10 Best Canon Lenses for Sports Photography

This is a guide covering the best Canon lenses for sports photography.

Sports photographers can produce magnificent photos capturing immortal moments and raw emotions of athletes.

However, producing the best photos in sports photography will require the right gear. And if you’re a Canon user, there are plenty of choices for Canon lenses for sports photographers. 

At times, it can be a bit too overwhelming. What’s the right zoom range? Should I be getting a prime lens? All these questions may have crossed your mind if you’re after a decent Canon sports photography lens.

If you need help determining how to choose the best lens for you, check out our video How to Choose the Right Lens in 6 Steps (playing in 7 seconds):

In a hurry? Check out our top pick!

1. Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM
• EF-Mount Lens/Full-Frame Format
• Aperture Range: f/2.8 – f/32
• Air Sphere Coating
• Ring-Type Ultrasonic Motor AF System
• Optical Image Stabilizer
• Internal Focus, Focus Range Limiter
• Weather-Sealed Design, Fluorine Coating
• Detachable, Rotatable Tripod Collar
Rounded 8-Blade Diaphragm


We’ve come up with 10 of the best lenses for different Canon sports photographers.

1. Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM
BEST ALL-AROUND
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM Telephoto Zoom Lens
• EF-Mount Lens/Full-Frame Format
• Aperture Range: f/2.8 – f/32
• Air Sphere Coating
• Ring-Type Ultrasonic Motor AF System
• Optical Image Stabilizer
• Internal Focus, Focus Range Limiter
• Weather-Sealed Design, Fluorine Coating
• Detachable, Rotatable Tripod Collar
• Rounded 8-Blade Diaphragm

2. Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM
BEST BUDGET LENS 💸
Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
• EF-Mount Lens/Full-Frame Format
• Aperture Range: f/1.8 – f/22
• Super Spectra Coating
• Ring-Type Ultrasonic Motor AF System
• Rounded 8-Blade Diaphragm

3. Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L
• EF-Mount Lens/Full-Frame Format
• Aperture Range f/4 – f/32
• Super Spectra Coating
• Ring-Type Ultrasonic Motor AF System
• Optical Image Stabilizer
• Internal Focus, Focus Range Limiter
• Weather-Sealed Construction
• Rounded 8-Blade Diaphragm

4. Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III USM
Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III
• EF-Mount Lens/Full-Frame Format
• Aperture Range: f/4 – f/45
• Super Spectra Coating
• DC Micro Motor AF System
• 7-Blade Diaphragm

5. Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS
Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6
• EF-S-Mount Lens/APS-C Format
• 28.8-320mm (35mm Equivalent)
• Aperture Range: f/3.5 – f/36
• Super Spectra Coating
• Micro Motor AF System
• Optical Image Stabilizer
• Rounded 6-Blade Diaphragm

6. Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM UD
Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L
• EF-Mount Lens/Full-Frame Format
• Aperture Range: f/4 – f/45
• Super Spectra and Fluorine Coatings
• Ring-Type Ultrasonic Motor AF System
• Optical Image Stabilizer
• Floating Focusing Mechanism
• Weather-Sealed Construction
• Rounded 8-Blade Diaphragm
7. Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM
Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L
• EF-Mount Lens/Full-Frame Format
• Aperture Range: f/4.5 – f/38
• Air Sphere Coating
• Ring-Type Ultrasonic Motor AF System
• Optical Image Stabilizer
• Rotating Zoom Ring & Torque Adjustment
• Weather-Sealed Design, Fluorine Coating
• Detachable, Rotatable Tripod Collar
• Rounded 9-Blade Diaphragm

8. Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS
Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6
• EF-S-Mount Lens/APS-C Format
• 28.8-216mm (35mm Equivalent)
• Aperture Range: f/3.5 – f/36
• Optimized Lens Coatings
• STM Autofocus, Movie Servo AF Support
• Optical Image Stabilization & Dynamic IS
• Internal Focusing, Manual Focus Override
• Zoom Ring Lock
• Rounded 7-Blade Diaphragm

9. Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro
• EF-Mount Lens/Full-Frame Format
• Aperture Range: f/2.8 – f/32
• Super Spectra Coating
• 1:1 Magnification, 11.8″ Min. Focus
• Ring-Type Ultrasonic Motor AF System
• Focus Range Limiter
• Optical Image Stabilizer
• Weather-Sealed Construction
• Rounded 9-Blade Diaphragm
10. Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L
• EF-Mount Lens/Full-Frame Format
• Aperture Range: f/2.8 – f/32
• Super Spectra Coating
• 1:1 Magnification, 11.8″ Min. Focus
• Ring-Type Ultrasonic Motor AF System
• Focus Range Limiter
• Optical Image Stabilizer
• Weather-Sealed Construction
• Rounded 9-Blade Diaphragm

10 Best Canon Lenses for Sports Photography

What is the Best Canon Lens for Sports Photography?

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

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

Lens Specifications:

  • Lens type: Zoom lens
  • Max Format size: 35mm FF
  • Focal length: 70–200 mm
  • Image stabilization: Yes
  • Lens mount: Canon EF
  • Maximum aperture: F2.8
  • Minimum aperture: F32
  • Weight: 1440 g (3.17 lb)
  • Diameter: 89 mm (3.5″)
  • Length: 199 mm (7.83″)
  • Sealing: Yes

When it comes to picking the best Canon lens for sports photographers, it is important to consider performance, range, and image quality.

In these three categories, the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM Telephoto Zoom Lens stands out from the rest of the other choices out there.

It has a wide aperture making it easy to shoot whether indoors or outdoors. It also comes with an image stabilization feature that makes it easy to use with or without a tripod.

The range is also perfect for shooting different events whether you’re shooting a basketball game or combat sports. Sharpness stands out along with the vibrant colors. 

This lens comes with a USM for its AF. However, we still believe that it performs better when using the manual focus.

The AF is reliable in well-lit situations but could feel a bit of a hit or miss if you’re shooting in low-light. If you are into shooting portraits, this is the best pick considering its F2.8 aperture capable of producing beautiful bokeh. 

If interested, check out a full list of the best telephoto lenses for Canon.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM Telephoto Zoom Lens example image

My Pros With This Lens:

  • Beautiful bokeh
  • A great range for all sorts of sports
  • Great sharpness
  • With image stabilization

My Cons With This Lens:

  • AF doesn’t do well in low-light situations

You can also find this lens on Walmart and Best Buy

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What are the Best Canon Lenses for Sports Photography?

2. Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Medium Telephoto

Canon EF 85mm f/1.8

Lens Specifications:

  • Lens type: Prime lens
  • Max Format size: 35mm FF
  • Focal length: 85 mm
  • Image stabilization: No
  • Lens mount: Canon EF
  • Maximum aperture: F1.8
  • Minimum aperture: F22
  • Weight: 425 g (0.94 lb)
  • Diameter: 75 mm (2.95″)
  • Length: 72 mm (2.81″)
  • Sealing: No

In case high-end sports lenses are not within your means, for now, then you might want to consider a shorter medium telephoto lens. We consider the Canon EF 85mm F1.8 USM lens the best canon lens for sports photography users with limited funds.

Even if it’s a camera usually bought by those who don’t have ample resources, it doesn’t mean that it can’t do well in certain conditions.

The Canon EF 85mm F1.8 USM lens is perfect for taking portraits. It can produce sharp results and blur the background thanks to its wide aperture. 

It comes with an ultrasonic motor that makes it easy to track your subject. Plus, it is also easy to use even when you opt to take shots using the manual focus setting. 

It can produce vibrant colors and could easily work whether it’s a well-lit or a low-light situation. The downside to this lens is that you want to make sure that the subject isn’t going to move farther or closer to you.

The biggest downside to this lens aside from being a prime lens is the fact that it doesn’t have an image stabilization feature. It means that you will have to make use of a tripod or be sure that you have perfectly stable hands.

My Pros With This Lens:

  • Sharp results
  • Wide aperture
  • Fast and reliable focus
  • Beautiful bokeh for portraits

My Cons With This Lens:

  • No image stabilization
  • Fixed focal length

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3. Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM Telephoto Zoom

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L

Lens Specifications:

  • Lens type: Zoom lens
  • Max Format size: 35mm FF
  • Focal length: 70–200 mm
  • Image stabilization: Yes (4 stops claimed)
  • Lens mount: Canon EF
  • Maximum aperture: F4
  • Minimum aperture: F32
  • Weight: 760 g (1.68 lb)
  • Diameter: 76 mm (2.99″)
  • Length: 172 mm (6.77″)
  • Sealing: Yes

L-series lenses are known for their sharp results and are usually a favorite by professional photographers. 

The 70-200mm range is usually perfect for courtside and ringside photographers. 

That’s what makes the Canon EF 70-200mm F4L USM telephoto lens a top choice for individuals who are serious with sports photography.

Starting with its build, you get something that is highly durable. It comes with no plastic parts designed to adapt to heavy users.

However, a design flaw as far as construction is concerned is the lack of weather sealing. It means that you can’t use it during outdoor events. 

Some people prefer the 70-200 F2.8L version of this lens because of the more beautiful bokeh and its ability to perform even in low-light.

What makes it a favorite by professional photographers is the fact that it is light. Plus, compared to other lenses with wider apertures, you can get sharper photos with this lens. 

Is it the best canon lens for sports photography? It depends on who you are going to ask.

On one hand, you have a lens that can give you sharp photos and vibrant colors. On the other hand, it doesn’t have both image stabilization and weather sealing. 

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM Telephoto Zoom Lens

My Pros With This Lens:

  • Lighter than the 70-200mm F2.8 version
  • Made of durable materials
  • Sharp results
  • Versatile range

My Cons With This Lens:

  • No weather sealing
  • No image stabilization

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4. Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III USM

Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III

Lens Specifications:

  • Lens type: Zoom lens
  • Max Format size: 35mm FF
  • Focal length: 75–300 mm
  • Image stabilization: No
  • Lens mount: Canon EF
  • Maximum aperture: F4–5.6
  • Minimum aperture: F32–45
  • Weight: 480 g (1.06 lb)
  • Diameter: 71 mm (2.8″)
  • Length: 122 mm (4.8″)
  • Sealing: No

The Canon EF 75-300mm F4.5-5.6 is the preferred lens of photographers who want a longer range than the 70-200mm zoom lenses.

Your closest focusing distance is at 1.5 meters or around 4.9 feet. Compact and lightweight, it has gained popularity not only among sports photographers but among wildlife photography enthusiasts as well. Also, check out a full list of the best wildlife lenses for Canon.

It comes with a micro USM allowing the photographer to shoot with minimal lag time tracking its subject with ease.

The improved zoom mechanism of this lens also makes it easy to use. 

For the quality of shots, it’s not exactly as good as your L series lenses. You also don’t get an image stabilization feature making it hard to use without a tripod or a stable place where you can put the camera and lens.

Compared with other lenses we’ve featured so far, it comes with low-quality optics but could suit the needs of most hobbyists. 

Though it is nowhere at the top of professional photographers’ list, some people still consider it as a great pick especially novice photographers who are not yet sure if they are willing to commit to their hobby. 

Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III
Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III USM Telephoto Zoom Lens example image

My Pros With This Lens:

  • Smooth zoom mechanism
  • Easy to use AF
  • God range for sports photography

My Cons With This Lens:

  • Doesn’t have an image stabilization
  • Low-quality glass

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5. Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS

Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6

Lens Specifications:

  • Lens type: Zoom lens
  • Max Format size: APS-C / DX
  • Focal length: 18–200 mm
  • Image stabilization: Yes (4 stops)
  • Lens mount: Canon EF-S
  • Maximum aperture: F3.5–5.6
  • Minimum aperture: F22–38
  • Weight: 595 g (1.31 lb)
  • Diameter: 79 mm (3.09″)
  • Length: 102 mm (4.02″)
  • Sealing: No

There are instances when sports photographers will also need to take photos of the venue. It means that it isn’t just all about powerful lenses that can shoot from afar.

Instead, you also want to keep a wide-angle lens handy. For these situations, the Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS zoom lens is the best choice.

It is considered by many as the best canon lens for sports photography especially if you want to produce shots that are not just all about the athletes.

You can capture the size of the arena or the crowd using wide focal lengths

This lens comes with image stabilization and a good grip perfect for hand-held shooting. The shots are decently sharp.

The only downside to this lens is that it makes it hard to use in low-light situations. 

Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6
Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Standard Zoom Lens example image

My Pros With This Lens:

  • Sharp photos
  • With image stabilization
  • Great for shooting wide-angle shots in stadiums and fields
  • With a good zoom grip

My Cons With This Lens:

  • Hard to use in low-light situations

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6. Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM UD

Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L

Lens Specifications:

  • Lens type: Zoom lens
  • Max Format size: 35mm FF
  • Focal length: 70–300 mm
  • Image stabilization: Yes
  • Lens mount: Canon EF
  • Maximum aperture: F4–5.6
  • Minimum aperture: F32–45
  • Weight: 1050 g (2.31 lb)
  • Diameter: 89 mm (3.5″)
  • Length: 143 mm (5.63″)
  • Sealing: Yes

The Canon EF 70-300mm F4-5.6L IS USM UD lens is a great pick for those who are looking to shoot subjects from a distance.

It offers a slightly better range than the Canon EF 75-300mm lens version. However, what makes it different is the fact that it is an L-series lens.

It means that it is known for its superior quality shots. It’s something that professional photographers are most likely going to pick. 

Is it the best canon lens for sports photography? As far as the quality of the shots is concerned, then you could argue that it is a top contender for the best canon lens for sports photography.

Also, it comes with great performance. It has an image stabilization feature that makes it easy to use even when you don’t have a tripod. This means it can minimize blurred shots.

Unfortunately, it’s not a lens that you want to bring indoors when you don’t have good lighting.

Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS
Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM UD Telephoto Zoom Lens example image

My Pros With This Lens:

  • Lightweight
  • Sharp results and vibrant photos
  • With image stabilization

My Cons With This Lens:

  • Not a good pick if you are shooting indoors with poor lighting

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7. Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Telephoto

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L

Lens Specifications:

  • Lens type: Zoom lens
  • Max Format size: 35mm FF
  • Focal length: 100–400 mm
  • Image stabilization: Yes (2 stops)
  • Lens mount: Canon EF
  • Maximum aperture: F4.5–5.6
  • Minimum aperture: F32–40
  • Weight: 1380 g (3.04 lb)
  • Diameter: 92 mm (3.62″)
  • Length: 189 mm (7.44″)
  • Sealing: Yes

The Canon EF 100-400mm F4.5-5.6L IS USM telephoto lens provides you enough distance especially if you are not exactly going to get close to your subject.

The 100-400mm range is perfect for photographers who are dealing with a barricade. It comes with 2 image stabilizer modes allowing you to capture either close-in portraits or far-off action shots.

The optics come with fluorite and super UD glass giving the users professional-quality shots. 

Though the lens performs well and could even be considered by some as the best Canon lens for sports photography, it’s a heavy lens.

It’s hard to put on a tripod, but that’s a sacrifice for the range that it offers. If you need more distance, you can easily go for a 1.4X or a 2X extender. 

If you don’t mind the weight for the extra distance, then this is a good pick for you.

It can produce stunning close-up photos with great contrast colors and sharpness. Though it’s a bit tough to use in low-light, its image stabilization performs well even in this condition. 

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L
Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Telephoto example image

My Pros With This Lens:

  • You can use a 1.4X or a 2X extender
  • Great optics that can produce sharp photos
  • With two image stabilizer modes

My Cons With This Lens:

  • Heavy
  • A bit tough to use in low light

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8. Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Standard Zoom Lens

Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6

Lens Specifications:

  • Lens type: Zoom lens
  • Max Format size: APS-C / DX
  • Focal length: 18–135 mm
  • Image stabilization: Yes
  • Lens mount: Canon EF-S
  • Maximum aperture: F3.5–5.6
  • Minimum aperture: F22–38
  • Weight: 515 g (1.14 lb)
  • Diameter: 77 mm (3.03″)
  • Length: 96 mm (3.78″)
  • Sealing: No

The Canon EF-S 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 IS zoom lens looks more of a backup lens than a sports photographer’s go-to lens.

But even if it is considered a backup lens by most professional photographers, we still consider it as a contender for the best Canon lens for sports photography. 

First, it’s easy to use considering its image stabilization feature. It’s a good pick if you have the chance to shoot up close your subject.

It comes with a great range for those instances when you need to shoot wide-angle shots making this lens highly versatile.

As for the autofocus of this lens, it’s reliable and fast even if it is a bit loud. This lens produces average results as far as the quality of the shots is concerned.

However, it produces minimal barrel distortion that can give you an easier time during the post-processing stage.

Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS
Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Standard Zoom Lens example image

My Pros With This Lens:

  • Great range
  • With image stabilization
  • A great range for wide shots and shooting close to your subject
  • Minimal barrel distortion

My Cons With This Lens:

  • A bit noisy when focusing

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9. Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro

Lens Specifications:

  • Lens type: Prime lens
  • Max Format size: 35mm FF
  • Focal length: 100 mm
  • Image stabilization: No
  • Lens mount: Canon EF
  • Maximum aperture: F2.8
  • Minimum aperture: F32
  • Weight: 600 g (1.32 lb)
  • Diameter: 79 mm (3.11″)
  • Length: 119 mm (4.69″)
  • Sealing: No

Many sports photographers stay away from prime lenses simply because the subject’s distance changes every time.

However, there are also some instances when you can get set everything perfectly and get the perfect range and the perfect spot where to shoot. If this is the case, the Canon EF 100mm F2.8 USM lens comes in handy. 

The quality of the shots can be considered decent. Its wide aperture makes it handy if you’re looking to shoot portraits and you want to blur the background.

Its autofocus performance is also dependable. However, you will need to use a tripod with this lens. 

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Fixed Lens example image

My Pros With This Lens:

  • Wide aperture
  • Above average quality of shots
  • Fast and accurate AF
  • Can produce beautiful bokeh

My Cons With This Lens:

  • No image stabilization

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10. Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L

Lens Specifications:

  • Lens type: Prime lens
  • Max Format size: 35mm FF
  • Focal length: 100 mm
  • Image stabilization: Yes (4 stop Hybrid IS)
  • Lens mount: Canon EF
  • Maximum aperture: F2.8
  • Minimum aperture: F32
  • Weight: 625 g (1.38 lb)
  • Diameter: 78 mm (3.06″)
  • Length: 123 mm (4.84″)
  • Sealing: Yes

If you love the Canon EF 100mm F2.8 lens that we’ve featured earlier, then you’d probably like the Canon EF 100mm f2.8L IS USM lens better.

This lens offers an image stabilization that allows users to use it even without a tripod. And this isn’t just any mediocre IS. You get a 4-stop hybrid IS.

That means it can adjust whether the movement is up, down, or the lens is nudged to the left or right. 

It comes with the same wide aperture that can produce beautiful bokeh.

And since it is an L-series lens, expect sharp results and vibrant colors. There are not a lot of bad things that can be said about this lens.

Perhaps, since it’s a prime lens, make sure that you have the right distance to your subject if you are using this lens.

Since it only comes with one focal length, it might not be as useful as other zoom lenses.

Also, check out the full list of best Canon macro lenses.

My Pros With This Lens:

  • Wide aperture for shooting portraits
  • With 4-stop hybrid IS
  • Sharp and vibrant colors
  • Professional-grade lens

My Cons With This Lens:

  • Only come with one focal length

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Final Remarks 

If you are looking for the best Canon lens for sports photography, you will be surprised by the number of options that you can choose from.

With these lenses that we’ve featured, you will be able to narrow down the type of lens that fits your needs.

Keep in mind that photographers will have different preferences.

Be sure that you consider the pros and cons and develop your style of sports photography first before you make up your mind.

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