📸 5 Best Lenses for Wildlife Photography In 2024 [Guide]

Jan 12, 2024 | Buying Guides

Have you ever wondered what owning the best lens for wildlife photography would be like?

If you have ever watched any animal documentary, you probably have.

It is a type of photography requiring sophisticated equipment with high-end optics and a wide focal range that usually costs a lot of money.

Unfortunately, despite the growing need for comprehensive buying guides, the internet still lacks helpful information.

image for wildlife photography lenses guide

With that in mind, I have decided to cover the topic by outlining an ultimate guide to help all photographers pick the best optics on the market, making their hunt for awesome wildlife images much more accessible.

Editor's Choice
Best Runner Up
Best Budget

Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E

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

Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Lens

Capture stunning details with this remarkable lens. Achieve exceptional sharpness and versatility for your photography needs.

Unleash your creativity with this high-performance lens. Experience remarkable low-light capabilities and exquisite bokeh.

Elevate your photography without breaking the bank. This lens offers incredible image quality and beautiful background blur.

5.0
4.8
4.7
Editor's Choice

Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E

Capture stunning details with this remarkable lens. Achieve exceptional sharpness and versatility for your photography needs.

5.0
Best Runner Up

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

Unleash your creativity with this high-performance lens. Experience remarkable low-light capabilities and exquisite bokeh.

4.8
Best Budget

Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Lens

Elevate your photography without breaking the bank. This lens offers incredible image quality and beautiful background blur.

4.7
Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E Lens

Experience the extraordinary with Nikon's 200-500mm f/5.6E lens; expansive zoom, sharp detail, and steady performance in every frame.

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The first contended offers an optical design of 19 elements in 12 groups, with nine rounded diaphragm blades and an angle of view of 12° 20′ to 5°. The minimum focus distance is 7,22 feet, and the maximum magnification sits at 0,22x. The

Nikon also offers optical image stabilization, which, in sports mode, allows 4.5 stops of vibration reduction. One of the reasons why it made the wildlife photography lenses list is a powerful focus system that allows one to create tack-sharp images at all f-stops and focal lengths.

I tried taking images of fast-moving rabbits, and the lens operated exceptionally well, capturing the subject with ease without hunt issues, and it didn’t cause any missed shots. It also produces a minimum amount of vignetting since I could only spot it at an f/5.6 and above 400mm. Moreover, it also has excellent sharpness control, with rock-solid detail preservation across all focal lengths and openings.

The Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 lens doesn’t suffer distortion problems, and chromatic aberration is almost non-existent. I have yet to spot serious flare issues (only minor samples could be found directly facing sunlight).

Nikon lenses for wildlife also offer excellent image quality. The optical image stabilization is fantastic as well, especially in sports mode. I wouldn’t say I like taking a tripod in nature to capture images of moving animals, so the OIS does a splendid job. It also feels solid in hands, with most of the structure made of metal.

Pros

  • Wide focal length
  • OIS
  • Design
  • Optical solutions

Cons

  • Limiting aperture

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

The lens is exceptionally resistant to dust and water. Images are razor-sharp and the maximum aperture is enough for shooting under low-light conditions.

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One of the wildlife lenses for Canon comes with an optical design of 21 elements in 16 groups, with nine rounded blades, an angle of view of 24° to 6° 10′, and a minimum focus distance of 3,22 feet. The maximum magnification is 0,31x, and the lens has optical image stabilization. One of the reasons why I included it in the best wildlife photography lens is its ability to focus with surgical precision, even at 400mm.

An important tip here is to set the focus on one spot, especially when photographing fast-moving objects, such as squirrels and birds. Another crucial point to mention is the lens’s robust and sturdy design, which also justifies the price. It also sports an extra tripod stand adapter. Image stabilization makes it possible to hold the Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 lens even at 1/30 when photographing wildlife.

What also helps is the ability of these optics to focus on broad landscape areas, which is convenient when photographing small animals in the trees or birds flying in the distance since it provides crystal and sharp images. The overall image quality is outstanding, and although it is a wide focal length lens, I overlooked distortion or aberration issues. Colors are well distributed and balanced across the frame with sharp contrast. The design is impeccable, which was expected from a premium “L” lens.

Pros

  • Amazing image quality
  • Design
  • Focus system
  • OIS

Cons

  • Price

Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Lens

The lens packs a super Spectra coating lens element that suppresses flare and ghosting. It provides solid photo quality, even when shooting from hands.

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The second Canon I represent is the best telephoto lens for wildlife photography and has an optical design of 19 elements in 14 groups, with eight rounded diaphragm blades. It has an angle of view of 34° to 8° 15′ and a focus distance of 3,94 feet. The maximum magnification sits at 0,21x, and the Canon 70-300mm f/4-5.6 lens has optical image stabilization. One of the critical factors that influenced me to put it on the best lens for wildlife photography is the perfect compact size of the lens.

It has a manual lock switch on the side of a barrel, and the lens can be locked at 70mm. It is a convenient feature, especially if you like traveling a lot. More points also go to the general design because the lens feels sturdy and robust. It can take a beating, making it a suitable candidate for shooting wildlife under demanding conditions. I was impressed by the optical image stabilization, which works without flaw.

However:

I want to note that there is a slight risk of moving the focus ring, which is the only objection regarding the design. The quality of images it takes is impressive, with overall sharpness across the frame. The focus is rock-solid; if it isn’t 100% correct, you can quickly move your hand to the focus ring to refocus the shot. The color distribution is phenomenal, with a natural brightness and crisp contrast.

Pros

  • OIS
  • Fast focus
  • General design
  • Versatile focal length

Cons

  • Limiting aperture

Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Lens

The focus system is reasonably fast and quiet, and it also has a good feeling to the zoom ring.

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Sigma came into the best lens for wildlife photography list with 14 elements in 10 groups, with nine diaphragm blades. Its angle of view is 34.3° to 8.2°, with a minimum focus distance of 59,1 inches and a maximum magnification of 0,5x. Unfortunately, Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 doesn’t have optical image stabilization, and for most of the photography sessions that include super-sharp focus, you should get a tripod or monopod.

I compensated greatly for vibration movements by taking the shutter speed to 1/1000th of a second. However, it is only possible if you have good lighting. The lens’s aperture is solid for daylight or even a golden hour.

On the other hand, it would be challenging to shoot at night with the widest opening without OIS. The lens works excellent under bright lighting and if you use intelligent stabilization methods in combination with a smaller aperture (I got great results at an f/8).

In a way:

It is a specialized lens intended for nature and wildlife, and thanks to its affordability, it is a suitable candidate for beginners. Also, Sigma offers the best budget lenses for wildlife photography. Design-wise, it is made primarily of plastic, but it feels good in the hands and is not heavy if you consider the focal length. The focus system is reasonably fast and quiet and has an excellent feeling to the zoom ring. The lens comes with a perfect package that includes a custom case and a lens hood.

Pros

  • Focus system
  • Versatile focal length
  • Affordability
  • Solid design

Cons

  • No OIS
  • Limiting aperture

Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Lens

Images that I have taken with the lens are full of rich details, sharp contrast, and vivid coloring.

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  • Lens Type: Telephoto
  • Mounting Type: Canon EF-S
  • Focal Length Range: 16-300mm
  • Minimum Focus Distance: 0.39m
  • Weight: 1.19 pounds
  • Dimensions: 3.94 x 2.95 x 2.95 inches

The last optics included in the article has an optical design of 16 elements in 12 groups, with seven rounded diaphragm blades and an angle of view of 82° 12′ to 5° 20′. The minimum focus distance is 15,3 inches with a maximum magnification of 0,34x. The Tamron 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 lens has multiple coating layers that produce clear and sharp images. It also sports optical image stabilization, ensuring high picture quality under demanding lighting conditions.

One of the reasons:

Tamron made the best lens for wildlife photography because the build quality is solid and robust, combined with a fast and accurate focus system at all ranges. The overall image quality is stable, with sharpness across the frame at all focal fields, with minimum vignetting and distortion problems at the extreme ends of the zoom. The optical image stabilization with the aperture of an f/3.5 allowed me to take gorgeous photos of distant animals, even under less-than-perfect light.

However:

I got the best results when I used the lens at 200mm and an f/8, but I could get solid work done in different aperture and focal range combinations. The package of the lens and the reliable performance it offers for a reasonable price make it a great candidate for those willing to explore what wildlife photography has to offer.

Pros

  • Focus system
  • OIS
  • Versatile focal length
  • Design

Cons

  • Distortion and aberrations at extreme ends

Verdict

Getting the camera lenses for wildlife can be a solid investment, especially since you need to invest a reasonable amount of money to get quality optics for that type of photography.

With those ideas, I came to put the above article and shed light on some of the most popular and investment-worthy lenses on the market. No matter which one you choose to get, your portfolio will improve quite fast.

After learning something new from this guide, it’s time to pick a lens that will help to improve your photography skills. We advise you to test this lens if you’re still unsure which one is best for you.

Check our other content, especially the macro lens guide and guide for underwater photography, as it contains excellent advice about improving your photography skills. 

Disclaimer: "As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases."

Stacy WItten

Stacy WItten

Owner, Writer & Photographer

Stacy Witten, owner and creative force behind LensesPro, delivers expertly crafted content with precision and professional insight. Her extensive background in writing and photography guarantees quality and trust in every review and tutorial.

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