Best fast aperture telephoto lenses

While there are literally hundreds of telephoto lenses on the market, we’re limiting our search to those with a maximum aperture of f/4 and wider, and 100mm and over. Here are our picks for the best...

Spec Min aperture: f/22 Max aperture: f/2.8 Elements: 23/17 Filter size: 77mm Min focusing distance: 95cm DxH: 88x194mm Weight: 1500g

by Kirk Schwarz |
Updated on

Fast aperture lenses are rightly seen as the pinnacle of optics, which may explain the hefty price that’s often attached. These behemoths offer users a host of benefits, such as a shallower depth-of-field, better light gathering abilities and stunning bokeh in the out-of-focus areas.

Related: 10 Best Fast-Aperture Telephoto Lenses From £349

Many professionals swear by fast apertures. The extra stops of light they capture often mean the difference between getting the shot or missing it.

Fujifilm XF 50-140mm F/2.8 R LM OIS WR
Price: $431.99
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This is a brilliant all-purpose lens that offers sharp corners, excellent balance and optical stabilisation. We did find the tripod mount got in the way a little, but thatu2019s something you could get used to. Want to know more? Read our concise review of the [Fujifilm XF 50-140mm F/2.8 R LM OIS WR zoom lens. ](https://whatsthebest.co.uk/tech/photography/fujifilm-xf-50-140mm-f28-r-lm-ois-wr-reviewr-review)

Spec

Min aperture: f/22

Max aperture: f/2.8

Elements: 23/16

Filter size: 72mm

Min focusing distance: 100cm

DxH: 83x176mm

Weight: 995g

Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 DI VC USD G2
Price: $999.98

This fab lens fits both Canon and Nikon. Itu2019s impressively sharp and has optical stabilisation. It is a fraction less sharp than the Canon and Nikon equivalents but it is also much cheaper. Want to know more? Read our concise review of the Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 DI VC USD G2 lense.

Spec

Min aperture: f/22

Max aperture: f/2.8

Elements: 23/17

Filter size: 77mm

Min focusing distance: 95cm

DxH: 88x194mm

Weight: 1500g

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm F/2.8
Price: $1181.99

For Micro Four Thirds users craving longer focal lengths, the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm F/2.8 PRO is as good as it gets. Itu2019s very compact, features a 1.4x teleconverter and has a 50cm minimum focusing distance. Want to know more? Read our concise review of the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm F/2.8.

Spec

Street price: £1099 (As of June 2016)

Lens mount: Micro Four Thirds

Max aperture: f/2.8

Min aperture: f/22

Minimum focus distance: 70cm

Filter size: 72mm

Weight: 760g

Samyang 135mm F/2 ED UMC
Price: $1174.00

The lens provides very sharp, manual focus optics. Itu2019s lightweight but feels well-made and durable. It did create very slight vignetting but itu2019s a great lens for the price. Want to know more? Read our concise review of the Samyang 135mm F/2 ED UMC telephoto lens.

Spec

Min aperture: f/22

Max aperture: f/2

Elements: 11/7

Filter size: 77mm

Min focusing distance: 80cm

DxH: 82x135mm

Weight: 830g

Panasonic Leica DG Elmarit 200mm F/2.8
Price: $2973.62

This lens was launched alongside the G9 camera, it includes a teleconverter, itu2019s brilliantly sharp and offers optical stabilisation. The image quality is excellent but with the longer focal lengths the hand-held shake is amplified.

Spec

Min aperture: f/22

Max aperture: f/2.8

Elements: 15/13

Filter size: 77mm

Min focusing distance: 115cm

DxH: 88x174mm

Weight: 1245g

Verdict: This lens offers brilliant sharpness with optical stabilisation and a long zoom range. It is quite heavy and is therefore best mounted onto a tripod. The HSM means the focus is very quick, accurate and almost silent. Want to find out more? Read our concise review of the Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM S telephoto zoom lens.

Spec

Min aperture: f/22

Max aperture: f/2.8

Elements: 23/18

Filter size: 105mm

Min focusing distance: 150cm

DxH: 125x291mm

Weight: 3390g

Sigma 180mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM APO
Price: $1999.00

This lens can be used as a traditional telephoto or a macro lens. Itu2019s a high-quality construction that provides seriously sharp optics. It has image stabilisation and little softness. It is very heavy and therefore may need tripod-mounting.

Spec

Min aperture: f/22

Max aperture: f/2.8

Elements: 19/14

Filter size: 86mm

Min focusing distance: 47cm

DxH: 95x204mm

Weight: 1640g

The Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM is a very impressive performer when it comes to handling, and thereu2019s no beating it if youu2019re a Canon user. This lens is built for professional use, and features dust and water-resistance so you can rely on it in even the most adverse conditions. But if youu2019re on a budget and canu2019t afford this lens the Sigma 70-200mm is your best bet, with comparable sharpness and only a little more distortion.

Spec

Min aperture: f/32

Max aperture: f/2.8

Elements: 23/19

Filter size: 77mm

Mini focusing distance: 120cm

DxH: 89x199

Weight: 1490g

Tokina AT-X M100 AF Pro D 100mm f/2.8
Price: £133.60+

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This sturdy macro lens takes great close ups. Itu2019s lightweight and has a push/pull design so you can easily switch between manual and auto-focus. Itu2019s super sharp but it does have a little softness around the edges and it doesnu2019t have any stabilisation. Want to know more? Read our concise review of the Tokina AT-X M100 AF Pro D 100mm f/2.8 telephoto lens.

Spec

Min aperture: f/32

Max aperture: f/2.8

Elements: 9/8

Filter size: 55mm

Min focusing distance: 30cm

DxH: 74x95mm

Weight: 540g

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm F/2.8G ED VR II

Rrp: $2346.95

Price: $1896.95
Alternative retailers
Adorama$1299.00View offer
Walmart$1896.95View offer
B&H Photo Video$2346.95View offer

If youu2019re looking for super sharp images, this lens will deliver; itu2019s extremely capable and will not disappoint you, however, this is reflected in the price-tag, which may be off-putting. Want to know more? Read our concise review of the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II telephoto zoom lens.

Spec

Min aperture: f/22

Max aperture: f/2.8

Elements: 21/16

Filter size: 77mm

Min focusing distance: 140cm

DxH: 87x205mm

Weight: 1540g

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Kirk Schwarz is a tech-addicted photographer with over a decade's experience; Kirk’s used to putting new gear through extreme field testing. He's previously written for Practical Photography.

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