Are you looking for medium telephoto third-party lenses for Canon systems, or do you prefer Canon’s own lenses? It’s worth shopping around for third-party lenses these days as the quality is much higher than it used to be and you can usually get them at a fraction of the price of the big brands.
Most photographers will want to add at least one medium telephoto lens to their camera collection sooner or later, but what are they good for, and how do you choose?
Medium telephoto lenses tend to fall into the 70-200mm range, and this makes them a handy addition to your lens collection. They are good for shooting sports, but also for weddings, portraiture, landscape, and nature photography.
A telephoto lens can be either a prime or a zoom, and the medium telephoto range of around 70-200mm makes these lenses super versatile. The 70mm focal length allows you to get fairly close to your subject, while the 200mm end of the range lets you photograph things that are fairly far away.
If you have a Canon camera, you may want to buy their lenses, but it’s good to shop around for medium telephoto third-party lenses instead. Many of them are superb quality, and you can get some real bargains.
We’re going to look at the best medium telephoto third-party lenses for Canon cameras to cover a range of requirements, from budget up to powerful premium lenses. There’s sure to be one that catches your eye here!
1. Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Sports (Overall Winner)
Sigma really upped their game when they made the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Sports. It’s a fast, constant aperture zoom, but it only comes in Canon EF and Nikon F mounts.
As well as being big on performance, it’s also big in size for a 70-200mm, and you’ll definitely know you’re carrying this lens around on a day-long shoot! However, that’s the only downside to this beautiful lens, which is tack-sharp even when shooting at f/2.8, and benefits from a dual-mode optical stabilizer.
This lens is built to work in all kinds of tough conditions and features a magnesium alloy barrel, coated brass mounting plate, weather-sealing, and water and oil resistant coatings on the front and rear lens elements.
The image quality is amazing and some of that is down to the nine Fluorite Low Dispersion elements and a Special Low Dispersion element. It’s not necessarily a beginner’s lens, as it has an array of buttons and customizable features, but the handling is first class and it is good value for the price compared with Canon’s own 70-200mm f/2.8L USM lens.
All these reasons are why the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 Sports makes it to the top spot on our list of the best medium telephoto third-party lenses for Canon.
Bokeh fans, this one’s for you! The Venus Laowa 105mm f/2 STF is a very interesting lens, from a company that produces innovative niche lenses.
The 105mm f/2 STF lens is one of just a few lenses that use an apodization element. This produces a very sharp subject with a really beautiful bokeh background. It’s a manual lens, so beginners may find it tricky (but satisfying) to master.
This lens has two separate diaphragms. The first is a conventional eight-bladed aperture that controls your f/number in the way you’re used to. The second diaphragm is a step-less, 14-bladed manual design. This one is marked in T stops (Transmission Stops).
This makes this lens ideal for movie work as well as still photography as T stops are often used to measure light in the movie world. It can be tricky to focus well with this lens, but it is ideal for portraiture, landscape, and other still or slow-moving subjects.
The Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC G2 is a very good performer. It’s sharp, and the autofocus is fast and nearly silent. It produces good bokeh too, for all the fans out there
The lens has a built in Vibration Compensation (VC) system, which increases the useability and image quality. This lens is sturdy and well-built, with weather sealing and fluorine-coated front element.
While it’s not a budget lens by any means, it’s still considerably cheaper than Canon’s own alternative, and almost as good.
Tamron has always had a good reputation for lenses, especially their macro lenses. The Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di MACRO 1:1 VC USD is no exception.
This lens has 14 elements in 11 groups, including one low dispersion and two extra-low dispersion elements. It uses floating elements to give optimum performance over a range of distances. This macro lens focuses at a minimum distance of 30cm and has a maximum magnification of 1:1 (life-size).
The AF is snappy and precise, and it also has Tamron’s Vibration Control (VC) to reduce camera shake. It’s a versatile lens that can be used for portraits, landscapes, sports, and macro photography, and can be used for pretty much anything that requires a medium telephoto lens.
The Tamron 90mm f/2.8 is an affordable prime telephoto lens that also gives you the extra bang for your buck by being a macro lens as well as an all-purpose one.
It’s got great build quality (including weather-sealing), produces nice, sharp images, and has a longer-than-average focal length for shooting flighty subjects up close. The Irix is a manual focus only, so a beginner might find it hard to get to grips with at first, but it does produce gorgeous, creamy bokeh due to the 11 rounded aperture blades.
It’s a very good value lens from an innovative new company, and is excellent for portrait photography as well as macro work.
This Sigma 135mm f/1.8 Art lens is a bit of a brick, weighing in at 1.1kg, but the extra strain on your back and arms is certainly worth it!
Build quality is fantastic, with the weather-sealed lens being made of Sigma’s Thermally Stable Composite combined with metal parts. Sigma says that the Art lenses are hand-crafted in Aizu, Japan, and this lens is indeed the work of a master craftsman.
The Sigma 135mm Art lens comes with a maximum aperture of f/1.8, which makes it one of the fastest lenses in this class. The optics are complex, with 13 elements in 10 groups, and two Super Low Dispersion elements, along with two Fluorite Low Dispersion elements. All the elements are multi-coated to reduce flare.
Autofocus is lightning-quick and almost silent. Image quality is excellent, with the center and edge sharpness showing well over a range of apertures. Chromatic aberration and lens distortion are nearly non-existent.
This lens handles well, has beautiful bokeh, and is the holy grail medium telephoto prime lens for many portrait photographers. The only downsides are the weight and the price, but if you have the cash to splash, this lens should be a serious contender on your ‘must-have’ list.
7. Rokinon 135mm f/2 ED UMC (Budget Winner)
This Rokinon 135mm f/2 lens is one of the best medium telephoto third-party lenses for Canon that you can get for a small budget.
It gives images an incredible clarity, even when at f/2, and it captures a great deal of light. The downside is that it’s a manual focus only lens, so may require some practice to get used to. The lack of an autofocus system is one of the reasons for the affordability of this lens, but I get that manual focus isn’t for everyone.
Distortion isn’t an issue with this lens, and although there is some vignetting in the corners at f/2, it’s not there at all after going above f/2.8.
It’s a big and heavy lens, but these faster 135mm lenses do require a lot of glass and optics. At half the price of the Canon 135mm f/2L, the Rokinon 135mm is a bargain.
Sifting Through Medium Telephoto Third-Party Lenses for Canon
There is a huge range of medium telephoto lenses out there to fit Canon systems, but I wanted to give you a selection of both prime and zoom medium telephoto lenses, as well as lenses that would work well for specific types of photography, such as macro, sports, and portraiture as well as general photography.
Deciding on which medium telephoto third-party lenses for Canon can be a difficult choice, but it depends on what type of photography you do, and how important image quality is to you. Prime lenses will always produce better image quality than zooms, but if you want the versatility a zoom lens gives you then go for that.
For Nikon medium telephoto lenses, have a look at our best Nikon medium telephoto lenses buying guide.