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Best Zoom Lens for Canon [2021 Review]

In: 
Published: 26/07/2021

If you are planning to shoot varying subjects and scenes without constantly moving around, then a zoom lens is your best choice. Equipping your Canon camera with the best zoom lens for Canon will help you capture outstanding real estate photos from different angles in no time.

Our Top Canon Zoom Lens Reviews

As a photographer, you will love the versatility you get once you pair your Canon camera with a good zoom lens for Canon. In this review, we focus on Canon zoom lenses that will suit your photography goals, budget, and lighting scenarios.

Brand
Best Overall
Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L
Best for the Money
Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L
Best Cheap Pick
Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6
Product
Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM Lens
Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens, Lens...
Canon EF-S 55-250mm F4-5.6 IS STM Lens for Canon...
Focus Type
Ultrasonic
Ultrasonic
Stepper motor
Maximum Focal Length
24 millimeters
400 millimeters
250 millimeters
Rating
-
-
Best Overall
Brand
Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L
Product
Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM Lens
Focus Type
Ultrasonic
Maximum Focal Length
24 millimeters
Rating
-
Price
Best for the Money
Brand
Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L
Product
Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens, Lens...
Focus Type
Ultrasonic
Maximum Focal Length
400 millimeters
Rating
-
Price
Best Cheap Pick
Brand
Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6
Product
Canon EF-S 55-250mm F4-5.6 IS STM Lens for Canon...
Focus Type
Stepper motor
Maximum Focal Length
250 millimeters
Rating
Price

Best Overall Zoom Lens for Canon: Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L

As a member of the L-series lens, the Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L is a highly versatile wide-angle lens that comes with a constant aperture of f/4. The optical construction includes two UD elements geared towards reducing chromatic aberrations. 

Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM Lens

On top, it comes with four aspherical elements that significantly suppress the distortions that are common in wide-angle lenses throughout the zoom range. These elements help in providing illumination and edge-to-edge sharpness. 

Like the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L, it features ASC and SWC coatings on its elements, significantly reducing ghosting and flare to enhance color accuracy and contrast even when working in bright lights. 

However; it weighs 2.6 pounds, heavier than the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L, which may hurt your wrists.

Pros

  • Like the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L, the element coatings enhance high contrast
  • It’s ideal for capturing scenes in tight spaces
  • It’s a wide-angle lens, allowing you to capture a wider field

Cons

  • It is heavier than Canon EF 16-35mm, making it more difficult to carry.
  • It lacks moisture-resistant sealing.
Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM Lens
  • L-series ultra-wide zoom lens with an impressive 11mm starting focal length
  • Focal Length & Maximum Aperture: 11–24mm f/4, Closest Focusing Distance : 11 in. / 0.28m
  • New optical design and the use of one Super UD element and one UD lens element

Best Canon Zoom Lens for the Money: Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L

The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L is a long-reaching telephoto lens that features sophisticated image stabilization technology and advanced optical construction. 

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

It incorporates one fluorite and UD element in its optical construction, which helps to eliminate distortions and aberrations, realizing a faithful color reproduction throughout the zoom range. 

Unlike the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8, it uses Air Sphere Coating on the elements to help reduce ghosting and flare, producing a high contrast image. It comes with an Ultrasonic motor with zoom rings to enhance fast, silent, and accurate focusing performance. 

It comes with a four-stop image stabilization functionality that helps reduce the camera shake effect. However, it weighs 3.46 pounds, heavier than Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L.

Pros

  • It is ideal for high contrast images, unlike Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8
  • It features a stabilization function, reducing the effects of camera shake
  • The autofocus is accurate and fast 

Cons

  • It is the heaviest on our list
  • Low-light performance is less impressive than Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8
Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens, Lens...
  • Compact, high performance L-series super-telephoto zoom makes it ideal for sports and wildlife...
  • 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...

Best Cheap Zoom Lens for Canon: Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6

The Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 comes with a range of focal lengths, making it a versatile telephoto, excellent in shooting distant subjects. It features one low dispersion element to minimize chromatic aberrations and color fringing, enhancing color accuracy and image clarity.

Canon EF-S 55-250mm F4-5.6 IS STM Lens for Canon...

A Super Spectra coating on the lens's elements minimizes ghosting and flare, helping in realizing high contrast. Like the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L, it comes with an advanced four-stop image stabilization mechanism that reduces the camera shake effect, especially when shooting handheld. 

Although the bokeh quality is less impressive than Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L, the seven-blade aperture diaphragm promotes a good bokeh quality and shallow depth of field control. It weighs 0.8 pounds, ideal for an extended time shooting.

Pros

  • As a telephoto, it is ideal for capturing distant objects
  • It’s the most lightweight in our list, ideal for long continuous use

Cons

  • The bokeh quality is less appealing than the one in the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L
  • It lacks a weatherproof construction.
Canon EF-S 55-250mm F4-5.6 IS STM Lens for Canon...
  • High magnification, compact and lightweight EF-S telephoto zoom lens with Image Stabilization for up...
  • One UD lens element reduces chromatic aberration throughout the zoom range, for excellent image...
  • New six-group zoom system provides a compact design while achieving a maximum magnification of 0.29x...

Best Wide-Angle Zoom Lens for Canon: Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L

Another member of the L-series, the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L is a wide-angle lens featuring a revamped optical construction. It comes with two low dispersion elements and a trio of aspherical elements, which helps in controlling distortions and aberrations, enhancing the image clarity and sharpness. 

Canon EF 16–35mm f/2.8L III USM Lens, Black...

Like the Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L, it comes with ASC and SWC coating to reduce ghosting and flare, especially when working in strong lighting. On top, it features a ring-type autofocus motor, making the autofocusing experience smooth, fast, and silent. 

The construction is dust and water-resistant, making it ideal for use even in trying situations. It weighs 1.74 pounds, and although is lighter than Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L, it's hard to carry around all this weight over time.

Pros

  • It can shoot in bright lights with minimal flare
  • It is water-resistant, making it suitable to use in adverse situations

Cons 

  • Unlike the  Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L, it might be too heavy to carry in your backpack
  • It lacks the manual focus for fine-tuning focus
Canon EF 16–35mm f/2.8L III USM Lens, Black...
  • High performance L-series ultra-wide-angle zoom lens with constant f/2.8 maximum aperture.
  • All-new optical design for significant improvements in outer and corner sharpness.
  • Sub wave length Coating (SWC) and Air Sphere Coating (ASC) help to significantly reduce flare and...

Best Low-Light Zoom Lens for Canon: Sigma 24-35mm f/2

The Sigma 24-35mm f/2 is distinguished by its exceptional, constant wide aperture of f/2. Unlike the Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L, this aperture allows it to shoot exceptionally well in poor lighting conditions and also enhances the use of shallow depth of field. 

Sigma 24-35mm F2.0 Art DG HSM Lens for Canon

It features a Super Multi-Layer Coating on its elements to suppress the ghosting and flare for enhanced image quality. The autofocus function utilizes a Hyper Sonic Motor, which helps realize a smooth, fast, and silent focusing experience. 

Also, the autofocus comes with a full-time manual override which allows you to fine-tune your focusing for maximum image sharpness. Although it weighs 2 pounds which is 0.6 pounds lighter than Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L, it's still unsuitable for carrying.

Pros

  • Its aperture allows it to capture well in poor lighting situations
  • Its elements help in suppressing flare enhancing quality image
  • The manual focus override enhances precise focusing

Cons

  • It is heavier than Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L making it less ideal for carrying around.
  • The construction is not sturdy
Sigma 24-35mm F2.0 Art DG HSM Lens for Canon
  • Covering a common prime lens lineup, the 24-35mm F2 DG HSM was designed for prime performance with...
  • A large diameter aspherical lens, a complicated element to manufacture, allows for a stunning level...
  • The Sigma 24-35mm F2 DG HSM Art is the worlds first full frame F2 zoom lens

Best Canon Zoom Lens for Portraits: Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L

With incredible versatility, the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L is a workhorse of a lens, excelling in portraits and wide-angle. 

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

The maximum wide aperture of f/2.8 distinguishes it when it comes to the shallow depth of field control and shooting in low-light, as it performs better than Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L. 

Its optical construction consists of three UD elements geared towards reducing the color fringing and distortions to enhance clarity and color accuracy. The elements come with a Super Spectra coating to eliminate the ghosting and flare, realizing color fidelity and high contrast. 

Unlike the Sigma 24-35mm f/2, it comes with a fluorine coating on the rear and front elements to keep it from smudges and fingerprints.

Pros

  • The fluorite coating helps in keeping it clean from fingerprints, unlike the Sigma 24-35mm f/2
  • The shallow depth of field is more impressive than that of the Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L. 

Cons

  • It is heavier than many models in our list like the Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L
  • It lacks weather dust resistance sealing.
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Standard Zoom Lens
  • 24 70 millimetre focal length, 38.4 112 millimetre equivalent focal length on Canon APS C cameras
  • F2.8 constant maximum aperture; F22 minimum, ring type ultrasonic type AF motor with full time...
  • 82 millimetre filters, closest focusing distance: 0.38 meter/1.25 feet

Best Versatile Zoom Lens for Canon: Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L

The Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L features an impressive telephoto focal lengths range, making it impressively versatile, ideal for long-range photos and portraits. 

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

Like the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L, the wide aperture of f/2.8 enhances the shallow depth of field control and performs well even in backlit situations. 

The optical construction consists of four low dispersion elements that help eliminate color fringing and distortions, achieving high clarity throughout the zoom range. It uses the USM ring-type autofocusing motor for a fast, silent, and accurate focusing experience. 

Unlike the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L, it comes with a rotating, removable collar that enhances stability when using a monopod or tripod. However, it weighs 3.18 pounds, which may exhaust you or hurt your wrists if you shoot handheld.

Pros

  • It features a removable tripod collar, enhancing stability, 
  • It has a wide aperture making it ideal for low-light situations

Cons

  • It has a narrower view field than Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L
  • It is heavier than Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8, limiting its portability
Sale
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens for Canon...
  • Constant f 2.8 Maximum Aperture throughout Entire Zoom Range.
  • Canon’s Air Sphere Coating (ASC) Minimizes Ghosting and Flare.
  • Optical Image Stabilization at up to 3.5 Stops of Shake Correction.

Best Telephoto Zoom Lens for Canon: Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8

The Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 comes with a wide aperture of f/2.8, making it an excellent telephoto for a wide range of shooting applications. The optical construction consists of five LD elements and one XLD element, geared towards eliminating chromatic aberrations and color fringing. 

Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC G2 for Canon EF...

Also, it comes with eBAND and BBAR element coatings to suppress ghosting and flare even when shooting in strong lighting. Unlike the Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6, the construction is weather dust and moisture resistant, allowing you to shoot in bad environmental situations. 

It features an ergonomically curved metal barrel which enhances handling. It uses an electromagnetic diaphragm to consistently and precisely control exposure. However, unlike the Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6, the 3.31 pounds weight is inconvenient. 

Pros

  • It controls exposure precisely
  • Unlike Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6, you can use it in dusty conditions
  • Its barrel construction enhances handling

Cons

  • The lens hood is a bit fragile
  • It is heavy than Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 making it hard to carry around
Sale
Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC G2 for Canon EF...
  • Cv performance is 5 Stops (VC mode 3) and offers three modes optimized for different shooting...
  • Mod reduced to 37. 4". Optical construction: 23 elements in 17 groups
  • Lightweight and easy-to-hold tripod mount is compatible with an Arce-Swiss style quick release plate

Best Canon Zoom Lens with Image Stabilization: Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8

With a maximum wide aperture of f/2.8, the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 is an ideal lens for shooting in poor lighting and backlit situations. 

Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens for Canon...

Although less effective than Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L, the aspherical and low dispersion elements help reduce the spherical and chromatic aberrations. 

Like the Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6, it features Super Spectra coating on its elements, significantly suppressing ghosting and flare and enhancing image contrast. 

It is equipped with a great optical image stabilization mechanism, reducing the camera shake appearance by around three shutter speeds, improving usage at slower shutter speeds. 

It features an internal focusing functionality, allowing it to focus without changing the overall length of the lens, an important feature especially when shooting camera-sensitive subjects.

Pros

  • It's convenient for capturing camera-sensitive objects.
  • Ideal for high image contrast, like the Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6

Cons

  • The performance is less impressive than the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L,
  • It is heavy to carry, unlike the Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L
Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens for Canon...
  • 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...
  • Image Stabilizer lens groups shift to compensate for image shake even in dim lighting

Best Sturdy Zoom Lens for Canon: Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L

The Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L is a versatile wide-angle lens that boasts durable construction and advanced optical design. 

Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM Ultra Wide Angle Zoom...

Although the maximum wide aperture of f/4L doesn't perform well in poor lighting situations, its weather-sealed construction makes it ideal for harsh environments than Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6. 

It comes with a USM ring-type autofocusing mechanism which enhances quiet, accurate, and fast autofocusing functionality. It has a full-time manual focusing override, giving you complete control over the focusing experience. 

It features a rear filter holder and a filter ring that can hold around three gel filters. It weighs 1.1 pounds, the second most lightweight on our list, making it ideal for shooting for an extended time. 

Pros

  • It has water resistance sealing, making it ideal desert and snow conditions
  • It is the second lightweight on our list, ideal for carrying
  • The manual focus override enhances fine-tuning your focus

Cons

  • Its performance is less appealing in poor lighting situations
  • It lacks fluorite coating making distortion reduction in-effective
Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM Ultra Wide Angle Zoom...
  • 17 40 millimeter ultra wide angle zoom lens with f/4 maximum aperture for Canon SLR Cameras....
  • 3 aspherical lens elements and super UD glass element create superior optics in all conditions,...
  • Powerful ring type ultrasonic monitor (USM) produces fast and silent autofocusing, Focuses as close...

Features to Consider for Best Canon Zoom Lens 

Although zoom lenses are highly versatile and can capture any subject or scene, their performance is not equal. Below are the key attributes you should consider when deciding on the right zoom lens.

ProductFocal LengthApertureWeight (Pounds)
Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L11-24mmf/42.6
Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L16-35mmf/2.81.74
Sigma 24-35mm f/224-35mmf/22
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L24-70mmf/2.81.77
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L70-200mmf/2.83.18
Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L100-400mmf/4.5-5.63.46
Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.655-250mmf/4-5.60.8
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 70-200mmf/2.83.31
Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.817-55mmf/2.81.42
Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L17-40mmf/41.1

Focal Length

In addition to aperture, the focal length will likely be a deciding factor in your purchase decision. A small focal length allows a wider viewing angle that you can use to capture more of the scene. 

On the other hand, a large focal length range allows you to bring the viewer nearer to the subject when there is more room in the frame. It is an important factor in image quality and an important storytelling tool when you use it correctly, as it can enhance the addition of creative effects to your images. 

Typically, a wide-angle zoom lens and an extreme telephoto lens are the most common in creating some effects. Remember that wide-angle zoom lenses distort the images, which can be a problem if you fail to apply them properly. In zoom lenses, lenses with a focal length of 10 to 200 mm are popular.

Also, you will find zoom lenses such as Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L, which allows a broad focal length range. Typically, the zoom lenses' manufacturers include the commonly used focal lengths.

Close up of a camera lens

Aperture

Aperture refers to the lens's opening that allows light into a digital camera. The size of the opening is controlled by an iris with multiple petals. Also, the iris determines the appearance and quality of image blurring or bokeh the lens can achieve. 

More shutters create a rounder opening, creating a smoother and more pleasing bokeh, especially when employing the selective focus. You may be familiar with images where the subject is perfectly focused, and the background of the subject is out of focus. 

In such a case, the image is shot using a wide aperture of f/2.8 like that of Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8. When buying a zoom lens, we recommend you look for an f/4 aperture or larger. 

However, the large zoom lens's aperture varies depending on the focal length used. Typically, it is because as you zoom in, you'll probably need to get the correct exposure.

Shifting from f/4 to f/2 can make a notable difference in image quality in zoom lenses, especially if you are shooting at poor lighting conditions. 

Large aperture lenses such as Sigma 24-35mm f/2 are also a great choice for those who want to zoom subjects and at the same time use shallow depth of field.

Image Stabilization

When capturing scenes, you don't want camera shake effects to blur the image, especially when shooting in low light or hand-holding your DSLR. The design of the image stabilization function is to suppress image blur, especially if you are using a handheld camera or when working in low light. 

Some cameras feature this function, but if the DSLR you are using doesn’t feature it, consider a zoom lens option that has one. For example, Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 comes with image stabilization to reduce blur and improve the overall image sharpness and clarity.

Crop Factor

After considering your preferred zoom lens's focal length range, you may also need to identify the appropriate camera sensor. Small full-frame camera sensors come with a crop factor that raises the effective focal length of the zoom lens. 

Combined with the 2x Crop MFT sensor, the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L lens will gain the corresponding field of view similar to a 140-400mm zoom lens. 

For a digital camera with an APS-C camera sensor and 1.5x crop factor, the same lens field of view is around 105-300mm. 

It, therefore, means you have to keep in mind the crop factor of your camera to make sure you are purchasing a zoom lens with the focal length range you need.

Canon zoom lens

Lens Coatings and Special Elements

Different manufacturers equip their lenses with varying special coatings to reduce chromatic and color defects, ensuring good image quality. 

Most lenses have aspherical and low dispersion elements to eliminate this distortion. Zoom lenses with the most optical elements such as Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 will have the least aberrations.

Weather Resistance

If your plan is to shoot scenes in trying situations or environments, ensure the zoom lens is dust and moisture-resistant. Such a design is intended to prevent moisture and dust from entering the lens at any entry point. 

The front is generally coated against dust, sludge, and water. For example, the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L is waterproof, making it ideal for use in challenging situations like desert and snow.

Weight and Size

Generally, many zoom lenses are a bit heavy, but some will definitely be heavier than others. When carrying it for the first, you may not notice how heavy they are, but after shooting for some time, your wrists may start hurting. 

If you plan to shoot scenes for an extended time, look for a lightweight zoom lens such as Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6, as you can capture scenes for a long time without your wrists hurting.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a Telephoto Lens a Zoom Lens?

Most telephoto lenses are zoom lenses, but not all. A telephoto lens has a narrow view field while a zoom lens is one you can change the focal length. For instance, the Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 is both a telephoto and zoom lens.

Can I Use a Zoom Lens to Shoot Portraits?

Zoom lenses are highly versatile, with incredible focal length ranges that will allow you to shoot portraits. For example, the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L shoots outstanding portraits.

Conclusion

Considering the varying attributes and qualities of zoom lenses, choosing one that will suit your shooting needs might be challenging. Although the best zoom lens will mainly depend on your photography goals, any option from the above list won't disappoint.

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