11 Best Canon Lenses for Sports Photography (2020)

Canon remains one of the most trusted brands when buying a camera. 

When it comes to sports photography, however, you need to select the lens you use carefully. 

The best canon lens for sports photography should be purchased based on the type of sports events you want to capture. 

A great lens for fast action basketball played indoors is different from one that captures football action in the outdoors. 

We Recommend

Best budget option

Sigma 150-600mm
5-6.3 HSM lens

Best value/price ratio

Canon EF 70-200mm
f/2.8L USM Lens

Best for the money

Canon EF 300mm
f/2.8L USM II Super

Best lens for sports photography Canon

At the top of 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 can be adjusted, which is another essential function for shooting sports scenes. You can adjust the focal length between 24mm and 70mm. 

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

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

Check the price of Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Zoom Lens here

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
  • Poor quality travel bag

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

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 the best camera for filming sports. 

Its functionality is great for both photos and videos. The price is a little high as it reaches closer to $2,000, but the lens is able to produce higher quality results. 

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 may be a great option for low light settings while taking shots of a sports event. 

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. 

Check the price of Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens here

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

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 sports

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 has become rather trusted among photographers in recent years. 

The lens features a constant maximum f/1.8 aperture exposure throughout all the zoom options that are available. This ensures 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 the photo you are about to take. 

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, but it doubles as an excellent option when looking to buy the best sports lens for Cannon cameras. 

The lens is good for both photography and videography. It features a wide opening and has components that help to improve the sharpness of the shots you take. 

Check the price of Sigma 50-100mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art Lens here

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

  • Limited camera compatibility

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

The Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 Sports DG APO OS HSM Lens was specifically designed for sports photography. This is one of the more expensive options that are currently available on the market. 

It is a professional lens that offers exceptional quality, however. The lens is great for indoor sports photography – but it is not limited to only basketball and other indoor sports events. This one can also be used outdoors. 

The Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 Sports DG APO OS HSM Lens features a constant aperture exposure range. 

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. 

The lens features two FLD glass elements. It also has a Hyper Sonic Motor for fast and quiet autofocus. An Optical Stabilizer is added for image stabilization.

Check the price of Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 Sports DG APO OS HSM Lens here

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
  • Somewhat 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

 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. 

At a price tag over $5,000, this is a lens used by some of the pros that capture sports events. The lens does provide superior quality to many of the alternative telephoto lenses that are available. 

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 primarily. 

The lens elements used also makes 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 is a two-stage image stabilization technology that offers a more significant reduction in ghosting and flaring. The shutter and autofocus speeds are fast, ensuring you can capture subjects in action on the field. 

Check the price of Canon EF 200mm f/2L IS Telephoto Lens here

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

The Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Lens is a prime lens that is great for people who find themselves on a limited budget. 

Even though this is a budget-friendly option, it 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 factor. 

It also features a lower weight than many of the alternative options you can choose from. 

The lens features built-in autofocus. This ensures you can easily focus on subjects that are playing the game. A manual focus override setting is available too.

Check the price of Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Lens here

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

The Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC G2 Lens is another great option if you do find your budget somewhat limiting. 

At just over $1,000, the lens features an adjustable focal length, as well as an aperture that provide 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 easier. 

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

Check the price of Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC G2 Lens here

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
  • Not great for bokeh

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

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. 

A USM inner focus system is used for focal adjustment. The lens features built-in autofocus function, as well as Optical Image Stabilization. 

Check the price of Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens here

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

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 Cannon fast lens option for sports. 

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. 

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. 

Check the price of Sigma 150-600mm 5-6.3 Contemporary DG OS HSM Lens here

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

Next on our is another high-priced option that is ideal for professionals. The Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM II Super Telephoto Lens reaches close to the $10,000 mark. 

It does feature superior quality and sturdy 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. The lens also offers a constant f/2.8L aperture exposure. 

The lens has a 16 elements construction, divided into 12 groups. It comes with two fluorite systems in its lens construction. There is a drop-in rear filter included too. 

Check the price of Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM II Super Telephoto here

What we liked

  • Example
  • 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

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

Last on our list is the Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM II Super Telephoto Lens. This is another 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. The lens has three different image stabilization modes to switch between. 

Check the price of Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM II Super Telephoto Lens here

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
  • Weight is relatively high

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

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 – even when you decide to zoom in on the action. We 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 person that is playing. 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. They do not offer the same versatility as a telephoto or zoom lens, however. Some people prefer a prime lens when it comes to considering the best low light lens for Canon. 

 

Indoor vs. Outdoor Sports Photography

Not all sports are played on the same field. Some sports are played outdoors, while others are rather 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. 

You want to consider a telephoto lens 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 if you only have a prime lens, it might do. A prime lens can sometimes help to improve the quality of a photo in a low-light environment. 

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. 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 a shutter speed that is on the low side when it comes to 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 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 when looking at the best lens for sports photography. 

You do need 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 when capturing sports events. When you do opt for a Canon action lens with a higher aperture range, make sure you keep a close eye on the shutter speed. You do not want the shutter speed to be too fast or too slow. 

Fast Autofocus

Autofocus is another function that you definitely want to take a look at when buying a sports camera lens. Whether looking to buy one for your camera or considering what the best Nikon lens for indoor sports photography is – you need to take the autofocus into account. 

Autofocus ensures the lens is able to focus in on a subject without manual input from your side. You should consider the speed of the autofocus function. There are a few lenses out there with a slow autofocus function. When it comes to sports photography, you cannot afford to have a lens that takes a few seconds to focus on a subject. You want to ensure the Canon lens for sports you buy is able to focus quickly and effectively. 

Image Stabilization

Another function you want to look at when you consider the best lens for sports is image stabilization. Take note that not all of the lenses on the market come with image stabilization. In fact, the majority of lenses tend to lack this essential function. 

Image stabilization helps to improve the outcome of a photo you take. This is an essential function when you are photographing a sports session. The image stabilization helps to reduce the amount of flare and ghosting that will be visible on the photo you took – which is important when capturing a moving subject. 

Also read10 Best Nikon D5000 Lenses Worth the Money (2020)

Scroll to Top