Being able to go out into the great wide open to see magnificent animals in their natural habitats is a passion for many photographers. There is something quite magical about seeing buffalo roam the plains, or seeing eagles soaring through the sky. Wildlife photography can be one of the most fun, and most rewarding genres of photography, but you need to have the right gear to take with you on your travels.
Lenses for wildlife photography have to be able to withstand the occasional bump and bang, extreme weather conditions at times, and they need to be able to focus fast to keep up with fast moving animals. In this article we are going to look at a few lenses for wildlife photography. If you’re a keen wildlife photographer and are thinking about buying a new lens so you can witness and capture animals in their natural habitats, you’re going to want to see which lenses are our favorites.
Tamron 100-400 F4.5-6.3
Tamron have been making great lenses for a long time now, in fact in some cases their lenses are better than their first party counterparts, and the Tamron 100-400mm is no exception to this rule. The Tamron 100-400 offers great build quality and fantastic optics at an affordable price.
In our review we said:
“Where the Tamron 100-400mm f4.5-6.3 Di VC USD really excels the most is with its image quality. Tamron’s optics have always been stellar and quite saturated with their output. This lens is no different.”
The 100-400mm from Tamron features 17 elements in 11 groups, and has 9 rounded aperture blades. Three of the elements are ultra low dispersion to help keep chromatic aberration at bay, while the eBAND and Florine coatings help cut down on reflections and distortions. The lens is relatively compact and weighs in at 2.5lbs which makes this lens easy to use for longe periods of time. You’re also going to find optical image stabilization which is good for four stops, and weather sealing so you can use this lens out in the elements. Autofocus performance is fast, just make sure you update the firmware for the lens via the Tamron Dock to make sure you get the best performance possible.
The images that the Tamron 100-400mm produces are incredibly sharp, and offer saturated, vibrant and rich colors. You won’t find any distortion or color fringing with this lens either thanks to the coatings and elements mentioned above. The bokeh that can be produced is really quite beautiful too, as you’ll see in the sample images below. When paired up with a crop sensor camera this lens have the equivalent focal length of 160-640mm which means you’ll really be able to get in nice and tight to the animal or wildlife you are tracking.
Overall the Tamron 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 Di VC USD is a great lens to take on your wildlife photography trips. The lens feels great in the hand, is light weight, and is capable of capturing some beautiful images.
Buy now Canon ($749): Amazon
Buy now Nikon ($749): Amazon
Tamron 100-400 Image Samples
Pro Tip: If you want to use any of these amazing lenses on a Sony Mirrorless body you can use the Sigma MC-11 Adapter to convert Canon EF Mount into Sony E mount. The MC-11 works with all brands of lenses, not just Sigma glass.
Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 Contemporary
The Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 is a beast of a lens, and while its size can be intimidating, don’t let that put you off from picking up and using this lens. This is perhaps the best focal range for wildlife photography, and the Sigma 150-600mm is capable of producing some really spectacular results when in the right hands.
In our review we said:
“Despite this lens being in the Contemporary lineup of the Global Vision of Sigma, it feels incredibly well built. In fact, it’s the best built lens that we’ve played with in the contemporary lineup and we dare say that it’s better than some of the Art lenses.”
The 150-600mm Contemporary from Sigma packs a punch. Inside the body of the lens you will find 20 elements in 14 groups, and nine aperture blades. The optics inside this lens are capable of producing some glorious images, and while image sharpness does drop off ever so slightly at 600mm, only the pickiest of pixel peepers will notice. As you would imagine, thanks to the compression of this lens, bokeh is smooth and creamy. Autofocus performance is excellent in both good and low light situations and this makes tracking subjects very easy.
The lens is a beast though when it comes to size and weight. The Sigma 150-600mm weighs 4.25lbs. You might think that this would make the lens hard to use, but somehow Sigma made this lens really comfortable to use, and the optical image stabilization is absolutely stellar. Using the Sigma dock you can actually program the OIS to work in various ways, which is great because you can make it match your style of shooting.
Images produced are sharp from corner to corner, colors rendered are saturated and offer micro-contrast which really makes the colors pop. You’ll find no color fringing at all, and little to no distortion at any focal length. Pop this lens on a crop sensor body and you’ll have the equivalent of a 240-960mm lens which is crazy! Overall for the price, performance, and build quality of this lens, the Sigma 150-600mm is one of the best wildlife photography lenses you can buy.
Buy now Canon ($899): Amazon
Buy now Nikon ($899): Amazon
Sigma 150-600mm Image Samples
Pro Tip: Not all lenses have the luxury of being weather sealed. If you are heading out on a long trip be sure to pack some camera and lens weather proof covers in your camera bag so that you can protect your gear when the weather turns sour.
Fujifilm 100-400 F4.5-5.6 L RM OIS WR
Fujifilm’s 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 L RM OIS WR is a mouthful of a lens that commands a high price, but it’s also a super telephoto lens that delivers outstanding results. Fujifilm shooters are spoiled with this lens. Thanks to it’s great build quality, excellent weather sealing, and super sharp images, the Fujifilm 100-400mm is one of the best wildlife photography lenses you can buy.
In our review we said:
“On both the wide and telephoto end of this superzoom telephoto lens, you’ll get great bokeh at the right distance from your subject. It’s really, really lovely and I seriously recommend it for wildlife photographers.”
The Fujifilm 100-400 f4.5-5.6 is a solidly built lens that features an excellent 12 point weather sealing system. Inside the body you’ll find 21 elements in 14 groups, five extra-low dispersion elements, 1 super extra low dispersion element, and nine rounded aperture blades. The 100-400mm weighs in at 3lbs which is about par for the course for this type of lens. Fujifilm made this lens incredibly easy to use, because of this It feels really nice in the hand, and is nice to use for longer periods. When used on one of Fujifilm’s cameras the focal equivalent will be 150-600mm.
Image quality is simply amazing. As with most Fujifilm glass, the pictures are sharp from edge to edge. You’ll find that color rendition is excellent, especially when used with Fujifilm’s film simulations. Chromatic aberration is non existent, and you’ll find no color fringing. Bokeh produced is some of the best you will find on any APS-C lens. Period. It’s super smooth and creamy, and it lends itself to wildlife photography really well.
The overall build quality and weather sealing are excellent. We used this lens out in the rain and continued working with no issues at all. Autofocusing is another area where this lens excels. It is very fast and tracks subjects very easily, making it great for wildlife photography.
If you’re a Fujifilm shooter and want to try your hands at wildlife photography, this is the lens that you need to buy. It’s tough, weather sealed, and it produces excellent images when paired with any Fujifilm camera.
Buy now ($1,564.69): Amazon
Fujifilm 100-400 F4.5-5.6 L RM OIS WR Image Samples