With the best Canon superzoom lenses, you have a companion for every shooting situation. Offering incredible versatility, these lenses tend to go from a wide perspective, through standard focal lengths and right to a telephoto perspective, and generally do so in a fairly compact body that's ideal for travel.
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Let's get this out of the way though – superzooms are not the sharpest lenses on the block. A big zoom in a small body comes with trade-offs; there are a lot of optical elements at work inside the lens in order to allow them to achieve their enormous focal range. The good ones are sharp enough – you'll get great-looking images – but if you need the ultimate in sharpness, you're best off looking at prime lenses, or at least shorter zooms.
If you want a superzoom's versatility though, the good news is that you can get it no matter which Canon system you're using. There are fantastic superzooms available for Canon's full-frame mirrorless RF mount and the APS-C mirrorless EF-M mount, as well as, of course, the EF DSLR range. Both full-frame and APS-C Canon DSLRs are catered for – indeed, it's probably APS-C DSLR users looking for EF-S lenses who have the most choice. We've divided our guide into sections so you can easily find the lenses relevant to you.
Canon makes a few of its own superzooms, but there are plenty of other good ones from third-party manufacturers, principally Sigma and Tamron. These companies often step in to fill gaps that have been left by the camera-makers themselves, and as such, they have pretty sizeable superzoom portfolios.
If you're still unsure what type of lens is right for you, check out our guide to the best Canon lenses (opens in new tab) where we've put together a broad overview of what's on offer. And for more versatile optics that aren't too heavy, check out our guide to the best lenses for travel (opens in new tab).
For now, let's get started with the best superzoom lenses for Canon.
Best Canon superzoom lenses
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. We discovered this for ourselves when we put the lens through its paces in a full review, and ended up giving it our highest rating.
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.
Read more: Canon RF 24-240mm f/4-6.3 IS USM review
Canon EF-M(opens in new tab)
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. When we reviewed the Tamron 18-400mm lens, we found it to be quick and very quiet in operation. Being able to adjust focusing speed accordingly for speedy stills performance and smooth transitions in movie capture is hugely useful, though 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, having first launched back in 2004, 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.
We recently dug this lens out and took it out for a full review to see how it performs in 2022. Despite the time-jump, it acquits itself rather well, still impressing with decent optical performance, especially for a superzoom. Okay, it's outclassed in every department by the Canon RF 24-240mm for the full-frame mirrorless system, but that's what eighteen years of imaging tech development will do for you.
How we test lenses
We test lenses using a mix of both real world sample images and lab tests. Our lab tests are carried out scientifically in controlled conditions using the Imatest testing suite, which consists of custom charts and analysis software that measures resolution in line widths/picture height, a measurement widely used in lens and camera testing. We find the combination of lab and real-word testing works best, as each reveals different qualities and characteristics.
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