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Best Lenses for Wildlife Photography in 2022

June 22, 2022

Best lenses for wildlife photography – When it comes to wildlife photography then getting in close is key. There are many long lenses on the market and depending on your budget and what camera type and brand you own will determine what is available to you.

To help you make a better informed decision we’ve rounded up the very best wildlife lenses from those that are compatible with DSLRs to Mirrorless, and we’ve included all the major brands so there is something in there for everyone.

When it comes to purchasing longer lenses unfortunately prices get pricey! For those on a tighter budget we have thrown in a couple of budget suggestions, but it’s also worth having a look at the second hand market to see what is available. Often you can save at least a third of the full retail price when shopping second hand.

So without further ado, here are our recommendations for the best lenses for wildlife photography:

Best Nikon DSLR lenses for wildlife photography

1. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR – £1,399

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

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

At a glance:

  • Minimum aperture f/32
  • Maximum aperture f/5.6
  • Lens construction 19 elements in 12 groups (including 3 ED glass elements)
  • 95mm filter thread
  • Weighs 2300g (including tripod collar)

The versatile 200-500mm Nikon lens is perfect for those wildlife photographers needing to shoot at a variety of distances. The f/5.6 maximum aperture setting will feel slightly limiting in low light but during daylight is more than adequate. Weighing in at 2300g this lens will add a lot of extra weight to your camera bag, however the variable focal length makes up for this.

Read our Nikon Nikkor AF-S 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR review


2. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II – £6,299

Best Nikon F lens for wildlife photography: Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II

At a glance:

  • Minimum aperture f/22
  • Maximum aperture f/2.8
  • Lens construction – 11 elements in 8 groups
  • 52mm filter thread
  • Weighs 2900g

If you’re after high quality imagery then the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II is a beauty of a lens but at just shy of £6,300 it is by no means affordable to most! You can get it cheaper by shopping around and on the second hand market we found one at £3300 making it more of a viable option for some.

There is no doubt that having those extra stops of light up to f/2.8 with the 300mm reach will get you superb results and the 9 blade circular aperture diaphragm helps produce perfect background blur. This lens also uses a 4 stop Vibration Reduction system meaning you can be confident when out in the field that you are eliminating camera shake. Any Nikon user wanting high quality and professional looking results should consider this lens.


Best Canon DSLR lenses for wildlife photography

3. Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM – £ 2,200

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM

At a glance:

  • Minimum aperture f/32
  • Maximum aperture f/2.8
  • Lens construction – 23 elements in 19 groups
  • 77mm filter thread
  • Weighs 1480g

You can’t go wrong with a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens. Their versatile nature makes them not only useful to wildlife photographers but also almost for every other genre of photography too!

This lens comes with a 3.5-stop image stabilisation guard against camera shake and can track with precision thanks to a ring-type USM autofocus system.

The Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM is also water and dust resistant, which will give you great peace of mind when out in the field in harsher conditions.


4. Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III – £240

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

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

At a glance

  • Minimum aperture f/45
  • Maximum aperture f/4
  • Lens construction – 13 elements in 9 groups
  • 58mm filter thread
  • Weighs 480g

For those who are just starting out or on a tight budget then the Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III lens is well worth considering. This affordable lens is by no means perfect and comes with some restrictions such as its variable maximum aperture range, however when it comes to value for money you can’t argue with what you get. Its lightweight construction and flexible zoom are ideal if you are travelling, and thanks to its integrated AF motor it’s also fast to focus and track moving subjects.

The Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III is compatible with Canon DSLR cameras and EOS-M mirrorless cameras with an EF-EOS M Mount adapter.


Best third party DSLR lenses for wildlife photography

5. Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM S – £1,329

Sigma 150-600mm f/5 - 6.3 DG OS HSM

Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM

At a glance

  • Minimum aperture f/22
  • Maximum aperture f/5
  • Lens construction – 24 elements in 16 groups
  • 105mm filter thread
  • Weighs 2860g

The Sigma 150-600mm f/5 – 6.3 DG OS HSM is not only incredibly versatile having a reach from 150mm to 600mm, it is also built to withstand. This is thanks to its dust and splash resistant structure and its oil-repellent coating on the forefront and rear lenses that can be easily wiped to prevent oil and fat from sticking to the surfaces.

The lens comes with an intelligent OS (Optical Stabiliser) function feature that includes 2 modes. Mode 1 is for general photography and mode 2 helps track moving subjects with accuracy making it ideal for wildlife photographers.

On the downside the variable maximum aperture setting between f/5 and f/6.3 (which is determined by where the focal length is set) is restrictive in lowlight conditions, however this lens still works out as great value for money at just over £1300.

Read our Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG ISM HSM S review


6. Tamron 100-400mm F/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD – £819

Tamron 100-400mm F/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD

Tamron 100-400mm F/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD

At a glance:

  • Minimum aperture f/45
  • Maximum aperture f/4.5
  • Lens construction – 17 elements in 11 groups
  • Minimum object distance 1.5m
  • Weighs 1135g (Canon fit), 1115g (Nikon fit)

If weight is an issue then the Tamron 100-400mm F/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD is comparably much lighter to many of its market rivals. The Canon fit weighs slightly more than the Nikon fit, which comes in at a light 1115g.

Key features of the Tamron 100-400mm F/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD are the autofocus system and a moisture resistant construction and fluorine coating aimed to give you peace of mind in bad weather. The lens also has three low dispersion lens elements that compensate for chromatic aberrations.

Finally this lens is compatible with Tamron’s 1.4x teleConverter, which if you want that extra reach but can’t afford to upgrade to a longer lens is a great solution.


Best mirrorless Canon lenses for wildlife photography

7. Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM – £2,980

Best Canon RF lens for wildlife photography: Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM

Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM

At a glance:

  • Minimum aperture f/32 at 100mm / f/54 at 500mm
  • Maximum aperture f/4.5
  • No. of diaphragm blades 9
  • Filter thread 77 mm
  • Weighs 1530g

For Canon mirrorless shooters the Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM Lens is an excellent option that comes with a large variable focal length and also produces high quality results.

This lens comes with a 5-stop Image Stabilisation feature giving greater flexibility in lowlight, and includes ASC technology, which stands for Air Sphere Coating to prevent flare and ghosting in images. The Dual Nano USM motor is also worth a mention that enables fast, smooth and near silent AF shooting. It isn’t cheap though at just shy of £3000, however it has much to offer wildlife shooters.

Read our Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM review


8. Canon RF 800mm F11 IS STM – £1,100

Canon RF 800mm F11 IS STM

Canon RF 800mm F11 IS STM

At a glance:

  • Minimum aperture f/11
  • Maximum aperture f/11
  • Lens construction 11 elements in 8 groups
  • Filter thread 95mm
  • Weighs 1260g

If you need a long reach then the Canon RF 800mm F11 IS STM should be on your list. This lens is aimed at the enthusiast, and ideal for any wildlife photographer needing to keep their distance but wanting to get shots close in on the action – for example on a safari.

On the downside the fixed aperture setting at f/11 will feel restrictive at times, however in good light this won’t be an issue. On the positive side this lens only weighs 1,260g which is incredibly light for a lens with this kind of reach. It also only measures 281.8mm in length making it easier to transport. It’s worth noting Canon makes a similar 600mm model that retails at £860.


Best mirrorless Nikon lenses for wildlife photography

9. Nikon Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S – £2,419

Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S

Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S

At a glance:

  • Minimum aperture f/22
  • Maximum aperture f/2.8
  • No. of diaphragm blades 9
  • Filter thread 77 mm
  • Weighs 1440g

The Nikon Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S is an excellent lens and produces superb quality results. This model comes with ghosting, flare and chromatic aberration combative features and is pinpoint sharp thanks to its accurate tracking and AF feature. This lens has a minimum focus distance of just 0.5m at the wide end of the zoom, and 1m at the telephoto end.

The versatile nature of a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens is not only great for capturing wildlife – for example bird photography – but it’s also useful for shooting other genres as well so is a worthy investment.

Read our Nikon Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S review


10. Nikkor Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S – £1,049

Nikkor Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S

Nikkor Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S

At a glance:

  • Minimum aperture f/32
  • Maximum aperture f/2.8
  • No. of diaphragm blades 9
  • Filter thread 62mm
  • Weighs 630g

For those Nikon mirrorless users who want to capture the smaller animal kingdom like butterflies and insects then the Nikkor Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S should be at the top of your list! This professional macro lens produces excellent results and includes Nikon’s anti-reflective ARNEO and Nano Crystal coatings, which combat flaws like ghosting and unwanted image flare.

With a minimum focusing distance of 0.29m the Nikkor Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S lets you get extremely close into your subject, and produces images at a 1:1 reproduction ratio for detailed results.

Read our Nikon Nikkor Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S review


Best Sony FE mount lens for wildlife photography

11. Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS – £1,700

Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS

Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS

At a glance:

  • Maximum aperture f/5.6
  • Dimensions 111.5 x 318 mm
  • No. of diaphragm blades 11
  • Filter thread 95mm
  • Weighs 2115g

For wildlife Sony shooters who are after a versatile lens the Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS is a strong contender. This lens is fast and accurate to focus thanks to Sony’s DDSSM (Direct Drive SSM) system, and the image quality is also excellent.

This lens comes with an 11 blade aperture mechanism creating desirable bokeh. It’s worth noting though the lens is limited to a maximum f/5.6 or f/6.3 depending on where the focal length is set.

This lens is centre weighted so feels balanced when out in the field, which is reassuring to know. If you want to extend your reach even further the Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 is compatible with a 1.4x or 2.0x teleconverter. This gives a maximum focal length of 840mm (with a 1.4x) or 1200mm (2.0x) at f/13.

Read our Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS review


Best Fujifilm XF mount lens for wildlife photography

12. Fujinon XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR – £1,699

Fujinon XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR

Fujinon XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR

At a glance:

  • Maximum aperture f/4.5
  • Minimum aperture f/22
  • No. of diaphragm blades 9
  • Filter thread 95mm
  • Weighs 1375g

The Fujinon XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR is a super telephoto zoom lens capable of producing high quality results. With a 5 stop image stabilisation system this lens combats issues like camera shake and has automatic detection when panning.

At 1375g this lens is light enough not to cause too many issues whilst in transportation, and the 100-400mm reach gives most wildlife photographers a decent focal range to play with. This lens is dust and water resistant and will operate in conditions down to -10 °C. A great all rounder for those who need something versatile.

Read our Fujifilm XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR review


Best Micro Four Thirds lenses for wildlife photography

13. Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4.0 IS Pro – £2,599

Best Micro Four Thirds lens for wildlife photography: Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4.0 IS Pro

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4.0 IS Pro

At a glance:

  • Minimum aperture f/4
  • Dimensions 92.5 x 227mm
  • Filter thread 77mm
  • Weighs 1270g

Weighing in at 1270g the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4.0 IS Pro is an excellent choice for many wildlife pros and enthusiasts. Although Olympus have priced it at £2,599 with some shopping around you can get it around £500 cheaper than their suggested full price.

This lens benefits from Olympus’ sync IS system that provides enhanced camera shake reduction with the correct setup. Finally this lens is dust, freeze and splashproof, and gives a 600mm equivalent reach.


14. Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 50-200mm F/2.8-4 ASPH Power O.I.S. – £1,399

Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 50-200mm F/2.8-4 ASPH Power O.I.S.

Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 50-200mm F/2.8-4 ASPH Power O.I.S.

At a glance:

  • Minimum aperture f/22
  • Maximum aperture f/2.8
  • Lens construction – 21 elements in 15 groups
  • Weighs 655g

This lens offers micro four third users great flexibility thanks to its variable focal length and wide maximum aperture settings that vary between f/2.8 and f/4 depending on where the focal length is set.

These wide aperture settings will come in handy in lowlight and produce brilliant bokeh when blurring out the background. This lens is weather sealed giving users greater peace of mind when out in the field. It also gives a 100-400mm equivalent.


If you’re looking for a great camera for wildlife photography, have a look at our guide to the best cameras for wildlife photography, or have a look at our latest reviews, and buying guides.


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