6 Best Camera Lenses for Wildlife Photography

Wildlife photography is an interesting hobby. It helps you get closer to birds and animals while maintaining physical proximity. If you just got yourself a brand new camera to explore the wild side of nature, we’ve made a list of the best camera lenses for wildlife photography that are absolute must-buys.

These lenses will help you capture crisp shots with high levels of zoom. The list includes wildlife photography lenses for Sony, Canon, and Nikon cameras. If you have a camera from a different manufacturer, you can always use an adapter with any lens of your choice.

Before we get to the best lenses for wildlife photography, consider taking a look at some other related articles –

That said, here are the lenses we recommend.

1. Tamron 70-300mm E-Mount Lens

  • Camera compatibility: Sony
  • Aperture: f/4.5-6.3
  • Image stabilization: No
  • Sensor: APS-C and Full frame
Tamron lens

Tamron is a brand that makes excellent affordable lenses. The lenses from the brand are generally priced lower than their Sony counterparts. This 70-300mm lens from Tamron also follows the same trend. It’s priced well for a telephoto lens with a wide range of focal lengths.

The Tamron lens for Sony cameras is quite versatile since it can go from 70mm to 300mm. This means you can click photos of large animals that are about three feet away from you all the way to small birds on top of tall trees. Despite covering a large focal length, the Tamron 70-300mm lens is quite compact so it won’t increase the weight of your gear by much.

As per users, the autofocus capability of this lens and the level of detail it captures are excellent. It can go toe-to-toe with lenses that cost even double the price. However, the low-light performance isn’t great which is understandable since the aperture is narrow. It’s also worth noting that the Tamron 70-300 lens isn’t the best option to shoot videos if your camera doesn’t have IBIS. There’s no stabilization built into the lens so it’s best to use a gimbal.

2. Sony FE 200-600mm FE-Mount Lens

  • Camera compatibility: Sony
  • Aperture: f/5.6-6.3
  • Image stabilization: Yes
  • Sensor: APS-C and Full frame
Sony lens for wildlife

Sony’s G Master lenses are among the best in the industry. The FE 200-600mm lens is a top-quality glass that can give you stellar shots. The maximum focal length is double that of the Tamron lens so you can reach much farther.

Needless to say, you have to pay top bucks to get top-quality lenses. The Sony G Master FE lens has extra-low dispersion glass elements to reduce flare and ghosting. If you’re shooting against direct sunlight or in artificial lighting, this is surely a savior. Since the lens is made by Sony, you get Optical Steady Shot or OSS which helps with stabilization.

Due to the large range of focal lengths, the Sony FE 200-600mm lens is rather huge. It’s quite difficult to use your camera handheld with this lens, especially for a long duration. So, it’s best to use a tripod for stable shots.

As for the image quality, reviews say it’s fantastic. Images even at the max 600mm focal length appear sharp — even if the subject is moving. The fast aperture allows you to capture birds and animals in motion with ease. Finding a negative review of the Sony FE 200-600mm is a difficult task. That’s how good this lens is.

3. Canon 75-300mm EF-Mount Lens

  • Camera compatibility: Canon
  • Aperture: f/4-5.6
  • Image stabilization: Yes
  • Sensor: Full frame
Canon EF lens

If you have a Canon camera with an EF Mount, you’re in luck. This 75-300mm lens from Canon is one of the most affordable lenses for wildlife photography. While the 300mm focal length doesn’t reach as far as the G Master lens, it also costs 10% of the price.

Don’t write off the Canon 75-300mm purely based on the price. Despite being a budget camera lens for wildlife photography, the images you can click using this glass are excellent. The details in the center of the frame are sharp but they tend to get soft when you move to the edges. This is a characteristic of most budget lenses, though.

As per reviews, the autofocus is spot on and works well when there’s ample light. This also helps with capturing birds that are flying in the sky. If you have an APS-C or full-frame camera from Canon, it’s best to pick up this EF-mount lens along with an adaptor. It’s an affordable combo.

4. Sigma 150-600mm EF-Mount Lens

  • Camera compatibility: Canon
  • Aperture: f/5-6.3
  • Image stabilization: Yes
  • Sensor: Full frame
Sigma 150-600mm

Sigma is another brand making lenses that can give first-party camera manufacturers a run for their money. The Sigma 150-600mm EF-mount lens is made using high-quality materials and premium glass. There’s also a water and oil-resistant coating for clear pictures.

While the Sigma EF-mount lens offers the same reach as the G Master lens, it’s more compact and lightweight, making it easy to carry in your kit bag. Lenses from Sigma are known for excellent image quality and that’s exactly what you get here. Reviews say the pictures captured using the lens are superb with ample amount of detail.

In fact, several users have mentioned that the 150mm focal length also offers a great perspective for shooting portrait images — albeit from a distance. You get a nice, creamy bokeh making images look pleasing to the eye.

Low light performance isn’t particularly good, though, even when shooting at the widest aperture. Plus, there’s no built-in stabilization, unlike the G Master lens. So, get ready to keep your arms steady.

5. Tamron 70-300mm Z-Mount Lens

  • Camera compatibility: Nikon
  • Aperture: f/4.5-6.3
  • Image stabilization: No
  • Sensor: APS-C and Full frame
Tamron 70-300mm

If you were impressed by the Tamron 70-30mm lens for Sony cameras but have a Canon camera — there’s good news for you. Tamron also makes a similar lens for Nikon’s Z-mount lens system.

Apart from the different lens system, the rest of the lens remains more or less similar to the previously mentioned glass from Tamron. It’s one of the most compact and light telephoto lenses for wildlife photography that you can buy. Nikon’s color science is known to suit wildlife photography so pair the camera with the Tamron lens and you can expect to get great results.

The Tamron 70-30mm lens is primarily made for hobbyists. Pretty much the only real con is that the aperture isn’t wide enough at 300mm. So, in low-light situations, there might be a considerable amount of noise creeping into your photos. If you’re only going to be shooting during the daytime, this shouldn’t be a problem.

6. Nikkor 200-500mm F-Mount Lens

  • Camera compatibility: Nikon
  • Aperture: f/5.6
  • Image stabilization: Yes
  • Sensor: Full frame
Nikkor 200-500mm

If you have a camera with Nikon’s F-mount lens system, the Nikkor 200-500m lens is a good mid-range lens. The magnification tops out at 500mm which is slightly lower than the 600mm lenses mentioned above. However, the lens is slightly more compact and easy to carry around.

Wildlife photographers are surely going to be pleased with the 200-500mm focal length offered by the Nikkor lens — especially considering that it’s not too heavy. While the image quality is top-notch, the lens is slightly on the expensive side considering a constant aperture of f/5.6.

The Sigma 150-600mm lens mentioned earlier has equivalent image quality but a wider aperture — at least for the minimum focal length. The large aperture means the lens is slightly slow to capture moving objects. You need a lot of light to ensure there’s no blur when capturing moving animals or birds. If that’s the scenario you shoot in most of the time, you can consider the Nikkor 200-500mm lens.

FAQs for Camera Lenses for Wildlife Photography

1. Can I use a Canon lens with my Sony camera?

You cannot natively use lenses meant for a different mount with your camera. However, you can use a lens adapter to use a Canon lens with a Sony camera.

2. Which camera is recommended for wildlife photography?

Generally, Nikon’s cameras are regarded as the best for wildlife photography due to the color science. However, that doesn’t mean you cannot use Sony or Canon cameras.

3. What is the ideal focal length for wildlife photography?

There’s no fixed focal length that’s ideal. It all depends on the type of subject and how far you are from it. If you plan to shoot birds in the sky, 500-600mm is recommended.

Capture the Elements of Nature

If you wish to embark on the journey of capturing birds and animals, the best way to do it is to choose from the best camera lenses for wildlife photography mentioned above. These lenses will help you capture breathtaking photos when you’re in the wild.

Last updated on 13 June, 2023

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