best lens for wildlife photography

The best lens for wildlife photography is one that you love to use, and one that you can frame your subjects with comfortably. In this article we’ll discuss what to look for when shopping for lenses, and we’ll also provide recommendations on some of our favorite options.

When choosing a lens for wildlife photography you should look at three factors: price, quality, and versatility. In this article we’ll talk about what you should consider when picking a lens, and we’ll also offer some recommendations on the lenses that we think are best.

List of the best lens for wildlife photography

Wildlife photography is a challenging task, requiring a lot of skill and patience. While using a telephoto lens enables you to capture striking photos of animals from a distance, it can also be useful if you want to capture their behavior in detail. Here are some of the best wildlife photography lenses available in the market today.

1. Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Contemporary DG OS HSM Wildlife Lens

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The Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Lens is an impressive piece of camera equipment which provides several desirable features for wildlife photography.

With 600mm of zoom, the Sigma 150-600mm allows you take detailed close-up photographs from a considerable distance. When photographing skittish animals, powerful zoom is an absolute necessity.

The Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Contemporary DG OS HSM Lens is perfect for beginner bird photographers looking to improve their photography by prioritizing a high focal length range. In addition, this lens provides image stabilization allowing for sharp, clear images that are free from blur.

The lens performs very well and produces great photos up to 400mm. When the lens is maxed out at 600mm, the sharpness of the captured images are reduced. While not at all cheap, the Sigma 150-600mm lens is a fantastic value for the price. A beginner wildlife photographer should find this lens convenient and easy to use.

Best for: Wildlife Photography
Matching camera body: Canon EOS REBEL T7i DSLR Camera

What we liked

  • Great, Affordable Lens
  • Impressive Telephoto Reach Maxing Out at 600mm
  • Includes Tripod Collar and Lens Hood
  • Quiet and Fast AF
  • Excellent Sharpness at 400mm and lower; Good Sharpness at 600mm
  • Good Image Stabilization

What we didn’t like

  • Not Fully Weather Sealed
  • Chromatic Aberration at High Zoom
  • Somewhat Heavy

Focal Length: 150-600mm
Aperture: f/5-6.3
Format: Full-Frame
Type: Hyper-Telephoto Zoom
Autofocus: Hypersonic Motor AF
Stabilization: Optical Stabilizer
Glass: 1 “F” Low Dispersion (FLD) Element and 2 Special Low Dispersion (SLD) Elements
Weight: 4.25 lbs
Warranty: 1-year North & South America Warranty, plus 3-year Extended USA Warranty

2. Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L is II USM Telephoto Lens

The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-6.5L IS II USM Lens is a fantastic lens for wildlife photography and general outdoor applications.

This wildlife photography lens is solidly built and extremely rugged with water and dust sealing to withstand the demands of the outdoors. The Canon EF 100-400mm includes a fast and quiet AF system using an ultrasonic motor. The aperture range is impressive as is the focal length.

With optical image stabilization, fluorine coatings to prevent smudging and smearing, and an all around strong construction, the Canon EF 100-400mm is a very professional tool which is capable of taking breathtaking wildlife photographs. For beginners, however, this lens may be not be budget-friendly.

Best for: Advanced Bird and Wildlife Photography
Matching camera body: Canon EOS 6D Mark II Digital SLR Camera

What we liked

  • Focal Length Allows for Flexibility while Shooting
  • Close Focus at 3.2 ft
  • Solid, Weather-Sealed Build
  • Fast and Quiet USM AF
  • Compatible with Certain Canon Extenders
  • Very Sharp Images at All Focal Lengths
  • The Foot of Tripod Mount can be Removed

What we didn’t like

  • Low-Light AF can Lag
  • Can’t remove the Entire Tripod Mount
  • Somewhat expensive

Focal Length: 100-400mm
Aperture: f/4.5-5.6L
Format: Full-Frame
Type: Telephoto Zoom
Autofocus: Ultrasonic Motor AF
Stabilization: Optical Image Stabilizer with 4-Step Image Correction
Glass: 1 Fluorite & 1 Super Ultra-Low Dispersion (UD) Element
Weight: 3.4 lbs
Warranty: 90-day Warranty for Renewed Items

3. Nikon AF-S FX Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6E ED Wildlife Lens

High performance and professional quality, the Nikon AF-S FX Nikkor 200-500mm f5.6E ED Lens is a super-zoom telephoto lens with a number of features that contribute to stunning wildlife photographs.

Wildlife photographers and bird photographers will appreciate the image resolution and clarity that this lens produces at impressive distances. Even at 500mm of zoom, the Nikon AF-S FX Nikkor 200-500mm produces sharp, clear images with vibrant colors.

Although somewhat bulky at five pounds, the Nikon AF-S FX Nikkor 200-500mm is well balanced and surprisingly easy to use and maneuver. This is a huge advantage in outdoor settings, especially when hiking, backpacking, or camping is required.

Certainly priced for professionals, the Nikon AF-S FX Nikkor 200-500mm nevertheless provides a great balance between user-friendliness and affordability and top shelf photography equipment.

Best for: Advanced Bird and Wildlife Photography
Matching camera body: Nikon D500 DX-Format DSLR Camera

What we liked

  • Incredibly Sharp Photos Even at High Zoom
  • Great Vibration Reduction
  • Solid Build Quality
  • Well-Balanced, Despite the Size and Weight
  • Fixed Aperture throughout Focal Range
  • Removable Tripod Collar

What we didn’t like

  • Well-Balance, but Still Heavy
  • Somewhat Slower Focus in Low Light

Focal Length: 200-500mm
Aperture: f/5.6E
Format: FX
Type: Super Telephoto Zoom with Constant Aperture
Autofocus: Silent-Wave Motor AF
Stabilization: 4.5-Stop Vibration Reduction IS
Glass: 3 Extra-Low Dispersion (ED) Elements
Weight: 5 lbs
Warranty: 1-year Limited Warranty

4. Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM UD Lens

The Canon EF 70-300mm f4-5.6L IS USM UD Lens is a more affordable option which is ideal for the beginner wildlife photographer. Passionate individuals who appreciate wildlife and want to begin capturing nature will be impressed with the user-friendliness and affordable performance of this telephoto zoom lens.

This lens features a versatile zoom range which maxes out at 300mm. While not quite as powerful as some other options on this list, 300mm of zoom is enough to get up close detailed shots of all sorts of wildlife.

With an aperture that maxes out at f/4, this lens performs well in low-light. Its fast autofocus is also a huge benefit for wildlife photography. When attempting to capture fast moving wildlife on camera, a quick focus is ideal.

The Canon EF 70-300mm f4-5.6L IS USM UD Lens is a great lens for amateur wildlife photographers looking for a lens that can be adapted to shoot in many different settings. It’s AF and aperture allow it to produce sharp images throughout the focal length range. While no wildlife photography lens can be considered “cheap,” this lens is relatively inexpensive.

Best for: Beginner Wildlife Photography
Matching camera body: Canon EOS 7D Mark II Digital SLR Camera

What we liked

  • Sharp at Every Focal Length
  • Build Quality
  • Great 4-Stop Image Stabilizer
  • Smooth Focus Ring with Twist Zoom
  • Weather Sealed
  • Fast AF
  • Designed for Full-Frame, APS-C, and APS-H Cameras

What we didn’t like

  • Not Compatible with Extenders
  • No Tripod Collar
  • White Color Makes it More Conspicuous and May Alert Wildlife

Focal Length: 70-300mm
Aperture: f4-5.6L
Format: Full-Frame
Type: Telephoto Zoom
Autofocus: Ultrasonic Motor AF
Stabilization: 4-Stop Optical Image Stabilization
Glass: 2 Ultra-Low Dispersion (UD) Elements
Weight: 2.3 lbs
Warranty: 1-year Limited Warranty

5. Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR Zoom Lens

The Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR Zoom Lens is a high quality product which delivers on the incredible professional level optics which consumers have come to expect from the Nikon brand.

This lens comes with an aperture range of f/4.5 to f/5.6, a focal length range of 80mm to 400mm and a zoom ratio of 5x. This telephoto lens is more than capable of capturing amazing shots of animals from a discreet distance.

The Nikon 80-400mm Zoom Lens features an FX-format compatible system and an F Bayonet mount type. The wide aperture contributes to this lens’s all around precision. It has a minimum focusing distance of 5.7 feet which allows for detailed close-up shots.

With built-in autofocus and image stabilization in the format of vibration reduction, this lens can adapt quickly and take clear and beautiful photographs, free from motion blur, even while on the go. This can help to reduce motion blur. At 3.5 pounds, the Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 80-400mm is a bit bulky for some applications, but is by no means the heaviest option on this list.

Best for: Shooting large areas
Matching camera bodyNikon D750 FX-Format DSLR

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