7 Best Canon Low-Light Lenses (Updated for 2021)

Michael Sand
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Canon EOS cameras have been designed to cope with differing light levels; some better than others. In terms of low light performance, there are a few elements we can look at from a technical point of view.

What ISO setting do you have to use and how bright is the lens? There are several Canon ultra-fast lenses available, such as the Canon 50mm 1.2 L and the Canon 35mm 1.4, that are stunning in low light.

The below list, however, takes into account the full range of Canon lens options, featuring lenses suitable for both enthusiasts and professionals. These are the seven best Canon low-light lenses you can get your hands on right now.

NameCategoryProduct
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM LensBest OverallCanon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens
Tamron Auto Focus 60mm f/2.0 SP DI II LD IF 1:1 Macro LensBudget PickTamron Auto Focus 60mm f/2.0 SP DI II LD IF 1:1 Macro Lens
Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM Wide Angle LensUpgrade PickCanon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM Wide Angle Lens

1. Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens

Our rating: 9 / 10

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens

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Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Lightweight

The Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens could be a good option for those who are filming in low light. While the low-light functionality is impressive, it leaves the user with a few noticeable trade-offs.

The lens is cheaply made, and will likely only survive one or two drops. The lens is one of the lighter lenses that is available, making it easy for the user to keep their cost down when using this lens.

All of the autofocus components of this lens are internal, which makes it relatively fast for its price. It also has a stepper motor, which means the autofocus is smoother and more seamless.

2. Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Medium Telephoto Lens

Our rating: 9 / 10

Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Medium Telephoto Lens

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Pros:

  • Extremely sharp and low light lens
  • Works well for taking photos for portraits
  • Lightweight and easy to use
  • Image Stabilization
  • Affordable
  • Produces excellent quality images

Cons:

  • A little on the larger size in regards to lens size
  • Not so easy to use for beginners
  • Can sometimes be blurry when taking pictures of moving items
  • Cannot be used with some Canon SLR cameras

This is an extremely sharp and low light lens that also produces image stabilization. The lens is lightweight and easy to use, with a focal length of 85mm, and an aperture of F/1.8. It is an ideal tool for taking photos for portraits.

The lens is one of my top picks and is my choice for the best lens to use for taking low light pictures. The reason that I like this lens is that it is fast and reliable and produces excellent quality images. It is ideal for quick events and indoor portraits. Some other great qualities of this lens are its portability and compact size.

The only drawback is that this lens is on the larger size when it comes to lens size. It will fit on most SLR cameras but not on some of the Canon SLR cameras.

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

Our rating: 8 / 10

Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM Wide Angle Lens

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This is the best known low light lens in the market. It is the most expensive lens in this review.

It can remain in the same position as compared with the first model.

This offers a wide range of possibilities in terms of uses of this product.

4. Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM Wide-Angle Lens

Our rating: 8 / 10

Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM Wide-Angle Lens

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Pros:

  • The perfect low-light lens
  • Solid build quality, with weather-sealed lens and body
  • A great combination of features for its price
  • Fast, silent focusing
  • Comes with the Canon Image Stabilization (IS)

Cons:

  • Large lens hood can be a little awkward for carrying
  • Less manual control than other lenses in same range

Canon really got the formula right with this lens. It is small enough to not be too intrusive or look awkward on the camera. Yet it is powerful enough to capture blur-free shots even in low-light conditions.

Canon has removed the ‘breathing’ effect that zooms can sometimes have, which is a result of ‘zoom breathing’ – the change in length when the lens is zoomed in and out.

The small nature of this lens means it is great to carry around and unobtrusive. However, what people do not know is that it has all the power and flexibility of the power zoom lenses that are popular at the moment.

5. Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 Art DC HSM Lens

Our rating: 8 / 10

Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 Art DC HSM Lens

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Pros:

  • A very reasonable price for a great lens
  • Fast and sharp
  • Provides a very versatile zoom range – ideal for travel and landscape photography
  • Slightly lighter than the 1.2 version.

Many modern cameras struggle to focus in low-light conditions, and the slow aperture of the lens that you pair with your new body often makes a big difference in low-light performance. The problem is that lenses with large manufacture-recommended apertures like f/1.4 tend to be quite expensive, so many photographers are forced to work with a kit lens or some other kit optic. You don’t have to break the bank to shoot in low light.

If you’re shooting with an APS-C size body, this lens is a very good option for night photography and other low-light options. Compared to the original version, this lens has a slightly better build and comes with a more advanced autofocus system.

6. Sigma 30mm F1.4 Art DC HSM Lens

Our rating: 8 / 10

Sigma 30mm F1.4 Art DC HSM Lens

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Pros:

  • Accurate auto-focusing
  • Excellent image quality
  • Fast and silent focus
  • Lightweight and portable

Cons:

  • Requires an APSC or larger crop sensor body
  • Not all lenses of this type are weather sealed

The Sigma 30mm F1.4 Art DC HSM Lens for Canon has a focal-length equivalent of 45mm on EF-S APS-C or micro 4/3 cameras. It features outstanding sharpness and smooth background blur for a wide variety of uses, including wedding, portrait, street, and landscape photography. It delivers sharpness at maximum aperture as well as with stopped down. The lens also features a dust-repelling coating on the front element, along with an internal focusing and iris mechanism. This makes for fast, near-silent AF-S focusing.

If you have a current camera with a crop sensor, this is a great choice for a wide-angle lens that you can use for landscapes or walking. While this is relatively pricey for a wide-angle lens, it is worth the cost for the outstanding image quality that you will get.

7. Tamron Auto Focus 60mm f/2.0 SP DI II LD IF 1:1 Macro Lens

Our rating: 8 / 10

Tamron Auto Focus 60mm f/2.0 SP DI II LD IF 1:1 Macro Lens

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Pros:

  • High image quality
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Fast & accurate Auto-focus
  • Built-in image stabilization
  • Great colours
  • 1:1 Macro
  • Low light advantages

Cons:

  • Severe Chromatic Aberrations in 1:1
  • Long minimum focus distance
  • Expensive

In the photography world there are many words that are thrown around that the average person will never be able to understand and it really shouldn’t be that way. We have very little intention of making this a technical review of this lens. All we will tell you is that we probably own more than 20 Macro lenses of different brands and of different focal lengths. Out of all the Macro lenses that we own we use this one the most and have done so for several years now. This lens has been used on shoots that require extreme low light shooting and it has performed extremely well while handling both the shallow depth of field and extreme lighting conditions that can occur when shooting hand held. Yes, there are lenses out there that will do a better job in a controlled setting but if you want to shoot Macro photography around your house then this lens is a perfect fit.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Which Canon lens is best for low light?

Low light performance of a lens is measured by its maximum aperture and the maximum ISO that it will allow when using a long exposure. In the world of DSLR photography, aperture is abbreviated "F" as it is in the world of professional film. On some cameras, ISO is abbreviated "ASA" but usually in DSLR's it is just ISO.

While expensive and larger size lenses do tend to have better performance in low light, the best low light lenses for all-around use are the specifically designed low-light lenses. This gives you a pair of F4.0 lenses to choose between if you want lower light quality or a high ISO.

We recommend the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4. Not only have hundreds of positive reviews on Amazon and other retail outlets, but it has a series 7 super-low aperture.

What is the best all around lens for Canon?

A lot of Canon owners want to know what the all around best lens is for their camera. If you want a single lens to cover all your wide-angle to telephoto needs, then it is the Canon EF 2470mm f/3.5-5.6L II USM.

This lens has image stabilization, as well as a ring-style ultrasonic autofocus motor. It is the perfect for those looking to travel as it is incredibly compact and lightweight, making it perfect to take on vacations.

What is the lowest f stop lens?

First of all, this value is different for every lens because it depends on how the manufacturer designed the lens. Second, this value doesn't tell you much about the lens because it's not a very good value or metric. For example, f/1.4 lenses let in more light than f/1.8 lenses, but they are also bigger and more expensive. For hand-held photography, you want a faster (lower) f stop number, but for lens speed, you also want a smaller aperture. And most of the time, you are using a zoom lens, so are you really looking for the lens with the lowest f stop value?

The bottom line is to research based on the characteristics that matter to you.

What is the sharpest Canon lens?

The job of a lens, of course, is to capture light. The more light a lens can capture, the brighter a picture will be. Compared to most other camera manufacturers, Canon has a huge range of high quality lenses with a variety of capabilities. This wide range makes it more complex to figure out which lens is the clearest. Based on standard calculations, the sharpest Canon lens is the 28mm f/1.8.

However, keep in mind that how a lens performs will vary based on which camera you use. If you use a full-frame camera, you’ll be able to take images with more pronounced focus at f/1.8. However, if you use a crop-frame camera, your sharpness will vary significantly at f/1.8.

Conclusion

A good lens can make a big difference to your photography, especially if you shoot in low-light conditions.

In this article we’ve reviewed 7 of the best Canon lenses for low-light photography. We reviewed these models over a period of more than 4 years and in a wide variety of locations, which gave us a good basis for our testing.

We took a look at all the important aspects of the lens to see how they performed in different conditions and throughout different models of Canon cameras.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM LensBest OverallCanon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens
Tamron Auto Focus 60mm f/2.0 SP DI II LD IF 1:1 Macro LensBudget PickTamron Auto Focus 60mm f/2.0 SP DI II LD IF 1:1 Macro Lens
Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM Wide Angle LensUpgrade PickCanon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM Wide Angle Lens