The best Canon superzoom lenses are the perfect travel companion. Combining the zoom range of a standard zoom and telephoto zoom into a single lens means that they can be incredibly versatile and allow you to shoot a range of subjects with a single lens.
Whether you shoot with a Canon APS-C DSLR, full-frame DSLR or one of the two varieties of Canon mirrorless cameras, superzoom lenses give you the best of all worlds.
They allow you to shoot at wide-angle settings for an expansive viewpoint, or zoom right in to pick out distant subjects and interesting details. A good superzoom will do it all, and ideally with a physical build that isn't too heavy to carry – and that's why they are often considered the best lenses for travel.
There are some trade-off though to be aware of. This extra versatility offered by superzoom lenses can mean that they're not the sharpest lenses out there as there are a lot of optical elements at work within the lens to achieve this huge focal range. Don't get us wrong, they're still sharp, but if your main concern is ultimate image quality, you'll have to sacrifice this versatility for a couple of other lenses with short focal ranges.
That said, superzoom lenses have enjoyed a lot of research and development in recent years and have seen an increase in performance, often with a reduction in size and weight.
While superzooms for Canon APS-C DSLRs are perhaps the most popular option out there, it's possible to find a superzoom for you Canon full-frame EF DSLRs, as well as for mirrorless EOS M and 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.
Best Canon superzoom lenses
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.
Marketed as the ideal all-in-one lens by Canon, this 8.3x superzoom doesn't quite pack the same range as the Tamron above, but it is a touch cheaper (though only just). With a full-frame focal length equivalent to 29-240mm, it's not quite as wide as we'd like, but you'll still be able to get a decent amount in the frame. Extended to 240mm and it should be handy for those occasions when you want to tightly crop in on something, but it's not going to fill the frame for those action shots. Available in black or silver, it's a compact lens that's no bigger than Canon's 55-200mm, making it a neat little travel lens.
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.
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.
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.
It’s easy to get carried away with zoom range and to go for a superzoom lens that really bumps up the maximum telephoto reach. However, they inevitably end up being quite big and heavy. For a really portable lens, this Sigma 18-200mm for APS-C format DSLRs offers a more modest 200mm maximum focal length, equivalent to 320mm in full-frame terms. That still gives you powerful reach, but from a comparatively compact and lightweight lens. Image quality is nice and sharp throughout the entire zoom range, and it’s good for close-ups as well as general shooting, with a 0.33x macro magnification factor at its shortest focus distance. The autofocus system itself feels rather outdated. Driven by a basic electric motor, it’s clearly audible and the focus ring rotates during autofocus, which impairs handling.
Not everybody wants a superzoom lens for travel. They’re also great when you need to react quickly to different shooting scenarios. For example, you might be shooting an expansive wide-angle landscape image, then want to zoom right in after spotting some wildlife in the distance. This Tamron covers the distance more effectively than any competing superzoom lens on the market, thanks to its unprecedented telephoto reach. On a Canon APS-C format camera, it works out to an effective 640mm at the long end, putting it firmly into super-telephoto territory. Autofocus is driven by an HLD (High/Low toque-modulated Drive) motor. It’s quick and very quiet in operation, and is able to adjust focusing speed accordingly for speedy stills performance and smooth transitions in movie capture. The VC (Vibration Compensation) system is comparatively mediocre for a Tamron lens, with just 2.5-stop effectiveness. Image quality is good overall but sharpness could be better at medium to long zoom settings.
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.
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.
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.
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 f/4-6.3 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 f/4-6.3 IS USM produces very good results indeed.
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