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Choosing the best telephoto lens for your Canon camera

11th September 2023

There’s a lot to consider when choosing a new lens – It can be quite daunting especially if you are new to the photography scene evaluating between the many lenses to choose from. Here are some tips on picking your perfect beginner telephoto lens.

What is a telephoto lens?

A telephoto lens is designed to capture close-up images of subjects far away in great clarity and detail. Traditionally speaking, focal lengths of 85mm or longer classify as a telephoto lens and are often a fixed focal length. They can help to enhance the visual relationships between the subject and its environment, creating compression in the relationship between the two. You can also utilise these to create that beautiful blurry background for portraits. Roughly speaking, the longer the focal length and wider the aperture, the more of this blur you will get.

These lenses offer narrow perspective, making them ideal for capturing wildlife, sports and events. A zoom lens, on the other hand, offers variable focal length allowing you to zoom in and out to change the field of view.

These terms can sometimes be used interchangeably or together as such;

Canon RF 600mm f/11 IS STM would classify as a telephoto lens as it’s a fixed focal length of over 85mm
Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1L IS USM would classify as a telephoto zoom lens as it offers a variable focal length of over 85mm

What do the lens names mean?

Understanding how to read a lens name can be helpful when trying to decide which lens is best suited for your photography needs. There are different components which break down the compatibility to specifications:

E.g., RF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM

RF - Mount system
70-200mm - Variable focal length
f/4 - Aperture
IS - Stabilization
USM - Motor type

How to use a telephoto lens?

Firstly, understand the focal length as this determines how zoomed in your subject will appear. The longer the focal length, the more magnification you will achieve.

Secondly, we would recommend using a tripod if necessary. Many Canon telephoto and telephoto zoom lenses are portable and lightweight, however you may need to use a tripod or grip with slightly heavier lenses or if you are holding a camera for an extended period of time. For example, if you're capturing sports or waiting for the perfect wildlife shot.

What is the best RF telephoto lens for me?


image of RF 100-400mm f/5.6-8 IS USM

RF 100-400mm f/5.6-8 IS USM

The RF 100-400mm f/5.6-8 IS USM telephoto zoom lens is compact and lightweight, making it the perfect companion for travel and everyday use. Delivering high image quality in a compact design, it provides the ability to photograph closer to subjects such as wildlife and sport from distance.


image of RF 24-240mm f/4-6.3 IS USM

RF 24-240mm f/4-6.3 IS USM

This 10x optical high magnification zoom lens covers a broad focal length from wide-angle to telephoto making it an all-in-one travel lens.

Wide focal length

image of RF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM

RF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM

A 70-200 focal length is commonly used for sports, wildlife, and portrait photography. The wide f/4 maximum aperture over entire zoom range and image stabilization makes it great for low-light situations or shooting hand-held.

L series performance and quality
Small and lightweight

image of RF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM

RF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM

This lens is perfect for travel, wildlife, news and sport. Also great for low-light shooting conditions with f/2.8 maximum aperture and image stabilization.

Great lowlight performance
Image quality

What's the best Canon EF telephoto lens for beginners?

Capture the action in stills and movies, perfect for entry level DSLR users looking for a telephoto lens with exceptional tracking speed combined with smooth, quiet operation.The new lens design utilises an ultra-low dispersion (UD) lens element to reduce chromatic aberration, for sharp images with outstanding colour & contrast.

Built-in Lens Information Display
Quiet Nano USM for wildlife and sports photography
Compact and lightweight

Watch Patty Lagera put the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 IS II USM Lens to the test on a Canon EOS 90D DSLR.