8 Best Budget Lenses for Wildlife Photography

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Wildlife photography can be both tricky and rewarding. To get the perfect shot in the wild, you need to have great aesthetic sense along the right equipment. There’s no point of having a good quality camera unless you have a good lens to use with it. 

Unlike urban photography, subjects in wildlife photography don’t stay still. More often than not, you’ll need to capture subjects in motion. In the wild, you don’t have any control over lighting or weather conditions. Getting close to your subject can also be dangerous. To excel in wildlife photography, you need a lens that can take care of all of these issues while still producing focused and clear images. 

Most lenses, however, cost an arm and a leg. Although their performance is great, if you’re starting out as a wildlife photographer, spending so much on lenses is a little impractical. The good news is there’s a whole variety of lenses that won’t completely drain your pocket. Here’s a list of some of the best budget lenses for wildlife photography that you can buy. 

1. Sigma 150-600mm 5-6.3 Contemporary DG OS HSM (Overall Winner)

Sigma 150-600mm 5-6.3 Contemporary DG OS HSM Lens for Canon Image

The top contender of the best budget lenses for wildlife photography is the Sigma 150-600mm lens. This is a great lens that will give you all the features of an expensive lens at half the price. The Sigma 150-600mm is excellent for all sorts of wildlife photography and is favored by photographers everywhere.

Sigma’s 150-600mm lens is lightweight and compact, so carrying it around isn’t much of a problem. The water and oil repellant coating on the surface means that you can use this lens in adverse weather conditions, and you won’t have to spend a lot on maintenance either. 

The minimum focusing distance is 280cm, and the focal length is 150-600mm. This means you can take fantastic wildlife photos while still being a safe distance away from your subject. 

Being a variable aperture hyper-telephoto zoom lens, Sigma 150-600mm provides high-quality images, so you don’t have to worry about the lighting or the risk of unclear pictures. This lens ensures that you get the best images even if the conditions aren’t ideal.

The Sigma 150-600mm boasts updated Sigma technology, such as a quiet and optimized Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM) and a new Optical Stabilizer (OS) with an accelerometer for improved panning photography in both vertical and horizontal planes.

These features make it a dream come true for wildlife photographers. Last but not least, this lens features a new zoom lock switch that can be locked at any focal length and a manual override (MO) switch for maximum control over focus.

2. Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF AF-S VR NIKKOR

Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF AF-S VR NIKKOR Zoom Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras Image

Another great budget lens for wildlife photography is the Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED. To everyone’s surprise, this little lens is packed with some great features that are only found in high-end lenses. One of these features is an Internal Focus (IF) system that provides fast and quiet autofocus so you can quickly take your shot without startling your subject. 

A non-rotating front element provides convenient use of circular polarizing filters and the Nikon Wireless Close-Up Speedlight System. This enables you to take shots in less than optimal lighting conditions without worrying about how the image will turn out. Another useful feature of this lens is the nine-blade rounded diaphragm opening which makes all out-of-focus elements appear natural.

An essential piece of information here is the fact that all Nikkor lenses from Nikon carry a 4-year warranty of Nikon Extended Service Coverage at no additional charge!  This is much more than the one or 2-year warranty most lenses, including high-end ones, carry.

3. Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6G VR

Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6G VR Lens Image

An excellent lens for capturing breathtaking pictures of your subject along with its beautiful landscape, the NIKKOR 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6G VR lens won’t let you down. The most attractive feature of this lens is its unmatched ultra-wide-angle view! This allows for better picture composition and more leeway for you to play around with. 

This lens also contains Vibration Reduction (VR) and image stabilization which results in sharp handheld photos and videos. The NIKKOR 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6G lens lets you use a slow shutter speed so that you can get bright pictures in low light settings. It contains three Aspherical (AS) Lens Elements which almost wholly gets rid of image distortion for sharp and clear images that are easy to edit in post-processing.

4. Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR Lens Image

The Nikkor 55-300mm is one of the best budget lenses for wildlife photography on our list. The lens also boasts two Extra-Low Dispersion (ED) glass elements that deliver an exquisite contrast and resolution performance.

A Super Integrated Coating (SIC) system cuts through ghosting and lens flare. The seven-blade aperture design of this incredible lens gives the background areas in your pictures or videos a soft and rounded blurring effect, or bokeh, and enhances the clarity of the main subject.

An almost entirely silent, Autofocus Stepping Motor lets you capture images silently and quickly without compromising on the focus of the image. All in all, this is a wonderful budget lens for wildlife photography that beautifully captures vast landscapes and animals in the wild.

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

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

If you’re looking for a budget lens for wildlife photography that has a bigger range and you prefer standing at a distance, the Nikkor 80-400mm is a great option. The Vibration Reduction (VRII) technology in this lens minimizes the effects of camera shake and produces sharper images. So, you can use this lens without a tripod or monopod. You can even use it in a moving car and still get clear focused images!

The Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 80-400mm f.4.5-5.6G ED Zoom Lens is compact and lightweight so carrying it around isn’t difficult. The lens is also durable and robust, a feature that’s essential in a wildlife photography lens. In spite of its condensed design and low price, this lens delivers astonishingly high-quality pictures.

6. Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM Telephoto Zoom Lens for Canon SLR Cameras Image

This budget lens for wildlife photography is astoundingly high quality and contains a bunch of exceptional features. A great diagonal angle of view of 34 to 12 degrees means that you can take pictures at a vast range of perspectives without having to worry about how the image will turn out.

This lens also has the best inner focusing system with USM focus adjustments. So, capturing clear and focused images is easy. The lens’s closest focusing distance is 1.2m and it also contains telephoto zoom so that you can take close-up shots!

7. Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6

Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 Lens Image

A wide-angle is an excellent budget lens for wildlife photography if you don’t like taking close-up shots in the wild. This lens gives you cutting-edge performance in a compact design.

It has a four-group optical zoom element that promises high-quality pictures with minimal glare. A circular seven-blade aperture also means you can get the perfect background blur that every photographer wants. With an optical image stabilizer, the Canon 10-18mm is a great option to capture any landscapes.

8. Tamron Auto Focus 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6 Di LD (Budget Winner)

Tamron Auto Focus 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6 Di LD Macro Zoom Lens with Built-in Motor for Nikon Digital SLR (Model A17NII) Image

Wildlife photography isn’t just about capturing images from a distance. Wildlife photography also consists of taking macro shots of things like plants and insects.

If you’re more into macro-photography, your best budget lens for wildlife photography is the Tamron Auto Focus 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6.  It has a close-focusing ability at 0.95m, and you can vary the focal length between 180 and 300mm to capture the perfect shot.

The Tamron AF 70-300mm F/4.5-5.6 Di LD Macro features a built-in motor for quick and accurate focusing which results in astounding image quality. Its telephoto zoom ability can bring distant subjects in close view. 

A varying angle of view of 34-8 degrees ensures pictures of the same subject can be captured from different perspectives. Its best feature though is its incredible macro mode that gives a magnification ratio of 1:2 – ideal for taking pictures of small objects up close. A lens hood is also included for peak glare protection and better contrast.

This lens boasts the highest extended warranty from both high and low-end lenses with a warranty of six years! For anyone interested in getting a new budget lens for wildlife photography without having to splurge, the Tamron is ideal.

Choosing the Best Budget Lenses for Wildlife Photography

Wildlife photography is an art form that takes a lot of patience and skill. However, without the right equipment, all that effort goes to waste.

The perfect lens allows you to capture the perfect image no matter what the wild throws at you. Use our list of the best budget lenses for wildlife photography to help you decide which lens works best for you!

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