Wildlife photography can be one of the most dynamic, interesting, and downright beautiful types of photography. But in order to get those fantastic close-up portraits of animals, you can’t be anywhere nearby. This makes the focal distance the most important aspect of choosing the right lens for wildlife photography.
Ideally, wildlife photographers prefer their lenses to be 200-300mm at the minimum, but the longer the lens the better. Prime lenses are always going to be better quality than a zoom lens, but sometimes that extra 200mm of length can make all the difference.
The unfortunate side effect of these lenses being so long and filled with high-quality glass is that they can easily cost you an arm and a leg. If you’re just stepping into the business or building out your first camera kit, spending so much money right away may seem a little impractical.
Fortunately, there is a good variety of affordable lenses perfect for wildlife photography and all you need to do is search. To shorten your quest, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best budget lenses for wildlife photography to help you capture your dream shot.
1. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR (Overall Winner)
Nikon is one of the best companies in the world of photography. All their products are top quality and give wonderful results. This particular lens, the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR, happens to be one of Nikon’s best budget lenses for wildlife photography because it has a ton of great features that you would normally only find in a lens twice this price.
This lens features a super telephoto-zoom that makes sure your picture is focused and sharp even when the subject is a great distance away. The lens produces a beautiful and soft bokeh all across its range thanks to its fast and constant f/5.6 aperture. The lens features a 500mm zoom power on DSLR cameras with an FX-format and has a minimum focus range of 7.2 ft.
With the sports mode on this handy lens, you can get 4.5 stops of vibration reduction so that all your pictures are clear and well-focused. The lens also produces great pictures in low light settings.
One of the best budget lenses for wildlife photography on the market, the Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di-II VC sets the bar high for affordable, top-notch zoom lenses. An all-in-one zoom capability makes the lens incredibly versatile. This means that the lens can be used for both macro and wildlife photography!
The Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di-II VC has image stabilization and image compensation along with a high-speed Piezo-driven autofocusing system to ensure all your images are sharp and well-focused.
Numerous lens coatings make the camera weather and moisture resistant, so you don’t have to worry about it raining while you’re trying to capture photos in the wild. It also features a newly developed glass, which reduces color infringement and chromatic aberrations.
It has a focal length of 16-300mm and a minimum distance of 15.3 inches. All in all, this lens is a great all-rounder for wildlife and nature photography that genuinely gives you a bang for your buck.
The Pentax 55-300mm f/4-5.8 lens is one of the best budget lenses for wildlife photography that is both brilliant and affordable! It has a focal length, which is equivalent to 82.5-450mm in a 35mm format. Fully equipped with a top-notch autofocusing system, the lens produces outstandingly clear images.
High definition glass and lens coatings provide optimized light transmission while reducing glare. These coatings also make the lens moisture and weather-resistant, so you don’t have to worry about your lens getting spoiled in damp, swampy conditions or rain. It also contains ED elements to compensate for chromatic aberrations and color infringement.
The Pentax 55-300mm f/4-5.8 is a lightweight and easy-to-carry lens that allows you to carry it effortlessly on long treks. It produces incredibly sharp images with soft edges to give you a stunning photograph at the end.
The Sony 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 lens is a wonderful piece of engineering in a compact, lightweight body. This lens has some excellent features that make it great to work with! The medium to long telephoto lens features SSM (supersonic wave motor) technology in its autofocus system. This means that that the autofocusing system is both smooth and quiet!
Excellent for a range of situations requiring telephoto zoom, this Sony lens is every wildlife photographer’s dream come true. It has an equivalent focal length of 105-450mm in 35mm. High-quality multiple lens coatings reduce flair, increase transmittance, and prevent contrast issues in the photographs. The lens produces well-focused, clear, sharp, and color-shift free images.
An ideal lens for telephoto and sports photography, the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens is packed with a bunch of high-end features, at half the price. This lens boasts a single super UD element and one fluorite element, which ensures high-resolution images that have perfect contrast. This feature also helps in reducing any chromatic aberration throughout the zoom range.
This lens also contains the latest technology elements, such as the brand-new Air Sphere Coating (ASC) system, which helps eliminate any backlit flaring or ghosting issues. The coatings of fluorine at the front of the lens and its rear end, help to keep these surfaces fingerprint and smear-free.
Canon’s lens also has an accurate and fast autofocus system and an optical image stabilization system that ensures clear and sharp pictures. The lens also produces a beautiful background bokeh for all its images. It is made to withstand rugged conditions thanks to its superior construction and advanced water and dust repelling capabilities.
The Nikon 70-200mm f/4G ED VR zoom lens is an excellent choice for budget lenses for wildlife photography. Exceptionally compact and lightweight, this lens is ideal for long treks and hikes.
The Nikon 70-200mm features a whopping 20 elements that are placed into 14 groups! These include a single HRI lens element, three elements with ED, and even some lens elements which have Nano-Crystal coatings.
It also has a smooth autofocus system and an optical image stabilization with five vibration reduction stops. More than any lens in this price range! All these features combine to give you superior quality images that have excellent clarity, focus, and no issues with color or contrast.
This is another great lens that has tons of excellent features and is packed with the latest technology. The Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 G2 Di VC USD has a fluorine coating and is built to withstand damp environments and adverse weather conditions as well. The ultrasonic autofocus system is silent and excellent at capturing in-motion subjects with high accuracy and speed.
It has three glass elements for low dispersion so it can perform optimally in various light conditions and produce images with excellent contrast. This feature also helps keep color infringement and chromatic aberrations at an all-time low. The lens contains 4.5 stops in terms of VC performance and is one of the top contenders in wildlife photography lenses overall.
8. Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS (Budget Winner)
Another leading giant in the photography industry is Canon. The EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS zoom lens features a focal length of 18 to 200mm and a minimum shooting distance of 1.48 ft.
This lens contains four stops of optical image stabilization and vibration reduction, even at full zoom. A circular aperture produces a beautifully blurred bokeh in all its images.
The lens is compact, lightweight, and easy to carry. An autofocus system eliminates the need to manually focus the lens each time, saving you time and ensuring crisp, well-focused images. The lens promises excellent high-speed performance and clear pictures at an affordable price.
Improve Your Skills With Budget Lenses for Wildlife Photography
Wildlife photography can be incredibly rewarding when done correctly. Other than excellent photography skills, you also need great equipment to produce exceptional images. However, this equipment doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive for it to be one of the best.
Use our list to find the most appropriate budget lenses for wildlife photography! Before purchasing the lens, though, make sure it fits your camera using the features on the site!