11 Best Budget Canon Lenses for Sports Photography [Complete List]

The beauty of sports photos often lies in the decisive moments when athletes achieve peak performance during the game. To capture the fast-moving subject, sports photographers must have excellent skills as well as handy camera gear.

As Canon users, there are lots of telephoto lenses to choose from. But finding a budget lens for sports photography can be tricky. There are many factors to consider, such as focal length, maximum aperture, autofocus performance, and, most importantly, the price tag.

To help you build up your photography business on a budget, we have created this complete list containing the most affordable sports lenses you can buy, with their prices ranging from low to high. After reading it, rest assured that you will finalize a decision for shooting your sports events.

1. Tamron AF 70-300 F4-5.6 Macro

best budget lens for sports photography canon

A reasonably priced macro lens that shoots more than just macro photography. The focal length is good enough for shooting sports photography. However, the lens will suffer in low lighting conditions.

Pros

  • 9-blade aperture diaphragm for beautiful bokeh.
  • A single lens serves the purpose of a regular portrait lens and then a medium telephoto lens for shooting sports and wildlife.
  • Although not a true macro lens, you can shoot some close-up photography with a maximum magnification of 1:2.

Cons

  • The maximum aperture gets stuck at f/5.6 when the lens is zoomed in.
  • Autofocusing motor is the older micro-motor type and isn’t the modern USM type or the modern STM type.

2. Canon EF 75-300mm F4-5.6

Designed for the full-frame and APS-C camera, this is a similar lens as the Tamron AF 70-300 F4-5.6 discussed above, except for the slightly longer focal length on the shorter side and no macro features to look at. But this is also an excellent option as a budget Canon lens for sports photography.

Pros

  • The focal length of 75-300mm, making it a medium-range telephoto lens.
  • Useful for birding and sports.
  • Comes with Canon’s Super Spectra coating for suppression of ghosting and flares.
  • DC Micro motor-powered autofocusing system to ensure precise and fast autofocus.
  • Extremely inexpensive.
  • Lightweight lens.
  • Can also be used with APS-C models where it provides a 120-480mm equivalent focal length range

Cons

  • The seven-blade aperture diaphragm isn’t the best for background bokeh.
  • This is a very old design.
  • The maximum aperture drops down to f/5.6 at the tele-end.
  • There is no image stabilization on the lens.
  • Made of plastics mainly.
  • The zoom ring isn’t the most smooth to operate.
  • No full-time manual focusing override.

3. Canon EF-S 55-250mm F4-5.6 IS STM

best budget lens for sports photography canon

One of the more popular autofocusing lenses in the business, especially because it’s often stacked as a second kit lens along with the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6. This is one of the cheapest telephoto lenses you can lay your hands on that can be used as a sports lens.

Pros

  • The generic kit lens is sometimes part of Canon entry-level DSLRs’ dual kit lens system.
  • 35mm format equivalent focal length of 88-400mm, making this an inexpensive way to reach telephoto lengths.
  • Maximum aperture of f/4 drops down to f/5.6 when fully zoomed in.
  • The lens construction includes one Ultra-low dispersion element to suppress chromatic aberration and color fringing. This improves color accuracy and image sharpness.
  • Additionally, the lens features Super spectra coating for suppressing light flares and ghosting. This improves color accuracy and contrast.
  • An optical image stabilizer ensures that hand-held images are very steady and blur-free.
  • Autofocusing is powered by Canon’s STM stepping motor-powered autofocusing mechanism. This technology is superior to USM autofocusing in terms of accuracy and is very silent, favoring videographers. 

Cons

  • The maximum aperture drops down to f/5.6 when fully zoomed in.

4. Tamron SP 70-300mm F4-5.6

Designed for several popular mounts, including the full-frame Canon EF mount systems, this lens is yet another economical option for someone looking for a budget lens to begin sports photography.

best budget lens for sports photography canon

Pros

  • Designed for the full-frame EF mount camera systems.
  • Compatible with EF-S mount camera systems also.
  • The focal length of 70-300mm, making it a medium-range telephoto lens.
  • Useful for birding and sports.
  • Inexpensive lens.
  • Excellent performance both on APS-C and 35mm cameras.
  • Four stops of image stabilization for steady hand-held shots.
  • Image stabilization also benefits low-light photography and high-speed action.
  • Ultrasonic Silent Drive powered autofocusing for silent autofocusing.
  • Build better than the Canon EF 75-300mm F4-5.6 I listed above.
  • Feels very sturdy in the hands.
  • Zoom ring is well damped and very smooth to operate.
  • The focusing ring travels a long way, about 170 degrees. Useful for precise manual focusing.

Cons

  • The maximum aperture drops down to f/5.6 when fully zoomed in.
  • Variable aperture will be an issue when shooting videos because of the sudden change in light levels.

5. Sigma 18-300mm F3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM Contemporary

best budget lens for sports photography canon

This versatile lens has a neat list of features that makes it a remarkably good lens to boot if you’re in the market for an entry-level sports lens. This lens even has some semi-macro properties (maximum magnification of 1:3).

Pros

  • EF-S mount designed for the APS-C camera systems of Canon.
  • The maximum aperture is f/3.5
  • The focal length ranges from 28.8mm to 480mm (35mm format equivalent)
  • Three aspherical elements help suppress the spherical aberrations.
  • Four F low dispersion elements and one Super Low dispersion element ensure that the lens can suppress chromatic aberrations and color fringing.
  • Super multi-layer coating has also been used on the lens, suppressing ghosting and flares and improving color accuracy and contrast.
  • Sigma’s Hyper Sonic Motor AF system powered autofocusing on the lens. This system is very accurate and quiet at the same time.
  • OS image stabilization ensures that the lens is stable when you hand-hold it for shooting sports photos.
  • This isn’t a macro lens, yet the maximum magnification possible with this lens is 1:3.

Cons

  • The maximum aperture drops down to f/6.3 when fully zoomed in.

6. Tamron 18-400mm F3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD

best budget lens for sports photography canon

The Tamron 18-400mm is a solid lens to start with. It comes with vibration compensation and a fast-autofocusing HLD AF motor. The only flaw is that the aperture drops to f/6.3 at the far end of the zoom range.

Pros

  • Designed for the APS-C EF-S mount camera systems.
  • 35mm format effective focal length of 28.8mm to 640mm, making this a super-telephoto lens.
  • The construction of the lens includes three Low Dispersion elements.
  • Three aspherical elements are also included in the construction.
  • HLD autofocusing motor for smooth and noise-free autofocusing feature
  • VC image stabilization is built-in for stable hand-held shooting. Up to 2.5 stops of image stabilization have been provided.
  • Electromagnetic diaphragm.
  • The design of the lens contains weather sealing ideal for outdoor photography opportunities.
  • The lens is compatible with the TAP-in Console.
  • f/3.5 is good enough for the decent depth of field.

Cons

  • The maximum aperture range starts from f/3.5 and extends to f/6.3 when fully zoomed in.
  • Corners are softer at f/3.5 when shooting at their widest focal length.
  • Bit of vignetting is evident at 18/mm when shooting wide open.

7. Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary

Another Sigma lens and yet another 100-400mm focal length lens. This is a contemporary lens and not the Sports version. Autofocusing is a bit slower than the Sports version, and we recommend that one for serious work. This one is for budget-conscious users.

Pros

  • Designed for EF mount full-frame Canon camera systems.
  • It reaches a focal length of 100mm to 400, which takes this lens to super telephoto lengths.
  • It’s an inexpensive lens for shooting telephoto shots.
  • Construction of the lens includes four SLD elements for suppression of chromatic aberrations and color fringing.
  • Super multi-layer coating has been used to prevent ghosting and flares.
  • Autofocusing on the lens is powered by a hypersonic motor. This produces sharp focusing adjustments that are quick and precise.
  • Optical Stabilization has also been incorporated to ensure that the lens can withstand hand movements and better, sharper images are captured when the camera is hand-held.
  • Finally, a nine-blade aperture diaphragm rounds up the build-up of this lens. Background bokeh is beautiful.

Cons

  • The maximum aperture drops to f/6.3 when you use the lens at its most extended zoom.
  • This is the contemporary or the ‘C’ version of the lens.

8. Tamron 100-400mm F4.5-6.3 Di VC USD

best budget lens for sports photography canon

Tamron’s 100-400mm with a variable maximum aperture lens is a super telephoto lens that covers an actual focal length for shooting sports and wildlife photography. The variable maximum aperture is the thing that does not work in its favor and is like many of the other budget telephoto lenses.

Pros

  • EF mount camera lens designed for full-frame Canon camera systems.
  • Construction includes three low dispersion elements to ensure that chromatic aberrations and color fringing are suppressed.
  • eBAND coating ensures that ghosting and flares are suppressed.
  • Fluorine coatings have been used to ensure that the lens’s front element is not affected by moisture, grease, and fingerprints and is easy to clean.
  • Image stabilization in Vibration Compensation allows for steady hand-held shots, especially when shooting sports photography.
  • Autofocusing on the lens is powered by Tamron’s ultrasonic silent drive autofocus motor that ensures that the lens can lock focus smoothly and instantly.

Cons

  • The maximum aperture drops down to f/6.3 when fully zoomed in.

9. Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3

best budget lens for sports photography canon

The Sigma 150-600mm, f/5–6.3, is a versatile lens that works as your reach to super telephoto focal lengths at very reasonable pricing. A genuinely good lens, except that it’s the C version or the contemporary version of the lens.

Pros

  • Designed for the full-frame EF mount camera systems.
  • It is compatible with EF-S mount camera systems as well.
  • The focal length of 150-600mm, making it a super telephoto lens at the far end of the focal length.
  • The effective focal length on EF-S mount cameras is 240-960mm.
  • Packs a single F Low Dispersion and three Special Low Dispersion elements to counter color fringing and chromatic aberrations.
  • Super multi-layer coating has also been integrated to counter ghosting and lens flares. Results in better color contrast and color fidelity.
  • Hyper Sonic Motor powered focusing system ensures precise focus lock.
  • Rear-focusing elements.
  • Features optical image stabilization for stable hand-held shooting.
  • Full-time manual focusing ensures precise manual focus correction whenever needed.
  • Well-rounded the 9-blade aperture diaphragm for a beautiful background blur.

Cons

  • The maximum aperture drops down to f/6.3 at the far end.
  • When changing focal length when shooting sports, you will see sudden changes in aperture.
  • This is the contemporary or C version of the lens and not the Sports or S version.

10. Tamron SP 150-600mm F5-6.3 Di VC USD G2

best budget lens for sports photography canon

I love the Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2. This is our top choice among zoom lenses when picking a budget lens for sports (and wildlife photography).

Pros

  • The relatively inexpensive lens gives super-telephoto reach.
  • This is the G2 version of the lens.
  • Vibration Compensation is built-in and offers steady hand-held shots even when the lens is fully zoomed in.
  • The construction of the lens includes three low dispersion glass elements.
  • eBAND, BBAR, and Fluorine coatings ensure suppression from ghosting and flares and protection from moisture, grease, and fingerprints.
  • The lens is moisture resistant in construction, allowing it to be used in inclement weather.
  • The lens comes with a FLEX Zoom lock that prevents the lens from dropping on its weight when being transported.
  • The lens is compatible with the optional TAP-in Console. This allows the lens to be fine-tuned for focusing adjustments and easy firmware updates.

Cons

  • The maximum aperture drops down to f/6.3 when fully zoomed in.

11. Sigma 60-600mm F4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports

best budget lens for sports photography canon

Our second top choice for sports and wildlife photography zoom lenses. This lens reaches super-telephoto lengths, and when you mount this lens on a crop camera, the 960mm is a phenomenal focal length in any sense and on any mount.

Pros

  • One lens extends from the standard focal length of 60 to super telephoto 500mm.
  • Designed for the full-frame EF mount Canon camera system.
  • Compatible with Canon’s EF-S mount crop camera systems as well.
  • When mounted on a crop format camera, the effective focal length in 35mm format is 96-960mm.
  • Construction of the lens includes three FLD elements, one SLD element for suppression of chromatic aberrations and color fringing.
  • Super multi-layer coating has been used to suppress ghosting and flares.
  • Autofocusing on the lens is powered by a hyper-sonic motor AF motor for super smooth autofocusing.
  • The lens features an intelligent optical stabilization OS mechanism for shooting steady hand-held shots. OS is rated to up to four stops.

Cons

  • The maximum aperture drops down to f/6.3 when fully zoomed in.

Final Words

Sports photography differs from other types of photography in that it places more emphasis on capturing dynamic targets. The most important thing is to know the details of the game you are shooting. This is because any moment during a game is fleeting. Budget sports lenses may not be as fast as bulky expensive lenses.

But you can always improve your skills and knowledge of sports to outperform other sports photographers. If you have more questions, feel free to leave a comment below.

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