Best Low Light Lens For Canon Cameras
Taking photos in low light is difficult since light is the basis of photography, and adapting to the light exposure requires time and practice. Additionally, striking the correct stability amongst aperture, shutter rates, and ISO is a delicate balancing act that will have a considerable impact on the overall feel of your images. As a result, having the best low light lens is important.
In general, for low-light photography, a broader maximum aperture is a good place to start. Fortunately, Canon users have a plethora of wide-open lenses to choose from. So, in this post, I’ve picked the ten best low light lenses for Canon to help you determine which one is best for you based on your budget and requirements.
Also, I’ve included a wide variety of focal lengths, from ultra-wide to telephoto, as well as some excellent primes for good measure. So, check out the list and transform darkness into a signature of your creative expression.
Table of Contents
- LIST OF BEST LOW LIGHT LENS FOR CANON
- 10 BEST LOW LIGHT LENS FOR CANON REVIEW
- 1. CANON EF 50MM F/1.8 - BEST CHEAP LOW LIGHT LENS FOR CANON
- 2. CANON EF 85MM F/1.8 USM- BEST CANON TELEPHOTO LENS FOR LOW LIGHT
- 3. CANON EF 70-200MM F/2.8L IS III USM LENS - BEST LOW LIGHT LENS FOR PROFESSIONALS
- 4. SIGMA 18-35MM F/1.8 - BEST ZOOM LENS FOR LOW LIGHT
- 5. ROKINON 85MM F/1.4 - BEST LOW-LIGHT PORTRAIT LENS FOR CANON
- 6. CANON EF 85MM F/1.4L LENS
- 7. CANON EF 35MM F/1.4L LENS
- 8. CANON EF 24MM F/1.4L LENS
- 9. TAMRON Sp 45mm f/1.8 LENS
- 10. CANON RF 85MM F1.2 LENS
- BUYERS GUIDE FOR THE BEST LOW LIGHT LENS FOR CANON
- FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
LIST OF BEST LOW LIGHT LENS FOR CANON
10 BEST LOW LIGHT LENS FOR CANON REVIEW
1. CANON EF 50MM F/1.8 - BEST CHEAP LOW LIGHT LENS FOR CANON
Ideal for: Portrait, street, and sports photography. Also, a great indoor lens!
FEATURES: An upgraded version of EF 50mm f/1.8 II lens with improved features!. If you wish to achieve beautiful out-of-focus effects in low-lights, this is the best and most affordable choice. The lens shows an equivalent focal length of 85mm when used in an APS-C sensor format.
DESIGN: If I compare this lens with its elder sibling 50mm f/1.8 II lens, it's very compact. The plastic mount is replaced with a metal lens mount, which slightly increases the weight and promotes the lens's durability.
The size of the filter thread has been reduced to 47mm. I liked the fact the company has changed the design of the manual focus ring. The previous version had a very thin and flimsy ring, making it difficult to rotate.
But this lens will not give you this issue because the manual focus ring is very sturdy, wide, and allows easy rotation. This is one of the reasons why this lens is suitable for shooting videos!
One of the massive changes in the lens design includes the addition of a stepper motor for autofocus. Trust me; the AF performance is damn good. It's very quick, well you will hear a bit of sound while autofocusing, but it's not very loud. I recommend filmmakers to use this lens as you will enjoy hassle-free autofocus while shooting videos.
Two features that I felt missing are the lack of image stabilization and weather-sealing. However, for around $130 it has got many convincing features, so I'm happy.
PERFORMANCE: I used the lens with my Canon T6i, and I should say the results are impressive. The presence of the 7-rounded blades gives you a creamy bokeh, and the wide-aperture of f/1.8 provides a shallow depth of field. Those who like the subjects to be in sharp focus with a perfect background blur should have their hands on this lens.
Images are very sharp. Now coming to its low-light performance, as you know wider the aperture, the more the light enters the lens. The same goes with this lens, as it has a wider aperture of f/1.8, it is a great performer in low-lights. You can get sharp images even at an ISO of 1600.
Also, its fixed focal length of 50mm delivers sharp outputs for movies and stills, making it the best low-light lens for both photography and videography.
As of now, there are three 50mm Canon lenses available, out of which this 50mm STM f/1.8 is affordable. You can also check out the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 if you wish to have a ring-type USM for AF.
2. CANON EF 85MM F/1.8 USM- BEST CANON TELEPHOTO LENS FOR LOW LIGHT
Ideal for: Head-shot portraiture and indoor sports photography.
FEATURES: Want to posses a lens that can take beautiful portrait shots both in bright and low lights!. Then this 85mm is the lens for you. Though primarily a full-frame lens, it's also compatible with an APS-C body like T6i, where it gives you an equivalent focal length of 136mm.
DESIGN: A fairly compact lens. It weighs only around 405 grams. I noticed that the lens is mostly made of plastic. But it is very durable. I've been using this lens for almost two years, and I've not had any issues with the build quality of the lens.
The lens has a got a metal mount which feels very solid. Like the above-mentioned 50mm f/1.8 STM, this lens lacks image stabilization and is not weather-resistant. So, make sure you use a tripod or monopod to get rid of image blur caused by camera shakes.
You can comfortably shoot videos with this lens as it has got a sturdy manual focus ring. You also get the provision to focus manually while in AF mode(Manual-focus override).
PERFORMANCE: I love this lens for its perfect out-of-focus effects. The reason behind using this lens for portraiture is because you get a shallow depth of field, making your subject to be in sharp focus while the background remaining blurred.
Also, you will get flattering portraits with this lens. Imagine the noise of the subject looking big and disproportional. How awkward the images will look! Thankfully this lens ensures that the subject's face is in correct proportion.
Even the contrast and saturation are excellent. Moreover, the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 lens focuses quickly and quietly thanks to its ring USM.
I said that this lens is great for shooting indoor sports. But how? I'll tell you. Generally, indoor sports have dim-lighting conditions, so a wide-aperture telephoto lens is recommended in such cases. Because with a telephoto lens, you don't have to go close to the subject. And the wide-aperture allows you to get brighter shots even in that low-lights.
As this is an indoor lens, I wouldn't recommend using this lens under direct sunlight as it will give purple fringes to your photographs and videos. The end-to-end sharpness of this lens is not excellent, but I only consider this as an advantage because that's what makes a portrait look real.
If you want sharp corners in your 60D(Full-frame) or T6i(APS-C), use the lens at f/8.
And guess what, the lens does not cost you much, it's only $420. I'm sure all my fellow portrait photographers looking for the best low-light lens for Canon will not miss this deal.
Also, checkout the EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM for a weather resistant design.
3. CANON EF 70-200MM F/2.8L IS III USM LENS - BEST LOW LIGHT LENS FOR PROFESSIONALS
Ideal for: Wedding, sports, wildlife, and night photography.
FEATURES: Get perfect background isolation and low-light performance with this telephoto zoom lens. It is weather-resistant and has image stabilization making it the best low light lens for Canon for night and sports photography.
DESIGN: An all-in-one lens! The lenses discussed above are good in low-lights but lack weather resistance and stabilization feature. But you get all this in this super-performing lens. You can use this lens in rain, snow, extremely cold, and humid conditions.
And as the lens has a 3.5 stops image stabilization, you don't have to worry about any camera shakes while shooting videos/images handheld.
Both the zoom and focus are internal. Meaning you will not notice the lens barrel moving while you zoom/focus. Isn't that supreme!
The internal optics remains the same as that of its EF 70-200MM F/2.8L IS II USM lens. It has one fluorite element and 5 Ultra-low dispersion elements to tackle the effects of color fringing and chromatic aberrations. The minor change between these II and III models is the Air-sphere coating present in the Mark III version. This air sphere coating helps to reduce lens flare and ghosting.
PERFORMANCE: The f/2.8 allows it to have control over its depth of field. As this is a telephoto lens, you can capture perfect low-light shots even without getting close to the subject.
The presence of the 8-bladed circular diaphragm is all set to give a pleasing bokeh effect. Indoor sports photographers, wedding photographers shouldn't miss this lens. It will take your photography/videography career to the next level.
You can take beautiful family portraits and landscape shots even when you're in dimly lit conditions. The f/2.8 will give you impressive results even without demanding a higher ISO value.
4. SIGMA 18-35MM F/1.8 - BEST ZOOM LENS FOR LOW LIGHT
Ideal for: Product photography, cinematography, and shooting music videos.
FEATURES: A consistent performer since 2013! Even in 2021, filmmakers use this lens as it gives perfect cinematic effects in low-lights. Though it's designed for APS-C cameras, it can be used on full-frame cameras to provide an equivalent focal length of 28.8-56mm.
DESIGN: Very sturdy! This lens is less in weight but slightly longer when compared to the Sigma 35mm f/1.4. The use of thermally composite material elevates the lens durability. The lens can be used in all format sensors, be it a full-frame/micro-thirds. The only thing you have to do is take the crop factor into concern.
Getting back to the design. Unlike the EF 50mm f/1.8 STM and EF 85mm f/1.8, where they had only internal focus, This lens is a step high. It has got an internal zoom facility which is a huge aid while shooting videos.
The focus, aperture, and zoom rings are sturdy are made of rubber, giving a perfect grip to your fingers. There is an AF/MF switch on the side of the lens.
You get impressive bokeh quality when you use this with any EOS cameras. Thanks to the 9-bladed circular aperture present inside the lens.
PERFORMANCE: I consider this another best low light lens for Canon not only for its wide aperture of f/1.8 but also for it gives you three primes, 18mm, 24mm,35mm in one single lens.
The ring-type USM motor autofocuses silently and also fast. I use this lens on my Canon 6D Mark II to shoot beautiful landscape videos in low light. The fast f/1.8 aperture captures more light and also maintains its sharpness throughout the zoom range.
Who doesn't like sharp subject focusing? I must say the lens is highly capable of maintaining the set focus when you're trying for shallow depth-of-field effects.
As the lens has a minimum focusing distance of 28cm, I also use this as a macro lens to shoot flowers, products, and other close-up shots.
I've used this lens with both my 6D Mark II (Full-frame) and T6i (APS-C camera) and have not noticed any lens flare or aberrations so far. It means the lens has got an excellent optical design inside.
Lastly, the lens is compatible with Sigma's USB dock, enabling micro-adjustment of autofocus parameters, as it is an "Art" series lens. Overall, a great buy!
5. ROKINON 85MM F/1.4 - BEST LOW-LIGHT PORTRAIT LENS FOR CANON
Ideal for: Portrait photography.
FEATURES: A great low-light lens for beginners! Although the lens allows only manual focus, the automatic functions available with DSLR cameras are entirely compatible. While using this full-frame on an APS-C sensor, it gives a 127mm equivalent focal length.
DESIGN: This Rokinon 85mm lens is essentially built of glass and aluminum, and the build quality is superb. The presence of the 8-circular blades helps to get perfect out-of-focus blur effects.
The manual focus ring is well damped, so you will not have any issues while focusing on the optical viewfinder.
At last, the lens has an internal focus design meaning the barrel and the front filter mount do not rotate while focusing, making it easier to deal with a polarizer and filters that require precise positioning.
PERFORMANCE: As the lens allows only manual focusing, I wouldn't recommend this lens for sports photography/videography or shooting any fast-moving objects.
However, the lens is excellent for taking perfect still photographs in low light. This lens might sound similar to the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 but note that this lens has a one-stop wider aperture and can be only manually focused.
If you're a beginner trying to learn how to manually focus a stationary subject in dim light, you can opt for this lens.
6. CANON EF 85MM F/1.4L LENS
The Canon’s EF 85mm lens is a small-scale telephoto prime that’s used for portraiture. Its refined optical structure, which incorporates one glass-molded aspherical element, diminishes spherical aberrations and deformity. Thus, improving the overall sharpness of the image.
It is considered the best low light lens for Canon because its components have an Air Sphere coating that helps in reducing lens flare and ghosting in backlit conditions, resulting in improved contrast and color fidelity.
In addition to the optical functions, this lens has a four-stop effective optical image stabilization system that reduces the possibility of camera shake and allows for precise handheld shooting.
And a ring-type Ultrasonic Motor offers quick and precise AF, as well as full-time manual focus for superior control. Moreover, the dust and weatherproof structure, as well as fluorine finishing on exposed components, makes this model perfect for utilization in harsh environments.
Lastly, the maximum aperture allows for a lot of depth of field power by using selective focus techniques, and working in low-light conditions is also made easier with this bright style.
7. CANON EF 35MM F/1.4L LENS
Next up in my list of best low light lens for Canon is the EF 35mm f/1.4L lens. This is a wide-angle L-series prime with a smooth f/1.4 maximum aperture that’s ideal for operating in low-light situations.
Its optical architecture includes a Blue Spectrum Refractive Optics, which is a specially designed element that helps to nearly eradicate chromatic aberrations and color fringing, resulting in exceptional clarity and color accuracy.
To further enhance the images' sharpness and resolution, an extremely low dispersion component and two aspherical components are included. These components have been given a Subwavelength finishing to improve color contrast when functioning in rough or backlit conditions.
The lens features a ring-type USM for quick and quiet autofocus output as well as full-time manual focus override. Its dust and moisture-resistant physical structure have a fluorine coating applied to the exposed elements to prevent fingerprints and smudging.
And its spherical nine-blade diaphragm contributes to an appealing out-of-focus quality, making shallow depth of field and selective focus techniques paramount effective.
8. CANON EF 24MM F/1.4L LENS
The EF 24mm f/1.4L is a Canon L-series lens with a vigorous physical structure and an enhanced optical configuration. It incorporates a wide focal range with a bright maximum aperture. For high sharpness and transparency, two ultra-low dispersion elements help regulate chromatic aberrations and color fringing, whereas a pair of aspherical elements reduce spherical aberrations and deformation.
And aside from the optical qualities, this lens is distinguished by its fast f/1.4 maximum aperture, which is useful for regulating the depth of field in low-light situations.
Lastly, an interior floating focus mechanism contributes to picture quality consistency across the entire focusing range.
9. TAMRON Sp 45mm f/1.8 LENS
The Tamron SP 45mm is a prime lens with an f/1.8 large aperture and integrated image stabilization. It is a low light lens that’s suitable for both amateurs and pros. And from a high rate ultrasonic silent drive (USD) autofocus motor to a weatherproof structure, this camera has it all.
The Tamron SP 45mm lens is configured to generate very sharp pictures, even at the broadest aperture, thanks to its intricate optical design, which incorporates 10 elements in 8 groups.
And there is a visible stop when you approach the end of the focusing range. Lastly, the lens has two switches, one for image stabilization and the other for focusing.
10. CANON RF 85MM F1.2 LENS
The Canon RF 85mm F1.2 lens is a wide aperture mid-telephoto prime lens with incredible results and unmatched output that is ideal for any serious or competent portrait photographer. With its f/1.2 maximum aperture, this lens can produce portraits with shallow depth of field, tact sharpness, and lovely background blur.
Also, this model of Canon provides more than just “next-generation” image quality and optical efficiency. Moreover, it is has good control over the depth-of-field.
Lastly, this lens features the same iconic Control Ring that was first used on the first RF lenses and the EOS mirrorless system. Thus allows for direct manual adjustments to Exposure Compensation, shutter speed, and ISO.
BUYERS GUIDE FOR THE BEST LOW LIGHT LENS FOR CANON
Here, I have listed some features to look upon while purchasing the appropriate low-light lens for Canon cameras. Make sure you read them carefully before you step out to buy the lens.
Let's say you are going to shoot any indoor events, like indoor sports, concerts, or take pictures or videos inside your house without using any flash. In that case, a very fast lens of f/1.8 or wider will allow you to capture shake-free stills and videos while shooting handheld.
Suppose you want to take nighttime portraits. In that case, a wide aperture lens along with image stabilization is a must. You can go for prime telephoto lenses as they work best for nighttime photography and videography.
A lens that has a constant aperture is preferred to variable aperture lens while shooting in low-light conditions. Secondly, the lens speed is an important criterion. You have to purchase a lens that has a fast aperture.
What does a lens speed have to do with the aperture value? If that's your question. I'll explain the relation between them. We call a lens fast when it has a smaller f-number. This is because it delivers more light intensity and requires a faster (smaller) shutter speed.
For low-light conditions, an f/2.8 maximum aperture or even wider is necessary. Only then will more light enter the lens, making your dim shots look brighter. If you want a flexible zoom range, go for a zoom lens that has a fixed aperture.
For ultra-low light photography and videography, prime lenses are the best because they have very fast apertures of f/1.8,f/1.4, and f/1.2.
For low-light street photography, environmental portraits and landscape photography, wide-angle lenses are the best because it covers most of the scene inside the frame. Wide-angles lenses also provide a wide depth of field when compared to other lenses.
If you want to take headshot portraits in low-light, prime lenses like 50mm f/1.8 and 85mm f/1.8 are desirable because you get excellent subject isolation with these lenses.
If you want your subjects to be in sharp focus while having a blurred background, you have to select a lens with a fast and bright aperture. In low lights, a prime lens works best because their apertures are very wide, thus offering a creamier bokeh.
If you wish to have decent quality bokeh(out-of-focus blur effects), zoom lenses with an f/2.8 aperture are suitable.
LESS CHROMATIC ABBERATIONS
Generally, while shooting at low-light, lenses are likely to give some aberrations. I'm not telling you to choose a lens with zero chromatic aberrations because all lenses provide some amount of this effect.
So, go for a lens that has very minimal aberrations in low-lights.
The EF tag in Canon lenses means they are designed for Canon's full-frame cameras like Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, Canon 6D Mark II etc.
The EF-S tag means those lenses are designed for Canon's APS-C cameras like T6i, EOS M50 Mark II etc.
You can use APS-C lens on a Canon full-frame camera but make sure you take the crop factor of 1.6x into account.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. What makes a lens suitable for shooting in low-light conditions?
A lens is considered an excellent low-light performer if it satisfies the following:
i. Higher shutter speed to prevent image blur.
ii. A wide-aperture lens of f/2 or wider.
2. What is the best ISO setting for low-light?
For brightly lit situations, you don't want high sensitivity to light, so that you will go for lower ISO values in the range of 100, 200.
Whereas for low-light conditions, we need a higher ISO value only then the lens will capture more light and make dim shots brighter. So, for low-light shooting, an ISO value of above 1600 is recommended.
3. Which F stop should I use to get sharp images?
Low-light lenses have wide apertures of f/2.8 or wider. Suppose you purchase a lens that has f/2 as its maximum aperture. So, the sweet spot of this lens will lie between f/4 and f/8. How do I tell this is by the fact that the sharp images will result in between 2 to 3 stops from the maximum aperture.
4. APS-C vs Full-frame camera which is best for nighttime photography?
Full-frame sensor formats are the best for nighttime photography because they have a higher dynamic range and also project minute details of the image clearly.
That's a wrap! I hope you found this list of the best low light lens for Canon useful. I urge you to read the buying guide before making the final decision.
Furthermore, you must also understand your photographic style. Because once you've decided what kind of photography/videography you want to do, all you need to do is choose the best low-light lens for you. Even be aware that each lens is unique, which will significantly impact the quality of your photographs and videos.
Finally, my preference is the Rokinon 50mm F/1.4 Lens, which is incredibly light and has a large aperture for capturing ultra-bright and vivid portraits when used as a portrait lens.