The best 7 wildlife lenses for Nikon cameras – Review & Guide 2023

Last Updated on: 23rd April 2024, 12:56 am

Nikon cameras are popular among wildlife photographers due to their high-quality sensors and advanced autofocus systems. However, capturing stunning wildlife photographs requires the right lens.

With so many options available in the market, choosing the best wildlife lens for Nikon cameras can be a daunting task. 

In this article, we will review some of the top wildlife lenses for Nikon cameras based on factors such as image quality, focal length, aperture, and compatibility with Nikon cameras

Whether you’re a professional wildlife photographer or a hobbyist, this article will help you find the perfect lens for your Nikon camera to capture stunning images of wildlife in their natural habitat.

Best wildlife lens for Nikon cameras

After researching and testing various options, we have selected the following as the top picks for the best wildlife lenses for Nikon cameras.

1. Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G – best lens for wildlife photography Nikon D5300:

 As a wildlife photographer, leopards are among my most recognizable subjects. Since leopards sleep during the day, many photographs depict them lying down, usually splayed over a limb. I spent a week in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park.

Based on my requirements, I chose the Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G, which is the best wildlife lens for the Nikon D5300. A painterly portrayal and a prizewinning photograph were produced with this wildlife lens mounted on the Nikon D5300. My ability to capture long-exposure photos has greatly improved.

Using Vibration Reduction II, the camera vibration is reduced by many stops when framing wildlife panoramas, resulting in sharp, in-focus images and films regardless of the setpoint. Because most of my photos were zoomed in, I needed a telephoto lens to do comparable tasks. Therefore, I used it on the Nikon D5300 to photograph the site.

Specifications: 

Item Dimensions5.67 x 3.15 x 3.15 inches
Item Weight1.64 lbs
Lens TypeTelephoto
Maximum Aperture4.5
Maximum Focal Length300 millimetres
Maximum Aperture RangeF4.5 – F5.6
Maximum Format Size35mm full-frame
Minimum Aperture32
Minimum Focal Length70 millimetres
Minimum Operating Distance1.5 meters
Photo Filter Thread Size67 millimetres

Why i recommend:

As a result of its outstanding performance and wide zoom range, this wildlife lens is highly recommended. During nightfall, when the lighting was poor, we were able to capture animals in motion from sunrise, when the sun shined brightly on us. The f/4.5-5.6 lens, with its dual focusing modes, captures close-up shots of animals.

Using the 9-blade diaphragm and three ED lens components, I achieved well-defined photographs with flare and ghosting. The 9-blade diaphragm and three ED lens components gave me crisper photos and better results. Thanks to the 5-axis optical image stabilizer, my wildlife clips have experienced an extraordinary increase in traffic.

This lens has an explicit field of view of 70-300mm, making it ideal for photographing distant wildlife. The lens has excellent optics and vibration reduction technologies at an affordable price for a lightweight, flexible telephoto. It is designed for Nikon FX cameras, including the Nikon D5300.

Why i don’t recommend:

The maximum aperture of f/4.5-5.6 can limit the ability to shoot in low light conditions, and the image quality may suffer at the higher end of the zoom range. Some photographers have noted that the autofocus can be slow and noisy, which may not be ideal for wildlife photography, where speed and silence are often crucial.

Pros

  • telephoto zoom range
  • fast and silent autofocus
  • VRII image stabilization
  • weather-sealed design
  • compatible with Nikon’s teleconverters

Cons

  • maximum aperture not as fast as some competing lenses
  • some chromatic aberration at the edges of the frame

2. Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 – best wildlife lens for Nikon d810

As a professional wildlife photographer, I aim to capture wildlife’s natural beauty and activity in its natural habitat, whether in rainforests, deserts, mountaintops, grasslands, or underwater. I recently had the opportunity to photograph some rare images of White Tigers about to become extinct for a well-known company. This project was a huge undertaking for me.

To make my consignment perfect, I upgraded my camera to a professional model, which included a Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 lens, which enhanced my photography. It is the best wildlife lens for the Nikon D810.

The Sigma Contemporary lens, part of Sigma’s Global Vision series’ Contemporary line, balances performance and convenience, offering a compact, lightweight build, versatile handling, and outstanding optical performance. It is the best wildlife lens for Nikon D810.

Specifications: 

Item Dimensions10.2 x 4.1 x 4.1 inches
Item Weight4.25 lbs
Lens TypeTelephoto
Maximum Aperturef/5
Maximum Focal Length600 millimeters
Maximum Aperture Range5 – 6.3
Maximum Format SizeFull Frame
Minimum Aperturef/22
Minimum Focal Length150 millimeters
Photo Filter Thread Size95 millimeters

Why I recommend: 

A water- and oil-repellent coating has been applied to the lens’s front element, making it easy to clean in adverse weather conditions. Thermally Stable Composite (TSC) material was used to increase precision and make it suitable for various temperatures. Furthermore, a brass bayonet enhances precision and rigidity.

The telephoto zoom is designed for full-frame Canon EF-mount cameras, but it can also be used with APS-C cameras, giving me an equivalent focal length range of 240-960mm. With three Special Low Dispersion (SLD) and one F Low Dispersion (FLD) elements, colour fringing and chromatic aberrations are reduced for better clarity and colour accuracy.

Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 is the best wildlife lens for Nikon D810. It is compatible with Sigma USB Docks, which can fine-tune lens properties and update the firmware. The zoom lock switch prevents unintentional zooming.

Why i don’t recommend: 

The lens is quite heavy, weighing over 4 pounds, making it challenging to carry and use for extended periods. The maximum aperture of f/5-6.3 can limit its low-light capabilities, and some users have noted that the autofocus can be slower compared to other lenses in its class. Finally, the lens can be prone to chromatic aberration and vignetting, which may require post-processing correction.

Pros

  • Excellent value for the price 
  • Good build quality
  • Sharp images 
  • Fast and accurate autofocus
  • Very good image stabilization

Cons

  • Heavy and large
  • Slow maximum aperture
  • Somewhat soft at 600mm

3. NIKON Z 70-200mm f/2.8 – best wildlife lens for Nikon Z5:

I enjoy photographing animals. I am fascinated by how nature has shaped them. And I enjoy capturing their movements and whatever they are doing. 

It gives me a sense of being close to nature. I like exploring such places where I can get more chances to see animals and watch them do their stuff casually so I can have a sneak peek of them and I can quietly capture them in my camera, and what lens to use to capture wildlife and take the most incredible pictures from it than a telephoto lens?

I use my “NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f/2.8” lens with my Nikon Z5 camera because the lens’s wide focal length is ideal. This lens allows longer shutter speeds and more light to reach my camera sensor, resulting in stunning and vivid pictures. 

In addition to allowing me to capture more of the scene in one frame, it’s also the best wildlife lens for Nikon Z5. It’s one of my “Favorites,” and it’s the best for Nikon Z5.

Specifications: 

Item Dimensions7.9 x 3.4 x 3.4 inches
Item Weight3.15 lbs
Lens TypeTelephoto
Maximum Aperture22 millimeters
Maximum Focal Length200 millimeters
Maximum Aperture RangeF2.8
Maximum Format SizeFull Frame
Minimum Aperture2.8 millimeters
Minimum Focal Length70 millimeters
Photo Filter Thread Size77 millimeters

Why I recommend: 

Due to its diversity of qualities, such as its 70mm focal length, I was delighted to have it in my collection. In addition to its speed and ability to shine in exceptionally tight shooting conditions, the lens has an incredible minimum focusing distance of 0.5m from the subject. So far, this is the most outstanding lens for the Nikon Z5.

Its bright f/2.8 aperture, high-resolution NIKKOR lenses, and dazzling Z mount enable sharp, crisp photos and faster shutter speeds in sad scenes and interiors, which I appreciate in low-light situations. With the camera’s automatic lighting adjustment, I could easily take photos of wildlife. 

Because it has such a high resolution, this lens is one of the best. A unique SR refractive element combats chromatic aberrations caused by problematic short-wavelength light.

Furthermore, the lens controls aberrations to the frame’s edges. So far, it’s the best wide-angle lens for the Nikon Z5. 

Why I don’t recommend: 

Some users have noted that the autofocus can be a bit slow, especially when shooting in low-light conditions. However, the lens is an excellent choice for wildlife photographers who require fast autofocus, exceptional image quality, and a wide maximum aperture for low-light shooting.

Pros

  • Excellent optics
  • Fast and accurate autofocus
  • Good build quality 
  • Weather resistant 
  • Fast maximum aperture

Cons

  • Requires an adapter for use with Nikon F-mount cameras

4. Nikon Nikkor AF-S 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 – best wildlife lens for Nikon d5500:

Wildlife photography is something that makes me sweat. It demands a greater extent of precision. As part of this effort, I booked a spot in the dense Amazon forest with experts for exposure. I have also searched for the best wildlife lens for the Nikon D5500. 

Each time I come across this Nikon Nikkor 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6, I end up with this lens. However, I wasn’t sure whether I’d also excel at the specific photography niche at the same time.

Going into the forest with this robust pair that is always ready to capture wildlife moments was great.

If you’re looking for an all-purpose and highly portable lens for wildlife photography or travelling, the Nikon Nikkor AF-S 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 strikes me as the ideal choice. This camera features an internal focus mechanism with a Silent Wave Motor, allowing manual focus while in autofocus mode. The focus worked well in good light, which is advantageous in wildlife photography.

Specifications: 

Item Dimensions4.53 x 3.27 x 3.27 inches
Item Weight1.76 lbs
Lens TypeTelephoto
Maximum Aperturef/3.5
Maximum Focal Length300 millimeters
Maximum Aperture RangeF3.5 – F5.6
Maximum Format Size35mm full frame
Minimum Aperture38
Minimum Focal Length28 millimeters
Minimum Operating Distance0.5 meters
Photo Filter Thread Size77 millimeters

Why I recommend:  

This lens hits the target: a small, inexpensive lens with great versatility. The focal length provides a comfortable field to capture critical wildlife moments with clarity and precision. Despite its 28mm enlarging aperture, it has remarkable macro power, and by reducing the aperture, it produces outstanding sharpness, even at the edges. This combination is a winning one.

This lens is ideal for wildlife photography because of its excellent optical quality. Using this image stabilizer, you can capture spectacular vistas, wildlife portraiture, and dramatic telephoto close-ups at various focal lengths. With it, you can shoot handheld without tremors. Shooting handheld has become easier since the results never disappoint.

It can also detect panning. When zoomed in, it’s consistently sharp throughout the frame. It compensates for the shake caused by moving subjects. Zooming in causes some softness around the borders, but it’s still reasonably competent. It allows me to utilize my energy and skills to the maximum potential. The lens is sealed and protected from dust, debris, and scratches.

Why I don’t recommend:  

Overall, the Nikon Nikkor AF-S 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 is a good option for photographers looking for a single lens that can handle various shooting situations but may not be the best choice for those who require exceptional image quality or fast autofocus. Some users have noted that the lens can be slow to autofocus, especially when shooting fast-moving subjects. Finally, while the all-in-one design is convenient, it can make the lens heavier and bulkier than more specialized lenses.

Pros

  • Nikon’s VR system
  • Internal Focus (IF) design
  • Silent Wave Motor (SWM) 
  • Nano Crystal Coat (N) 
  • Super Integrated Coating (SIC)

Cons

  • variable aperture affects low-light performance and shooting video
  • Some distortion and vignetting at the wide end

5. Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 – best wildlife lens for Nikon d850:

A photographer dreams of having a wildlife photo album. I am part of one of those photographers with a Sigma 150-600mm F/5-6.3 lens. This lens is the best wildlife lens for the Nikon d850 camera. I have taken pictures of rhinoceros running towards their females and a black panther lying on a tree branch.

I have a photo of an elephant splashing water by its trunk in one of my wildlife albums. In order for me to take good pictures of wildlife, I need to have a long focal length when I take my shots. Ideally, I should photograph wildlife with this lens because I cannot get close to wild animals.

The Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 lens gives me great detail of the scene even when I am far away from them. Try this type of photography with this Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 lens.

Specifications: 

Item Dimensions4.1 x 10.2 x 4.1 inches
Item Weight6.50 lbs
Lens Typestandard-zoom
Maximum Aperturef/5
Maximum Focal Length600
Maximum Aperture RangeF5-6.3
Minimum Aperture6.3
Minimum Focal Length150

Why I recommend:

This lens has excellent portability. It has the best qualities to take on a wildlife trip. I have experienced the phenomenal performance of the lens. With Sigma’s best technology, the lens produces quiet, optimized photos with its hypersonic motor and new optical stabilizer. This lens is perfect for wildlife, bird photography, and sports photography. It can be operated with its manual functions efficiently.

This lens may get dirt and water particles when you take it on a wildlife trip. To prevent this from happening, it has been built with an oil- and water-repellent coating to help prevent dirt and water particles from getting into the lens.

In addition to its 95mm filter size, this lens has a 0.2-inch minimum focusing distance. In addition to being great for capturing wildlife, sports, and distant objects, the lens can be customized to the maximum. It is compatible with USB docks. A full-frame format lens can capture the full focal length of 600mm.

Why I don’t recommend:

 Some users have reported that the autofocus on the Sigma 150-600mm lens can be slow or inaccurate, particularly when shooting in low light. This can make it challenging to capture fast-moving subjects, such as birds. While the image quality of the Sigma 150-600mm lens is generally good, some users have reported issues with sharpness and chromatic aberration, particularly at the longer focal lengths. The lens can suffer from “zoom creep,” where the zoom mechanism can gradually extend or retract when the lens is pointed up or down.

Pros

  • Excellent image quality
  • Fast and accurate autofocus
  • Sharp images even at 600mm
  • Lightweight and easy to carry
  • Good value for money

Cons

  • Some chromatic aberration at the edges of the frame
  • Slow maximum aperture of f/6.3
  • Not weather-sealed

6. Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3 – best lens for wildlife photography d5200:

A wildlife photographer focuses on documenting the habitats of different species of wildlife. An effective wildlife photo requires knowing the right place at the right time, understanding animal behaviour, and taking pictures appealing to the eye. A photographer must have a quality camera and lens for the best wildlife photos.

My profession is wildlife photography; I click all my pictures with the Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3 lens, the best telephoto lens used in wildlife photography. It is excellent when shooting faraway objects. It makes my work perfect without affecting the quality of the picture.

The 70-300mm focal length makes it easy to capture distant objects. When an animal approaches too close, you must zoom out to ensure the subject fits in the frame. If you zoom in or out, you can adjust the focal length. This allows you to change the composition of your images and fine-tune your video.

Specifications: 

Item Dimensions4.92 x 2.83 x 2.83 inches
Item Weight0.91 lbs
Lens TypeTelephoto
Maximum Aperture4.5 millimeters
Maximum Focal Length300
Maximum Aperture Rangef/4.5-6.3
Maximum Format SizeAPS-C
Minimum Aperture32
Minimum Focal Length70
Photo Filter Thread Size58 millimeters

Why I recommend:  

In addition to maintaining the clarity of photos and videos while shooting handheld, image stabilization enhances your camera’s low-light capabilities, enabling you to capture images in dim lighting. You cannot change settings on the lens barrel if there are no switches on it.

When shooting a video, the lens has been installed with a pulse motor (using stepping motors) that focuses extremely fast and noise-free. It allows you to instantly bring your subjects into focus with absolute accuracy and softly shift focus from the matter to the issue without causing any drive noise when shooting a video.

It offers superb optics and modern technology used on Nikon’s high-end lenses. Your pictures and videos will have rich, bright colours, deep contrast, less distortion, and attractive soft backgrounds, even in unfavourable environmental conditions.

Why I don’t recommend:  

The maximum aperture of f/4.5-6.3 means that this lens may struggle in low light conditions, especially at the longer end of the zoom range. This can result in slower shutter speeds and higher ISOs, which may impact image quality. This lens may not be fully compatible with older Nikon DSLR models, so checking the compatibility before purchasing is important.

Pros

  • Lightweight and compact
  • Fast and accurate autofocus 
  • VR image stabilization
  • Sharp images
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Slow aperture range
  • Not as sharp as some other 70-300mm lenses

7. Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6 – Best lens for Nikon d3300 wildlife photography:

As a result of National Geographic, I developed an interest in wildlife photography. Nick Nichols inspired me to take up this profession. His amazing pictures enhance my love for animals, nature, and photography. The right tool for a specific job must be in your hands; the same applies to photography. A lens tailored to your photography niche is necessary.

For my wildlife photography, I used the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-300m f/4.5-5.6 paired with the Nikon D3300. The lens creates a sense of intimacy with my subjects without getting me physically close to them. It reflects my artistic viewpoint through my shots. I easily manage to capture far-away subjects with this lens.

With the well-constructed Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6, you can capture a wide range of subjects and shooting conditions. With it, you can grab quick moments without blurriness, even if your hands are unsteady. This is the best lens I have found for wildlife photography to date.

Specifications: 

Item Dimensions4.84 x 3.03 x 3.03 inches
Item Weight1.28 lbs
Lens TypeTelephoto
Maximum Aperture4.5
Maximum Focal Length300 millimeters
Maximum Aperture RangeF4.5 – F5.6
Maximum Format SizeAPS-C / DX
Minimum Aperture32
Minimum Focal Length55 millimeters
Minimum Operating Distance1.4 meters
Photo Filter Thread Size58 millimeters

Why I recommend: 

A specialized Vibration Reduction technology provides edge-to-edge sharpness and prevents blurriness. This prevents blurriness, allowing you to take razor-sharp photos even with shaky hands. The crystal clear picture gives you an amazing view and shows all the details beautifully. It provides a well-defined picture with proper contrast. With its high refractive index element, you can achieve high-contrast images at any aperture.

Super-integrated glass coating allows light to pass through the lens and enhances performance. By reducing flare and ghosting, this coating maintains colour balance across the frame while reducing flare and ghosting. This extraordinary feature ensures exceptional performance, featuring superior colour consistency and eliminating aberrations. Regardless of the lighting, it produces well-detailed photos.

Built-in silent wave motor autofocus gives precise and accurate focus over moving objects. You can get the perfect shot of faraway subjects using the powerful zoom capabilities and a quick and quiet guide. The images were crisp and clear with edge-to-edge sharpness by eliminating the aberration. The tripod detection mode minimizes vibrations.

Why I don’t recommend: 

Like many lenses, the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6 can be soft at its maximum aperture, especially at the telephoto end. You may need to stop down the aperture to achieve sharper images. This lens does not have a switch to turn vibration reduction (VR) on or off. VR can help reduce camera shake when shooting handheld, but it also uses battery power. With a switch, you can easily turn VR off when unnecessary.

Pros

  • Compact and lightweight design
  • Fast and accurate autofocus
  • Super sharp images
  • Vibration Reduction (VR) technology
  • Affordable price

Cons

  • Not weather-sealed
  • Slow maximum aperture
  • Noisy autofocus

Buyer’s Guide:

If you’re looking for the best wildlife lenses for Nikon cameras, there are several factors to consider before making a purchase. Here is a buyer’s guide to help you choose the best wildlife lens for your needs:

Focal length: 

The focal length of a lens is a measure of its magnification power. Wildlife photography often requires long focal lengths, so look for lenses with focal lengths of 200mm or longer. A zoom lens with a wide range of focal lengths, such as a 70-200mm or 100-400mm lens, can also be a good choice.

Aperture: 

The aperture of a lens determines how much light it can gather and how shallow its depth of field can be. For wildlife photography, a wide aperture (low f-stop number) is often desirable to achieve a blurred background and isolate the subject. However, wider apertures can be more expensive and heavier, so consider your budget and shooting needs.

Image stabilization: 

Image stabilization (vibration reduction or optical stabilization) can be helpful for handheld wildlife photography. It helps reduce camera shake and allows you to shoot slower shutter speeds without blur. Look for lenses with built-in image stabilization, or consider using a tripod or monopod.

Autofocus:

Wildlife photography often requires fast and accurate autofocus, especially when photographing moving subjects. Look for lenses with fast and quiet autofocus motors, and consider a lens with a focus limit switch to limit the focus range and speed up autofocus.

Build quality: 

Wildlife photography can be demanding on equipment, so look for lenses with a durable build quality that can withstand rough conditions. Weather-sealed lenses can also protect against dust and moisture.

Price: 

Wildlife lenses can be expensive, so consider your budget before purchasing. There are options for every price range, but remember that investing in a high-quality lens can improve image quality and longevity.

By considering these factors and researching the options available, you can find the best wildlife lens for your Nikon camera and start capturing stunning wildlife photos.

Conclusion 

This article has given insight into the best 7 wildlife lenses for Nikon cameras. With the right lens, you can capture beautiful shots of animals in their natural habitat and create stunning images that will last a lifetime. Whether you’re just starting or are an experienced wildlife photographer, these lenses will help you take your photography to the next level. Get out there and start capturing amazing photos with one of these incredible lenses!

FAQs

Is 600mm enough for wildlife?

A 600mm lens can be a good choice for wildlife photography, but whether it’s “enough” depends on the type of wildlife and specific shooting needs. It provides high magnification for capturing distant nature, but larger animals may require an even longer focal length or a wide-angle lens to capture their full body or environment. Other factors, such as light conditions, image stabilization, autofocus speed, and aperture size, can also impact effectiveness.

What is the focal length best for wildlife?

The best focal length for wildlife photography depends on the type of wildlife and specific shooting needs. Generally, a focal length of 200mm or longer is often desirable for wildlife photography, but longer focal lengths may be necessary for smaller or more skittish animals. A zoom lens with a wide range of focal lengths, such as a 70-200mm or 100-400mm lens, can also be a good choice for versatility in the field. Ultimately, the ideal focal length for wildlife photography will depend on the photographer’s preferences and the situations they plan to shoot.

Which thing should keep in mind before going to wild photography?

Before going on a wildlife photography expedition, it is important to research the location, pack appropriate gear, be patient, respect the wildlife, be aware of safety risks, and practice ethical photography. Examining the site ahead of time will help you understand the nature inhabiting the area and the best times of day or year to photograph them. 
Packing appropriate gear, such as a camera with a long lens, a tripod, extra batteries, memory cards, and proper clothing and footwear. Patience is also important as wildlife photography requires patience and waiting for the right moment to capture a shot. It is also essential to respect wildlife, keep a safe distance, and avoid disrupting their natural behaviour. 
By following these guidelines, you can have a safe and successful wildlife photography experience while preserving and respecting the natural environment.

David Wanson
David Wanson

I have professional photography experience of about 18 years and I would to share my experience with lenses built by different brands. As a professional photographer from the USA, I have used a number of photography lenses during that time. As a result of my experience with these programs, I would like to share my experiences with you on this website. I wish for this website to serve as the final destination for people seeking the best lenses to suit their needs. Our unbiased reviews can be found on cameraslens.

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