Zoom lenses give you an increased reach for your photography. No matter how far away your subjects are, zoom lenses can make them feel up close and personal.
We’ve put together a list of the best Canon zoom lenses. The Canon RF 24-70mm f/2.8 L IS USM lens is our pick for overall best, but there are 6 other lenses on this list that might be better for your style of photography.
Here are the Top Canon Zoom Lenses!
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of Canon’s 7 best zoom lenses.
1. Canon RF 24-70mm f/2.8 L IS USM Lens—The Best Canon Zoom Lens
Why Buy The Canon RF 24-70mm f/2.8 L IS USM Lens?
- Canon best zoom lens for just about anyone
- The flexible focal length of this lens makes it an excellent choice for nearly every style of photography
- This rugged lens is built to Canon’s Luxury standards which include weather sealing
- You’ll be able to easily flip through features with the programmable control ring
- Shooting in low-light conditions is easy thanks to the bright constant f/2.8 aperture
The Canon RF 24-70mm f/2.8 L IS USM lens is our pick for the best Canon standard zoom lens.
Really, there’s almost nothing you can’t accomplish with the Canon RF 24-70mm f/2.8 L IS USM lens. This is a powerful lens that’s perfect for dedicated hobbyists on vacation as well as the best Canon zoom lens for weddings.
It’s rare to find a lens that’s going to be just as at home in the hands of a beginner as it will a professional photographer. The Canon RF 24-70mm f/2.8 L IS USM lens has a unique blend of focal lengths and features that make it great for every photographer whether you’re starting out your journey behind the camera or you’re getting paid for high-end work.
This lens was built for Canon’s mirrorless systems, so it’s a little bit smaller and lighter than the old DSLR counterpart. That makes it a great choice for traveling since you don’t want to lug around dozens of pounds of glass with you when you’re on vacation.
What You’ll Love About The Canon RF 24-70mm f/2.8 L IS USM Lens
- You’ll get amazing bokeh in your portraits thanks to the rounded 9-Blade diaphragm
- The five stops of camera shake protection from the optical image stabilizer keeps images clear
- You’ve got a lower risk of fingerprints, dust, and smearing on the glass thanks to the fluorine coating
What You Won’t Love About The Canon RF 24-70mm f/2.8 L IS USM Lens
- The cost of this lens could be too high for some
- There are better options for sports and wildlife
- Fewer high-tech features than similar lenses from other brands
This is the top of the best Canon RF zoom lenses for a reason.
The Canon RF 24-70mm f/2.8 L IS USM lens is often the first lens that photographers pick up. It’s the center of the Canon holy trinity of lenses and if you don’t already have one, you should pick one up today.
2. Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8 L IS USM Lens—Best Canon Zoom Lens For Video
Why Buy The Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8 L IS USM Lens?
- Videographers often work in tight conditions and the 15 mm to 35 mm focal length of this wide-angle zoom lens is ideal for that work
- Documentarians and videographers working outside of the studio will appreciate the bright aperture which helps when shooting in dim conditions
- The image stabilization built into this lens is extremely useful when shooting handheld
The Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8 L IS USM lens is the best Canon zoom lens for vlogging and other video applications.
Vloggers and anyone creating video for social media are going to really appreciate the features on the Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8 L IS USM lens. We’re often trying to capture compelling video content in somewhat cramped home studios or even bedrooms and the wide angle of this lens will really help you capture those shots.
With that said, the 35 mm top end of the focal length is great for head and shoulders interviews and can even create excellent bokeh for some unique portraits.
This lens is also part of Canon’s Luxury line of lenses. That “L” in the name lets you know that this lens is weather sealed and ready to stand up to tough shooting conditions.
The Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8 L IS USM lens is a compact choice for videographers on the go who want a single lens that can handle a wide range of shooting conditions.
What You’ll Love About The Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8 L IS USM Lens
- You can set your favorite exposure settings to the programmable control ring
- The autofocus is quiet and fast thanks to the Nano USM AF System
- Your video will be clear and easy to edit thanks to coatings and Aspherical and Low Dispersion elements
What You Won’t Love About The Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8 L IS USM Lens
- No telephoto focal lengths
- Cost is prohibitive for budget filmmakers
We’ve picked the Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8 L IS USM lens as the best zoom lens Canon EOS R for videographers.
The Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8 L IS USM lens is a lightweight lens that allows you to capture clean images so that you can color correct and edit as much as you want in post-production. Whether you’re making videos for social media or you’re working on a feature-length documentary, this is an excellent choice for anyone into video.
3. Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1 L IS USM Lens—Best Canon Zoom Lens For Sports And Wildlife
Why Buy The Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1 L IS USM Lens?
- You’ll be able to isolate your subjects with the f/4.5-7.1 aperture range
- The focal length options have a wide range from 100 mm to 500 mm which can get even higher with a telephoto converter
- Sports and wildlife often mean benign outside in the rain and this lens is weather-sealed and ready for wet weather
- You don’t have to worry about camera shake thanks to the built-in image stabilization
The Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1 L IS USM is the best Canon zoom lens for wildlife and sports.
Shooting sports and wildlife means balancing being naturally far away from your subject and still having to capture a crisp image with plenty of sharpness. The Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1 L IS USM is a great lens for people who want to keep a lot of flexibility with their focal length, but who also want a high degree of sharpness.
The aperture on this lens isn’t as bright as some more expensive options and prime lenses, but it’s pretty impressive as far as telephoto zoom lenses go.
Of course, the Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1 L IS USM is weather sealed which is an absolute must if you plan on being outdoors for extended periods of time. Weather sealing not only helps to prevent rain from damaging your lens, but it also helps to prevent dust from getting in between glass elements.
A lens doesn’t get to be the best Canon zoom lens for outdoor sports without having a solid aperture.
What You’ll Love About The Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1 L IS USM Lens
- You can quickly switch things up in the field with the rotating tripod collar and adjustable torque ring
- Adjusting settings is easy with the Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1 L IS USM thanks to the programmable control ring and settings switches on the side of the barrel
- The build quality is great thanks to a 9-bladed diaphragm, multiple coatings, and several optical elements
What You Won’t Love About The Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1 L IS USM Lens
- No wide angle or standard focal length coverage
- There are prime lenses that might be better for your wildlife and sports needs
The Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1 L IS USM is one of the best Canon telephoto zoom lenses.
This lens will deliver reliable performance for people who want an impressively powerful telephoto Zoom lens.
If you want the best Canon zoom lens for bird photography, wildfire, and sports, pick up the Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1 L IS USM.
4. Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM Lens—The Best Canon Wide Angle Zoom Lens
Why Buy The Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM Lens?
- Canon’s flagship lens for wide-angle photography and part of the Canon Trinity of lenses
- This lens offers ideal performance and clarity for night photography and astrophotography
- You can even use the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM lens for street photography and portraits thanks to the 35 mm top end
- This lens will stand up to the outdoors thanks to its weather-sealed design
The Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM lens is the best Canon zoom lens for landscape photography, but it’s got so much more to deliver.
Landscape photography, architectural photography and even late-night astrophotography are all going to be a walk in the park with the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM lens. This is one of Canon’s most impressive lenses and if you’re interested in anything that requires a wide angle, this is the lens that you need to pick up today.
Canon put this lens together with an understanding of what makes a good wide-angle lens. The optical elements and coatings on this lens are all designed to reduce common ghosting and flaring distortions that happen with wide-angle photography.
This lens is also a solid option for videography, travel photography, and street photography. If wide-angle shots are your style, you can’t go wrong with the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM lens.
What You’ll Love About The Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM Lens
- Your risk of backlight flaring and ghosting are reduced thanks to the subwavelength coating
- The fluorine coating will protect the lens even when doing long landscape and astrophotography exposures
- Compatible with crop-sensor cameras so you can upgrade to a pro lens even with a budget camera
What You Won’t Love About The Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM Lens
- Very expensive and specialized makes it not the right choice for a first lens
The Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM lens is one of the most capable and versatile lenses on this list. Wide-angle lenses aren’t just restricted to a few narrow styles of photography, but they can be used as an everyday lens.
The Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM lens has some impressive features, and a great build quality, and it would make a perfect addition to any camera kit.
5. Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM Lens—Best Canon Zoom Lens For Portraits
Why Buy The Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM Lens?
- The Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM lens has a focal length range that’s great for conventional portrait photography as well as more interesting portraits with wider or tighter telephoto options
- This lens has a weather seal design, so you can take portraits in the rain without worrying so much about damaging your gear
- The built-in image stabilization means that you’ll get sharp details in the eyes of your portrait subjects when shooting with the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM lens
The Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM lens is an incredibly versatile lens when it comes to taking portraits.
The gold standard for portrait focal lengths is around 85 mm. That’s because this focal length creates the least distortion for the human face and lets us take natural-looking portraits.
However, it’s easy to correct this distortion in digital photography which means that the rest of the focal lengths have opened up to us for unique and creative portraits.
This zoom lens covers everything from wide-angle portraiture all the way over to the 105 mm telephoto end. This means that you can take creative street portraits as well as tight close-ups with a single lens.
The stats on this lens are also incredibly impressive. It’s part of Canon’s professional line of lenses, and it’s held at the same standards as lenses that can cost several times more than the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM lens.
What You’ll Love About The Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM Lens
- If you’re interested in getting buttery smooth bokeh, the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM lens is the lens for you thanks to its outstanding 10-bladed diaphragm
- Photographers on a tight budget will enjoy this professional lens that comes with a surprisingly affordable price
- Zoom lenses with this big of a focal length range have to battle with a lot of distortion and Canon added four glass-molded optical elements to make sure that your image is sharp from edge to edge
What You Won’t Love About The Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM Lens
- The aperture for this lens could be a little bit brighter especially when being used for portraiture
If you’re really into portraiture, and you want a lens that has some incredibly flexible specifications, the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM lens is for you. Don’t sleep on the 10-bladed diaphragm either because that’s something even prime portrait lenses wish they had.
6. Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens—Best Canon Macro Zoom Lens
Why Buy The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens?
- Camera shake is especially hazardous during macro photography and the optical image stabilizer gives you four stops of vibration protection
- You won’t have to worry about startling macro photography subjects thanks to the quiet Ring-Type Ultrasonic Motor AF System
- Bokeh is extremely important when isolating macro photography subjects and the aperture and the Rounded 9-Blade Diaphragm of this lens help to make your subjects pop
A zoom lens is an interesting choice for macro photography, but it’s more common than you might expect. The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens is one of Canon’s best options if you want a lens that can double as a macrophotography lens but still give you plenty of other telephoto options.
The impressive telephoto range of this lens is just the beginning of why we picked it for the best telephoto macro lens for Canon. The aperture is also bright enough to isolate subjects and let in light which is especially important for macro.
This lens also excels at creating bokeh and isolating subjects. This means that your macro photography is going to stand out from the background which is ideal when working this close-up.
What You’ll Love About The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens
- You can use this lens on your crop-sensor camera where you’ll get an equivalent focal length of 160-640mm
- The extreme telephoto zoom range of this lens allows you to get extremely close macro shots even without a macro magnification
What You Won’t Love About The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens
- There’s a very strong chance that you’ll be better off with a dedicated prime macro lens for this style of photography
- This lens does not offer true one-to-one macro magnification
The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens is the ideal lens for people looking to have telephoto options that are great for sports, wildlife, and macro photography. If you’re not looking for a dedicated macro prime, the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens is a zoom lens that can get you close to that gold standard.
7. Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III Lens—The Best Canon Budget Zoom Lens
Why Buy The Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III Lens?
- The aperture is impressive for a budget lens and the seven-bladed diaphragm will help you capture great images
- This lens is incredibly affordable for both full-frame and crop-sensor camera owners
- The Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III lens is a lightweight lens making it a great choice for people who are on the road
One of the best Canon EF zoom lenses is also one of the most affordable.
Being a budget lens doesn’t have to mean lower performance. There are some strategic trade-offs that you get with this lens, but you do save a lot of money without compromising too much on the overall quality of your photographs.
This one still has a coating that helps reduce distortion and an impressive autofocus motor.
The seven-bladed diaphragm has an electromagnetic control which means it helps you to achieve the sharpest images you can capture at this price point.
Pick up one of the best zoom lenses for Canon DSLR and add the Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III lens to your collection.
What You’ll Love About The Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III Lens
- This zoom lens is extremely budget friendly and covers some of the most important normal and telephoto focal lengths
- You don’t always want to take your most expensive gear with you when you’re traveling and the Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III lens is a great lens for capturing solid travel photography without risking all your money
- This lens was designed to work with both full-frame and crop-sensor EF cameras
What You Won’t Love About The Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III Lens
- The Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III lens has very limited features especially when you compare it to higher budget models
- This lens is not weather sealed which makes it more susceptible to dust and rain
You don’t have to spend all your cash to pick up a great zoom lens. The Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III lens is a solid option if budget is your primary concern, but you still want to capture great telephoto photography.
How To Buy The Best Canon Zoom Lens & FAQ
There are three basic types of zoom lenses. Wide-angle zoom lenses are great for landscapes and other wide-angle shots. Standard zoom lenses cover focal lengths ranging from 35 mm to 70 mm and are ideal for everyday use. Telephoto zoom lenses go from 70 mm into the hundreds and are great for sports and wildlife photography.
How To Read A Canon Lens?
Reading a Canon lens is very straightforward. The first letters, such as RF, tell you what mounting system the lens is for. The next following numbers, such as 24-70mm, let you know the focal length range of the lens. Any letters after that, like IS, designate additional features like image stabilization.
Are Primes Better Than Zooms?
Prime lenses are not necessarily better than zoom lenses. Prime lenses have fewer mechanical parts which make them more reliable in the long term, and they use less glass which makes their images clearer. However, zoom lenses offer flexibility and utility that prime lenses just don’t have.
Does Aperture Matter?
The aperture is one of the most important parts of photography and is 1/3 of the exposure triangle along with ISO and shutter speed. Smaller aperture numbers will let in more light while larger aperture numbers let in less light.
Do Professionals Use Zoom Lenses?
Professional photographers use zoom lenses all the time. The 24 to 70 mm zoom lens is one of the most widely used lenses by professional photographers. You can get professional quality photos using just about any zoom lens.
What 3 Lenses Should Every Photographer Have?
Every photographer should have the Canon Holy Trinity of lenses. These include a wide-angle Zoom lens, the 24 to 70 mm standard zoom lens, and the 70 mm to 200 mm telephoto zoom lens. These three lenses are professional grade and can cover basically every style of photography.
What is the longest zoom lens for Canon?
Canon’s current longest zoom lens has a focal length range of 200 mm to 400 mm. The longest lens with a fixed focal length is the Canon RF 1200mm F/8 lens.
Conclusion – The Best Canon Zoom Lenses
We picked the Canon RF 24-70mm f/2.8 L IS USM lens to lead the pack of best Canon zoom lenses, but there are other choices that could be just as good—if not better—for you.
The Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8 L IS USM lens is ideal for videographers and documentaries while the Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1 L IS USM lens is a powerhouse for wildlife and sports photography.
Which of these zoom lenses are you most excited to try out? Let us know your favorite Canon zoom lenses and make sure to check out our other articles rounding up the best lenses for Canon cameras.