We have compiled a list of the five best telephoto lenses to help you take amazing sports photographs.
1. Canon & Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses
These lenses offer versatile zoom ranges ideal for everything from portraiture to sports photography.
The Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM III has a fast constant f/2.8 aperture that excels in low light and offers control over depth of field for isolating subjects. It has quick AF and its Optical Image Stabiliser compensates for 3.5 stops of camera shake perfect for working handheld. This lens of also weather-sealed for shooting outdoors.
“This is Canon’s latest incarnation of the ever popular Canon 70-200mm f/2.8. This Mk III fast-aperture telephoto zoom lens is an extremely versatile and popular option for professionals and amateurs in a wide variety of genres. With its fast focusing in poor lighting conditions, 3.5-stop Image Stabilisation and top-shelf weather sealing, this lens is a must-have addition to your kit.” – Gunther Swart
The Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E AF-S FL ED VR features a lightweight magnesium-alloy design that facilitates agile shooting in diverse situations from sports and wildlife to portrait photography. A bright constant f/2.8 maximum aperture provides consistent performance throughout the zoom range while Vibration Reduction (VR) technology offers better handheld control by reducing camera shake up to four shutter speed stops. A silent Wave Motor offers quick, quiet and precise AF for tracking performance. Finally, the lens boasts protective coatings against dust, moisture and smudging.
2. Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G
Offering an even greater focal length range, the Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G AF-S ED VR lets you capture extreme close-ups and portraits with gorgeously soft bokeh, notforgetting long-distance wildlife and sports shots. Impressive at any distance, it delivers high-contrast images with superb resolution. VR technology drastically reduces camera shake for crisp images when shooting handheld even in dim lighting. And Extra-Low Dispersion glass elements and Nano Crystal Coat eliminate ghosting, flares and chromatic aberrations for even crisper shots. PS: By using one of Nikon’s various teleconverters, you can extend your reach from 1.4x to 2x.
3. Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6
With a fantastic zoom range, the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS USM Mk II puts you right next to distant subjects, and lets you react quickly in a fast-changing situation with USM autofocus that locks on accurately in near-silence. When used on cameras featuring APS-C sized sensors, the EF 100-400mm offers angles of view equivalent to that of a 160-640mm lens on a full-frame camera.
The lens delivers sharp, high-contrast images using Fluorite and Super Ultra-low Dispersion (Super UD) lens elements to tackle artefacts and distortion. A three-mode Image Stabiliser (IS) guards against blur from camera shake, allowing handheld shooting with shutter speeds up to four stops slower. The lens boasts a minimum focus distance of only 98 cm, allowing you to react to subjects that come unexpectedly close. This L-series lens is also sealed against dust and moisture.
4. Canon & Nikon 400mm f/2.8 lenses
The Nikon 400mm f/2.8E AF-S FL ED VRII is a superior 400mm super-telephoto lens that captures incredibly crisp images. Adopting a unique electromagnetic diaphragm mechanism, this lens provides stable exposure control even during high-speed continuous shooting. It is FX-format compatible and features improved optical performance, autofocus speed, AF accuracy, and auto exposure accuracy, making it the professional’s choice for sports photography. The VR Sport Moode compensates for the image blur caused by camera shake, and a built-in tripod mount ring with bearings makes it more durable and also ensures smooth switching between horizontal and vertical orientation.
The Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS III USM is an L-series lens boasting exceptional optical quality and anextremely lightweight design make this a great pro sports lens. Both Super UD and fluorite elements are used in the optical design to help reduce colour fringing and chromatic aberrations for high clarity and colour accuracy. Super Spectra and Air Sphere Coatings have been applied to individual elements to suppress flare and ghosting for increased contrast and colour neutrality when working in backlit conditions. Three stabilisation modes suit various shooting applications and include standard single-shot mode, a panning-optimised mode, and a mode that only activates the IS during the exposure. Subjects come into critical focus with exceptional speed and precision, even in low light. Fast-moving objects are kept sharp by employing a ring-type Ultrasonic Motor (USM), along with optimised focusing algorithms and a high-speed CPU. The lens is sealed against dust and moisture.
5. Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 OS Sport lens
Part of Sigma’s Global Vision Sports line, the Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM for Canon and Nikon mounts is a highly precise and optically sound lens that functions well in fast-paced situations. The long reach of the lens, coupled with a large constant maximum aperture makes it ideal for shooting from a spectator’s vantage point, while capturing imagery that exhibits a type of intimacy as if it were being photographed from close-up. The lens is equally well suited for nature, wildlife, bird and race shooting – essentially situations that must be observed from a distance but are still fast-paced and spontaneous.
With a bright f/2.8 constant aperture throughout the entire zoom range, this lens excels in available light conditions and offers great control over depth of field. The advance optical design reduces chromatic aberrations and colour fringing for crisp, clear images that are rich in colour. An Optical Stabiliser minimises camera shake and an included tripod collar lets you mount the lens to a tripod or monopod for a more comfortable shooting experience.