Best budget telephoto lens for Canon

by Alex Wrigley

Many people first take the leap to an interchangeable camera system such as a DSLR or mirrorless simply because they are looking for the greater zoom reach offered to them by a telephoto lens.

All interchangeable lens camera systems offer a wealth of telephoto lenses to choose from and while some, such as professional-level wildlife photography lenses, are extremely expensive, there are plenty of budget telephoto lenses available, too.

Here, we go through the very best budget telephoto lenses for Canon.

Best budget telephoto lenses for Canon


Canon EF 70-300mm f4-5.6 IS II USM – Top Canon telephoto lens pick

  • Very fast autofocus
  • Excellent image quality

This is a bit more expensive than some of the lenses on this list but if you have the money to spend it’s well worth it.

The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM is compatible with both APS-C and full-frame cameras and offers image quality and handling far greater than the cheaper iterations.

The USM autofocus offers incredibly quick and silent focusing and the image stabilization works well up to four stops. Not only that, but there’s a lovely little info display on the lens itself that provides information about focus distance, camera shake and depth of field.

Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS STM

  • Canon EF-S 55-250mm F4-5.6 IS STM Lens for Canon SLR Cameras

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

    • High magnification, compact and lightweight EF-S telephoto zoom lens with Image Stabilization for up to 3.5 equivalent stops of shake correction. Based on CIPA (Camera & Imaging Products Association) standards. Testing performed using EOS 7D at focal length of 250 millimeter (400 millimeter in 35 millimeter equivalence).
    • One UD lens element reduces chromatic aberration throughout the zoom range, for excellent image quality with high resolution and contrast.
  • Silent autofocus
  • Non-rotating filter ring on focus

Now, if you don’t have the money to buy our top choice you could do a lot worse than Canon’s budget telephoto lens offering, the Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM.

The stepping motor autofocus, while not as snappy as the 70-300mm above, is almost silent and incredibly smooth, making it a joy to use for both photography and videography.

Elsewhere, image quality is good throughout most of the zoom range and the image stabilization works well, too. Unsurprisingly for this price point it does lack weather sealing, but it is a well-built lens and is inarguably good value for money.

Tamron SP 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di VC USD

  • Good autofocus and VC performance
  • Very cheap

The Tamron SP 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di VC USD made it onto our list of best budget telephoto lens for Nikon, too, and for good reason. It packs a lot into a very cheap and well-built package.

Image quality is good throughout the zoom range although this does fall away a bit towards the longer end, especially from 250mm onwards. However, up to 200mm is more than sharp enough and it crams in some relatively high-end features considering its price tag.

Ultrasonic autofocus with manual overrise is included and it feels well-built in the hand. There isn’t any weather sealing but that’s hardly a surprise at this price point.

Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Contemporary DG OS HSM

  • Huge zoom reach perfect for wildlife and bird photography
  • Excellent value for money

Another budget telephoto lens that has made both our Nikon and Canon lists, although the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Contemporary DG OS HSM isn’t entirely a budget lens.

However, while it is more expensive than other lenses on this list it’s a huge leap towards affordable and good-quality lenses at this focal range, which was previously only accessible to the very wealthy.

The Sigma 150-600mm boasts excellent sharpness through most of the range until, as is often the case, it drops off significantly at around 550mm. The Contemporary package is cheaper, lighter and more portable than the more expensive Sport version, although it does get rid of the weather sealing to keep costs down.

Tamron have a similar offering in this price range and there isn’t much to choose between the two. In all, it’s very difficult to criticise this lens and if you need that extra range but don’t have $4,000 burning a hole in your pocket this is the telephoto lens for you.

Canon EF-M 55-200mm f/4.5-6.3 IS STM

  • Best budget option for EOS M photographers.
  • Lightweight and compact

While all the above lenses will work on EOS M systems if you have the correct mount adaptor, the Canon EF-M 55-200mm f/4.5-6.3 IS STM was made specifically for the EOS M series and as such it’s the best option for budget mirrorless shooters.

It’s beautifully lightweight and small to balance well with the smaller Canon EOS M cameras and the stepping motor autofocus makes for pleasingly smooth and quiet focusing.

Image quality isn’t mindblowing but it’s more than good enough for this price bracket and the reduction in size and weight makes it worth the compromise.

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About Alex Wrigley

Alex is the owner and lead writer for Click and Learn Photography. An avid landscape, equine, and pet photographer living and working in the beautiful Lake District, UK, Alex has had his work featured in a number of high profile publications, including the Take a View Landscape Photographer of the Year, Outdoor Photographer of the Year, and Amateur Photographer Magazine.

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