Whether you want a wide angle or telephoto lens or anything in between, you can get that creamy blurred background that we all love on your Canon DSLR.
There’s something about ‘Bokeh’ that can change an image from ‘meh’ to ‘wow’.
Luckily there are lots of Canon lenses that can let you have that blurred background effect. You can also use third-party lenses that work with your Canon cameras.
All the lenses in this post will be compatible with Canon DSLRs that have an EF/EF-S mount and we have stuck to lenses that are designed for full-frame cameras.
This is because any lens designed for a full-frame Canon DSLR can also be used on an APS-C Canon DSLR (you just need to remember about the crop factor).
*If you are using a compact Canon camera like a Canon PowerShot series camera then you are unable to change the lens, so this post is not for you.
What To Look For In Canon Lenses For Blurred Background
To achieve that blurry background effect the most important thing is to be using a wide aperture. Some people may also refer to lenses with wide apertures as ‘fast’ lenses.
By this, we mean they should have a low number for the maximum f-stop.
For example, something like f/1.4 or f/1.8 would be considered quite a wide aperture and you would definitely get that background blur effect in your images at this f-stop.
As a general rule of thumb, try to go for a lens with a maximum f-stop of about f/2.8 or larger. When we say larger we mean a lower number so look for maximum f-numbers of f/1.4, f/1.8, and f/2.8.
The next thing you need to look for is the right focal length for your needs. For example, if you are looking for landscapes, interiors or travel photography, then you will want a wider angle lens because it’s likely you need to fit a lot of things into a scene.
On the other hand, if you want to photograph wildlife or sports then you will want a telephoto because you need a high level of zoom to see your subject properly.
Anything in between tends to do well for general-purpose photography and stuff like portraits, weddings and street photography.
I’ve organized the lenses into a few categories below so you can pick the perfect type for you.
For a quick summary of our top picks here’s our short and sweet list.
The best Canon lenses for blurred backgrounds for different scenarios:
- Best general purpose lens – Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens
- Best for a budget and beginners – Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens (nifty fifty)
- Best wide angle lens – Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM
- Best telephoto – Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens
Best General Purpose Lens For Background Blur
There’s really no contest in this category.
The Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens is by far the most versatile lens I have used and it allows for an f/2.8 maximum aperture across the whole range of focal lengths that it offers.
On the shorter end, you can get wider-angle photos at 24mm with decent background blur and you can even venture into the telephoto range at 70mm.
If you just want one lens to do as much as possible then this is the perfect lens.
The third-party equivalents by Sigma and Tamron are also solid choices at a more affordable price point.
Best For A Budget And Beginners
If you are a beginner or on a budget then the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens (nifty fifty) is the best lens for you if you want that blurred background effect.
Not only is it affordable, but it’s also really high quality for the price.
With a maximum aperture of f/1.8, you can get a creamy blurred background easily and you can use the lens easily in low-light situations.
It’s particularly good because it can make mediocre cameras take amazing photos.
You can use the Canon EF 50mm lens on any Canon DSLR with the EF/EF-S lens mount.
This includes any Canon crop sensor DSLR in the Rebel series and other popular models like the EOS 80D and 90D.
It can also be used on full-frame Canon DSLRs like the 1D, 5D or 6D series of cameras.
The downside of this lens is that it is a prime lens with a fixed focal length so you are stuck with one perspective (but this is actually what allows it to be so affordable while having a decent maximum aperture).
You can’t really use it in a situation where you need a wider angle or when you need a bit more reach.
However, some people see this as a positive for beginners because it forces you to realize and learn when you would need a wider or narrower angle.
You can also just move toward or away from the subject if it’s not a massive change in perspective that you need.
- Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens (nifty fifty)
Best Wide Angle Canon Lens For Blurry Background
Just to be clear, we tend to consider a lens wide angle if it has a 35mm focal length or shorter (in full frame equivalent).
So keep in mind any crop factors that you have to apply if you are using a crop sensor camera. You want the equivalent focal length to be 35mm or wider.
If you are using a Canon crop sensor DSLR then the crop factor is always 1.6.
This means to have a 35mm equivalent you want around 22mm on a crop sensor Canon camera. 24mm is a common focal length for lenses so anything around or below this is fine as it is close enough.
We won’t get into too much detail, but due to how lenses work it’s harder to find wide-angle lenses that also have very wide apertures.
This is partly because it is harder to manufacture wider-angle lenses with wide apertures while still keeping optimal image quality.
This is why it’s harder to come by any wide-angle lenses that have a maximum aperture wider than f/4.0. Even when they are available wide angle lenses are not as cheap.
Luckily there are still some options where you can achieve a nice blurry background.
All of the below will work on any Canon camera with the EF/EF-S mount, just keep in mind that if you use the lenses on a crop sensor Canon DSLR then you have to apply the 1.6 crop factor.
All of these lenses were picked because they stop down to at least f/2.8 across the whole range of focal lengths.
- Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM zoom lens
- Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 Art DC HSM Lens for Canon
- Canon EF 24mm f/1.4 II USM Prime Lens
Best Telephoto Canon Lens for blurry background
If you search online for “what is considered a telephoto lens?” you’ll find all sorts of answers…
Some people say a telephoto lens has to be over 80mm or even 100mm, but other people say that a telephoto starts from anything above 60mm or even 50mm.
In this section, we are going to consider anything above 60mm (full-frame equivalent) to cover most bases.
The lenses in this section are going to be perfect for sports and wildlife photography because they all go up to 200mm focal length which gives you a lot of reach.
If you are using a crop sensor camera then you will be getting 1.6x more in focal length so you will get an equivalent maximum focal length of 320mm.
Below is our list of top picks for telephoto lenses to achieve a blurry background.
- Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens
- Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM
- Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2
And that’s it! You should have all the lenses you need to get a blurry background on your Canon DSLR.