7 Best Canon Low-Light Lenses 2017

 Canon Low-Light Lenses Taking photographs when there’s limited light can be tricky. Light is the foundation of photography, so adjusting to a lack of it takes time and practice. Getting the balance between aperture, shutter speed and ISO is a delicate balance to strike and will greatly influence the overall feel of your photos. Having the right lens can also help. Generally, having a wider maximum aperture is a good place to start for low-light photography. There’s a huge range of low light lenses available. Depending on your needs and budget you can find the right lens for your camera with relative ease. Below we’ve outlined some of our top picks of Canon low light lenses.

Canon EF (Full-frame) Low-Light Lenses


1. Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM (80 mm equivalent focal length on APS-C sensor)

Why it’s great:

  • Wide, fixed f/1.8 aperture lets in lots of light.
  • Versatile and consistently sharp.
  • STM stepper motor for quick and quiet autofocus.

The Canon EF 50mm range makes it onto many lists. It’s a diverse range of lenses, and the f/1.8 is a great balance between cost and functionality. On an APS-C sensor, the 50mm lens has an equivalent focal length of 80mm, making it in effect a diverse and compact telephoto lens. The wide f/1.8 aperture is fantastic for low light photography, letting in tons of light. The subject really stands out against a soft bokeh at wider apertures thanks to the shallow depth of field. It’s an incredibly versatile lens, suitable for portraits, street, sports and low light photography. It’s also more than capable as a video lens, and the STM (stepper motor) autofocus is quiet enough to be hardly noticeable. This our favourite Canon EF low light lens; it’s just so good at so much.

Buying considerations:

  • There are no real downsides to this lens. The more serious professional may consider the f/1.4 or f/1.2 as a costlier alternative with wider aperture. The images will be marginally sharper although the price does start to ramp up. Beginners should be satisfied with the quality and affordability that the f/1.8 offers.

2. Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM

Why it’s great:

  • Fantastic image sharpness thanks to wide f/1.2 aperture.
  • Excellent construction.
  • Fantastic in low-light situations, even without a tripod.

The beauty of the Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM is the huge f/1.2 aperture. It lets in so much light that you can keep on shooting even when the light is limited. Many wedding photographers have the EF 85mm as their lens of choice; no matter what the situation it performs well. The Canon L series of lenses are known for their extremely high level of manufacturing and quality. The lens is weather sealed and durable, delivering quality images in all conditions. The Ultrasonic Motor technology means that autofocusing is accurate, and the f/1.2 aperture gives a fantastic bokeh and shallow depth of field.

Buying considerations:

  • Although the autofocus is good, it’s comparatively a little slow.

3. Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM

Why it’s great:

  • Brightest wide-angle L-series lens in its class.
  • Consistently sharp images across apertures.
  • Maximum f/1.4 aperture allows a lot of light, ideal for darker settings.

This is perhaps the strongest 24mm Canon lens on offer. It’s performs excellently indoors without a flash, and captures landscapes and indoor sports equally well; the Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM’s maximum aperture lets floods of light in. Images a sharp throughout apertures and at the higher end, the soft bokeh and shallow depth of field make it ideal as a portrait lens. As with the 85mm lens above, the manufacturing quality is excellent. Lens flare and chromatic aberration are controlled well thanks to Canon’s anti-reflective Sub Wavelength Coating (SWC). The USM autofocus is quicker than the 85mm and just as accurate. Overall, this is another excellent Canon lens for low light photography that will appeal to the serious photographer.

Buying considerations:

  • There’s no denying that this is an expensive lens and as such will only be viable for the serious amateur, semi-pro, or professional photographer.
  • At maximum aperture there is some degree of vignetting noticeable in the corners.

4. Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM

Why it’s great:

  • Light and responsive wide angle prime lens.
  • Ideal for travel photography, particularly in low light.
  • Image stabilization and autofocus make it ideal for hand-held shooting.

Although this lens isn’t part of the L-series, it’s still a well-made and high performing lens. Its wide angle means it’s a great choice for landscape and travel photography. Users will find it responsive, particularly when there isn’t much available light. The f/2 aperture is wide enough, particularly when combined with the image stabilization and USM autofocus. The manual override on the autofocus is simple to use and useful for finer adjustments. Chromatic aberration and lens flare are well controlled with Canon’s signature Super Spectra coating on the lens. The Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM is a well manufactured unit that’s light enough to carry around whilst on the move.

Buying considerations:

  • Despite not being an L-series lens, it’s still pretty pricey.
  • There’s some fall off of sharpness at the wider apertures.

Canon EF-S APS-C Low-Light Lenses


1. Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC HSM Art

Why it’s great:

  • Fast maximum aperture of f/1.4 for clear low-light shots.
  • Thermally Stable Composite material (TSC) construction for protection in adverse conditions.
  • Hypersonic Autofocus Motor (HSM) for fast and silent autofocusing.

Sigma have long been producing affordable and high-quality lenses. The 30mm f/1.4 DC HSM Art is no exception to this. The sharpness at the centre of the frame is excellent throughout apertures and the f/1.4 gives a shallow depth of field and is a good option for low-light photography.  A 35mm focal length is equivalent to 45mm on crop frame cameras, which is slightly unusual but gives a decent field of view. This is a lens that isn’t short of features; the TSC material means this is a hardy lens in all conditions, and the HSM means it’s quick, accurate and quiet when focusing. The build quality is good overall, and all of this comes without the expensive price point you might expect.

Buying considerations:

  • There’s some chromatic aberration and image distortion when the aperture is wide open.

2. Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art

Why it’s great:

  • Maximum f/1.8 aperture throughout zoom range.
  • Versatile, capturing sharp images in a range of settings.
  • Excellent value for money.

The second Sigma lens to make our list is the rather excellent 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art. It was the first lens to offer a constant f/1.8 aperture throughout the range of zoom lengths. This wide aperture combined with the zoom range makes it perfect for shooting in low-light and it’s consistently good from 18mm to 35mm. Effectively this lens could replace equivalent prime lenses for a surprisingly low cost. Like the above 30mm, this casing is constructed from the same TSC material making it just as robust and resistant to the elements. The lens itself is coated with a Super Multi-Layer Coating which reduces reflections and lens flare. It also features the HSM autofocusing. Either of the two Sigma lenses could occupy the top spot for the best crop frame, low light lens for Canon cameras.

Buying considerations:

  • There’s some vignetting and barrel distortion to be seen, particularly at wider apertures at the edge of the frame.

3. Tamron SP 60mm f/2 Di II LD Macro

Why it’s great:

  • Macro lens with fast f/2 aperture.
  • Ideal for macro photography in low-light settings.
  • Excellent build quality at an affordable price.

Macro lenses can be extremely versatile and the Tamron SP 60mm f/2 Di II LD is particularly so. With its f/2 aperture it captures a great deal of light, making it ideal for shooting at close range with little light availability. The resolution of the images is consistently high across apertures, and the autofocus is good. It’s a lens that is well suited to portrait and architectural photography as well as macro shots. The 1:1 magnification means that the finest details of a subject can be clearly captured. Overall this is another excellent and versatile lens that is more than affordable for the average photographer.

Buying considerations:

  • There’s some minor barrel distortion that is noticeable at times.

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