Best Lenses For Sports Photography [Canon] – 2020 Review

| Last Updated: January 4, 2021

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Your go-to lens might disappoint you while reviewing your lens performance from a sports event.

When it comes to sports photography, you require something that delivers high speed and large range with premium quality.

In this review, we have listed some of the best lenses for sports photography for Canon available on the market.

Comparison of the Best Sports Photography Lenses For Canon

  • Focal length range of 70-200mm while a maximum aperture of 1:4.0
  • Lens construction is 16 elements in 13 groups
  • USM focus adjustment with 1.2m/3.9ft minimum focusing
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  • Super telephoto lens with EF mount
  • 400mm focal length with f/2.8 maximum aperture
  • Features ring-type USM with internal focusing
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  • Super telephoto-zoom for wildlife and sports photography
  • 100-400mm focal length with an f/4.5-5.6 maximum aperture
  • Best for the money
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  • Focal length range of 200mm and a maximum aperture of f/2
  • Best Canon lens for indoor sports
  • Lens correction is 17 elements in 12 groups
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  • A versatile focal length range of 70-200mm
  • Lens construction is 23 elements in 19 groups
  • Best Canon telephoto lens for sports
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Are All Sports Photography Lenses The Same?

No, not all sports photography lenses are the same. Each one offers a unique set of features, which is relatively quite different when compared with other lenses. Some offer a longer focal length range and a fast aperture like f/2.8, but they demand a higher price. Others might offer shorter focal length range and a decent aperture like f/4 at a considerably lower price.

For example, let’s compare a Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM Telephoto Zoom Lens with a Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS. Both of them offer a different focal length range and aperture relatively. Not only this, these lenses possess different technologies like glass elements, focus motors, image stabilizing, auto focus, and various other mechanisms. All these various features make them unique and different from one another.

In order to buy a decent sports lens, it is necessary to determine the purpose of the purchase. You might want to capture images from a soccer field that will require a greater focal length. Meanwhile, a shorter focal length would do for a volleyball game. Having knowledge of the essential features of a lens and how they function will help you identify the right pick for your needs.

Why Did These Lenses Make Our List?

We are here to relieve you of the agonizing task of selecting a suitable lens from an ocean of different products. All the products that are listed and reviewed here went through our screening process. Before they were able to make it to this list, we made sure that they deliver as promised. However, we believe there are certain aspects you should be well aware of.

Lens Price

A good piece of glass would be more expensive than the average one. If you are looking for sports photography, consider purchasing a decent lens of renowned brands for an ultimate experience.


A telephoto lens offers you a great deal of variety. Its highly variable focal length allows you to capture close as well as distant photographs. It greatly depends upon your purpose of purchasing a lens in the first place.


For sports photography, you will need a fast lens for fast-paced sports action. A lens offering f/2.8 or lower maximum aperture can snap fast high-quality images as compared to an f/4 lens.

Motor Speed

You definitely need fast auto focus for sporting moments. For this purpose, Canon offers Ultra-Sonic Motor Technology (USM), which allows you to capture silent yet accurately focused images.

Quick Take - Best Lenses for Sports Photography with Canon Cameras

Before we dive into our review, here are the best lenses for sports photography with Canon cameras:

  1. Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM Telephoto Zoom Lens
  2. Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS
  3. Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L

Review of the Best Lenses For Sports Photography With Canon Cameras

Sports photography can be a mind-consuming task, provided you have a decent sports photography lens. To make sure you are able to select a reasonable one for yourself, we have come up with a few choices that you might want to consider before purchasing a sports photography lens.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM Telephoto Zoom Lens for Canon SLR Cameras, Lens Only


  • Sharp at all focal lengths
  • Features a good build quality
  • Lightweight and compact build 
  • Equipped with a fast auto focus
  • Promises a decent bokeh performance


  • No weather sealing
  • No Image Stabilization
  • F/4 aperture; not ideal for low light

What Recent Buyers Report

Most of the recent buyers are greatly impressed by the performance of this lens. It allows you to capture razor-sharp images paired with fast auto focus. Its bokeh images are quite decent, while the unit itself is lightweight and compact. Given the price tag, the buyers are completely satisfied with the product.

Why it Stands Out to Us

What impressed us the most in this lens is the superb build quality and ultra-fast focus. Its ring-type USM motor paired with an inner focusing system makes it a fast auto focus lens with a silent output. Most importantly, it belongs to the Canon’s L-Series, which is renowned as a line promising great professional performance.

Who Will Use This Most

This is truly a professional photography lens. Designed with reduced weight and size, this masterpiece offers great portability. Its two UD glass elements, paired with a fluorite element, enables it to deliver incredible contrast and performance. All in all, it’s the ultimate professional photography sensation by Canon.

Bottom Line

Looking for the best of the best? Well, look no further. This Canon model is the ultimate pick for you if you are seeking a professional lens. Its stunningly sharp images and ultra-fast auto focus would amaze you. However, the f/4 aperture might only perform decently under low light.

Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM Super Telephoto Lens for Canon SLR Cameras


  • Promises a solid build quality
  • Features a very fast auto focus
  • Beautiful bokeh and sharp image quality
  • Decent low light performance for an f/2.8
  • Optical image stabilization for reduced shakiness


  • Slightly expensive
  • Relatively larger in size
  • A bit on the heavier side

What Recent Buyers Report

A large number of recent buyers of this product are concerned about the weight of this lens. This Canon model is considerably large in size and drifts towards the heavier side, but users didn’t have too much to complain about it. Apart from that, it is an expensive lens, but buyers say that it is worth the money you pay.

Why it Stands Out to Us

What makes it a sensation is the outstanding image quality and the overall performance of this amazing lens. Powered with a 400mm focal length and f/2.8 aperture, it is ultra-sharp. Plus, the quality of the image, whether it is indoors or outdoors, is absolutely phenomenal. It also performs great in low-light conditions.

Who Will Use This Most

It’s a professional lens for professional photography. Its amazing build quality, lightning-fast auto focus, and razor-sharp image quality appeal to everyone. Featuring two UD and one fluorite glass elements, it delivers brilliant performance with high contrast and ultra-high-resolution photos. It's an outstanding choice for sports, landscapes and wildlife photography.

Bottom Line

Despite its weight and size, if you are looking for a professional lens then, this is the choice for you. Its sharp and crystal-clear images will astonish you with its ultra-fast auto focus. Its f/2.8 enables good low-light images while the Optical Image Stabilization greatly reduces handheld shakes. It’s the ultimate choice for professional photographers.

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


  • Rotation-type zoom ring for stability
  • Resistant to dust and water for higher durability
  • Macro-ability with 3.2ft minimum focusing distance
  • Extremely sharp images throughout the focal length
  • Air Sphere Coating to reduce backlit flaring and ghosting


  • Barrel distortion at 100mm
  • Since it is heavy, portability is an issue 

What Recent Buyers Report

Well, the reviews say it all. This Canon lens is an exceptional model. Featuring a 100-400mm focal length, this beast can capture an amazing quality of the landscape, wildlife, and sports photos. It’s a bit heavy, but the image quality is outstanding. It’s a highly recommended lens, as per the user reviews.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The great all-round performance of this lens really strikes us. Its incredibly sharp images and stability mechanism with its rotation-type zoom ring appeals to us. Its weatherproof sealing makes it highly durable in extreme weather conditions. Furthermore, Canon’s new Air Sphere Coating greatly reduces backlit flaring and ghosting.

Who Will Use This Most

It's an ideal pick for sports, landscape, and wildlife photography. With its ability to capture stunning images of distant subjects, it also features macro ability. With a 1:3 magnification, this lens can zoom to as close as 3.2ft minimum focusing distance. Its reliability and durability make it a great option for professionals.

Bottom Line

If you are looking for a good lens that delivers an ultimate user experience, then this is it. Don’t get hopeless with its price tag as it delivers what it promises. It’s the ultimate choice for professional photography or anyone looking to capture some high-quality distant or close-up action.

Best Canon Lens for Indoor Sports:
Canon EF 200mm f/2L IS

Canon EF 200mm f/2L IS Telephoto Lens for Canon SLR Cameras


  • Features a superb build quality
  • Features fluorite and UD lens elements
  • Weatherproofing; dust and water-resistant
  • Spectacular bokeh for mesmerizing images 
  • Optical Image Stabilization for reduced shakiness


  • Incompatibility issues with 5D MK III
  • Possesses a limited close focus ability
  • Requires purchasing new or different filters

What Recent Buyers Report

The recent reviews only talk about the superior quality of this lens. It’s unparalleled in terms of image quality, especially bokeh. Featuring an amazing build quality, this lens is capable of delivering any sort of photographs. Although it’s a bit heavy and expensive, it’s a promising lens overall.

Why it Stands Out to Us

What strikes us about this lens is the brilliant sharpness of the images captured with it. Its fluorite and UD elements provide high-resolution images with considerably high contrast. Colors are vibrant while it greatly excels in bokeh and other image options.

Who Will Use This Most

Another masterpiece of a lens, this model makes it a great option for handheld photography. Its amazing bokeh pictures and ultra-sharp image quality make it an unrivaled contender in professional photography. In a nutshell, it’s a dream come true for professional photographers.

Bottom Line

If you can afford this beast, then what are you waiting for? Don’t be dazzled by its price tag. It’s a gem of a lens with all the features you desire. It’s a great model for landscape, wildlife, and sports photography while promising marvelous results. You have to bear its weight and size; otherwise, it’s a must buy.

Best Canon Telephoto Lens for Sports:
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Telephoto Zoom Lens for Canon SLR Cameras


  • Full metal body for higher durability
  • Sensitive Optical Image Stabilization
  • Features an f/2.8 fast maximum aperture
  • 77mm filter size and extenders compatible 
  • List ElemeInner focusing system and supports full-time manual focus


  • Only supports Canon EF mount
  • Some distortion at 70mm can be observed
  • Displays resemblance with the MK II version

What Recent Buyers Report

Apart from being slightly bulgy and heavy, this lens is simply one of the best. With its crystal-clear and extremely sharp images, it stands out for all its buyers. Its one fluorite and 5 UD elements allow it to capture sensational photographs. It’s highly recommended by users for portraiture or sports photography.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Just as you expected, this lens delivers the most superior image quality, making it a top-of-the-line lens. What appeals to us is the lens construction. With 23 elements in 19 groups while one fluorite and 5 UD lens elements, it can capture the most stunning pictures you can ever desire.

Who Will Use This Most

This is a sensational professional lens for outdoor and indoor purposes. Its versatile focal length and amazing lightning-fast auto focus enable you to snap high-quality pictures in an instant. This is the ultimate go-to lens for professional sports photography with an f/2.8 fast aperture even under low-light.

Bottom Line

All in all, this is a must-have for professional photography. Its ability to capture high-resolution pictures at blazing speed makes it a top-notch product. Despite its weight and size, its full metal frame provides high durability in extreme weather conditions. 

What Do I Need To Know Before Buying?

Before purchasing a sports photography lens, there are some variables for you to consider.

Focal Length

The focal length is one of the most important factors to consider before purchasing a sports photography lens. If you are looking to capture the action from a far-off distance, then you would require a greater focal length. A close distance action could be captured using a lens having a considerably less focal length of 200mm to 300mm.

Maximum Aperture

An f/2.8 or lower maximum aperture enables more light to enter the lens. Therefore, if you are considering a low-light condition, try purchasing a unit with a lower maximum aperture like an f/2.8. The price may be fairly high, but it’s worth a consideration. An f/4 or f/5.6 would work perfectly in bright day-light.

Auto focus

Considering to shoot fast-paced action? Then, you definitely need fast auto focus. A wide range of lenses offers internal focusing, which enables faster auto focus. Canon’s Ultra Sonic Motor (USM) is one great example of a fast auto focus module.


Fast-paced action leaves you with a considerably short time to act for a perfect photo. Therefore, it’s important to consider the ergonomics of the lens. A dedicated auto focus lock button or the location of the focus ring might be the difference at the end of the day.


A sports photography lens can do wonders for you if you understand the true nature and purpose of the lens. What you need to consider is the right alignment for the right type of action. We have tried our best to deliver the best possible choices for you, but ultimately, the decision is yours.

People Also Ask

To be absolutely sure of your pick, it’s essential for you to clear any confusion you might have. The answers to the following questions might be of great help.                                        

What is the Best Aperture For Sports Photography?

There is no such thing as ‘best aperture.’ It greatly depends upon the use of the lens. A maximum aperture of f/2.8 or lower will provide you with outstanding images even under low light. A greater aperture like f/4 or f/5.6 will work great in bright light with more depth of field.

Is a Macro Lens Good For Sports?

A macro lens can be a great choice for sports photography; however, there is a drawback. Macro lenses are highly effective at any zoom distance; however, the main problem is the auto focus. They possess a relatively slower focus compared to prime or zoom lenses.

What is the Best Shutter Speed For Sports?

Shutter speed faster than 1/1000th of a second will freeze fast-moving cars. A shutter speed of 1/500th to 1/1000th of a second will capture any human to fast-moving ball action. Although it depends on you, a slightly slower shutter speed would enable motion blur, which is justified for action.

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Hi, I’m Andy. I’ve been taking pictures for just about as long as I’ve been old enough to hold a camera. I studied photography in community college after high school but was encouraged to follow a career path that was more stable. I do gigs here and there on the side but never took the leap to focus my efforts full-time. When Pam reached out to me through a mutual friend, I jumped on the opportunity to be a writer. Favorite type of photography: macro and street.