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The best superzoom lenses for Canon cameras in 2020: DSLR and mirrorless

best superzoom lenses for Canon cameras
(Image credit: PhotoPlus Magazine)

The best superzoom lenses for Canon cameras can save space in your kit bag and save you time when shooting! They offer the combined focal length of a standard zoom lens and a telephoto zoom at the same time.

Whether you use APS-C DSLRs, full-frame DSLRs or one of the two varieties of Canon mirrorless cameras, superzoom lenses give you the best of all worlds. The best Canon cameras aren't just DSLRs any more!

Shoot at wide-angle settings for an expansive viewpoint, or zoom right in to pick out distant subjects. A good superzoom will do it all, and ideally with a physical build that isn't too heavy to carry. Though there tend to be some trade-offs in terms of sharpness, not having to swap between your lenses mid-shoot is not only much easier in terms of what you have to carry, but also can mean the difference between nailing the shot and missing it altogether.

Superzoom lenses for APS-C format cameras have grown in popularity over the past few years, while research and development from major manufacturers, like Canon, Sigma and Tamron, has seen an increase in performance, often with a reduction in size and weight. There are also superzooms for full-frame EF DSLRs, as well as for mirrorless EOS M cameras and the newer full-frame mirrorless EOS R cameras. We've divided our guide into sections so you can easily find the lenses that suit your setup.

If you're still not sure, take a look at our guide to the best Canon lenses to see what the different lens types do and which you're likely to find most useful.

So, let’s take a closer look at what the current contenders have to offer, and pick out the best buys.

The best superzoom lenses for Canon cameras in 2020

DSLR EF-S

Canon's APS-C DSLR range has no shortage of superzooms available, which makes sense as the smaller sensor allows for longer equivalent focal lengths. Here are our favourites...

Best superzoom lenses for Canon: Sigma 18-300mm f/3.5- 6.3 DC Macro OS HSM C for Canon

1. Sigma 18-300mm f/3.5- 6.3 DC Macro OS HSM C

The bigger Sigma lens offers extended reach

Effective zoom range: 28.8-480mm | Lens construction: 17 elements in 13 groups | No. of diaphragm blades: 7 | Minimum focus distance: 0.39m | Filter size: 72mm | Dimensions: 79x102mm | Weight: 585g

FLD elements boost sharpness
Focal length up to 480mm
Dock for firmware updates
Focus motor sluggish and audible

This Sigma goes all out for telephoto reach, equivalent to a mighty focal length of 480mm on a full-frame camera. The trade-off is that it’s noticeably bigger and heavier than some comparable lenses, at 79x102mm and 585g. The motor-based rather than ring-type ultrasonic system helps with downsizing but is a little sluggish and audible in operation. As well as aspherical and SLD elements, the addition of FLD elements really does help to boost sharpness, which only drops at the longest extremity of the zoom range.

Best superzoom lenses for Canon: Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM

2. Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM

The latest EF-S 18-135mm has upgraded autofocus

Effective zoom range: 28.8-216 mm | Lens construction: 16 elements in 12 groups | No. of diaphragm blades: 7 | Minimum focus distance: 39m | Filter size: 67mm | Dimensions: 77x96mm | Weight: 515g

Nano USM autofocus speed
Movie-friendly power zoom
Unimpressive edge sharpness
No focus distance scale

This Canon lens has distinctive styling, with a metal mounting plate and pleasing ergonomics that make it satisfying to use. While the previous STM edition of this lens is no slouch when it comes to autofocus speed this newer Nano USM version is incredibly fast for stills, while still maintaining smooth transitions when shooting movies. The image stabilizer is equally effective in very effective and image quality is of generally high quality. However, sharpness at the centre of the image frame proved slightly less than impressive from the new lens, at both ends of the zoom range.

Best superzoom lenses for Canon: Tamron 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC for Canon

3. Tamron 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC

This Tamron is a lightweight with a price tag to match

Effective zoom range: 28.8-320mm | Lens construction: 16 elements in 14 groups | No. of diaphragm blades: 7 | Minimum focus distance: 0.49-0.77m | Filter size: 62mm | Dimensions: 75x97mm | Weight: 400g

Lightweight at just 400g
Weather-sealed protection
Corner-sharpness suffers
Autofocus a bit pedestrian

This Tamron lens wins points for lightness at a slender weight of just 400g, i though the autofocus speed is a little pedestrian. Sharpness is pleasingly solid considering the type of lens and price, at all equivalent zoom settings, although corner-sharpness suffers noticeably when using the widest aperture in the middle sector of the zoom range. On the plus side, colour fringing at mid-zoom settings is very negligible. Overall, the lightweight Tamron is unbeatable value at the price.

Best superzoom lenses for Canon: Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM

4. Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM

A relatively modest zoom range for a superzoom

Effective zoom range: 28.8-216 mm | Lens construction: 16 elements in 12 groups | No. of diaphragm blades: 7 | Minimum focus distance: 0.39m | Filter size: 67mm | Dimensions: 77x96mm | Weight: 480g

Manual focus override
Smooth STM autofocus
Lack of weather seals
A bit on the heavy side

This is a popular kit option sold with the likes of the 750D and 80D. It represents a significant upgrade over Canon’s original 18-135mm, with more refined handling, mainly due to it having an STM (Stepping Motor) autofocus system rather than a basic electric motor. The inclusion of a UD (Ultra-low Dispersion) element helps to increase sharpness and contrast while keeping colour fringing at bay. A plus point of the relatively limited zoom range is that wide-angle barrel distortion at 18mm is less noticeable than in some comparable lenses, even though it’s telephoto reach that you’re really missing out on.

Best superzoom lenses for Canon: Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Macro for Canon

5. Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Macro

Tamron’s superzoom goes extra-large in a new way

Effective zoom range: 25.6-480mm | Lens construction: 16 elements in 12 groups | No. of diaphragm blades: 7 | Minimum focus distance: 0.39m | Filter size: 67mm | Dimensions: 75x100mm | Weight: 540g

Large wide-angle focal length
Big zoom range in slim build
Weather-sealed
Some fringing at wide/long zoom

While matching the Sigma 18-300mm for maximum telephoto reach, the Tamron also goes extra-large in wide-angle viewing, with a 16mm focal length. The PZD autofocus is much more refined than in the older Tamron 18-270mm. It’s still a motor-driven ultrasonic mechanism but the manual focus ring remains stationary during autofocus, which greatly improves handling. The optical path includes LD, XR and hybrid aspherical elements, which help to boost sharpness and contrast while keeping the size and weight to manageable proportions. In this case, however, sharpness is better throughout the entire zoom range, although colour fringing is a bit worse at either end. As you’d expect, barrel distortion is slightly worse at the wide 16mm focal length.

Best superzoom lenses for Canon: Tamron 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD for Canon

6. Tamron 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD for Canon

A veteran superzoom that goes large on zoom range

Effective zoom range: 28.8-432mm | Lens construction: 16 elements in 13 groups | No. of diaphragm blades: 7 | Minimum focus distance: 0.49m | Filter size: 62mm | Dimensions: 74x88mm | Weight: 450g

Compact and lightweight lens
Supplied with hood
Weather-seal ring absent
Wide-aperture sharpness poor

This Tamron lens's autofocus is based on an ultrasonic motor-driven rather than ring-type actuator. The advantage is that the system can be smaller and lighter, but it tends to be slower and less quiet, and the focus ring rotates during autofocus. Capable of good results, boosted by the stabilizer, the Tamron 18-270mm nevertheless runs out of steam a bit towards the long end of the zoom range. Compared with the newer 16-300mm lens, wide-aperture sharpness is poor near the 270mm mark, where it’s soft in the centre of the frame and downright disappointing towards the edges. On the upside, colour fringing and distortions are slightly better controlled.

DSLR EF

Full-frame DSLR users shouldn't miss out on the superzoom fun. Here are a couple of picks of the superzooms for the full-frame EF system...

Best superzoom lenses for Canon: Tamron 28-300mm f3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD Lens

(Image credit: Tamron)

7. Tamron 28-300mm f3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD Lens

Tamron brings its all-in-one design to full frame

Effective zoom range: 28-300mm | Lens construction: 19 elements in 15 groups | No. of diaphragm blades: 7 | Minimum focus distance: 0.49m | Filter size: 67mm | Dimensions: 96x74.4mm | Weight: 540g

Incredibly small and light
Decent performance, great price
Not the fastest
Less sharp at tele end

Full-frame Canon users get a great deal here: a budget-friendly Tamron superzoom covering a whopping great focal range, in a small and light body that further cements its travel credentials. If you just need something that works and works well for a good price then you're sorted here. There are a few sharpness issues at the tele end, and the autofocus and Vibration Compensation don't work as well as pricier sports-oriented options, but this lens does exactly what it sets out to do and delivers a credible, affordable superzoom option for full-frame Canon cameras. 

Best superzoom lenses for Canon: Canon EF 28-300mm f3.5-5.6 L IS USM Lens

(Image credit: Canon)

8. Canon EF 28-300mm f3.5-5.6 L IS USM Lens

The pro's choice of superzoom, with a price to match

Effective zoom range: 28-300mm | Lens construction: 23 elements in 16 groups | No. of diaphragm blades: 8 | Minimum focus distance: 0.7m | Filter size: 77mm | Dimensions: 92x184mm | Weight: 1670g

Pretty sharp throughout range
Solid construction
Still expensive
Due for an update

This lens is getting a little long in the tooth now, but is still one of the only native superzooms for full-frame Canon bodies. It's an unusual design of lens, with a zoom mechanism that operates with a push/pull action that's not unlike a trombone, and it features an ultrasonic motor driving its autofocus, ensuring the focusing action is fast and accurate. It's still generally pretty expensive, and much heavier than the Tamron alternative, but does offer some advantages in terms of sharpness throughout its zoom range.

EOS M

Canon's series of diminutive, pocketable mirrorless cameras can benefit from the range of a portable superzoom lens, and here's one of our favourites...

Best superzoom lenses for Canon: Tamron 18-200mm f3.5-6.3 Di-III VC Black Lens - Canon M-Mount Fit

(Image credit: Tamron)

9. Tamron 18-200mm f3.5-6.3 Di-III VC Black Lens - Canon M-Mount Fit

The only real superzoom choice for M-mount

Effective zoom range: 27-300mm | Lens construction: 17 elements in 13 groups | No. of diaphragm blades: 7 | Minimum focus distance: 0.5m | Filter size: 62mm | Dimensions: 96.7x102x68mm | Weight: 460g

Useful Vibration Compensation
Few comparable options for this mount
Some sharpness issues

One of the justifiable criticisms of the EOS M system of mirrorless APS-C cameras is that the lens choice is adequate, but hardly exceptional. Accordingly, this Tamron superzoom is pretty much uncontested in its category, and if you're shopping for an EF-M lens of this type you won't exactly be swimming in choices. Happily, it's a very good lens, with a sophisticated Vibration Compensation system, a lightweight construction and decent optics that produce sharp images throughout the range; it's only at the telephoto end where things start to suffer a little. The build ergonomically complements the lightweight EOS M cameras, meaning you won't have to compromise on your travel-friendly setup.

EOS R

Canon's full-frame mirrorless system is still expanding at a good pace, and there's a solid superzoom option that's worth considering...

Best superzoom lenses for Canon: Canon RF 24-240mm f4-6.3 IS USM

(Image credit: Canon)

10. Canon RF 24-240mm f4-6.3 IS USM

Boasts incredible image quality for a lens of this type

Effective zoom range: 24-240mm | Lens construction: 21 elements in 15 groups | No. of diaphragm blades: 7 | Minimum focus distance: 0.5m | Filter size: 72mm | Dimensions: 80.4x 122.5mm | Weight: 750g

Well-balanced
Great results for a superzoom
Modest maximum aperture
Digital image correction

Users of Canon EOS R cameras demand the best when it comes to quality, which makes sense given the full-frame, high-resolution sensors they're using. With that in mind, you might think that a superzoom simply wouldn't be a suitable lens for these cameras, however the Canon RF 24-240mm f4-6.3 IS USM delivers truly outstanding results for a lens of its type, with impressive sharpness right through its 10x zoom range. You might want to be aware that some of the correction at the tele end is digital, not optical, a fact that's noticeable when you boot up Adobe Camera Raw. It's very good though, and ultimately it's results that count. And the Canon RF 24-240mm f4-6.3 IS USM produces very good results indeed.

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