Best Telephoto Lens to Buy

A telephoto lens is not a common piece of equipment to find in every photographer’s bag. However, these lenses have their importance. Telephoto lenses have opened a new set of possibilities and also redefined the limitations in the world of photography. If you are making up your mind about getting a telephoto lens, then this article is your one-stop guide. We will be discussing the benefits they have over other lenses and as well as the best telephoto lens to buy.

What are Telephoto lenses?

Firstly, we need to clear a common misconception i.e. zoom lenses are telephoto lenses. This is a collective misunderstanding, especially among beginners. To clarify it, we would say that telephoto lenses do have the features of a zoom lens, but not all the time. They come as both zoom and prime lenses. The starting focal length of a telephoto lens should be at least 60mm; otherwise, it is just another zoom or prime lens. The extended focal lengths are what unlock the exceptional capabilities of a telephoto lens.

Why buy a telephoto lens?

Make subjects appear bigger:

An unmatchable advantage of a telephoto lens is that it can make the objects in focus appear bigger. This feature attracts sports photographers and wildlife photographers because they are usually unable to get closer to the subject. Similarly, it can be also handy anywhere else where you need to keep the distance. It works by creating a compression effect between the environment and the subject.

Exceptionally blurred backgrounds:

As the focal length is already extended, using a wide aperture with it will increase the amount of blur creating an unreal depth of field. This feature is a treat for all photographers but especially for portrait photographers. For portrait photographers, if the distance between the subject and the camera is increased, then the ratios of the subject will also turn out to be more flattering.

Monkey on a tree photo with telephoto lens

Photo edited in Lightroom.

What to consider while buying a telephoto lens:

Before discussing the best telephoto lens to buy, let us take a look at some important considerations.


Before deciding to buy the lens, you must check if your camera is compatible with the lens. Telephoto lenses are usually designed for cameras with full-frame sensors. If you are looking for a specific focal length and only have access to a crop sensor, then be careful with the calculations.

Image stabilization

Telephoto lenses are bulky and hard to handle. Image stabilization will help if this bulkiness causes camera shakes while capturing the photos. Using a tripod to cope up with a heavy setup can also be quite helpful.


As mentioned above, telephoto lenses are bulky. So manually focusing every time can be daunting. A telephoto lens with autofocus is what you should be looking for.

Best telephoto lenses in the market:

Telephoto lens on a camera

Now let us come to the most important part of this article. Here is a brief list of the best telephoto lenses to buy.

Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM

Price: $560 Starting with one of the most popular telephoto lenses among professionals, this Canon lens is a true value for its money. With its extended focal range, the lens also has the most advanced and super-fast Nano USM autofocus system. Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM is an amazing mid-budget telephoto lens, however, one of the downsides to this lens is its bulkiness and also relatively narrower aperture.

Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM

Price: $1,499 If you want a wider aperture option especially for your canon camera, then Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM has no competition. Even comparing with canon’s lens with the same specs for their own cameras, they get behind in the pricing. Its switchable custom modes will allow you to adjust autofocus, range limit, and also image stabilization.

Nikon AF-P 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E ED VR:

Price: $600 – $700

Nikon also made an addition to the mid-range telephoto lens market with its Nikon AF-P 70-300mm. The advanced aperture and autofocus mechanism with the recent sports mode update increase its effectiveness in the most challenging situations. The exposure consistency is also a notable feature due to the electromagnetic aperture control. However, this lens is incompatible with most of the older Nikon models.

Sigma 500mm F4 DG OS HSM Sports:

Price: $5,999 – $7,500 If you are not on a budget and want to capture the photographs with commercial-level depth and focus, then this should be your absolute pick. Although it is a quite bulky one, it still cuts out the competitors in every match. It is specially designed for sports photography and includes everything that a sports shooter can want.

Conclusion - Best Telephoto Lens to Buy

These were our four top picks for the best telephoto lens to buy. If you are going to buy one, then do your research, look out of all the considerations and cautions, and also figure out why are buying one. Basically knowing the cause will help you choose perfectly according to the requirements.

Have a great day photographing.

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Have a nice photoshoot! 

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