12 Best Lenses for Wildlife Photography: (2021 Ultimate Guide)

This is a guide covering the best lenses for wildlife photography.

In this all-new guide you’ll learn about:

  • Best Canon lens for wildlife photography
  • Best budget Canon lens for wildlife photography
  • Best Nikon lens for wildlife photography
  • Best budget Nikon lens for wildlife photography
  • Best Sony lens for wildlife photography
  • Best budget Sony lens for wildlife photography
  • Pros and cons
  • Price
  • Important features
  • And more

Let’s dive in.

best lens for wildlife photography

12 Best Lenses for Wildlife Photography

Click/tap on each lens name to jump to that section. At the end of each section, there is also a link to jump back to this table to make it easy for you!

In a hurry? Check out our top pick!

1. Sigma 150-600mm 5-6.3 Sports DG OS HSM Lens for Canon
Sigma 150-600mm 5-6.3
– Easy to focus on moving objects
– Sharp on the entire range
-Great range
– With stabilization feature

Finding subjects in the wild can be a fun activity. In most cases, you won’t be able to get close to wildlife given how dangerous it is and how fast animals move away from a potential threat.

Capturing photos of wildlife in their habitat isn’t simple without the right lens.

To make it easier for wildlife photography enthusiasts, we’ve come up with some of the best wildlife photography lenses that can be used in different cameras.

Here, you’ll have an easier time picking the best lens for wildlife photography that fits your needs.

1. Sigma 150-600mm 5-6.3 Sports DG OS HSM Lens for Canon
BEST CANON LENS
Sigma 150-600mm 5-6.3
– Easy to focus on moving objects
– Sharp on the entire range
– Great range
– With stabilization feature
2. Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III Telephoto Zoom Lens
BEST BUDGET CANON LENS
Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III
– Bang for buck
– Good range
– Sharp results
– Vibrant colors
3.Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED Vibration Reduction Zoom Lens
BEST NIKON LENS
Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E
– Covers great distance
– Sharp images
– Great colors
4. Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF AF-S VR Nikkor Zoom Lens
BEST BUDGET NIKON LENS
Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G
– Sharp and high contrast
– Good range
– With vibration reduction feature
– With decent autofocus for non-moving subjects
5. Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS Lens
BEST SONY LENS
Sony FE 70-200mm F4
– Heavy-duty construction
– Great range
– Minimizes shakes
– Wide aperture
6. Sony Alpha 70-350mm F4.5-6.3 G OSS Super-Telephoto APS-C Lens
BEST BUDGET SONY LENS
Sony Alpha 70-350mm
– Good range
– Sharp results and exceptionally good during daylight
7.Sony FE 200-600mm F5.6-6.3 G OSS Super Telephoto Zoom Lens
Sony FE 200-600mm F5.6-6.3
– Fast autofocus
– Great range
– Performs well in well-lighted scenarios
8.SIGMA APO 70-200mm F/2.8D EX HSM Lens for Nikon Mount
SIGMA APO 70-200mm
– Fast, quiet, and accurate autofocus motor
– Impressive sharpness
– Wide aperture perfect for creating bokeh
9.Canon EF 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6L IS USM Lens
Canon EF 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6L
– Robust construction
– Superb image stabilization that minimizes shaky results
– A great range for different situations other than wildlife photography
10. Sony – FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS Standard Zoom Lens
Sony - FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS Standard Zoom Lens
– Versatile
– Sharp results
– Fast AF
11. Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 80-400mm f.4.5-5.6G ED Vibration Reduction Zoom Lens
Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 80-400mm f.4.5-5.6G
– With vibration reduction
– Produces sharp images
– Allows users to shoot from afar
12. Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens
Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L
– Great range
– Sharp and vibrant results
– Fast and accurate AF

What is the Overall Best Canon Lens for Wildlife Photography?

1. Sigma 150-600mm 5-6.3 Sports DG OS HSM Lens for Canon

To be considered the best lens for wildlife photography, you need good range, superior clarity, and the ability to take sharp images from whatever focal length.

The Sigma 150-600mm 5-6.3 Sports DG OS HSM Lens for Canon is a stand-out that comes that matches these requirements.

Though made by a third-party brand, it’s something that Canon users can enjoy.

With a great range for shooting at a distance, it also offers stability.

It’s easy to use even when you don’t have a tripod with you when you are working. You also won’t have a difficult time focusing on the subject with its hypersonic AF motor.

This allows you to focus accurately on both slow-moving and fast-moving subjects with ease.

Though it’s functional and easy to use, it is heavy.

Sigma 150-600mm 5-6.3 Contemporary
Sigma 150-600mm 5-6.3 Sports DG OS HSM Lens for Canon example image – Source
Pros
  • Easy to focus on moving objects
  • Sharp on the entire range
  • Great range
  • With stabilization feature
Cons
  • Heavy

→ Jump Back to Table

What is the Best Budget Canon Lens for Wildlife Photography?

2. Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III Telephoto Zoom Lens

Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III

For a budget-strapped photographer, you might want to take a closer look at the Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III Telephoto Zoom Lens.

It’s a great deal.

You can’t go wrong with this lens whether you’re a serious photographer or someone who happens to be just exploring the world of wildlife photography.

It produces sharp images, vibrant colors, and consistent results throughout. The only thing that you might not like is the fact that it tends to be a bit noisy when it’s focusing.

If you are shooting photos of animals sensitive to sound, some of them might detect the lens and just go.

Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III
Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III Telephoto Zoom Lens example image – Source
Pros
  • Good range
  • Sharp results
  • Vibrant colors
Cons
  • Noisy when focusing

→ Jump Back to Table

What is the Overall Best Nikon Lens for Wildlife Photography?

3. Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED Vibration Reduction Zoom Lens

Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E

We consider the Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED Vibration Reduction Zoom Lens as the best lens for wildlife photography for Nikon users.

It comes in handy for those who are looking for stability and a compact design when taking photos in the wild.

The range is also something that will allow users to spot wildlife from afar.

You can also get sharp images regardless if you use 200mm or the 500mm focal length of the lens. The colors are also accurate making it a favorite even by some pros.

So what’s not to like in this lens? The biggest downside to this lens is that it tends to focus slower than other lenses that we’ve featured.

If you are looking to catch a fast-moving bird, then this might not be able to get the job done.
Also, the lens is only good during the daytime.

Anything past cloudy and the lens might struggle a bit.

You might want to adjust the ISO or opt to use a slower shutter speed that can have an impact on your wildlife photography.

Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E
Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED Vibration Reduction Zoom Lens example image – Source
Pros
  • Covers great distance
  • Sharp images
  • Great colors
Cons
  • Doesn’t do well in low-light
  • Doesn’t have a fast AF system

→ Jump Back to Table

What is the Best Budget Nikon Lens for Wildlife Photography?

4. Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF AF-S VR Nikkor Zoom Lens

Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G

Maybe you don’t have the money to really invest in a Nikon lenses for your wildlife photography hobby.

It doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to get amazing shots.

Considering the performance, Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF AF-S VR Nikkor Zoom Lens gives you the best bang for your buck.

It even has a good range potentially making it the best lens for wildlife photography for some photographers.

It’s a good deal for serious photographers. It has a vibration reduction system that minimizes shakes and helps you minimize mistakes even if you’re not using a tripod in your session.

The lens comes with 2 extra-low dispersion glass elements responsible for giving high contrast high-resolution shots. It even comes with a quiet autofocus system that is also quick in finding subjects.

However, if you are dealing with a fast-moving subject, the lens still struggles to take a decent photo. Just know what to expect from this lens.

Nikon 70-300 mm f/4-5.6G
Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF AF-S VR Nikkor Zoom Lens example image – Source
Pros
  • Sharp and high contrast
  • Good range
  • With vibration reduction feature
  • With decent autofocus for non-moving subjects
Cons
  • Having a hard time focusing on moving subjects

→ Jump Back to Table

What is the Overall Best Sony Lens for Wildlife Photography?

5. Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS Lens

Sony FE 70-200mm F4

Sony is relatively new in wildlife photography.

But this doesn’t mean that they don’t have a contender for the best lens for wildlife photography.

If you’re familiar with their system, the Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS Lens is arguably the best lens from Sony that can come in handy in shooting wildlife photography and sports photography.

It has a decent range at 70-200mm not to mention a large aperture at F2.8 allowing users to create beautiful bokeh and shoot in low-light conditions.

The colors are also stunning not to mention it also produces exceptionally sharp photos.

It also comes with an optical steady shot image stabilization feature making it easy to use even when you don’t have a tripod or when your hands are a bit shaky. And construction-wise, it is highly robust.

The lens is dust and moisture resistant allowing you to enjoy the outdoors without worrying about the lens.

Sony FE 70-200mm F4
Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS Lens example image – Source
Pros
  • Heavy-duty construction
  • Great range
  • Minimizes shakes
  • Wide aperture
Cons

    → Jump Back to Table

    What is the Best Budget Sony Lens for Wildlife Photography?

    6. Sony Alpha 70-350mm F4.5-6.3 G OSS Super-Telephoto APS-C Lens

    Sony Alpha 70-350mm

    The Sony Alpha 70-350mm F4.5-6.3 G OSS Super-Telephoto APS-C Lens compared to other Sony lenses can be considered a higher investment.

    However, the Sony Alpha 70-350mm F4.5-6.3 G OSS Super-Telephoto APS-C Lens is worth every penny.

    It is arguably the best lens for wildlife photography especially if you are only shooting in the daylight and if you don’t care so much about bokeh.

    It has a fast and precise AF that can capture both steady and moving subjects with ease.

    Sony Alpha 70-350mm
    Sony Alpha 70-350mm F4.5-6.3 G OSS Super-Telephoto APS-C Lens example image – Source
    Pros
    • Good range
    • Sharp results and exceptionally good during daylight
    Cons
    • Doesn’t do well in low-light situations

    → Jump Back to Table

    7. Sony FE 200-600mm F5.6-6.3 G OSS Super Telephoto Zoom Lens

    Sony FE 200-600mm F5.6-6.3

    The Sony FE 200-600mm F5.6-6.3 G OSS Super Telephoto Zoom lens comes in as a great choice for people who are looking to maintain a good distance between themselves and their subject in the wildlife.

    It covers a great distance making it a favorite among photographers who love to take photos of birds and elusive animals.

    It also has 5 ED glass elements that reduce both flare and ghosting on your shots.

    Unfortunately, it still underperforms when used in low-light scenarios.

    You will still struggle shooting subjects when you don’t have enough light.

    Sony FE 200-600mm F5.6-6.3 G OSS
    Sony FE 200-600mm F5.6-6.3 G OSS Super Telephoto Zoom Lens example image – Source
    Pros
    • Fast autofocus
    • Great range
    • Performs well in well-lighted scenarios
    Cons
    • Struggles in low-light condition

    → Jump Back to Table

    8. SIGMA APO 70-200mm F/2.8D EX HSM Lens for Nikon Mount

    SIGMA APO 70-200mm

    The Sigma APO 70-200mm F2.8D EX HSM is a handy tool whenever you are shooting portraits and wildlife photography.

    Though the range isn’t exactly as impressive as other lenses, it has a wide aperture that comes in handy if you are particular about creating beautiful bokeh in your shots.

    It has a decently fast and quiet HSM autofocus motor that can capture moving subjects without any problem.

    However, it is still not as fast as newer lenses out there.

    SIGMA APO 70-200mm
    SIGMA APO 70-200mm F/2.8D EX HSM Lens example image – Source
    Pros
    • Fast, quiet, and accurate autofocus motor
    • Impressive sharpness
    • Wide aperture perfect for creating bokeh
    Cons
    • The range is not that impressive

    → Jump Back to Table

    9. Canon EF 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6L IS USM Lens

    Canon EF 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6L

    The Canon EF 28-300mm F3.5-5.6L IS USM lens is a sought-after pick for many Canon users. The reason is that it goes beyond wildlife photography.

    Imagine not having to switch lenses as it covers your wide-angle lens, portrait lens, and telephoto lens. And for those who love shooting outdoors, it comes in as a good choice for wildlife photography.

    By design and performance, you can even argue that it’s the best lens for wildlife photography. It has an image stabilization feature that comes in handy if you are shooting without a tripod or when you have shaky hands.

    Plus, the construction is quite robust while being lightweight at the same time.

    Sharpness is good but there are better Canon lenses than this one.

    Also, the vignetting is quite obvious that you will have to spend some time correcting your shots on your computer.

    Canon EF 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6L
    Canon EF 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6L IS USM Lens example image – Source
    Pros
    • Robust construction
    • Superb image stabilization that minimizes shaky results
    • A great range for different situations other than wildlife photography
    Cons
    • Vignetting

    → Jump Back to Table

    10. Sony – FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS Standard Zoom Lens

    Sony - FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS Standard Zoom Lens

    Sony FE-24-105mm F4 G OSS Standard Zoom Lens comes in handy for those who want to invest in a highly versatile lens.

    It has a fast AF known to locate subjects quickly.

    It performs well in shooting landscapes, portraits, and even wildlife.

    Since Sony lenses are relatively higher in investment, many prefer to invest in this lens.

    It’s the type of lens that will allow you to not switch lenses anymore.

    However, though it comes in handy in shooting wildlife, it is not designed specifically for wildlife. Other lenses can do a better job.

    It’s not something that can come in handy in low-light situations plus, the distance it can cover isn’t exceptional.

    Sony - FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS Standard Zoom Lens
    Sony – FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS Standard Zoom Lens example image – Source
    Pros
    • Versatile
    • Sharp results
    • Fast AF
    Cons
    • Distance isn’t enough for most wildlife scenarios

    → Jump Back to Table

    11. Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 80-400mm f.4.5-5.6G ED Vibration Reduction Zoom Lens

    Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 80-400mm f.4.5-5.6G

    Some photographers consider the best lens for wildlife photography to have good range, the ability to produce sharp photos, and minimize shakes when used without a tripod.

    If these are things that you are looking for, then you should check the Nikon AF-S FX Nikkor 80-400mm f4.5-5.6 lens.

    It has a vibration reduction capability that can compensate up to 3.5 stops. Plus, its silent wave motor comes in handy in finding the subjects.

    But compared with top wildlife photography lenses, the Nikon AF-S FX Nikkor 80-400mm f4.5-5.6 lens falls short in tracking moving subjects.

    Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 80-400mm f.4.5-5.6G
    Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 80-400mm f.4.5-5.6G ED Vibration Reduction Zoom Lens example image – Source
    Pros
    • With vibration reduction
    • Produces sharp images
    • Allows users to shoot from afar
    Cons
    • AF is not fast enough to track fast-moving subjects

    → Jump Back to Table

    12. Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens

    Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L

    The Canon EF 100-400mm F4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens is considered a top choice by wildlife photographers.

    Considering the quality of photos that it can produce, not to mention the range that it covers, it’s a great pick for professionals.

    This allows photographers to shoot from a great distance. Plus, you get consistently sharp and vibrant colors throughout the focal length range of this lens.

    The L-series is a stand-out lens not only for wildlife photography but also for sports photography.

    It has a rotation-type zoom ring allowing the user to focus accurately. It does well not only in AF but also in manual focus mode.

    On top of that, the New Air Sphere coating reduces backlit flaring and ghosting on shots.

    Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM
    Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens example image – Source
    Pros
    • Great range
    • Sharp and vibrant results
    • Fast and accurate AF
    Cons

      → Jump Back to Table

      Final Remarks

      Wildlife photography requires the right tools to get the job done.

      The right lens can play a great role in capturing elusive animals in the wild.

      Aside from the range, its ability to hold still and optics will all contribute to the results that you are going to get.

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