Best Nikon Lenses for Wildlife Photography. Searching for the best lenses for wildlife photography with your Nikon cameras? Here are the top recommended Nikon wildlife lenses.
For wildlife photography, two factors are paramount: reach and speed. A lens that gets up close yet allows you to keep your distance, and lenses that focus quickly and transmit enough light to allow for very fast shutter speeds. So you need your lens to be fast and long.
As you know, the cost of going beyond 400mm (with good image quality) is high, but a longer-than-400mm lens is usually desired for wildlife photography. So, in wildlife photography it is important to invest in nice lenses, especially with telephoto. Lenses hold their value extremely well.
In addition, the lens performance in low light condition, cold weather (weather-sealed) are also very important for wildlife photography.
I try to include both Ultimate Nikon Wildlife Lenses (high end) and affordable / smaller Nikon wildlife lenses (the most bang for your buck) at a variety of focal lengths. The Ultimate Nikon Wildlife Lenses are the best of the best. If you are a professional shooter, or you really care about the image quality of your wildlife photos, these lenses will meet your need. If you are full of enthusiasm, but can not afford the cost, you can choose the affordable Nikon wildlife lenses with great image quality.
See all my friendly recommendations below.
Best Nikon Lenses for Wildlife Photography
The Ultimate Nikon Wildlife Lenses (High End)
1. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 800mm f/5.6E FL ED VR Lens
Impressive Overall Performance. The remarkable full frame AF-S NIKKOR 800mm f/5.6E FL ED VR offers the longest focal length of 800mm in the history of NIKKOR autofocus (AF) lenses, as well as a maximum aperture of f/5.6. Offering sports, news and wildlife photographers the pinnacle of reach and performance, it combines advanced NIKKOR optics and lens technology within a dust- and water-resistant magnesium-alloy body. With Nikon’s exclusive Silent Wave Motor (SWM) providing ultra-fast, ultra-quiet autofocusing, lightweight fluorite lens elements improving optical performance and handling, Vibration Reduction enabling faster handheld shooting* and an electromagnetic diaphragm for consistent exposures during high-speed bursts, the AF-S NIKKOR 800mm f/5.6E FL ED VR sets a new standard for super-telephoto lenses. And with the included AF-S Teleconverter TC800-1.25E ED, you can increase overall focal length to a whopping 1000mm (1500mm equivalent on DX-format cameras). Conquer distance like never before.
2. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR Lens
Impressive Performing Lens. A long-reaching telephoto optimized for sports, wildlife, and nature shooting, the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR Lens features an advanced optical design that both lessens the overall weight of the lens as well as contributes to improved image quality. This lens uses the latest Nikon lens technologies to enhance autofocus (AF) tracking and optical performance, while benefitting photographers with a significant reduction in weight. A new magnesium alloy lens barrel design and the incorporation of fluorite elements makes it nearly 3 pounds lighter than its predecessor. The NIKKOR 600mm f/4 lens was developed to give photographers the advantage on the sidelines or in the field, with a lens that can keep up with the action and get the decisive shot. Users will sincerely appreciate the weight reduction of these lenses which allow for extended shooting, even into overtime.
3. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4G ED VR Lens
Impressive Performing Lens. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4G ED VR Lens is a high performance fast super telephoto prime lens for Nikon F mount cameras. It is compatible with both FX- and DX-format DSLRs and provides 900mm focal length equivalence on DX-format cameras. It is a robust and durable lens incorporating a magnesium die-cast barrel and professional-grade dust and moisture sealing allows it to be used in more rugged situations. This lens features the improved Vibration Reduction (VR II) image stabilization system that reduces the blur caused by camera shake, something particularly effective when shooting in dim light at such a long focal length. It is extraordinarily long reaching and is effective for drawing in distant subjects and serves well those involved in sports and wildlife photography as well as other ultra-telephoto applications.
4. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4E FL ED VR Lens
PACK LIGHTER, GO FURTHER. Sharp and steady. Superior AF tracking and exposure control. Optimized for fast shooting speeds and working in difficult conditions, the AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4E FL ED VR is an impressive telephoto designed for Nikon FX-format DSLRs. Nikon’s legendary 500mm super telephoto lens is now nearly 2 pounds lighter than the previous model and ready for the most demanding conditions. With brilliant optical performance, improved AF tracking, a high-speed electromagnetic diaphragm that keeps pace with Nikons fastest DSLRs plus VR image stabilization, the AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4E FL ED VR Lens is a game-changer for outdoor, sports, action and nature photographers or anyone looking to get the most out of their current DSLR.
5. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4G ED VR Lens
The Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4G ED VR Lens is many professional photographers’ favorite super telephoto lens. It’s fantastic and beautiful. Producing sharp contrasty images and gorgeous Bokeh. It is a high performance fast super-telephoto prime lens for Nikon F mount cameras. It is compatible with both FX- and DX-format DSLRs and provides 750mm focal length equivalence on DX-format cameras. This lens features the improved Vibration Reduction (VR II) image stabilization system that reduces the blur caused by camera shake, something particularly effective when shooting in dim light at such a long focal length. If you are a wildlife enthusiast, or you like bird photography and need the extra reach, don’t hesitate to get hold of one of these 500mm lenses…If you can afford it.
6. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-400mm f/4G ED VR II Lens
The AF-S 200-400mm f/4G ED VR II is a versatile, powerful super-telephoto zoom lens that’s perfect for sports and wildlife shooting, while offering a constant maximum aperture throughout the entire zoom range and VR II Image Stabilization which enables handheld shooting at up to 4 shutter speeds slower than would otherwise be possible.
7. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 400mm f/2.8E FL ED VR Lens
Designed for professional sports and wildlife photographers, the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 400mm f/2.8E FL ED VR, is two pounds lighter but more rugged than its predecessor. It offers a fast maximum aperture that they say delivers pleasing Bokeh, and its low-light capabilities are claimed to be increased by four stops thanks to an advanced Nikon VR technology. Since wildlife and action often mean harsh conditions, the lens also features professional grade dust- and moisture-resistant sealing and a fluorine coated meniscus protective glass element at the lens front. Nikon says the lens’s elements are engineered to nearly eliminate chromatic aberration even at f/2.8.
Affordable (Smaller) Nikon Wildlife Lenses
1. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR Lens
If you’re looking for a compact, versatile telephoto zoom lens that handles portraiture as well as it handles long-distance wildlife and action photography, look no further than the AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR. With the broadest focal length range in our super-telephoto zoom lineup, it reduces the number of lenses you need to carry into the field and expands your handheld shooting capabilities, thanks to Nikon’s Vibration Reduction (VR) technology. Create spectacular photos and HD videos in any light, from any distance. Compatible with both FX and DX-sized image sensors. This lens features an extensive zoom range of 80-400mm, with the DX-format equivalent of 120-600mm, encompassing both portrait and long-reaching telephoto focal lengths to suit working with a variety of subjects. Travel light. Shoot with confidence. The AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR covers the broadest focal length range of any NIKKOR super-telephoto zoom lens. At 80mm, its an ideal medium-telephoto portrait lens. Create stunning portraits with a medium telephoto perspective and softly blurred backgrounds. At 400mm, it’s a powerful super-telephoto lens suited to wildlife and action photography, with or without a tripod.
2. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II Lens
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II Lens is one of the sharpest and fastest lenses available. It delivers superior professional performance with rugged construction and sharp imaging. A telephoto prime lens compatible with both FX and DX format DSLRs, this fast aperture lens is perfect for sports photojournalism, wild life photography, portraiture, and a wide range of subjects that require super telephoto focal lengths. The f/2.8 maximum aperture is effective for low light shooting and shallow depth of field control. On FX format sensors, it provides a 450mm focal length equivalency. It also takes teleconverters extremely well.
3. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/4E PF ED VR Lens
Speed, light weight, reduced size, and features that fulfill a long technological wish list make the AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/4E PF ED VR a lens Nikon shooters will crave for their kit. Vibration Reduction image stabilization helps to reduce the appearance of camera shake for up to 4.5 shutter speed stops, benefitting this lens’ use in low-light conditions. Additionally, a designated Sports and Action VR mode is well-suited to working in fast-paced conditions. This lens is a innovative lens designed to maximize performance with high-resolution full-frame cameras.
4. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II Lens
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II Lens is a sharp, versatile, and durable telephoto zoom lens with a fast constant maximum aperture, useful in lowlight situations. A workhorse of a lens used by professionals and amateurs alike it is ideal for photojournalism, sports, and wildlife photography and is effective for almost all telephoto applications, including portraiture. An FX format lens, it can also be mounted and used on DX format DSLRs. This fast telephoto zoom lens provides the excellent performance and superior image quality demanded by professional and advanced amateur photographers.
5. Nikon 105mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR Micro Nikkor Lens
When you want to get up close and personal with your subects, this is the lens for you to do it. For insects, amphibians and any other little critters, this lens is awesome and it will produce images up to a 1:1 (life-size) magnification ratio. Any camera movement at this magnification is also amplified, so image stabilization is critical. This lens offers high-resolution, high-optical performance for both digital and 35mm film format SLR cameras. It is also effective as a straight prime telephoto lens for portraiture and general shooting.
6. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED Lens
Fast aperture, high-performance, ultra-wide-angle zoom optimized for FX- and DX-format sensors featuring Nikon exclusive ED Glass and Nano Crystal Coat. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED Lens is an incredible wide angle lens that will be a great addition to any landscape photographers kit.
7. Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III (1.4x)
Increase the reach of compatible AF-S Nikkor lenses like the AF-S Nikkor 400mm f/2.8E FL ED VR or the AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR without sacrificing image quality, autofocus accuracy, metering or even VR image stabilization. Optimized for sports, action, wildlife and press photographers, the Nikon AF-S TC-14E III Teleconverter achieves superb 1.4x enlargement with only a 1-stop loss of light.
8. Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-17E II (1.7x)
Multiply your lens’ focal length by 1.7x with the Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-17E II for F mount lenses. This teleconverter will maintain full metering and focusing with compatible cameras and lenses, and will also support the VR function found on many current lenses. This teleconverter also has Nikon’s Integrated Coating to limit flaring and ghosting that may occur. Many such teleconverters can also have a detrimental effect on the speed of the lens, however the AF-S Teleconverter TC-17E II makes only accounts for 1.5 stops of light loss.
9. Kenko DG Auto Extension Tube Set
The Kenko Auto Extension Tube Set DG contains three tubes of different length – 12mm, 20mm, and 36mm – which can be used individually or in any combination to obtain the desired magnification. Actual magnification effect changes with each specific lens. They are exceptionally useful for macro photography, enabling you to convert almost any lens into a macro lens at a fraction of the cost while maintaining its original optical quality.
See also: Best Canon Lenses for Wildlife Photography.