I'm a veteran hobbyist photography with a so-so photography IQ in the moment, by no means a settings expert. I often shoot landscapes and wildlife, but also will be taking pictures for my university's basketball/football/baseball teams.

I have a Canon Rebel t7i and a 24-105L f/4 IS USM and am looking for a good telephoto - but don't have a bunch of money to splurge on one.

I know in a perfect world I get the Canon 70-200L f2/8 IS USM but that is just too pricey for me. So, I've looked into a variety of alternatives and would love advice based on my budget and the subjects/events I normally shoot: Third Party Lens - Sigma or Tamron nomination 70-200L f/4 IS ll USM 70-200L f/4 USM (no Image Stabilization) 80-200L f2.8 (No IS and no Ultra Sonic Motor)

I would especially love some information about what/where I would by hurt by the lack of a USM.


  • If you want to use it for sports photos then it is not just important, that the lens has a IS but also, that this IS has an "active" mode. Means that it stabilizes "only" up and down movement, but not sideways movement, because it would be a shame if you follow a player in the viewer and you get often wrong stabilized photos. – Horitsu Nov 9 '18 at 5:21
  • For Football and Baseball, "in a perfect world" you would have an EF 300mm f/2.8 L IS II and an EF 1.4X III when needed... or maybe a Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 Sport. – Michael C Dec 16 '18 at 23:04
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    @Horitsu For most sports use cases, IS is not that important at focal lengths in the 70-200mm range, since shutter times needed to freeze the action are usually around 1/1000 or faster. – Michael C Dec 16 '18 at 23:06

You haven't stated what your budget is, but if you can find one, a 1st gen 70-200 2.8 would probably work well for you. It will be an older used lens, but will still work great for your purposes and cost you half or less of a new one.

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  • I agree. I picked up a used body from one of the camera rental places when they were clearing out some old equipment. I got a good body in good condition at a fraction of the cost of a brand new version of the same one. It was a bit older but quite suitable for my needs. – FreeMan Nov 9 '18 at 18:00

If price is a major factor one way to reduce costs is to get a prime lens - you lose out on the ability to zoom which reduces your flexibility but for your money you will get a sharp fast lens at a much lower price.

For example the excellent Canon 70-200mm L f/2.8 ii is about £2000 (can get better deals) but the Canon 200mm L f/2.8 is £600 - if you are taking a long range shot you are getting the same photo for 70% less money. But you miss out on being able to zoom out.

I recommend sticking to Canon if you can. My first lens was a similar Tamron model and it was extremely soft. Very few photos were sharp - didn't matter if it was ideal conditions with a tripod. Also dont try to get a "do everything lens" It would be better to get one for wide angle for landscapes (think between 10mm and 24mm) and a long focal length one for sports (200-400mm).

Regarding USM - does it make a difference. This depends on the photo. For landscapes this makes no difference what-so-ever, you can take your time and focus and also you are probably focusing beyond the infinity focus point anyway. For sports it makes a big difference - if you are tracking a moving object slower focus even by fractions of a second can leave you with a memory card full of out of focus pictures. I have a Canon 60mm USM and a Yongnuo 85mm without USM and the focus time difference is noticable. For portraits - no problem. For sports there was no comparison - the 60mm nailed nearly every frame and the 85mm was nothing but misfocused images.

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  • Third party lenses have come a long way recently, particularly Sigma's 'Global Vision' series and Tamron's 'SP' offerings. The Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 D VC G2 is every bit the equal of the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II/III by most measurable metrics. – Michael C Dec 16 '18 at 23:13

If you have a crop sensor then you should consider the Canon 55-250mm IS STM, or perhaps a 70-300. Good enough is good enough. Read what Ken says:


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  • For most of the use cases mentioned in the OP, the EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS STM is too slow. In marginal lighting that allows you to shoot at 1/800 second with a 200mm f/2.8 lens, you're stuck at 1/200 second with the 55-250 at 200mm and f/5.6. – Michael C Dec 16 '18 at 23:12

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