Be Wild! 7 Best Lens for Wildlife Photography [Pros Cons]
Mariotama – If you like taking beautiful and exotic animal pictures, you need the best lens for wildlife photography to work with you. Wildlife photography is not something like just walking around in the park. It is a constant activity with the balance between patience, timing, and preparation.
When capturing wildlife, photographers need to think about everything from the conditions of weather to proximity and natural lighting. Preparation is everything for wildlife photography. Besides the camera, you also need to prepare the best lens for it since it is the most crucial element.
First, find the right lens according to your style and taste of wildlife photography. One more thing, the budget should be one of the considerations in choosing the lens. Let us find out which lens can deliver desirable wildlife shots.
7 Best Lens for Wildlife Photography
1. Best Extreme Focal Length Lens: Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM
- The Canon EF800mm f/5.6L IS USM, which is a L (Luxury) series lens incorporating a high-performance Image Stabilizer
- Feature optical systems utilizing special optical materials such as fluorite
It’s a super-telephoto lens made for Canon DSLR cameras. It is packed with exceptional capabilities to shoot in long distance. This long lens is one of the longest ones in Canon’s line-up.
The lens features a refined optical design, a UD element, a couple of fluorite lens elements, and one Super UD glass element. Those features will give shots after shots that have superb contrast, sharpness, and outstanding color fringing correction.
It is a perfect lens for wildlife photography. You can also have this lens to shoot sports or news events. Even though it is long and big, its weight is quite normal, which is less than 10lbs. On the body, you will fill the magnesium-alloy barrel that makes great durability.
The durable build also has a weather-resistant gasket. Do not worry about the weather; take some perfect moments as long as you want. The lens is image stabilized that provides up to four correction stops for shaky shots. It would be so practical using the lens in many situations.
You can buy this lens to be mounted on your Canon’s DSLRs. Your money will be worth spent with this Canon super-telephoto lens.
- The focus is extremely quiet and quick.
- It’s solidly built.
- It’s a well worth lens investment.
- Suitable for wildlife and news journalism
- You will face vignette at f/5.6.
- Super telephoto is super expensive.
2. Best Budget: Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED
- Compact super telephoto zoom lens for birding, wildlife, motorsports, events and more
- 500mm of zoom power on FX format DSLRs; 750millimeter equivalent on DX format DSLRS, Minimum Focus Distance: 7.2 feet ( 2.2 meter), Focal Length Range:200 500 millimeter
- Fast f/5.6 constant aperture for beautiful out of focus backgrounds and low light performance
- 4.5 stops of Vibration Reduction with Sports mode. Approx. Weight 81.2 ounce. Approx. Dimensions(Diameter x Length) 4.2 inch x 10.5 inch( Based on CIPA Guidelines )
- AF compatible with optional TC 14E series teleconverters and DSLRs that offer f/8 support.Mount Type:Nikon F Bayonet
This affordable zoom lens is perfect for the users of Nikon DSLRs. Even though it is cheaper than the rest of the lenses in this list, this Nikon zoom lens has a very useful long telephoto range. The range can be extended to fully 750mm on DX cameras like the D500.
The maximum aperture of this lens is f/5.6, which means it is quite portable for its range. It is not as heavy as other telephoto lenses. Therefore, you can enjoy the handheld while getting accurate autofocusing from the AF-S motor.
It has an electromagnetic diaphragm that can work effectively with recent cameras of Nikon. You may need to check compatibility first before buying this lens. Another cool feature needs to be mentioned is the vibration reduction image stabilization.
This technology will keep the shots you take sharp and steady. It is a great when works together with the electromagnetic diaphragm. You can use the lens with Nikon teleconverter to get a far subject in your outstanding shots.
Attach this lens on FX-format cameras. You can bring distant wildlife into tight focus.
- It performs in great balance.
- Fast and accurate autofocusing
- It’s great for birding and butterflies.
- It’s so heavy.
- The lens hood is horrible.
- It is longer to lock focus.
3. Best Speed: Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm
- World's most powerful 6 steps of compensation synchronized in lens and in body Image Stabilization
- Closest focus of 1.4 meters gives a 0.48X (35mm equivalent) telemacro photography, Focal Length : 300mm
- Splash, Dust, and Freeze proof design
- Manual focus clutch & Lfn button to instantly switch shooting styles
- Compatible with the MC 14 tele converter
The speedy performance seems to be the charm of this lens. It is packed with the highest resolution in the history of the Olympus lens. It eliminates peripheral chromatic aberration virtually. While the nano-technology lens coating minimizes the ghosts and flares.
It features the extreme portability that you need. It weighs in at a mere 2.7lbs. The small size and lightweight make the lens can easily fit in your carry or backpack. The construction of the body is impressive.
It consists of three difficult-to-fabricated Super ED lenses, three high refractive index lenses, and one refractive index lens in extra-high. All of the materials let you produce excellent resolution from a compact body.
Inside the lens, you are geared with 5-axis image stabilization for enduring crisp, clear images from a telephoto. The lens allows you to experiment with some unique angles for your shots such as overhead nature shots.
The performance is superb in all weather. For example, you can still get outstanding photographs of raining soccer or football. You can enhance the versatility by adding the 1.4x teleconverter. It can deliver such impressive maximum 840mm focal length.
- Great size and length
- Astonishing Image Stabilization when using with an E-M1
- The weight of the lens is not bad.
- This AF is not as lightning fast as expected.
4. Best Speed and Zoom: Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 Sports
- Offers OS (Optical Stabilization
- Two FLD Glass Elements
- Fast Focus
This lens is not all about the speed but also the zoom performance. It comes with incredible optical stabilization that delivers remarkable image quality throughout the range. This lens can do a super-tele zoom.
This Sigma lens does a good job in delivering the sharpness. It features a great bokeh look that separates the subject and the background beautifully. You will be served with nice round soft orbs of lights on the back of your wildlife subject.
If you are quite interested in taking shots during the night or low-light condition, this lens would do good but not so great compared to other lenses. This 120-330mm lens has good flexibility. Since it is a zoom lens, you can track the animal coming at you and adjust the frame at the same time.
Sigma described this product as a Sports lens. It seems like the company wants to brand it as a lens to shoot sports moments. That makes this lens great for wildlife too. It is expensive but your money will be well-spent.
- Remarkable image quality
- It is packed with great optical stabilization.
- It has no weatherproof.
- The AF motor is loud.
5. Best Long Range: Pentax 560mm f/5.6-45 Super-Telephoto Fixed Zoom Camera Lens
- Super telephoto of 560mm focal length (859mm in 35mm format). PENTAX original, high grade multi layer HD (High Definition) Coating on lens provides sharp, clear images free of flare and ghosting
- Unique telescope type optical design and the use of two extra low dispersion (ED) lens elements delivers bright, high resolution images even at the edges, with minimal chromatic aberration
- Rounded diaphragm blades result in images with a smooth, beautiful bokeh (out of focus rendition). Smooth autofocus operation using an AF driving motor (DC motor) installed in the lens barrel
- Dustproof, weather resistant construction featuring 29 special seals
- Built in, removable C PL circular polarizing filter holder in the lens barrel. White lens exterior to minimize heat haze generated inside the lens barrel
It is one of the best long-range lenses. It has a 560mm focal length, which is ideal for shooting wildlife photography. This interchangeable super-telephoto lens is designed exclusively for PENTAX cameras with K-mount lens-interchangeable feature.
This tele lens is packed with a bunch of cool features such as the PENTAX’s HD coating, telescope-type optics, and the high-grade multi-layer lens coating. Working with PENTAX camera, this lens has an 859mm focal length in the 35mm format.
It has guaranteed to deliver sharp, well-defined images, especially with distant subjects. If you are working in the world of wildlife photography and have that specific PENTAX camera, this long-range lens belongs to you.
This lens is one of the models in All Weather or AW series from PENTAX. The body is filled with dustproof and weatherproof construction that consists of 29 special seals. It will prevent the dust or water into the lens effectively.
It is recommended to mount this lens on the PENTAX K-5 or PENTAX K-30. You will be served with a durable, reliable imaging system that is perfect for outdoors in any weather conditions.
- It’s an exclusive lens with amazing quality.
- It can handle all weather.
- The lens is much lighter than expected.
- The high price is worth it.
- It’s got no autofocus.
- No stabilization system
- Need a tripod so bad
6. Best Handheld: Fujinon XF100-400mm F4.5-5.6
- Focal length : XF100-400mm (152-609mm - 35mm Format Equivalent)
- 21 elements 14 groups (includes 5 extra low dispersion elements and 1 super extra low dispersion element)
- Focus range : 1.75m, Max.magnification : 0.19x (Telephoto)
- 5 -Stop Image Stabilization System.Filter Thread :Front: 77 mm.Angle of view:16.2°- 4.1°
- Water and dust resistant and can operate in temperatures as low as 14 DegreeF (-10 DegreeC), Removable tripod mount
It is the only choice for Fujifilm X-system users for long telephoto lens work. Fortunately, this lens is a very decent one. The body is lightweight and well build. The Fujinon lens comes with weather-resistant construction and effective IS (image stabilization).
You do not need to carry a tripod all day long on your trip because you can still get great photos with a handheld. The equivalent range is 600m, which is perfect for wildlife photography. If you need to go longer, you can use the 1.4x teleconverter from Fujifilm, which is included in the bundling option.
You do not have to worry about the decreasing quality or any other issues because the autofocus performance of this lens would still be excellent. Speaking about focusing, this lens has twin linear motors to deliver quick focusing on moving subjects.
Do not worry about the loud sound of the motors because they are so quiet. It is also possible to get even faster AF shooting with the focus limiter. As mentioned before, this lens is weather sealed. It is packed with 13 water and dustproof seals at 12 points.
You will shoot outdoors in any weather with no worries. On the front of the lens, a water repellent fluorine coating is applied. It will make an easy clean for the lens. It is also packed with a polarizing filter window, which can be locked too.
This Fujinon lens is less expensive than the previous telephoto lenses. It is designed for Fujifilm X-system cameras.
- Easily carried and handheld
- Superb image quality
- Very fast focus
- Weather-sealed body
- The only option for Fujifilm camera users
7. Best Compact: Sony FE 100-400mm F4.5–5.6 GM OSS
- G Master design combines extraordinary sharpness and smooth bokeh
- 35 mm full-frame.Double-linear and Direct Drive SSM for fast, quiet, precise focus
- Optical SteadyShot image stabilization significantly reduces blur
- Versatile min focus distance of 322’ / 035x max mag. Angle of View (APS-C):16 °-4 °10'2
- 9-blade circular aperture contributes to gorgeous bokeh.Maximum Magnification ratio (x):0.35
It’s a Sony Alpha lens with super telephoto zoom capability that’s made for full-frame sensor DSLR cameras. It can produce photos with outstanding sharpness. The compact design of this lens maintains the high standard of resolution from Sony.
This tele zoom lens is one of Sony’s flagship lines of G Master Lens series. It is well known as the series that satisfy many photographers with its quality.
It is a powerful gear to support your wildlife photography works. It is a cool lens to be used by a variety of enthusiast and professional photographers. An image stabilization system is an important feature to most lenses for wildlife photography. This Sony lens has the high-performance one.
The system is called as OpticalSteadyShot image stabilization. It lets the camera capture sharp, blur-free shots with handheld shooting. It is driven by a linear motor to acquire price compensation. Moreover, you can use the 5-axis image stabilization in Sony cameras that have built-in IS.
Let us talk about the focusing system. It is fast, quiet, and prices, enough said. Thanks to the double motor system, the DDSSM (Direct Drive Supersonic Wave Motor), and the double-linear motor.
- It’s extremely sharp.
- Incredible image quality
- Very good Image stabilization
- Outstanding wildlife shooting
- It costs a little bit too high.
- It is only good for photo, not video.
What is the best focal length for wildlife photography?
It depends on the subjects and the distance of your shooting. Because it is so hard to get close to wild subjects, photographers need long lenses. Your lens needs to have at least 300mm for crop sensor or 400mm for a full-frame sensor.
What is the right focal length for bird photography?
Using the 400mm is recommended but the 300mm is also a good choice as long as you use the f/4 speed.
What is the difference between a telephoto lens and a zoom lens?
Telephoto lenses can be either prime or zoom. The word telephoto means that the lens has a narrow field of view relatively. Zoom means that users can change how far they are looking at to the subjects.
In detail, a telephoto lens is the one with a long focal length while zoom lens is the one whose focal length can change.
Which is better zoom or prime lenses?
A prime lens is much lighter than the zoom. Relating to wildlife photography, photographers prefer zoom lenses.
Which is the best lens for wildlife photography with Canon?
Besides the one mentioned above, the other Canon products for wildlife photography would be Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM Lens, Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens, and Canon EF 300mm f/4L IS USM Lens, Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens.
After exploring the vicissitudes from each lens, you are now ready to choose which lens that is right for your style of photography.
Based on all of those reviews, the best lens for wildlife photography would be Fujinon XF100-400mm F4.5-5.6 which is described as the best handheld lens. With a less expensive price, this lens can deliver incredible shots.
Last update on 2020-01-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API