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12 Best Lenses for Wildlife Photography (2022)

Wildlife photography can be very challenging. Capturing the perfect shot of an animal is often a result of luck, skill, patience, and the right equipment. Wildlife rarely sits perfectly still and cooperates and most photographers can attest to capturing plenty of dark, blurry, or undesirable images. In this article, we will do our best to help you capture the best wildlife photos possible by recommending some of the best lenses available for wildlife photography.

We Recommend

Best price/value ratio

Sigma 150-600mm

Best Canon for Wildlife

Canon 100-400mm

Best Nikon for Wildlife

Nikon 200-500mm

Best Lens for Wildlife Photography

1. Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Contemporary DG OS HSM Wildlife Lens

camera lens

The Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Lens is an impressive piece of camera equipment which provides several desirable features for wildlife photography.

With 600mm of zoom, the Sigma 150-600mm allows you take detailed close-up photographs from a considerable distance. When photographing skittish animals, powerful zoom is an absolute necessity.

The Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Contemporary DG OS HSM Lens is perfect for beginner bird photographers looking to improve their photography by prioritizing a high focal length range. In addition, this lens provides image stabilization allowing for sharp, clear images that are free from blur.

The lens performs very well and produces great photos up to 400mm. When the lens is maxed out at 600mm, the sharpness of the captured images are reduced. While not at all cheap, the Sigma 150-600mm lens is a fantastic value for the price. A beginner wildlife photographer should find this lens convenient and easy to use.

Best for: Wildlife Photography
Matching camera bodyCanon EOS REBEL T7i DSLR Camera

What we liked

  • Great, Affordable Lens
  • Impressive Telephoto Reach Maxing Out at 600mm
  • Includes Tripod Collar and Lens Hood
  • Quiet and Fast AF
  • Excellent Sharpness at 400mm and lower; Good Sharpness at 600mm
  • Good Image Stabilization

What we didn’t like

  • Not Fully Weather Sealed
  • Chromatic Aberration at High Zoom
  • Somewhat Heavy

Focal Length: 150-600mm
Aperture: f/5-6.3
Format: Full-Frame
Type: Hyper-Telephoto Zoom
Autofocus: Hypersonic Motor AF
Stabilization: Optical Stabilizer
Glass: 1 “F” Low Dispersion (FLD) Element and 2 Special Low Dispersion (SLD) Elements
Weight: 4.25 lbs
Warranty: 1-year North & South America Warranty, plus 3-year Extended USA Warranty

2. Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L is II USM Telephoto Lens

camera lens

The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-6.5L IS II USM Lens is a fantastic lens for wildlife photography and general outdoor applications.

This wildlife photography lens is solidly built and extremely rugged with water and dust sealing to withstand the demands of the outdoors. The Canon EF 100-400mm includes a fast and quiet AF system using an ultrasonic motor. The aperture range is impressive as is the focal length.

With optical image stabilization, fluorine coatings to prevent smudging and smearing, and an all around strong construction, the Canon EF 100-400mm is a very professional tool which is capable of taking breathtaking wildlife photographs. For beginners, however, this lens may be not be budget-friendly.

Best for: Advanced Bird and Wildlife Photography
Matching camera bodyCanon EOS 6D Mark II Digital SLR Camera

What we liked

  • Focal Length Allows for Flexibility while Shooting
  • Close Focus at 3.2 ft
  • Solid, Weather-Sealed Build
  • Fast and Quiet USM AF
  • Compatible with Certain Canon Extenders
  • Very Sharp Images at All Focal Lengths
  • The Foot of Tripod Mount can be Removed

What we didn’t like

  • Low-Light AF can Lag
  • Can’t remove the Entire Tripod Mount
  • Somewhat expensive

Focal Length: 100-400mm
Aperture: f/4.5-5.6L
Format: Full-Frame
Type: Telephoto Zoom
Autofocus: Ultrasonic Motor AF
Stabilization: Optical Image Stabilizer with 4-Step Image Correction
Glass: 1 Fluorite & 1 Super Ultra-Low Dispersion (UD) Element
Weight: 3.4 lbs
Warranty: 90-day Warranty for Renewed Items

3. Nikon AF-S FX Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6E ED Wildlife Lens

camera lens

High performance and professional quality, the Nikon AF-S FX Nikkor 200-500mm f5.6E ED Lens is a super-zoom telephoto lens with a number of features that contribute to stunning wildlife photographs.

Wildlife photographers and bird photographers will appreciate the image resolution and clarity that this lens produces at impressive distances. Even at 500mm of zoom, the Nikon AF-S FX Nikkor 200-500mm produces sharp, clear images with vibrant colors.

Although somewhat bulky at five pounds, the Nikon AF-S FX Nikkor 200-500mm is well balanced and surprisingly easy to use and maneuver. This is a huge advantage in outdoor settings, especially when hiking, backpacking, or camping is required.

Certainly priced for professionals, the Nikon AF-S FX Nikkor 200-500mm nevertheless provides a great balance between user-friendliness and affordability and top shelf photography equipment.

Best for: Advanced Bird and Wildlife Photography
Matching camera bodyNikon D500 DX-Format DSLR Camera

What we liked

  • Incredibly Sharp Photos Even at High Zoom
  • Great Vibration Reduction
  • Solid Build Quality
  • Well-Balanced, Despite the Size and Weight
  • Fixed Aperture throughout Focal Range
  • Removable Tripod Collar

What we didn’t like

  • Well-Balance, but Still Heavy
  • Somewhat Slower Focus in Low Light

Focal Length: 200-500mm
Aperture: f/5.6E
Format: FX
Type: Super Telephoto Zoom with Constant Aperture
Autofocus: Silent-Wave Motor AF
Stabilization: 4.5-Stop Vibration Reduction IS
Glass: 3 Extra-Low Dispersion (ED) Elements
Weight: 5 lbs
Warranty: 1-year Limited Warranty

4. Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM UD Lens

camera lens

The Canon EF 70-300mm f4-5.6L IS USM UD Lens is a more affordable option which is ideal for the beginner wildlife photographer. Passionate individuals who appreciate wildlife and want to begin capturing nature will be impressed with the user-friendliness and affordable performance of this telephoto zoom lens.

This lens features a versatile zoom range which maxes out at 300mm. While not quite as powerful as some other options on this list, 300mm of zoom is enough to get up close detailed shots of all sorts of wildlife.

With an aperture that maxes out at f/4, this lens performs well in low-light. Its fast autofocus is also a huge benefit for wildlife photography. When attempting to capture fast moving wildlife on camera, a quick focus is ideal.

The Canon EF 70-300mm f4-5.6L IS USM UD Lens is a great lens for amateur wildlife photographers looking for a lens that can be adapted to shoot in many different settings. It’s AF and aperture allow it to produce sharp images throughout the focal length range. While no wildlife photography lens can be considered “cheap,” this lens is relatively inexpensive.

Best for: Beginner Wildlife Photography
Matching camera bodyCanon EOS 7D Mark II Digital SLR Camera

What we liked

  • Sharp at Every Focal Length
  • Build Quality
  • Great 4-Stop Image Stabilizer
  • Smooth Focus Ring with Twist Zoom
  • Weather Sealed
  • Fast AF
  • Designed for Full-Frame, APS-C, and APS-H Cameras

What we didn’t like

  • Not Compatible with Extenders
  • No Tripod Collar
  • White Color Makes it More Conspicuous and May Alert Wildlife

Focal Length: 70-300mm
Aperture: f4-5.6L
Format: Full-Frame
Type: Telephoto Zoom
Autofocus: Ultrasonic Motor AF
Stabilization: 4-Stop Optical Image Stabilization
Glass: 2 Ultra-Low Dispersion (UD) Elements
Weight: 2.3 lbs
Warranty: 1-year Limited Warranty

5. Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR Zoom Lens

lens on a white background

The Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR Zoom Lens is a high quality product which delivers on the incredible professional level optics which consumers have come to expect from the Nikon brand.

This lens comes with an aperture range of f/4.5 to f/5.6, a focal length range of 80mm to 400mm and a zoom ratio of 5x. This telephoto lens is more than capable of capturing amazing shots of animals from a discreet distance.

The Nikon 80-400mm Zoom Lens features an FX-format compatible system and an F Bayonet mount type. The wide aperture contributes to this lens’s all around precision. It has a minimum focusing distance of 5.7 feet which allows for detailed close-up shots.

With built-in autofocus and image stabilization in the format of vibration reduction, this lens can adapt quickly and take clear and beautiful photographs, free from motion blur, even while on the go. This can help to reduce motion blur. At 3.5 pounds, the Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 80-400mm is a bit bulky for some applications, but is by no means the heaviest option on this list.

Best for: Shooting large areas
Matching camera bodyNikon D750 FX-Format DSLR

What we liked

  • Autofocus functionality
  • Tripod collar included
  • Vibration reduction
  • Adjustable aperture
  • Adjustable focal length
  • FX-format compatibility
  • Nikon F Bayonet mount

What we didn’t like

  • Heavier than some alternatives
  • Higher price tag

Focal length: 80-400mm
Aperture: F/4.5-5.6G
Format: AF-S
Type: Nikon F Bayonet
Autofocus: Yes
Stabilization: Yes
Weight: 3.46 lbs

6. Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DG APO Macro Telephoto Zoom Lens

lens on a white background

If budget equipment is what you need then look no further than the Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DG APO Macro Telephoto Zoom Lens. Sold by most retailers at a price of just 250 dollars, you simply will not find a better bargain than this. Beginners in need of a starter wildlife photography lens will be pleased with the affordability, ease, and convenience of this tool.

The Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DG AO Macro Telephoto Zoom Lens is constructed with a multi-layer lens coating which helps to reduce issues with ghosting and flare. With up to 4x magnification, the Sigma 70-300mm lens can hold its own against many more expensive and professional competitors in the field of telephoto lens equipment.

The Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DG AO Macro Telephoto Zoom Lens is compatible with a wide range of SLR cameras. There are separate models for Canon, Nikon, Samsung, Sony, and Sigma digital cameras. Many users have minor gripes with this lens. Durability and focusing issues are common complaints. For the price, though, this lens is a simply fantastic bargain.

Best for Animal shots
Matching camera bodyCanon EOS 6D Mark II DSLR

What we liked

  • Telephoto lens
  • Adjustable focal length range
  • Aperture can be changed
  • Multi-layer lens coating
  • Multiple zoom settings
  • APS-C size sensor
  • Multifunctional lens
  • Very lightweight

What we didn’t like

  • Not professional quality
  • Durability issues

Focal length: 70-300mm
Aperture: f/4-5.6
Format: APS-C
Type: SLR
Autofocus: No
Stabilization: No
Glass: 14 lens elements, 10 groups
Weight: 1.21 lbs

7. Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sports Lens

lens on a white background

If high-end professional quality optics are what you crave, then the Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sports Lens might just be the wildlife photography lens for you. With an extremely steep price tag, beginners and budgeters may want to look elsewhere. For the photographer looking to invest in a top-of-the-line piece of equipment, though, this lens is perfect.

While the price tag is high, the Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sports Lens is able to outperform most competitors with its sharp optical quality, 6.5x maximum magnification, magnesium alloy body, and lightning fast autofocus provided by a hypersonic motor.

Resistant to dust, splashing, and oils, this lens is fully equipped to handle the dynamic circumstances which one can expect to face while shooting in the great outdoors.

The lens is available in three models – for Canon, Sigma, and Nikon camera bodies.

The Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sports Lens features an impressive 500mm focal length. This means it is the perfect option for capturing large wildlife scenes. It also doubles as a great lens for sporting events and even landscape shots. The lens comes with a built-in image optical stabilizer system, which reduces blur and helps capture sharper shots. The Sigma 500mm lens is a bit heavy and bulky. If portability is a priority for you, consider whether this lens’s seven pound weight would be too cumbersome.

Best for: Large scenes, long ranges
Matching camera bodyCanon EOS 6D Mark II

What we liked

  • Hypersonic motor
  • Autofocus
  • Optical stabilizer
  • 500mm focal length
  • WR protector filter
  • Compatible with teleconverters
  • 3 different models available

What we didn’t like

  • High price tag

Focal length: 500mm
Aperture: f/4
Type: Canon EF
Autofocus: Yes
Stabilization: Yes
Weight: 7 lbs
Warranty: Yes

8. Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Standard Zoom Lens

lens on a white background

Like the previous Sigma 70-300mm lens, the Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Standard Zoom Lens is a fantastic budget option which is ideal for beginner wildlife photographers. For less than 250 dollars, this Canon lens provides impressive image quality and versatility.

While the focal length is a bit limited, this wildlife telephoto lens is very strong when it comes to closeup detailed shots. The Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Standard Zoom Lens comes with an adjustable focal length, which you can set between 18mm and 200mm.

At 200mm, the focal length offers a similar performance as a 320mm setting on a Canon APS-C camera. It is perhaps the best wildlife photography lens for the beginner photographer on a budget.

These lenses for wildlife feature a 72mm filter, and the aperture can also be configured. The aperture rating ranges from f/3.5 to f/5.6. The Canon EF-S 18-200mm comes with built-in image stabilization which works for up to four stops, reducing vibration and blurring.

The Canon EF-S 18-200mm also features a micromotor-type autofocus system, further contributing to the reasons why this is the best Canon wildlife lens on our list for beginners. This lens is compatible with APS-C Canon DSLR cameras. It also offers a maximum close-up magnification of 0.24x.

Best for: Close-ups, smaller animals
Matching camera bodyCanon EOS 80D

What we liked

  • Adjustable focal length
  • Adjustable aperture
  • 72mm filters
  • Built-in autofocus
  • Short minimum focus distance
  • 0.24x magnification
  • Image stabilization

What we didn’t like

  • Only four stops stabilization
  • Limited focal length
  • Less zoom

Focal length: 18-200mm
Aperture: f/3.5-5.6
Format: APS-C
Type: EF-S Mount
Autofocus: Yes
Stabilization: Yes
Weight: 1.31 lbs
Warranty: Yes

9. Nikon 70-200mm f/4G ED VR Nikkor Zoom Lens

lens on a white background

The Nikon 70-200mm f/4G ED VR Nikkor Zoom Lens is a lightweight telephoto lens which is remarkable for its versatility and wide compatibility. While not exactly inexpensive, the Nikon 70-200mm is a fantastic value for its price, considering the professional optical quality that it provides.

The Nikon 70-200mm f/4G ED VR Nikkor Zoom Lensfeatures compatibility with both FX and DX format Nikon camera bodies. This ensures that more photographers are able to take advantage of this lens’s impressive features.

The focal length can be set between 70mm and 200mm. While this is somewhat limited for wider shots, the lens is great for taking close-ups of bigger animals in the outdoors. The Nikon 70-200mm f/4G ED VR Nikkor Zoom Lens offers multiple zoom options contributing to its overall versatility.

The Nikon 70-200mm f/4G ED VR Nikkor also features a constant maximum f/4G aperture exposure setting. This cuts down on time spent worrying about getting the aperture right for your shot. The Nikon 70-200mm utilizes a ring-type ultrasonic focus system.

These wildlife photography lenses also come with built-in vibration reduction. This helps to minimize blurring issues and ghosting. For a mid-range telephoto lens, the Nikon 70-200mm provides an exceptional high-value product.

Best for: All wildlife
Matching camera bodyNikon D750 FX-Format DSLR

What we liked

  • Focal length can be adjusted
  • FX and DX-format compatibility
  • Lower weight
  • 3 ED lens elements
  • Multiple zoom settings
  • Nano-Crystal coating

What we didn’t like

  • Focal length under 300mm

Focal length: 70-200mm
Aperture: f/4G
Format: DX & FX
Type: ED VR Lens
Autofocus: No
Stabilization: Yes
Glass: 3 ED lens elements, 1 HRI element
Weight: 1.87 lbs
Warranty: Yes

10. Tamron 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di-II VC PZD All-in-One Zoom Lens

lens on a white background

The Tamron 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di-II VC PZD All-in-One Zoom Lens is an excellent option if you want an all-around lens that can be used for different types of photography sessions at a price that is fairly budget-friendly.

This is primarily a zoom lens, but the focal length can be adjusted to suit a variety of shooting modes. It features an excellent zoom range which can be used to take incredible photographs of wildlife from close up and afar.

The Tamron 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di-II VC PZD All-in-One Zoom Lens is also a good option for taking landscapes with wildlife as the subject. The focal length of the lens can be adjusted from 16mm up to 300mm, depending on the shot you want to take.

The Tamron 16-300mm also features an aperture that can be adjusted from F/3.5 to F/6.3. The Tamron 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di-II VC PZD All-in-One Zoom Lens comes with an ultrasonic motor which allows for quick and convenient focusing. A vibration reduction system is also built into the lens. This reduces blurring and ghosting on shots caused by vibration and movements.

Best for: Wildlife shots
Matching camera bodyCanon EOS 90D

What we liked

  • Focal range adjustable
  • Aperture can be adjusted
  • Multiple coatings
  • Comes with lens hood
  • Autofocus
  • Vibration compensation
  • Great all-around lens

What we didn’t like

  • Only one lens cap included
  • Limited image stabilization features

Focal length: 16-300mm
Aperture: F/3.6-6.3
Format: APS-C
Type: EF
Autofocus: Yes
Stabilization: Yes
Weight: 1.29 lbs
Warranty: Yes

11. Nikon AF-P Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E ED VR Lens

camera lens

The Nikon AF-P Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E ED VR Lens is a lightweight option which provides a high degree of user friendliness and convenience. This lens is a great in-between lens for the wildlife photographer who wants plenty of focal length without the burden of a large, heavy super-zoom telephoto lens.

This lens has a fast autofocus which is fantastic for the photographer on the go. Its 4.5-step vibration reduction is crucial for producing images unaffected by shaky hands.

Intermediate wildlife photographers may find the Nikon AF-P Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E ED VR Lens to be a great option. It has a decent zoom but also allows users to back off the zoom and take wider photos to feature more of the background in their photos.

The Nikon AF-P Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E ED VR Lens is lightweight, portable, and easy to use. This lens is also very affordable at less than 600 dollars.

Best for: Wildlife Photography
Matching camera bodyNikon D7500 DX-Format DSLR Camera

What we liked

  • Sharp Images
  • Dynamic Zoom Range
  • 4.5-step Vibration Reduction OS
  • Full-frame Compatibility
  • Compact, Lightweight Lens
  • Fast and Quiet AF
  • Weather Sealed

What we didn’t like

  • The AF-P is Incompatible with Older Nikon DSLR Cameras
  • Not Enough Zoom for Serious Bird Photography

Focal Length: 70-300mm
Aperture: f/4.5-5.6E
Format: Full-Frame
Type: Fixed Zoom
Autofocus: Ultra-Fast, Near Silent AF
Stabilization: VR Image Stabilization
Glass: 1 Extra-Low Dispersion (ED) Glass Element
Weight: 1.5 lbs
Warranty: 1-year Limited Warranty

12. Nikon AF-S Nikkor DX 18-200mm F/3.5-5.6G ED VR II Lens

camera lens

The Nikon AF-S Nikkor DX 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR II Lens is a great option for wildlife photographers looking for a compact lens. With a focal length of 18-200mm, this lens is capable of taking wide landscape shots as well as closeup detailed shots of wildlife.

Travelers may find this lens particularly enticing due to its size and its adaptability to different photography styles.

Though on the low end in terms of zoom, the Nikon AF-S Nikkor DX 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR II Lens is still a serviceable wildlife camera capable of taking sharp photos at the full 200mm zoom. Wildlife photographers who like to feature animals with a full background may prefer this smaller lens. In addition, this lens retails at less than 650 dollars.

Best for: Wildlife and Landscape Photography
Matching camera bodyNikon D7500 DX-Format DSLR Camera

What we liked

  • Decent Range for Compact Telephoto Zoom
  • Good Travel Lens
  • Close Focus at 1.6 ft; Can Be Used as a Workable Macro Lens
  • Maximum aperture f/3.5 to Perform Well in Low Light
  • Autofocus allows M/A mode (A Great Feature for Wildlife Photography)
  • Zoom Lock
  • Vibration Reduction Keeps Images Stable

What we didn’t like

  • Lens Creep 
  • Limited Zoom at High Focal Length

Focal Length: 18-200mm
Aperture: f/3.5-5.6G
Format: DX
Type: Telephoto Zoom
Autofocus: Silent Wave Motor AF
Stabilization: Nikon VR II (Vibration Reduction) Image Stabilization
Glass: 2 Extra-Low Dispersion (ED) Glass Elements
Weight: 1.25 lbs
Warranty: 1-year Limited Warranty

What are you going to photograph?

When choosing the best lens for wildlife photography, it’s important to consider your specific photography needs. There’s a big difference between bird photography, wildlife photography, and macro photography. Finding a lens that suits your style is essential to producing the best images in your photo niche.

Bird Photography

Taking great photos of birds is an exhilarating experience. It’s so hard to capture birds in the right moment because they’re so quick and small. It’s absolutely necessary for bird photographers to have a fast camera accompanied by a zoom lens. Bird photographers typically aim for a focal length of at least 400mm. Because bird photography may require a lot of hiking and patience, a maneuverable lens might be ideal.

Wildlife Photography

Larger wildlife may not require as much zoom, but you’ll still want to have a decent focal length in order to stay safe and maintain a discreet distance form your animal subjects. Since wildlife can be so unpredictable and skittish, it’s a good idea to prioritize a telephoto zoom lens that has varying focal lengths. The best wildlife camera is one that allows you to safely and easily capture wildlife shots from a distance.

For a lighter lens, especially for photographers who expect to spend a lot of time hiking or backpacking, a focal length of 18-200mm may be a good option. A 100-400mm lens is a good option for photographers wanting to respect the space between them and the animals they encounter.

Macro Photography

Some wildlife photographers prefer the “wildlife” that we overlook. Insects, spiders, lizards, and amphibians are small and make for stunning subjects for close-up macro wildlife photography. Macro lenses allow photographers to record the minute details of these small creatures. If you’re into nature on a micro level, then a macro lens might be the right choice for you!

Zoom lens vs. Prime lens

Wildlife photographers either use zoom lenses or prime lenses. There are pros and cons to each, so it’s important to understand the features of both.

Zoom lens

A zoom lens is a lens that has a varying focal length, such as 70-300mm. This means that the lens can zoom from 70mm to 300mm.

The advantages of zoom lenses are numerous. Zoom lenses are very forgiving lenses. They are versatile and allow you to take photos close up or at a distance.

For most wildlife photographers, particularly enthusiasts or those who like to hike with their camera, the zoom lens is the way to go.

Prime lens

Prime lenses feature a fixed focal length, so it is not possible to adjust the crop of a photo with the lens itself. The benefit of a prime lens is its wide-open aperture.

Prime lenses are generally better at filtering light through the lens, which helps the camera take faster and sharper photos.

Prime lenses suited for wildlife photography will have a high focal length, such as 600mm, making these lenses quite large. Typically, these lenses usually require a tripod to work effectively.

The wildlife lens price timeline

The price of the best lens for wildlife photography is directly correlated with its size and the quality of glass it uses. Larger lenses, particularly telephoto zoom lenses, will be more expensive. Glass quality is another thing that drives the price up.

High-grade glass such ultra-low dispersion (UD) or fluorite will produce sharper images but will come at a higher cost. Below is a breakdown of which types of lenses you can expect to find at different price points:

$0-500: Lenses under $500 will have a low focal length, which is most often used for portrait photography. Some will have limited zoom capabilities, but most will be small prime lenses between 18 and 100mm. Quality and durability issues are common at this price point, however a savvy and informed shopper can still find some great tools at this price.

$500-1,000: Wildlife photography enthusiasts can find decent lenses in this price range. Name brand optics such as Nikon or Canon may max out at a 300mm telephoto zoom, but other brands such as Tamron and Sigma offer 600mm zoom at this price point. Great lenses for wildlife will start to become available in this price range.

$1,000-2,000: For more serious wildlife photographers, money spent on a lens is money well spent. Lenses between $1,000-2,000 offer a great range of focal lengths as well as reliably clear images at high zoom. Expect to find focal lengths such as 100-400mm or 200-500mm in this price range. You can find pro level lenses for wildlife in this price range.

$2,000-5,000: More specialized cameras that feature multiple UD or fluorite elements will come in at a price above $2,000. Photographers tend to pay for aperture here, opting for lenses, even zoom lenses, that have a very low f-stop.

$5,000-Higher: Lenses over $5,000 are professional grade. These lenses will produce impeccable images, but the high price certainly comes with a more specialized form of shooting.

Lenses such as the Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 500mm f/4E FL ED Vibration Reduction Fixed Lens or the Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM Lens are both examples of high-end fixed aperture prime lenses.

What about teleconverters?

Teleconverters are magnifying lenses that can be used to enhance the zoom of your original lens. So if you have a 70-300mm lens, you can use a 2x teleconverter to double the focal length range. To use a teleconverter, you simply place it between the camera body and the lens.

Teleconverters are a quick way to maximize zoom, but they do have their drawbacks. While you’ll be able to zoom in on subjects at a much greater level, the image quality of the photos you take will not be as sharp as images that you take without the teleconverter.

Photographers who prioritize zoom over image clarity may find teleconverters to be a great low-cost option compared to purchasing a whole other lens for your camera setup. If you do opt for a teleconverter, don’t skimp on a lower quality brand. The Canon EF 2X II Extender and the Nikon Auto Focus-S FX TC-20E III Teleconverter Lens are both excellent options depending on the type of camera you have.

How to choose the right lens for wildlife photography?

There are certain lens features that wildlife photographers prioritize. If you’re in the market for a new lens, here are some features that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Focal Length

A lens that can take pictures from a distance is a must. At a minimum, you’ll want a 200mm lens for wildlife photography. For close-ups at a distance and bird photography, you’ll need a lens with even more focal length, such as 400mm.


An autofocus that is fast and quiet is supremely beneficial to wildlife photographers. No matter the light conditions, you want your camera to be able to pick up the animals in your lens and focus on their features as they move about. Wildlife rarely sits still for long, so a fast focus is absolutely necessary. Look for autofocus systems that include optimized image stabilization, a low f-number, and decent glass. All these components help contribute to the efficiency of the autofocus system.


A wide-open aperture will help your camera perform well in low-light conditions. An aperture of f/2.5 is great, but most telephoto zoom lenses don’t offer that range. Instead, shoot for a lens with an aperture of f/5 or less.


Most wildlife photographers do extensive hiking with their camera gear. Most lenses for wildlife should be easier to carry if possible. If you want a smaller, more compact telephoto zoom lens, then you may want to stick with a 300mm lens or smaller. For those who love close, sharp pictures, be prepared to haul around a large piece of glass. Not all super-zoom lenses are a pain to carry, though. Some are actually built with balance in mind. 

FAQ (Frequently asked questions)

What lens is best for wildlife photography?

The Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 200-500mm is the best value for a wildlife photography lens. It features built-in vibration reduction and autofocus functionality. It is compatible with Nikon DSLR cameras and is professional quality while maintaining an affordable price.

What is the best camera and lens for wildlife photography?

The Canon EOS 7D Mark II DSLR Camera, along with the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L lens, is the best combination for wildlife photography. This allows for an adequate angle that will capture plenty of detailed scenery.

What is the best Nikon lens for wildlife photography?

The best Nikon lens for wildlife photography is Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm because it offers a lot of value for its price.

What is the best Canon lens for wildlife photography?

The best Canon lens for wildlife photography is Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L is II USM Lens because it offers a lot of value for its price.

What is the best focal length for wildlife photography?

A good minimum focal length to aim for when buying a lens for wildlife photography is 300mm. Most photographers find that 500mm gives them the best experience, but higher focal lengths often come at higher prices. 

Is a 300mm lens good for wildlife?

Yes. A 300mm focal length is generally considered the minimum a photographer should opt for when buying a lens that will be used for wildlife shots. 

What lenses do professional wildlife photographers use?

Professional wildlife photographers use lenses like Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM and the Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 500mm lens.

Is 200mm enough for wildlife?

Yes, 200mm is enough for some kinds of wildlife photography, especially for beginners. For users with more experience, though, 300mm is usually considered to be the minimum.

What is the biggest Canon zoom lens?

The Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM is currently one of the biggest zoom lenses that you can buy for a compatible Canon camera. 

Is 400mm enough for wildlife?

Yes, a 400mm focal length should be appropriate for most photographers who want to focus on wildlife sessions. 

2 thoughts on “12 Best Lenses for Wildlife Photography (2022)”

  1. Hello! I am trying to find the best kit for landscape and wildlife photography. I found your article to be very helpful and have the idea I may need a larger focal length. I was also wondering if you might recommend more specialty lenses; such as, macro, fish eye, etc. Currently, I have the following lenses: AF-P Nikkor 18-55mm DX VR, Tamron AF 70-300mm Tele Macro, Sigma 50mm 1.4, Rokinon 14mm 2.8 and Sigma 15mm 2.8 EX DG Fisheye.

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