The right lens can be the difference between capturing incredible wildlife photos and major disappointment. Here are 6 of the best wildlife lenses around, all costing £2,500 or less…
The EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM is a powerful, high-performance, super-telephoto zoom lens, ideal for wildlife photographers, with high quality imaging right across the frame. It’s a versatile piece of gear, with the ability to customise the feel of the zoom control for working in different situations
The lens features a 4-stop optical Image Stabilizer to reduce the effects of visible camera shake on long-distance shots and high-quality optics to deliver great sharpness. Canon’s ring-type Ultrasonic Motor provides fast, silent autofocusing, and the lens focuses down to 0.98m, letting you react to animals that come unexpectedly close.
It’s a lens that can be used confidently in tough weather conditions, with a fluorine coating on the lens’ front element to repel dirt, also making it easy to clean.
Find out more: canon.co.uk
Nikon’s high-performance FX-format 300mm telephoto lens is a versatile lens, ideal for wildlife and sports photography, but also fine to use for travel shots or detail-oriented portraiture. As the first F-mount NIKKOR lens to be equipped with a phase Fresnel element, it balances a light, compact build with telephoto reach and high image quality. With reduced size and weight, it’s a handy lens to have in your kit bag.
The combination of f/4 maximum aperture, 300 mm focal length and Vibration Reduction (VR) to reduce camera shake enables impressive results in a range of conditions. An electromagnetic diaphragm enables consistent, more precise exposures, especially when shooting at high frame rates.
The lens also has a fluorine coating to repel water, dust and dirt for enhanced durability and to make it easier to clean the glass without damaging the surface.
Find out more: europe-nikon.com
Though it’s called a Sports lens, this is the Sigma lens most recommended for wildlife, both photographic areas that need a lens that can track and shift quickly.
The Sigma 150-600mm Sports has an unusually massive focal range, along with high quality optical performance. The zoom range stops the need for constant lens changing, if you’re not carrying more than one camera body, avoiding the potentially missed shots when something exciting happens and you’re still trying to fix a lens to the camera.
The lens benefits from a tough metal construction with full weather sealing throughout. The optics include SIGMA’s highest grade FLD glass. The Intelligent Optical Stabilisation with built-in acceleration sensor makes panning on moving subjects, such as birds in flight or big cats moving across the Maasai Mara, easier than ever.
The lens is available with Sigma, Canon and Nikon mounts.
Find out more: sigma-imaging-uk.com
With a 100mm to 400mm zoom range, the E-mount G Master super-telephoto zoom lens is ideal for shooting wildlife. The lens has a linear motor and Direct Drive SSM (DDSSM) for agile, highly precise focus lens control, with fast autofocus and powerful tracking, so photographers can track and shoot moving subjects at any distance with just this one lens. Precision G Master optics ensure high resolution.
It's an exceptionally powerful photographic tool that has a lightweight, portable design. The lens also has a dust- and moisture- resistant design, plus Sony Nano AR coating to eliminate flare and ghosting (hazy lighting effect on pictures).
Find out more: sony.co.uk
Splash- and dust-proof, Panasonic Lumix's 100-400mm (35mm equivalent 200-800) lens has been specifically designed with wildlife and nature photographers in mind. It’s a telephoto lens to use in diverse conditions without too much worry, with LEICA DG glass to provide professional quality.
Its compact and lightweight body means photographers can remain agile and mobile, rather than being bogged down with a heavy weight, especially impressive given the 400mm zoom length. It also enables easy framing in both vertical and horizontal directions.
Using LUMIX 4K technology, you can also capture unmissable moments as photos or record them as video.
Find out more: panasonic.com
The M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 300mm 1:4.0 IS PRO lens is a precision piece of kit that delivers high quality optical rendering across the image. The fast 4.0 aperture means photographers can take control of image quality, working together with the world's fastest 5‑Axis Sync IS, which is compatible OM‑D cameras, to stabilise handheld still photographs and noticeably reduce shake when recording video.
Usefully for wildlife photographers who spend a lot of time in the great outdoors in all kinds of weather and terrain, the lens has a splash-, dust- and freeze-proof construction. It also has Z Coating Nano to reduce flaring and ghosting.
That spec is all packed into a compact metal body. Weighing just 1270g, the lens is lighter than a lot of comparable big wildlife lenses, which is handy for mobility when shooting and moving.
Find out more: olympus.co.uk