Best Nikon Telephoto Lens for Wildlife
When it comes to finding the best Nikon telephoto lens for wildlife there are a lot of great choices. In the text below I have listed lenses with different focal lengths (for capturing subjects at various distances) and apertures but with similar technologies like vibration reduction, optical design, and an autofocus system, that you can choose from.
The focal length determines the magnification and angle of view of a lens, so it is a very important feature for telephoto lenses. Because it enables you to capture distant scenes and bring them closer, even when you are physically far away. And when it comes to aperture a larger maximum aperture is desirable for telephoto lenses for several reasons, like low-light performance, shallow depth of field, autofocus performance, flexibility in exposure settings, and versatility.
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR Telephoto Lens for Wildlife
The Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR is a powerful telephoto zoom lens that has a wide field of view and great picture quality. It is very handy for wildlife and sports photographers that need flexibility and clarity because of its wide focal length range, VR technology, and dependable autofocus performance. This is a great lens if you ever walked in nature with your telephoto and thought, man I wish I could get closer.
The lens is well-built, and it features a sturdy metal lens mount. It has weather-sealing protection against moisture and dust, improving its reliability in difficult shooting circumstances. The lens barrel includes a zoom lock switch to stop zoom creep while the lens is not being used. Due to the wide zoom range, the lens is a bit heavy and big, and you have to make a decision to carry it with you, but that is something to look over because of its great technical characteristics. Those technical characteristics make it worth considering the best Nikon telephoto lens for wildlife, so make sure to read detailed descriptions.
Technical characteristics of the lens
It is important to note that this lens is compatible with Nikon F-mount DSLR cameras, with both full-frame (FX) and APS-C (DX) sensor cameras. When used on a DX-format camera, the effective focal length becomes equivalent to approximately 300-750mm due to the crop factor.
Focal Length and Aperture
This Nikon lens has a focal length of 200-500 mm which means that you can adjust the zoom to your needs and that allows you to capture subjects at various distances without needing to switch the lens. This zoom range requires a little bit of travel with a zoom ring (in terms of turning it) to get to 500 mm which is reasonable, but on the other hand, it can slow you down when you are in the moment.
The aperture is fixed with a maximum of f/5.6″, which means that the lens maintains a constant maximum aperture throughout the entire zoom range. In other words, regardless of how far you zoom in or out, the lens keeps its wide f/5.6 aperture, giving you constant low-light performance and depth of field control.
It’s important to keep in mind that, in terms of low-light performance, f/5.6 is not regarded as an unusually wide aperture. It is a typical maximum aperture for telephoto zoom lenses, particularly at longer focal lengths. When using longer focal lengths and isolating the subject, it may still produce a nice background blur (bokeh) and yet have a respectable amount of light-gathering power.
If you are concerned about this aperture being max. at 5.6 in terms of inability to maintain an acceptable shutter speed at lower light conditions, the VR comes to the rescue, meaning that you can slow down shutter speed if needed to let more light in and you can also increase ISO sensitivity on the newer DSLR cameras to avoid that problem.
Another concern linked to this aperture is the depth of field. The depth of field is pretty narrow, and the focused object remains crisp, but all around it is pleasantly blurry.
The vibration reduction on this lens is incredible, even if you rely on a handheld. With Nikon’s Vibration Reduction technology built into the lens, you can reduce camera shake and get crisper pictures, especially when using a tripod or a slower shutter speed. The VR system provides stability up to 4.5 stops, enhancing versatility in a variety of shooting scenarios. This comes very handy because if you are shooting at 500th of the second you don’t have to think about your little shakes.
They used Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass components to reduce chromatic aberrations ( that show up as color artifacts or fringes at edges with high contrast, such as the edges of objects against a bright backdrop) and color fringing for better picture clarity and color accuracy.
Another component of their optical design is coating. To lessen lens flare and ghosting and improve overall picture contrast, they used Nikon’s Super Integrated Coating. The lens provides excellent sharpness, particularly in the middle of the frame, but even though the lens has great optical design the sharpness will decrease near the edges with full-frame cameras, which is typical and not noticeable when shooting wildlife.
To provide quick, precise, and silent autofocus performance, there is Nikon’s Silent Wave Motor (SWM), which means that the autofocus system’s smooth and accurate focusing enables you to successfully follow moving objects. Additionally, it offers immediate manual override for manually adjusting focus.
So, will you be able to use that autofocus in lower light conditions with a max aperture of 5.6?
The answer varies and depends on your camera. If you have a camera that focuses well in low light and narrow apertures like D 500, then the answer is yes.
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/4E PF ED VR Telephoto Lens for Wildlife
This Nikon lens has a lot of similarities to the previous one. It is also compatible with Nikon F-mount DSLR cameras, with both full-frame (FX) and APS-C (DX) sensor cameras. But when used on a DX-format camera, the effective focal length becomes equivalent to approximately 450 mm due to the crop factor. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 300mm also has Nikon’s Vibration Reduction technology that provides 4.5 stops of image stabilization (you can find more about this feature translated to the real world above). Another shared feature with the previous lens is Nikon’s Silent Wave Motor (SWM) for fast, accurate, and near-silent autofocus performance.
The lens’s small size and low weight make it incredibly portable and ideal for travel and outdoor shooting (also includes a weather seal). It is a convenient lens to carry and handle because it weighs around 1.6 pounds (755 grams) and is about 5.8 inches (147.5mm) long.
Technical characteristics of the lens
This Nikon lens has a focal length of 300 mm which means that you can get a large level of magnification with it, making it perfect for capturing far-off details and narrowing the viewpoint.
It’s important to remember that a lens with a 300mm focal length will have a different field of view depending on the size of the camera’s sensor. When you use it on a camera with a crop sensor (DX), the angle of view will be wider because of the crop factor, as opposed to when you use it on a full-frame (FX) camera, when it will give a more enlarged picture. To increase the focal length, you can also use it with TC-14E Mark 2 Teleconverter (for 420 focal range) or with the newer version Mark 3 Teleconverter. It is important to note that when you use the Teleconverter the aperture becomes F 5.6, which is pretty good if you consider the size of it and the range.
This lens has an aperture of f/4. And compared to lenses with lesser maximum apertures like f/5.6 or f/8, a lens with an f/4 aperture allows a relatively larger amount of light to get through. Wider apertures, like f/4, let more light into the lens, which is useful for shooting in dim light or when you need to use higher shutter speeds to capture motion. It also makes it possible to create a shallower depth of field which is handy if you need a more pronounced background blur (bokeh) and subject separation.
To increase the performance of the lens Nikon has coated lens elements with both Nano Crystal Coat and Super Integrated Coating. These coatings improve picture quality, contrast, and color reproduction by efficient reduction of lens flare, ghosting, and internal reflections. They used Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass components for this one too, to reduce chromatic aberrations.
The use of a Phase Fresnel (PF) lens element is one of this lens’s unique qualities. With the use of this cutting-edge optical technology, lenses may be made smaller and lighter without sacrificing image quality. The PF element provides great contrast and sharpness while successfully addressing chromatic aberrations and makes it worth considering the best Nikon telephoto lens for wildlife.
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR Telephoto Lens For Wildlife
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR is another lightweight and compact but powerful lens. It is designed for Nikon F-mount DSLR cameras and is compatible with both full-frame (FX) and APS-C (DX) sensor cameras. And when you use it on a DX-format camera, the effective focal length becomes approximately 750mm due to the crop factor.
Another noteworthy aspect of the lens is how small and light it is. It is 9.3 inches (237 mm) in length and weighs roughly 3.2 pounds (1460 grams). This makes it very portable and practical for handheld and outdoor shooting. Another feature that makes it for outdoor is its weather-sealed construction that offers protection against dust and moisture. The lens’s 500mm fixed focal length gives it an ultra-telephoto reach for photographing far-off scenes. With a maximum aperture of f/5.6, it performs well in low light and enables the creation of shallow depth of field effects.
As you can see this lens also has a lot of features that are similar to the previous ones. It offers vibration reduction, Phase Fresnel (PF) lens element, Silent Wave Motor (SWM) Autofocus, and similar optical design, so it can be considered the best Nikon telephoto lens for wildlife.
To learn how to identify lens marks, properly clean your lenses, and what supplies you need make sure to visit my previous post “Cleaning marks on lenses.”