There is no going around having a powerful lens when taking professional photos in the wild. When you consider the need to always maintain distance from what you capture, it becomes clear that a lens is not only an essential accessory for wildlife cameras but a key component for a great result. Here are lens recommendations with factors to guide you when looking for the best wildlife photography lens.
The best lens can vary with photographers depending on technicalities, type of lens needed, and other general factors. Such factors include what category of animals they look to capture in their shots, how reachable the animals are, plus the budget available. When considering the type of lens, a photographer with a good budget may prefer a prime lens because of its autofocus, maximum aperture, and fixed focal length. But other photographers may prefer a telephoto zoom lens because of its adjustable distance, even when it usually has less focus. Photographers who specialize in insect and tiny creature capture would prefer microlens, while those who operate in challenging weather would choose a macro lens.
When considering lens technicality, the focal length requirement for birds, up to 800 mm, varies from what large mammals require, not more than 600 mm. The lens aperture is also crucial, with faster animals requiring quick-focus apertures such as f2.8, f4, or anything less than f5.6. The lens should work with a teleconverter for range extension, at least 1point4X, and compliments the camera for dim light environments. Another technical aspect to consider is handling the lens: ring rotation for zooming, autofocus, weight, and vibration stabilization features are necessary.
Canon 100-400 mm IS II with maximum aperture f4point5, to 5point6, is an ideal lens for capturing large animals like the Harpy Eagle, whether it is far or near. It is not heavy at 1point5 kg and only costs USD 2,000, although less effective in dim light.
The related Canon 200-400 mm is slightly better than it is with integrated 1point4X range extension and switches to f5point6 but costlier, USD 10,000, plus it is harder to handle at 3point6 kg. Nikon VR 200-500 mm with maximum aperture f5point6 is a great zoom lens for photojournalists with its 2point3 kg that only costs USD 1,400, although its autofocus is not the best.
Sigma 500 mm with aperture f4 is ideal for photographers of birds and similar small animals, costing USD 5000. Tamron 16ndash300 mm with max aperture f3 to 6point3 is an economical lens to capture anything from insects to bears. It is inexpensive for its multiple functions at only USD 629.
Another multifunctional budget lens like Tamron is Sigma 70ndash300 mm macro, which is even cheaper at USD 169. It uses special lowly dispersing glass to reduce color fringe, and it also works with SLR cameras. Lensmen may choose lenses based on an extreme budget, Tamron 16ndash300 mm or Sigma 70ndash300 mm are decently priced options for best utility. All recommended lenses provide great value for their money, so photographers at any level can buy based on requirements or budget.