The Best Lenses for Wildlife Photography

3 October 2023

Whether you are headed out on Safari, going bush, or to your local Zoo, wildlife photography requires a certain skill set. While the right tools don't necessarily equate to you capturing the winning image every single time, having the right camera lens in your camera bag is a good place to start.

From spending some time with your current lenses, you have figured out you need something with a little more reach. But how much zoom is enough, and what other features does the lens need to have? Read on for some tips on how to select the best lens for wildlife photography.

Best Wildlife LensesBest Wildlife Lenses

Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1 L IS USM Zoom


  • 5-Stop Image Stabiliser
  • Dual Nano USM AF System
  • Rugged, weather-resistant design
  • Premium Optical Design

With this EOS R compatible Canon telephoto zoom lens, the brand did a lot right, combining the long-reaching zoom with a host of other features that make your life, and your acquisition of various distant subjects, that little bit simpler.

The 5-stop Image Stabilisation of the Canon RF 100-500mm is notable not just for its ability to reduce camera shake but also its ability to suit varied shooting conditions. There is the standard stabilisation mode, one that is designed for panning, and a third one that is perfect for tracking subjects that are moving unpredictably, which you might well encounter in wildlife photography.

Best Lens for Wildlife PhotographyBest Lens for Wildlife Photography

The built-in Dual Nano USM AF system of the 100-500mm L IS lens is quick enough to keep up with even the speediest of wildlife, while it is accurate enough for you to be picky if necessary, finding their eyes for dramatic effect.

Best Wildlife LensesBest Wildlife Lenses

Honourable Mention - Canon RF 100-400mm f5.6-8 IS USM Zoom Lens


  • Nano USM AF Motor
  • Optical Stabiliser
  • Portable Build
  • Super Spectra Coating
  • Customisable Control Ring

Canon also produces another excellent telephoto lens for the RF mount with a slightly reduced zoom range; this RF 100-400mm lens. If you want to harness a similar zoom range and are willing to sacrifice a bit on build quality in order to stay within your budget, this is a very capable telephoto zoom lens. While some users will demand the extra reach of the 100-500mm, this lens is much more portable and lightweight, so it has obvious benefits for anyone working on location.

Best lenses for Wildlife PhotographyBest lenses for Wildlife Photography

Nikon Z 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 VR S


  • For FX and DX-format Nikon Z Mirrorless Cameras
  • VR Stabiliser
  • Removable tripod collar
  • Quality optical construction
  • Nano Crystal, Arneo & Fluorine coatings

Providing the Nikon Z mount with a much-needed telephoto option, this sharp 100-400mm zoom lens provides sharp image quality, features a highly effective VR stabiliser, and focuses at a rapid speed.

Optically, this lens shines amongst the stiff competition, with its mix of ED and Super ED elements providing a consistently premium level of sharpness and detail so you can enjoy the full range of the lens without sacrifice. With Nano Crystal and Arneo coatings applied, you can work freely in varied lighting conditions, which is very handy for wildlife shooting - as you are often camped out with the decisive moment arising at any given time. Other important factors include a rugged weather-sealed build and fluorine coating, which makes it quick, easy and safe to clean the front element of the lens when you are on location.

The Best lenses for Wildlife PhotographyThe Best lenses for Wildlife Photography
Best Wildlife LensesBest Wildlife Lenses

Sigma AF 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG DN OS "C"


  • HyperSonic AF Motor
  • Optical Stabiliser
  • Incredibly Portable Build
  • Reliable Optical Quality
  • Sony E, L-Mount & Fuji X Mounts Available

Designed to meet the demands of the most adventurous and uncompromising of photographers, this Sigma 100-400mm DG DN OS "C" lens is just as notable for its physicality as it is for its optical qualities. As well as a build that consists of thermally stable composite materials, which keeps it remarkably lightweight, this lens features a water and oil-repellent coating for keeping it clean and clear for longevity.

A lightning-fast HSM AF system is able to track virtually any living creature, while the advanced OS system keeps camera shake at bay, no matter what it is you have to do to successfully frame your photo, so you can move around and pan if necessary.

With its high-end optical design that includes four SLD glass elements, as well as an anti-reflective super multi-layer coating, this Sigma zoom lens promises sharp and detailed images, at any focal length and in any condition.

The best lenses for Wildlife PhotographyThe best lenses for Wildlife Photography

Sony FE 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 GM OSS Lens


  • Optical SteadyShot Stabilisation
  • Direct Drive SSM focus motor
  • Premium Optical Build
  • Rugged Dust & Moisture-Resistant Build

The Sony FE 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 GM OSS Lens is a premium telephoto zoom lens that is ideal for animal photography. It is compatible with the popular Sony A Mirrorless Range and features a premium optical design and rugged build quality.

The best lenses for Wildlife PhotographyThe best lenses for Wildlife Photography

The 100-400mm focal length range is versatile enough to capture a variety of animals, from small birds to large mammals. The quick and accurate autofocus system ensures that you can capture sharp images of even the most fast-moving subjects. The lens also features Optical SteadyShot image stabilization, which helps to reduce camera shake and blur, even when zoomed out to its maximum magnification.

The Sony FE 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 GM OSS Lens is a great choice for wildlife photographers of all skill levels. It is a well-rounded lens that offers excellent image quality, performance, and durability.

Best Wildlife LensesBest Wildlife Lenses

Fujifilm XF 100-400mm R OIS WR


  • Rugged dust & water resistance
  • Built-in OIS
  • Twin linear AF motors
  • Focus limiter switch

With more and more photographers opting for smaller mirrorless kits for their day-to-day and travel shooting, brands such as Fujifilm have capitalised, designing numerous high-performance bodies, and an extensive kit of lenses to use with them. This lens, the 100-400mm R OIS WR lens provides the growing X-series with a much-needed telephoto lens, which is perfect for wildlife purposes.

On the APS-C sensors of X-series cameras, this lens provides a huge equivalent zoom range of 152-609mm. It is good for framing images of animals that are safe to get relatively close to, and also those that you must keep your distance from.

Thanks to its built-in Optical Stabilisation and relatively lightweight build, you can confidently use the entire zoom range of the lens and still be sure of catching many sharp images. With dust and water resistance, as well as a protective fluorine coating, there will be no need to call the trip short on account of the weather, at least not on behalf of this lens!

The Best Lenses for Wildlife photographyThe Best Lenses for Wildlife photography

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Wildlife photography is the art of capturing images of wild animals in their natural habitat. Visit your local Ted's store to find the best lenses for wildlife photography, and follow our photography blog for more advice, including wildlife photography tips so you can put your wildlife lens to good use.

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