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Best Camera Lenses for Bird Photography and Wildlife

When you are photographing birds or other wildlife, having the right lens is essential. Different lenses can give you different results, and it is important to know which lens is best for the type of photography that you are doing. In this article, we will discuss the best camera lenses for bird photography and wildlife. We will also provide a few tips on how to choose the right lens for your needs!

Best Nikon Camera Lenses For Bird Photography

If you are using a Nikon camera, there are a few different lenses that we recommend for bird photography:

Nikon AF-S 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR

In terms of maximum reach, this own-brand competitor to the Sigma and Tamron 150-600mm lenses for Nikon cameras is a little shorter. However, in practical terms, the difference isn’t that significant, and the Nikon lens has an advantage of having a constant-aperture design, so f/5.6 can be used throughout the zoom range rather than f/6.3 at the long end.

The 4.5-stop VR (Vibration System) and electromagnetically controlled diaphragm function work together to produce consistent exposures, even when taking rapid fire shots. However, with older Nikon bodies, you’ll be limited to only shooting at the widest aperture setting. Even so, autofocus is fast and image quality is excellent all around – making this lens a great value for those who use own-brand Nikon products.


The zoom range and features on this camera are powerful and allow for great detail. The constant-aperture design keeps the image quality consistent, even in low light. This is a great value for a high-quality camera.


Not usable with older Nikon DSLRs

Nikon Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S

With this lens, you’ll feel like Superman with its relatively lightweight telephoto package. The smaller build is due to a average f/6.3 aperture rating and a Phase Fresnel optical element–a technology mostly used in lighthouses to focus the beam. Also, it has highly effective optical VR that works together IBIS in Z system full-frame cameras for exceptionally clear bird pics.

A variety of handling extras allow you to achieve top-quality results repeatedly, with great consistency even when shooting handheld. If you need to capture the perfect moment in wildlife photography, this is a lens you can trust. It’s not inexpensive, but it costs less than half as much as the Nikon Z 400mm f/2.8 TC VR S.


The autofocus is incredibly fast, allowing you to capture fleeting moments. Pro-grade build and handling ensures that your images will be of excellent quality.


A large build is required for this lens with a modest f/6.3 aperture, as well as an automatic diaphragm that opens and closes in sync with the subject’s movement, allowing you to shoot even while tracking action. Generally expensive (but excellent value). A big build is required for this lens with a small f/6.3 aperture, but it includes an automated diaphragm that opens and shuts in time with the subject’s motion, allowing you to capture photographs even when tracking activity.

Nikon 600mm f/4E FL ED VR AF-S

The Nikon 600mm f/4E FL ED VR is one of the company’s longest focal length lenses available, and at a price just under $10,000, it is intended for professional sports and wildlife photographers. This latest generation optic is significantly lighter than its predecessor due to the Flourite lens elements used.

This lens is significantly lighter than its predecessors, weighing in at 3810g. However, it is still a large and heavy lens, so you may want to consider using a monopod for extended shoots. As expected with any high-end Nikon product, the optical quality of this lens if superb. Additionally, the autofocus feature works flawlessly. Overall, this is an excellent lens if money isn’t an issue for you.


The pictures this camera produces are gorgeous, and it’s built like a tank.


The price is steep and it’s fairly heavy at 3810g.

Best Canon Camera Lenses For Bird Photography

If you are using a Canon camera, there are a few different lenses that we recommend for bird photography:

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM

The EF 100-400mm f/4.5-6.3L IS USM is a popular telephoto zoom lens for Canon cameras, but it isn’t to everyone’s taste, especially owing to its trombone-style push-pull zoom mechanism. The second version of the lens improves on the original’s twist-action zoom ring and includes additional elements. An improved optical path with fluorite and Super UD (Ultra-low Dispersion) elements, as well as high-tech Air Sphere antireflective coating.

The Mark II version gains improved image stabilisation, as well as weather seals and fluorine coatings on the front and rear elements. It’s a terrific lens, but it costs too much for a 100-400mm because it doesn’t have the outright telephoto reach of more recent 150-600mm independent designs.


The Optical elements are of the highest quality, and the Triple-mode image stabilizer is an essential component in ensuring that your images are captured flawlessly.


The zoom range is relatively limited, and it can be pricey to buy.

Canon RF 600mm f/11 IS STM

The Canon RF 600mm f/11 IS STM is a unique telephoto lens that has been designed for use with EOS R-series mirrorless cameras. It offers a clever retractable design that allows it to collapse down to 200mm in length. Utilizing DO (Diffractive Optics) and a fixed aperture rating of f/11, this lens is also very lightweight at only 930g.

A fast f/11 aperture isn’t as limiting as it may appear due to the sensor-based autofocus systems found in EOS R-series cameras. Image quality is excellent, and the lens’ size makes it ideal for handheld shooting, making it a fantastic choice for bird photography overall.


The benefits of this product are that it is compact and lightweight while still maintaining strong optical performance.


The camera has a fixed f/11 aperture and is not weather-sealed.

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

With all of this in mind, it’s no surprise to see something new for Canon EOS R full-frame mirrorless cameras. To improve on the EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM’s image quality, Canon felt that it would be difficult to do so and thus opted to extend the focal length even further with the RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1L IS USM (Extending the focal length gives it greater reach, but at a cost of a relatively modest maximum aperture of f/7.1 at the long end). The lengthening of the zoom range has resulted in more reach, albeit at a lesser maximum aperture of f/7.1 along its length.

The image stabilization in the EOS R5 or R6 delivers up to 6 stops compensation (5 stops on the EOS R or RP). Focusing is swift on Canon’s two new mirrorless cameras, but could be quicker on the R and RP. With Canon’s legendary L-series build quality and stunning optical performance, it is one of the best Canon zoom lenses we’ve tested.


The build and image quality are both stellar, and the focal range is versatile.


With a narrow max aperture, this lens is expensive but offers great capabilities.

Best Fujifilm Camera Lenses For Bird Photography

If you are using a Fujifilm camera, there are a few different lenses that we recommend for bird photography:

Fujifilm XF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR

The XF100-400mm is an excellent product, both in terms of its appearance and its performance. The autofocus system is based on dual linear stepping motors, and the 5-stop optical stabilizer ensures that images are clear and sharp. The optics are of the highest quality, with five ED (Extra-low Dispersion) elements plus a Super ED element. The camera is also weatherproof, with a fluorine coating on the front element that repels moisture and fingerprints.

The lens was built from the ground up as an APS-C format lens, and it simply requires a little image circle, when compared to a full-frame compatible lens, yet it is still rather hefty for a 100-400mm zoom. Overall performance and picture quality are excellent, although sharpness falls off somewhat at the long end of the zoom range.


Build quality is excellent. With a telephoto reach of 600mm, you’ll be well on your way to capturing even the most fleeting moments with EOS 5D Mark IV’s expansive viewfinder.


This lens is quite heavy for an APS-C camera, and its sharpness drops at the long end.

Best Sigma Camera Lenses For Bird Photography

If you are using a Sigma camera, there are a few different lenses that we recommend for bird photography:

Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS Sports

After a while, Sigma’s 150-600mm Sports lens received a mirrorless makeover. The Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS Sports wasn’t simply given a new skin like the DSLR version (below); it was completely retooled from the bottom up with mirrorless cameras kept in mind, and as result, it’s an impressive 760g lighter. It has heavy weatherproofing, containing oil-repellent coatings on its elements, and 4-stop optical stabilisation to assist with keeping things clear at the telephoto end.

Although the autofocus requires a bit of adjustment and isn’t quite as quick as those from Sony and Tamron, this lens still produces some stunning birding shots. You’ll be amazed at how sharp your images come out no matter how far you zoom in.


The camera is weather sealed and sharp from its widest zoom range to its longest.


E-mount teleconverters have yet to be developed, and rivals possess better AF.

Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Sport

Sigma made this pro-grade zoom lens from their ‘Sports’ line-up with speed and performance as top priorities. Some of its features include a super-fast ring-type ultrasonic autofocus system, highly effective optical stabilizer with both static and panning modes switchable, dual switchable autofocus modes giving priority to either automatic focusing or manual override, and custom mode that you can set up via Sigma’s optional USB Dock.

These options enable different behaviors in the autofocus speed and stabilization effect, as well as fine-tuning for autofocus accuracy for individual camera bodies. The lens is also fully weather-sealed and features a fluorine coating on its front and rear elements. Image quality is fabulous throughout the entire zoom range. The lens is originally designed for Canon and Nikon DSLRs – but can be used with Canon RF and Nikon Z mirrorless cameras using a mount adapter.


The construction of the camera is top-grade, and image quality is fantastic.


At long zoom settings, it’s a real heavyweight, weighing in at nearly 3kg.

Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Contemporary

The Contemporary edition is smaller than Sigma’s 150-600mm Sports lens, and almost a whole kilogram lighter. This makes it much more manageable for long periods of handheld shooting without the aid of a monopod or tripod, as well as easier to carry around in general.

Although cheaper to buy, it offers the same stabilization dual-mode, options autofocus customs and establishment of fluorine coatings on elements front and rear. It also has a seal rubber resistant dust and moisture around the mounting plate, but without extras sport lenses weatherproofing. It is not quite as accurate either, but comes close enough and gives an excellent quality image overall.


A brilliant lens, especially in the 150-600mm range. It’s quite compact and light, and it offers excellent value for money.


Only partially weather-sealed, but it’s still better than the standard ‘Sports’ model.

Sigma 100-400mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Contemporary

Although this lens doesn’t give as much telephoto reach as Sigma’s 150-600mm lenses, it is noticeably more compact. It’s only half the weight of the larger Contemporary lens and a third of the weight of the Sports edition, making it handheld shooting more comfortable for extended periods. Unfortunately, there is no optional tripod mounting ring available which would have enabled better balance when shooting in portrait orientation.

This is a bigger, heavier camera with more sophisticated controls. Dual-mode autofocus options with priority given to autofocus or manual override, static/panning stabilization modes, and dual customized setups are all included. You may alter the zoom setting in a push-pull manner using the twist-action control ring. A particularly designed lens hood with a thumb and finger groove aids this.


This camera is lightweight and compact, making it easy to carry with you wherever you go. It’s also compatible with full-frame lenses, so you can get the most out of your equipment.


Telephoto reach is shorter than some competitors and no tripod ring is included.

Best Tamron Camera Lenses For Bird Photography

If you are using a Tamron camera, there are a few different lenses that we recommend for bird photography:

Tamron 150-500mm f/5-6.7 Di III VC VXD

The Tamron 150-500mm f/5-6.7 Di III VC VXD is a Sony E-mount lens designed exclusively for full-frame bodies, but it can also be used with APS-C cameras to produce an effective focal length of 225-750mm. This lens is pretty handy because it offers 500mm of zoom power, and its autofocus system is super fast.

The linear stepping motor is incredibly fast and almost silent, making it perfect for birding. However, the narrower aperture range of f/5-6.7 will limit you in terms of how much light you need. Just keep this in mind when making your decision.

The Tamron 150-500mm is a very light lens (1,725g without the tripod collar), yet it’s still perfectly manageable hand-held. Its three-mode stabilisation system also helps out – birders will most likely find Mode 3 to be the most helpful, which applies only the stabilisation effect during real photo captures, making it easier to track erratically moving birds.


Excellent, speedy autofocus: great for capturing fast-moving targets.

Multi-mode stabilisation: keep your photos blur-free, even in low light or when zoomed in.


The maximum aperture is 500mm and the aperture is somewhat restrictive compared to other camera lenses.

Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2

The Tamron G2 (Generation 2) 150-600mm lens is comparable in size and weight to the Sigma Contemporary, however it adds more comprehensive weather seals similar to those of Sigma’s more exotic Sports edition, while keeping costs separate.

The updated 4.5-stop optical stabilizer, which has three customizable modes for static, panning, and exposure-only operation, is a significant upgrade from the original Tamron lens.

The autofocus system is faster and more accurate, with a fluorine coating added to the front element. Sharpness is at its best near 600mm but falls off at shorter lengths. For full compatibility with Canon EOS R and Nikon Z series mirrorless cameras, V2 or later firmware can be applied via Tamron’s optional USB-linked TAP-in Console.


Stabilizer and autofocus system upgrades for improved performance and durability, comes with an underwater case, and fluorine coating on the lens.


The sharpness could improve with a V2 firmware update for mirrorless usage.

Best Sony Camera Lenses For Bird Photography

If you are using a Sony camera, there are a few different lenses that we recommend for bird photography:

Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS

Adding to Sony’s E-mount line, this camera has the same 600mm maximum focal length as Sigma and Tamron 150-600mm zooms for Canon and Nikon SLRs. While Sony’s size and weight are average, they may feel more imposing on lightweight mirrorless Alpha bodies in comparison.

The maximum ‘effective’ focal length varies according to the type of camera used, ranging from 600mm to around 900mm when shooting on an APS-C rather than full-frame body. For static and moving photographs, triple-mode image stabilization is available, with the option to apply stabilisation only during exposures added. This makes it easier to follow fast flight birds. DDSSM (Direct Drive Super Sonic Motor) focusing is lightning quick and comes with customizable focus-hold buttons placed near the barrel.

The optical image stabilizer does a great job on its own, and it’s even better when coupled with in-body stabilization—a feature included in later Sony Alpha A7 and A9 mirrorless cameras. Your pictures will always be sharp, have excellent contrast, and look great no matter what zoom range you’re using.


This camera is compatible with both full-frame and APS-C lenses, and offers impressive build quality and performance.


This camera doesn’t have a very good balance, and it has a long-zoom aperture rating of f/6.3.

Best Olympus Camera Lenses For Bird Photography

If you are using an Olympus camera, there are a few different lenses that we recommend for bird photography:

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4 IS Pro

The Olympus 300mm f/4.0 is a really good reason to upgrade from the Panasonic 100-400mm telephoto lens for Micro Four Thirds cameras. It has fully professional-grade construction quality with comprehensive weather seals and is dust, freeze, and splashes proof. Naturally, it features a fixed focal length of 600mm in full frame terms and lacks the versatility of a zoom. Even so, that’s rarely an issue when it comes to birding, as you’ll almost certainly use a zoom lens at its longest possible focal length.

One great advantage is that the aperture rating of f/4 is relatively fast, compared to most zoom lenses that fall to f/5.6 or even lower at a similar focal length. Other handling highlights include a customizable Lens-function button, an four-stop image stabilizer (which provides up to a six-stop benefit when used in conjunction with in-camera stabilization), and an autofocus range limiter that can block out either short or long focus distances. Autofocus speed is very impressive, and resultant image quality is excellent.


High-resolution telephoto zoom lens for FX and 35mm film cameras. Has a f/4 aperture and a 600mm effective focal length.


This camera lacks the ability to zoom in and out, which can be frustrating when trying to take pictures of subjects that are far away or close up. Additionally, this camera is on the pricier side and is also heavier than some of its competitors.

Best Panasonic Lenses For Bird Photography

If you are using a Panasonic camera, there are a few different lenses that we recommend for bird photography:

Panasonic DG Vario-Elmar 100-400mm f/4-6.3 Asph. Power O.I.S.

The Panasonic 100-400mm lens is a beautifully designed piece of equipment that, though large for a Micro Four Thirds format zoom, only weighs almost a kilogram. With its MFT mount, it will work on not only Olympus mirrorless cameras but also compatible Panasonic Lumix models. The Sigma and Tamron 100-400mm lenses for full-frame cameras weigh about the same amount. However, because of the 2x crop factor of MFT cameras ,the Panasonic has a maximum ‘effective’ focal length of 800mm–just as if you were using 150-600mm lens on an APS-C format body.

Another problem is that during recording, it’s difficult to keep everything steady while shooting because of the continuous movement. However, the Panasonic features outstanding build quality and includes a zoom lock ring, tripod mounting collar, and optical image stabilizer to assist with shaking. It’s all fantastic except that stabilization isn’t as effective when panning. The autofocus is quick and precise, and the picture quality is excellent on average; however, at the maximum zoom setting, sharpness decreases somewhat.


800mm effective telephoto reach with Power O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer)


When panning with a 400mm f/2.8 lens, IS is less useful than usual since it is slower.

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