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Occasional Contributor
Posts: 16
Registered: ‎02-17-2014

telephoto lens recommendations?

i have a t3i and i want to get a telephoto lens that's good and affordable. it will mostly be used for landscape, nature, and sports games... and i believe that at most sports stadiums/arenas, lens cannot exceed 6 inches.

Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 2,362
Registered: ‎11-14-2012

Re: telephoto lens recommendations?

2 possibilities I can think of are the Tamron 70-300 VC or a used Canon 70-300 DO which although a very good lens I don't think they have been produced in several years so finding a low use model may be hard.

"A skill is developed through constant practice with a passion to improve, not bought."
Respected Contributor
Posts: 1,861
Registered: ‎12-02-2012

Re: telephoto lens recommendations?

Well as far as hitting the 6-inch limit you could go for a 2- piece setup. What about the EF 200mm f/2.8 II and also get a 1.4x teleconverter?   The lens is only 5.4 inches long. You just carry the teleconverter separately, and then after you are in just mount the teleconverter to the lens. 


A 200mm with a X1.4 teleconverter is 320mm. Then with your crop camera giving you another X1.6 you have the field of view of a lens over 500mm.  This may not meet the "affordable" criteria but the stealthy part was too nifty not to suggest it. 


Canon 5d mk 4, Canon 6D, EF 70-200mm L f/2.8 IS mk2; EF 16-35 f/2.8 L mk. III; Sigma 35mm f/1.4 "Art" EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro; EF 85mm f/1.8; EF 1.4x extender mk. 3; EF 24-105 f/4 L; EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS; 3x Phottix Mitros+ speedlites

Why do so many people say "FER-tographer"? Do they take "fertographs"?
Posts: 12,270
Registered: ‎12-07-2012

Re: telephoto lens recommendations?

[ Edited ]

Almost any of the least expensive Canon lenses will meet the 6 inch requirement. For example, EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM or EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS STM.  These are black lenses and are less obtrusive.  Canon has a very good high res white lens the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM which is more expensive and very much better.  Any of these, and more, will do what you want will one caveat.  They are all slow.  Very slow.  You always give to get in photography.  For daytime sports, nature, etc., they will work well.  They are not going to be so great for night time sports, however.


Most of the off brand companies have similar lenses with the same specs and issues.  BTW, none of these suggestions will be a great "landscape" lens.  The EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM will fill that need very nicely.


Most of these lenses reside in the $300 range except the white one.

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!
Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 3,831
Registered: ‎06-11-2013

Re: telephoto lens recommendations?

There are three lenses that spring to mind.


  • EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DO IS USM - DO=Diffractive Optics so the lens is physically quite short for it's focal length.  Only 3.9" long (when not extended.)  List price is $1399
  • EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM -  Probably the best lens option to keep it under 6".  This lens is 5.6" long and has the highest detail-resolving capable of the 70-300 lenses.  It's only just barely under 6".  It's also just slightly less expensive than the "DO" lens... having a list price of $1349
  • EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 IS USM - This lens is also just 5.6" (when not extended) and considerably less expensive at $649. It does not have dual mode IS (the other two have 2nd IS mode which is designed for panning.  The feature causes the IS system to stabilize in the vertical direction but not fight you as you pan horizontally to track a subject while you shoot.)

Canon does have two entry-level budget zooms which are both EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 lenses... one has USM focusing motor, the other does not. Both are 4.8" long.  But neither have image stabilization (IS) and the optical quality is mediocre.  They are cheap, but I don't recommend them.  


The top choice in terms of performance and quality is the "L" series lens (the 2nd one on the list above).  It's 5.6" long and it's "white" which makes it stick out a bit.  It is technically less than 6" (if that is indeed the rule that they use at the venues you visit -- I find those rules tend to change and have even encountered venues that wont allow any camera with a "removable lens").  If you want to not get noticed, then the DO is your best option.  That lens is less than 4" long so they're not likely to think anything of it.  The image stabilization is reportedly excellent and it has all the features of the "L" lens but in a more compact size.  The detail resolving capabity of the DO lens isn't quite as good as the L lens.  


Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da
Posts: 9,231
Registered: ‎08-13-2015

Re: telephoto lens recommendations?

It sounds like you want a general telephoto lens and a walk around lens, all in one package.  That's hard to come by.  I think the  EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM is an excellent walk around lens.  It goes from a modest wide angle to a modest telephoto zoom.   It's just under 4 inches long. and does not change in length as you focus or zoom.


The 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS STM lens, for about half the price of the 18-135, is  pretty good, too.  But, the 55mm short end of the focal range may be a little long for walking around, and taking in the sights of the city. 


Another thing to consider is that landscapes look better with wide angle lenses.  Telephoto zoom lenses tend to flatten the image, removing the sense of depth from the image.  Shorter focal lengths, less than 50mm,  do not flatten the image. 


It really sounds to me like you want two lenses, and not just one.  A walk around lens, and a longer zoom lens.  A lens that can do both will usually tend to not have as good image quality as zooms with not as wide of a range, or primes.


"Doctor told me to get out and walk, so I bought a Canon."
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