. It features a 300mm focal length that is fixed. The lens also comes with a constant f/2.8 aperture exposure.

The Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM II Super Telephoto Lens features a high-quality lens construction with 16 elements in 12 groups.

It comes with a drop-in rear filter and Ring USM system. The lens has a 52mm filter size and uses an inner focusing system. The autofocus system works quickly. This lens has three different image stabilization modes to switch between. The Canon EF 300mm is a strong contender for a versatile professional-quality sports lens.


What we liked

  • 16 element / 12 group lens construction
  • Inner focusing system
  • Three image stabilization modes
  • Quiet autofocus motor
  • USM ring focal length system

What we didn’t like

  • High price tag

Type: Telephoto lens
Sensor: EOS
Shutter speed: n/a
Aperture: f/2.8
Autofocus: Yes
Image Stabilization: Yes
Weight: 5.29 lbs
Best for: Outdoor sports events

11. Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Lens

camera lens

The Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Lens is a good choice for the photographer facing budget constraints. Even though this is a budget-friendly option, this Sigma lens can still deliver excellent quality photos.

The Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Lens comes with a mount that is both splash and dust resistant. It also features a compression effect.

This is a handcrafted lens that is individually checked for quality and defects prior to leaving the factory. This lens is lightweight, easy to use, and very portable.

The Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Lens features built-in autofocus. This ensures easy focusing even when it comes to fast-paced action shots. Although it is an art lens, this lens performs well in sports settings considering its low price.


What we liked

  • Affordable price tag
  • Splash resistant mount
  • Compression effect
  • Handcrafted lens
  • Lower weight than many alternatives

What we didn’t like

  • Limited camera compatibility
  • No built-in image stabilization system

Type: Prime Lens
Sensor: EF
Shutter speed: n/a
Aperture: f/1.8
Autofocus: Yes
Image Stabilization: No
Weight: 2 lbs
Best for: Indoor sports events

Types of Sports Lenses

There are a few different types of lenses that are good for capturing sports events. First of all, when looking to buy the best Canon lens for sports, avoid a macro lens. This type of lens is made for close up shots. 

Instead, consider lenses that are able to give you a better focus at a long distance – allowing you to zoom in on distant subjects. In the next section, we will take a look at the three most important Canon sports lens types that you should consider. 

Telephoto lens

Telephoto lenses are great for capturing both indoor and outdoor sports events. The best telephoto lens for Canon will help you capture the entire field or focus on a specific subject. Sports telephoto lenses are sometimes referred to as zoom lenses – but there can be a few differences between the two. A telephoto lens offers a long focal length. This means you can capture the game from the crowd. 

Zoom lens

When it comes to buying a Canon sports lens, you cannot go wrong with a zoom lens or a superzoom if you are just starting out.. These lenses are able to zoom in on a particular subject on the field or capture the game at a larger scale. These sports photography lenses are especially great for indoor sessions. Zoom lenses will usually offer different focal length options in a single product. Re-framing a sports scene is generally easy with the right zoom lens. 

Prime lens

A prime lens offers a single focal length. These lenses can be used for sports photography. Note, however, that they do not offer the same versatility as a telephoto or zoom lens. Some people prefer a prime lens when it comes to shooting in low-light. 

Indoor vs. Outdoor Sports Photography

Not all sports are played on the same field. Some sports are played outdoors, while others are typically enjoyed indoors. A great comparison would be football versus basketball. Football is generally played on an open field in the outdoors. Basketball, on the other hand, is generally played indoors. 

The perfect lens for these types of sports tends to differ. 

Usually, a telephoto lens is better for outdoor sports. A good focal length for indoor sports is 200-300mm, but it depends on the type of sport and your position in the crowd. A lens with an adjustable focal length can be great in such a case. This allows you to set the focal length according to the distance from the subject, as well as the type of shot you want to take. 

A telephoto or zoom lens is also preferred for indoor photography, although a prime lens can also perform well indoors. A prime lens can sometimes help to improve the quality of a photo in low-light environments. 

The type of lens is not the only important thing you need to look at, however. The shutter speed and an aperture range of the lens will also determine the quality of your shots. For fast-moving sports where there are little pauses in movement, you will need a fast shutter speed in order to capture the action. This type of sports photography sessions will also require a faster autofocus function, as manually focusing in on the subject may not give you enough time to take the shot.

Shutter Speed

The shutter speed of a lens tells you how quickly the shutter operates – essentially, this tells you how quickly your lens can take a shot. You want to opt for faster shutter speeds when looking for the best sports lens. With sports photography, your subjects will move quickly. 

You usually want to take a shot as soon as the subject of the photo stops for a few seconds. This accounts for both sports indoors and outdoors. The shutter speed should also not be too quick – as this could possibly adversely affect the quality of the shot. 

The shutter speed is also essential for bird and wildlife photography and serious photography in general.

Aperture

When looking for a sports lens, you need to take the aperture into account too. A constant maximum aperture exposure is sometimes advised for sports photography. A great aperture to consider is between f/4 and f/5.6. These are common aperture ranges for telephoto lenses – which is a preferred option for sports photography lenses. 

IT is important to consider the type of sports you are capturing. A sports photography lens with a higher aperture may provide you with a better depth of field. This can be great for outdoor photography.

Fast Autofocus

Autofocus is another function that you definitely want to take a look at when buying a sports camera lens. For fast-moving subjects, clunky or slow focusing can cause you to miss your shot entirely.

Autofocus ensures the lens is able to focus in on a subject without manual input from your side. The speed at which this occurs is important to consider. There are a few lenses out there with a slow autofocus function. When it comes to sports photography, a fast autofocus is an absolute must.

Image Stabilization

Another important function for lenses in general is image stabilization. This is important for sports photography because images may be blurry when capturing moving subjects. Image stabilization is not a must-have in the way that autofocus is, but it is still an important feature to consider.

Also read10 Best Nikon D5000 Lenses Worth the Money (2022)

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