The best budget DSLR lenses for shooting wildlife


If you’re looking for the best budget lens for shooting wildlife photography, three lenses would be on your radar of probable picks. These being the –

  • Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR
  • Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary
  • Sigma 60-600mm f/4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports

Let’s briefly take a look at these three lenses.

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

Designed for Nikon’s FX series cameras, in other words, a full-frame camera system, the 200-500 is a budget super telephoto lens. It offers a focal length of 200-500mm. The lens features a steady f/5.6 aperture across the focal length, which gives it more reason to buy this lens. The lens handles superbly. Though the weight of the lens sometimes makes it fall over if you’re using a smaller crop body. But ironically, you would love to use this lens on the smaller crop bodies because of the 1.5x crop factor. This makes the lens 300 – 750mm effective in a 35mm format. The lens features a built-in Vibration Reduction technology with Sport mode for capturing solid, sharp images of fast action (and wildlife). However, you could hand-hold this lens for a while; for the best results, I recommend using this with some support system, like a monopod or a bean bag.

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

This is the cheapest of the three lenses that I have listed here. The Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM S or the Sports lens is a more expensive sibling to this lens. The two lenses share the same maximum aperture and focal length and many of the same optics. However, the S lens is about a kilogram heavier than the C. The lens’s maximum aperture drops from f/5 to f/6.3 as you zoom in. That means there will be a drop in light when you zoom. Also, this lens will suffer in low-light situations. Compatible with crop sensor cameras and full-frame camera systems, the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 offers an effective focal length of 225-900mm when you mount it to a crop camera system. The barrel length increases quite a bit when you zoom in, which can be an issue if you use a stabilization rig. But for monopods and bean bags, that’s not a problem. I found the focusing ring too thin for my liking and not the best shooting stills experience.

Sigma 60-600mm f/4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports

The most extended zoom range on this list, the Sigma 60-600mm f/4.5-6.3, is a sports telephoto lens designed for full-frame camera systems. However, the lens can be adapted for crop cameras, and with an adapter, you can also use it on mirrorless camera systems. There are two rings on the lens. One is the zoom ring at the front of the lens, and the other is the focusing ring. The focusing ring is wider than the one on the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 and is much more convenient to operate. The front of the lens extends by quite a lot when zooming. The maximum aperture drops from f/4.5 to f/6.3 as you zoom in. But on the other hand, the 10x optical zoom gives a fantastic zoom range that any wildlife photographer would love to use.

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