I have been doing wildlife photography since 2009. One of the questions which I frequently receive from my friends and readers is, “Is this Lens Good for Wildlife Photography?”.
So, I have decided to list out ten good lens options for people interested in Wildlife Photography.
10 Lens Options for Wildlife Photography
1. Canon 500mm f4 L IS II USM lens
I have been using this lens, the Canon 500mm f4 L IS II USM lens for the past five years. It is one of the best prime lenses which I own. The bigger Aperture of f4 is beneficial to get a shallow depth of field and pretty useful in low light conditions.
This ISII version is less bulky when compared to the IS1 version. So, you can easily carry it on your shoulders with the help of the neck strap. The optical performance of this lens is exceptionally good when compared to the IS1 version.
Another exciting feature which I found very useful is that you can comfortably accommodate it in your camera bag. You can take it along with you in the aircraft as cabin baggage, along with few other lenses and camera bodies. It weighs 3,190g.
Here are some sample photos:
Another example using the Canon Lens:
2. Nikkor 500mm F/4 FL ED VR
If you are a Nikon user, then Nikon 500mm f/4 FL VD ER lens is one of the best choices for wildlife photography. It is an excellent lens, suitable for photographing both birds as well as wild animals.
There is a considerable amount of weight reduction if you compare it with the older version. Fluorite glass elements help to achieve this weight reduction. You can use a tele converter to increase the effective focal length without degrading the image quality.
The focusing is exceptionally accurate and quiet. It costs slightly more than Canon the previous Canon lens and weighs in at 3090g, about 100g less than the Canon counterpart.
3. Sony 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 FE G OSS E-mount
As you all know, the mirrorless camera is the hot new trend when it comes to new camera gear in photography. Sony is the current market leader in mirrorless with their awesome camera bodies.
So, if you are a Sony user, then Sony 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 FE G OSS E-mount is the telephoto zoom lens for you. It comes with a variable aperture of f/5.6 to f/6.3 at 200mm to 600mm.
The 11-blade diaphragm helps to get a beautiful background blur. It weighs around 2,115g.
It is an inexpensive option for Sony users. Check price on Adorama.
4. Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS III USM lens
If you are looking for a super telephoto lens with an amazing low light performance, then Canon’s 400mm f2.8 L IS III version lens is the best choice. The bigger Aperture of F/2.8 allows you to get that extra stop of light when compared to the f4 lenses. So, you will get a shallow depth of field along with excellent low light performance.
Another advantage of this lens is you can use a 2x Teleconverter with it to get an 800mm focal length at f/5.6 aperture. This combination is perfect for photographing birds. It’s almost 1000g less bulky than the IS II version. It weighs around 2840g and thus makes it an excellent candidate to take handheld shots.
5. Canon 200-400mm f4 L IS Lens
If you are looking for a super telephoto zoom lens with the image quality of a prime lens, then Canon 200-400mm f4 L IS lens is a good option. This L series lens from Canon comes with a 1.4x inbuilt extender, which you can enable or disable while shooting.
If you enable the extender, the focal length range becomes 280-560mm. So, you can vary the overall reach of this lens from 200mm to 560mm. This variable focal length range is useful for photographing animals. This zoom range allows you to compose the image properly.
6. Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E VR Lens
Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E VR Lens is the best budget lens with excellent optics from Nikon. It weighs around 2,090g. So, you can easily carry it with the neck strap. It works perfectly with a Nikon D500 or Nikon D850 body.
This lens is one of the most wanted lenses for amateur photographers who are looking for that additional reach with good image quality. It also comes with Vibration Reduction. Thus, you can get better shake-free images handheld.
7. Sony 500mm F/4 G SSM Lens
500mm is the most commonly used focal length by all wildlife photographers. So, if you are looking for a 500mm prime lens from Sony, then Sony 500mm f/4 G SSM lens is the lens for you.
It comes with Nano Ar coating to reduce flare and ghosting and weighs around 3460g. This lens doesn’t come with image stabilization since Sony has already incorporated the stabilization part in the camera body.
If you use it with a Sony APS-C SLT camera, you will get an effective reach of 750mm. So, this lens addresses professional wildlife photography needs for Sony users.
8. Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS III USM Lens
If you are not satisfied with the reach of the 500mm lens, then you should start looking into the 600mm focal length. So, Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS III USM Lens is the prime lens option for Canon users.
It weighs around 3000g, and the weight has dropped by 870g when compared to the IS II version. They have also adjusted the weight across the lens in such a way that it provides a better balance than the IS II version.
The wide-open aperture of f4 at 600mm helps to get a nicely blurred background.
9. Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens
I have seen many wildlife photographers looking to go for a short telephoto length in the range of 100-200mm to capture wildlife images with the habitat. If you are also looking for one such lens which caters to the short telephoto lengths as well as the super telephoto range, then Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens is a good choice.
This lens helps in image composition because of its variable focal length. The image quality is also pretty good, and you can easily carry it around using a neck strap.
It weighs around 1570g. Canon has managed to reduce the weight by 190g when compared to the older version.
10. NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR
So, if you are a Nikon user looking for a 600mm prime lens, then NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR is the lens for you. It comes with the Vibration reduction, which can get you up to 4 stops.
The Nano crystal coating on the glass elements helps you to capture better images with less reflection. It weighs around 3810g. The Fluorite lens elements have helped to achieve this lower weight. You can use it with a converter to get more reach.
So, these are some of the best lens options for wildlife photography from the popular camera manufacturers Canon, Nikon, and Sony. You can choose the right telephoto lens based on your budget and photography requirements.
A great camera gear will not create great images. So, you need to concentrate on the photography part also, to capture great pictures