Best Equipment

Best Canon Lenses For Low Light and Portraits


We have selected the best Canon lenses for low light photography and portraits, although these are also perfect for weddings, concerts, indoor and many more types of photography. Don’t ever let the focal length limit your creativity!

They all have large apertures that allow you to shoot in extreme low light situations and also to blur the background (aka create a shallow depth of field), making your subject really stand out.

Besides that, their image quality and sharpness are absolutely superb, and the auto focus speed and accuracy are all excellent and will work perfectly with all Canon DSLR cameras.

We also made sure you’re getting the best value for your money, so you’re not buying something that performs worse than a more affordable choice.

Prime lenses we covered:

Zoom lenses we covered:

You automatically support us if you order anything through our Amazon links, and we highly recommend them because of their low prices, fast delivery and top support, especially when it comes to camera equipment.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM


The Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM is the best-selling lens from Canon, which already says a lot. It’s affordable, compact and delivers high quality images.

It’s amazing for low light photography because the maximum f/1.8 gathers a ton of light, meaning you’ll be able to shoot at night without getting so many blurred images.

Another reason why f/1.8 is so good is because it allows you to completely blur the background, making your subject stand out (called shallow depth of field). It’s the easiest and quickest way to make your shots look professional.

Auto focus is quick, silent and accurate thanks to STM (Stepping Motor), which is also a plus for videographers because you won’t have any noise from auto focusing in your videos.

Who is this lens good for? Everyone. The 50mm focal length is truly good for almost all types of photography, from food, portrait, street, product, low light, animal, to sports and travel photography.

You can buy it at Amazon or read more reviews here.

Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM


How to describe the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM? Beautiful colors, razor sharp images, superb quality, creamy bokeh and most importantly, affordable! For less than $400 (at Amazon) you get one of the sharpest prime lenses Canon has ever made.

Featuring an Ultra Sonic Motor, it’ll quickly focus on your subject even in darker conditions. With f/1.8 and 85mm focal length, you can’t even imagine what kind of amazing photographs you’ll be able to take!

Where this lens truly shines at is portrait, wedding and concert photography.

Often shoot in low light? At f/1.8 you’ll be able to get crisp shots without having to raise your ISO speed to extreme sensitivities.

Who is this lens for? Portrait, concert, street, animal and even sport photographers. If you’ve never used anything but your kit lens, you’ll be blown away by what the 85mm f/1.8 can do. Hands down my favorite prime lens for price/performance, I’ve been using it for years and love it.

You can buy it at Amazon or read more reviews here.

Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM


The Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM is sharper than Canon’s already superb 35mm, and costs a lot less.

It’s tack sharp even at f/1.4, features a Ring-type AF motor for fast, silent and accurate focusing with Full Time Manual Focus, and has a closest focusing distance of 0.30cm/11.81″.

Mounted on an APS-C camera, its field of view is equivalent to a 50mm lens, a length that’s perfect for almost any type of photography, especially for portrait, wedding and extreme low light photography.

Great bokeh, beautiful colors and optical quality, plus it’s built like a tank so you don’t have to worry about easily damaging it.

Who is this lens for? Often shoot in low light and/or want super sharp photographs with amazingly shallow depth of field? The 35mm f/1.4 is a dream come true for many photographers, at a highly affordable price.

You can buy it at Amazon or read more reviews here.

Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM

canon-efs-24mm-2.8-lensThe Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM is a “pancake” like lens because of its looks. It’s light, super short and simple to carry around (you’ll forget you have it with you).

While it looks like a lot of it is missing, that’s not the case with its performance. Great colors, sharpness and quality, and fast auto focus. It’s a lot of wider than the 50mm above and comes with a slightly smaller aperture (f/2.8), but that’s still considered big.

Who is this lens for? It’s great for landscape shooters, club/indoor photographers and street/travel photographers.

You can buy it at Amazon or read more reviews here.

Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSMsigma-18-35mm-1.8-zoom-lens

A couple of years ago, large apertures were only possible on prime lenses, but Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM changed that in 2013. You’re looking at an optically superb, wide-to-standard large aperture lens that could save you a lot of money and weight (1 zoom with f/1.8 instead of 3 primes with f/1.8).

Not familiar with Sigma’s terms? The lens features HSM (Hyper Sonic Motor), which means the lens is very quick and accurate at focusing. You can also expect beautiful background blur thanks to 9 diaphragm blades, especially when wide open.

Besides amazing quality in still photography, the lens is perfect for videos as well, thanks to its smooth focus and zoom rings. There’s absolutely no focusing issues for stills or videos on any of Canon’s DSLR cameras.

It weighs 1.79 pounds (810 grams) and is quite long, meaning your neck will probably get tired after a couple of hours of shooting. If you want ‘pancake’ like lenses (24mm f/2.8 STM) and something super light, the Sigma 18-35mm is not for you. However, in a way, it’s like 3 x f/1.8 lenses in one so it’s just something you have to live with.

Who is this lens for? Anyone who shoots around the 18-35mm range but wants to stick with 1, high quality lens that offers f/1.8. That includes street, night, sky, club and indoor photography, but it’s just as good for traveling if you’re okay with carrying it for such long periods.

You can buy it at Amazon or read more reviews here.

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM


The Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM is a workhorse, ready for serious work thanks to its wide to medium telephoto zoom combined with an f/2.8 aperture.

There’s no IS on the newer version either, but with f/2.8 and ISO capabilities of todays’ cameras, it’s not that big of a problem. You definitely need Image Stabilization at longer focal lengths though, especially if you’re planning on hand holding everything for hours.

It fits on all Canon DSLR cameras and is extremely versatile because it covers almost all lengths that you need on a day to day basis. It’s more appropriate for Full Frame cameras if you also want to use its wide capabilites, whereas APS-C users should only get this if you already have something wider than 24mm.

Like with all Canon L lenses, the image quality, colors, contrast and sharpness are all top-notch. You won’t ever regret buying this, whether you’re a hobby or a professional photographer.

Who is this lens for? If you prefer zooms over primes, or just want to carry one brilliant all-around zoom for portraits, weddings, landscape, travel and much more, this lens is for you. A lot of photographers also own a couple of faster primes (listed on top of this article) for situations where you already know what length you need.

You can buy it at Amazon or read more reviews here.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM


The Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM is the most expensive and best 70-200mm lens from Canon (out of 4 versions, ranging from $600 to $2,000). There are two f/4 versions and two f/2.8 versions, one with and without Image Stabilization.

If you want the best telephoto lens for weddings, portraits, sports or animals (whether you’re a professional or a hobby shooter) and never ever upgrade again (because you won’t have to) then get yourself the 70-200mm f/2.8.

This one is packed with USM and IS, but if you need the cheaper version without IS, check out the 70-200mm f/2.8L USM here. How to know which one to get? If you rarely shoot indoors, or are happy using high ISO speeds on your camera, get the non-IS version and save some money.

If you do weddings and indoor sports, then the IS version is probably a must, because every little bit of light/stability helps.

If you don’t need image stabilization, check out the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM here. It’s a bit cheaper and lighter.

Who is this lens for? Sports, portraits, anything outdoor, animals (200mm is too short for serious wildlife), landscape, traveling (although not as light as many other lenses).

You can buy it at Amazon or read more reviews here.

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