When looking for the best low light lens for Canon, the most important considerations are its maximum aperture, autofocus performance, and image stabilization. Below, I’ve included my favorite products based on these features. Feel free to read on to learn more about why they matter.
As a photographer, one of the most common difficulties I face is insufficient light.
Dim conditions will often result in underexposed or grainy shots, making it harder to recover detail from the shadows. Poor lighting also increases the time your camera needs to focus on the subject, resulting in blurry or out-of-focus images.
Fortunately, a lens with a larger maximum aperture captures high-quality photos in low-light situations. And if you are a Canon user like me, you can find a multitude of products on the market.
This article will walk you through the best low-light lens for Canon cameras. I checked various articles and user reviews to determine these top picks. I will cover each product’s pros and cons to help you decide which one fits your needs the best.
But before diving right into it, I will first discuss the factors you need to consider when shooting in dim-lit conditions. Read on!
How To Capture High-Quality Photos in Low Light
Below are the three primary ways to ensure high-quality photos when shooting in low-light conditions.
Reduce Shutter Speed
The longer the shutter speed is open, the more light reaches the sensor.
Thus, it is essential to use a slower shutter speed, like 1/30 or 1/60, when shooting in low-light conditions. Since it lets more light inside the sensor, it offers brighter images than a faster shutter speed, such as 1/200 or 1/500.
However, a slower shutter speed often results in blurry or out-of-focus images depending on subject and camera movement. You can compensate for this motion by using a lens with built-in stabilization or mounting your camera on a tripod.
Increase ISO Level
A higher ISO range means the camera is more sensitive to light. So when you want to capture subjects in the dark, it would tremendously help if you increase your ISO level.
There is a significant downside to doing this, though. A higher ISO introduces digital noise or grain to your photo, which affects the overall image quality.
Fortunately, you can reduce the amount of noise on editing software. But perhaps the best way to avoid this is by shooting below ISO 3200. Anything higher than that will result in very noticeable noise that is difficult to remove during editing.
Use the Maximum Aperture
Finally, you can use the largest aperture or the smallest f-stop number, like f/1.8 or f/2.8, to ensure high-quality photos in dim lit conditions.
That is because it affects the overall amount of light that enters your camera’s sensor. A large aperture means a wide opening to allow more light into the sensor, resulting in a brighter photo.
A Quick Comparison of the Best Low Light Lens for Canon in 2021
|Best All-Around Lens |
for Low Light Conditions
|Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM||Maximum Aperture: f/2.8|
Focal Length: 24-70mm
Filter Thread Size: 82mm
Dimensions: 4.45 x 3.5 x 3.5 inches
Weight: 1.77 lb
|Best Standard Lens |
for Low Light Conditions
|Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM||Maximum Aperture: f/1.8|
Focal Length: 50mm
Filter Thread Size: 49mm
Dimensions: 1.54 x 2.72 x 2.72 inches
Weight: 0.35 lb
|Best Wide-Angle Lens |
for Low Light Conditions
|Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM||Maximum Aperture: f/2.8|
Focal Length: 24mm
Filter Thread Size: 52mm
Dimensions: 0.91 x 2.68 x 2.68 inches
Weight: 0.28 lb
|Best Telephoto Lens |
for Low Light Conditions
|Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM||Maximum Aperture: f/2.8|
Focal Length: 70-200mm
Filter Thread Size: 77m
Dimensions: 7.8 x 3.5 x 3.5 inches
Weight: 3.18 lb
|Best Macro Lens |
for Low Light Conditions
|Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM||Maximum Aperture: f/2.8|
Focal Length: 100mm
Filter Thread Size: 67m
Dimensions: 4.84 x 3.07 x 3.07 inches
Weight: 1.38 lb
5 Best Low Light Lenses for Canon Cameras
Below are our top recommendations for the best low-light lenses for Canon cameras. Each product offers a large maximum aperture to allow more light into the sensor, hence a brighter image.
1. Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM – Best All-Around Lens for Low Light Conditions
The Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM is perhaps the best low-light lens for those who want the versatility of a zoom lens yet need the sharpness of a prime lens.
It has a maximum aperture of f/2.8 that allows more light into the sensor. It ensures sharp and detailed images even when you are shooting in low-light situations. It also delivers a narrow depth of field, resulting in stunning bokeh.
Additionally, this Canon lens features a variable focal length ranging from 24mm to 70mm. You can fit more elements in the frame at its shortest focal range, perfect for architecture, landscapes, and group photos. On the other hand, the longest focal length at 70mm brings you closer to the subject. It offers a tighter frame, suitable for portraits or close-up photography.
Moreover, this zoom lens includes a ring-type UltraSonic Motor (USM) for accurate, fast, and quiet autofocus performance.
Finally, it is weather-sealed against dust and moisture so that you can use it in various environmental conditions.
Despite these benefits, this Canon lens does not have built-in image stabilization, affecting performance during handheld operation. A few users also noticed distortion when shooting wide open.
Nevertheless, the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM is among the best Canon lenses for its versatility and overall image quality. We highly recommend it to those who need an all-around lens.
- Versatile zoom focal range
- Large maximum aperture ensures bright photos in low light
- Shallow depth of field for stunning bokeh
- Fast, smooth, and quiet autofocus performance
- Weather-sealed lens
- Relatively expensive
- No image stabilization
- Some noticeable barrel distortion when shooting wide open
2. Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM – Best Standard Lens for Low Light Conditions
The Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM standard lens is a beast in low-light situations.
It opens wide at f/1.8 to let more light hit the camera’s sensor. Thus, it results in brighter images even when you are shooting in dimly lit situations. Besides illuminating the scene, this large maximum aperture also creates a narrow depth of field for a stunning background blur.
Meanwhile, the 50mm focal length offers a natural perspective without noticeable distortion, ideal for portraits.
Furthermore, this portrait lens uses a stepping motor (STM) to deliver smooth and near-silent autofocus.
All these benefits come in a compact, lightweight, and budget-friendly package.
Most customer reviews for this low light lens were overwhelmingly positive. The only major downside to it is the plastic construction, which may feel cheap to some users. Autofocus is also not as fast as ultrasonic motor (USM) models.
With that said, the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM is hard to beat for the value it offers at a low price. It is among the best low-light lenses for Canon cameras.
- Wide-open lens offers impressive low-light performance
- Versatile focal length without noticeable distortion
- Narrow depth of field ideal for portraits
- Accurate and near-silent autofocus
- Compact and lightweight build
- Plastic build may feel cheap
- Lens hunts autofocus in low-light situations
3. Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM – Best Wide-Angle Lens for Low Light Conditions
If you want to capture wide-angle shots in low-light situations, consider getting the Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM.
The large maximum aperture of f/2.8 allows more light to pass through the camera’s sensor. It can help brighten subjects in the dark, resulting in higher-quality photos.
Meanwhile, the fixed focal length of 24mm offers a wide-angle perspective. It enables you to fit more elements into the frame, perfect for architecture, landscapes, and group shots. This Canon lens is also suitable for astrophotography, owing to its low-light capabilities.
Additionally, the EF-S 24mm f/2.8 is a pancake lens with a width of less than an inch. It is far more compact than the 50mm, thus ideal for carrying during trips.
Moreover, this low light lens features a stepping motor to provide autofocus support. This technology might not be the fastest and quietest among Canon’s prime lenses, but it is still reliable, especially in properly exposed scenes.
You should also note that this Canon lens is specifically designed for APS-C DSLRs. So if you own a full-frame camera, it is best to consider another product.
Otherwise, we highly recommend the Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM to APS-C users looking for the best wide-angle low-light lens for Canon.
- Wide-angle perspective fits more elements into the frame
- Large maximum aperture offers bright images
- Lightweight and compact pancake lens ideal for travel
- Relatively slow and noisy autofocus in low-light
- It is not compatible with full-frame cameras
4. Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM – Best Telephoto Lens for Low Light Conditions
The Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM is among the best telephoto lenses in low-light conditions.
It features a maximum aperture of f/2.8 that stays constant throughout the zoom range of 70-200mm. It can help the camera capture more light into the sensor. Thus, it delivers impressive image quality, even when the lighting condition is less than ideal.
This Canon lens also allows you to shoot distant objects with ease. It is ideal for action, sports, and wildlife photography.
Moreover, it boasts built-in optical image stabilization. It can correct camera shake by up to 3.5 stops, suitable for low-light shooting at slower shutter speeds.
To further improve image quality, this Canon lens uses a ring-type ultrasonic motor (USM). This technology offers accurate and near-silent autofocus.
On top of these benefits, the Canon lens is weather-sealed against dust and moisture. It can withstand rigorous use in various environmental conditions.
This zoom lens can be quite bulky and heavy, though. It is also very expensive due to its top-notch build and quality.
However, we think the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM is worth the money for its impressive low-light performance and image quality.
- Medium telephoto focal length brings distant subjects closer
- Great in low-light situations
- Fast, accurate, and quiet AF performance
- Built-in image stabilization minimizes camera shake
- Weather-sealed construction
- Expensive lens
- Bulky and heavy
5. Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM – Best Macro Lens for Low Light Conditions
If you want to photograph small objects in the dark, consider getting the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM.
It features a close focusing distance of 0.99 ft (0.3m) and a maximum magnification ratio of 1:1. It captures the actual size of the subject in real life. It is ideal for close-up and macro photography, where it is essential to retain the full details of objects.
This macro lens also opens wide at f/2.8 to allow more light into the sensor. It ensures reliable low-light performance to give you brighter and higher-quality images.
There is even a built-in image stabilization system to reduce camera shake. This feature comes in handy when shooting handheld or at slower shutter speeds.
Moreover, an ultrasonic motor offers accurate and fast autofocus. Some users complained it produces a rattling sound, but it is still quiet enough for shooting video.
Finally, this L series lens includes weather sealing so that you can use it in various outdoor conditions.
To sum up, the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM is one of the best low-light lenses for Canon.
- Macro lens ideal for capturing small subjects
- Impressive low-light performance
- Built-in image stabilization system corrects camera shake
- Fast and accurate autofocus system
- Weather-sealed lens
- Image stabilization produces a loud sound
- Lens sometimes hunts for focus
That concludes this article of the best low-light lens for Canon cameras! All of our top picks have a large maximum aperture to offer bright results, even in dimly lit situations.
If you are looking for an all-in-one lens, consider getting the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM. It opens wide at f/2.8 to let more light into the sensor, ideal for low-light and night shooting. Meanwhile, its variable focal range is suitable for most kinds of photography, including landscapes and wildlife. Finally, it features a fast, accurate, and near-silent autofocus system to deliver sharp results.