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  Canon telephoto prime lenses
 

Lenses with focal lengths bigger than 50mm are commonly known as telephoto models. These fit less in, and are therefore ideal for getting closer to distant subjects or picking out detail; they also give a more flattering effect when taking photos of people. In contrast to wide-angle, lenses with longer focal lengths have an inherently smaller depth-of-field, which means it’s easier to get a blurred background effect – again ideal for portrait, wildlife and sports photography.

Good focal lengths for portraits are typically between 85mm and 135mm – these are often known as short telephotos. Appropriate focal lengths for sports or wildlife are generally much longer – at least 200mm, and ideally 300mm or more. Professional sports and wildlife photographers often use 600mm lenses, or even longer still. These are known as super-telephotos.

Lenses with smaller f-numbers gather more light thanks to their bigger apertures, which makes them better in dim conditions and for minimising the depth-of-field. Bigger apertures however mean a larger, heavier and more expensive lens.

 
 

As focal lengths increase, the risk of camera-shake becomes greater, so telephoto zooms with image stabilisation are preferred. Canon refers to these models with the letters IS and these can let you handhold shots with shutter speeds three to four times slower than normal. Note these won’t stop a moving subject from blurring though, which brings many enthusiasts back to large aperture models.

As always, bear in mind any reduction in field due to your DSLRs sensor when choosing a lens. Canon’s APS-C models like the EOS 400D / XTi and 40D have a reduction factor of 1.6x, which effectively multiply lens focal lengths by 1.6 times. So if you’re after a portrait lens with an equivalent focal length of 85 to 135mm, you’ll need a model with an actual focal length of around 50 to 85mm.

For a full explanation of lens specifications and examples of coverage at different focal lengths, check out our Camera Labs Lens Buyers Guide.


   
Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM
Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM
     
Focal length: 300mm
Aperture: f2.8
Lens mount: Canon EF
Equiv on EF-S DSLR: 480mm
Full-frame compatible: Yes
Anti-shake: Yes
AF motor: USM
  Closest focus: 250cm
Filter thread: 52mm Drop-in
Lens hood: ET-120 included
Construction: 17 el. / 13 groups
Diaphragm blades: 8
Weight: 2,550g
Size (diam x length): 128x252mm


 
Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM

Canon EF 400 mm f/5.6L USM

Canon EF 400 mm f/5.6L USM Canon EF 400 mm f/5.6L USM
     
Focal length: 400mm
Aperture: f5.6
Lens mount: Canon EF
Equiv on EF-S DSLR: 640mm
Full-frame compatible: Yes
Anti-shake: No
AF motor: USM
  Closest focus: 350cm
Filter thread: 77mm
Lens hood: built-in
Construction: 7 el. / 6 groups
Diaphragm blades: 8
Weight: 1,250g
Size (diam x length): 90x257mm


 
Canon EF 400mm f/4.0 DO IS USM

Canon EF 400mm f/4.0 DO IS USM

Canon EF 400mm f/4.0 DO IS USM Canon EF 400mm f/4.0 DO IS USM
     
Focal length: 400mm
Aperture: f4
Lens mount: Canon EF
Equiv on EF-S DSLR: 640mm
Full-frame compatible: Yes
Anti-shake: Yes
AF motor: USM
  Closest focus: 350cm
Filter thread: 52mm Drop-in
Lens hood: Optional ET-120
Construction: 17 el. / 13 groups
Diaphragm blades: 8
Weight: 1,940g
Size (diam x length): 128x233mm


 
Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM

Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM

Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM
     
Focal length: 400mm
Aperture: f2.8
Lens mount: Canon EF
Equiv on EF-S DSLR: 640mm
Full-frame compatible: Yes
Anti-shake: Yes
AF motor: USM
  Closest focus: 300cm
Filter thread: 52mm Drop-in
Lens hood: ET-155 included
Construction: 17 el. / 13 groups
Diaphragm blades: 8
Weight: 5,370g
Size (diam x length): 163x349mm


 
Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM

Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM

Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM
     
Focal length: 500mm
Aperture: f4
Lens mount: Canon EF
Equiv on EF-S DSLR: 800mm
Full-frame compatible: Yes
Anti-shake: Yes
AF motor: USM
  Closest focus: 450cm
Filter thread: 52mm Drop-in
Lens hood: ET-138 included
Construction: 17 el. / 13 groups
Diaphragm blades: 8
Weight: 3, 870g
Size (diam x length): 146x387mm


 
Canon EF 600mm f/4.0L IS USM

Canon EF 600mm f/4.0L IS USM

Canon EF 600mm f/4.0L IS USM Canon EF 600mm f/4.0L IS USM
     
Focal length: 600mm
Aperture: f4
Lens mount: Canon EF
Equiv on EF-S DSLR: 960mm
Full-frame compatible: Yes
Anti-shake: Yes
AF motor: USM
  Closest focus: 550cm
Filter thread: 52mm Drop-in
Lens hood: ET-160 included
Construction: 17 el. / 13 groups
Diaphragm blades: 8
Weight: 5,360g
Size (diam x length): 168x456mm


 
Canon EF 800mm f5.6L IS USM

Canon EF 600mm f/4.0L IS USM

Canon EF 600mm f/4.0L IS USM
     
Focal length: 800mm
Aperture: f5.6
Lens mount: Canon EF
Equiv on EF-S DSLR: 1280mm
Full-frame compatible: Yes
Anti-shake: Yes
AF motor: USM
  Closest focus: 600cm
Filter thread: 52mm Drop-in
Lens hood:
Construction: 18 el. / 14 groups
Diaphragm blades: 8
Weight: 4 ,500g
Size (diam x length): 162x461mm



Canon EF 1200mm f/5.6L USM Canon EF 1200mm f/5.6L USM

   
Focal length: 1200mm
Aperture: f5.6
Lens mount: Canon EF
Equiv on EF-S DSLR: 1920mm
Full-frame compatible: Yes
  Anti-shake: No
AF motor: USM
Closest focus: 1400cm
Filter thread: 48mm Drop-in
Lens hood: Built-in
  Construction: 13 el. / 10 groups
Diaphragm blades: 8
Weight:16,500g
Size (diam x length): 228x836mm


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