Going out into nature and getting images of wildlife is one of my passions. Making sure you are getting great photos of your subjects without harming or disturbing them takes special equipment, namely telephoto or “long” lenses. One drawback of these lenses is that they can be incredibly expensive and may cost more than a camera body. It’s important to know what the tradeoffs are in cost vs. functionality. So with that in mind, let’s dive into the lens details and look at the Best Wildlife Lenses for Sony a6000 cameras.
If you’re in a hurry and just want to get to the details, our choice for the best lenses for wildlife photography with a Sony a6000 style camera is the Sony FE 200-600mm F5.6-6.3 G OSS Super Telephoto Zoom Lens. If you’re looking for our budget-friendly option, check out the Tamron 70-300mm F/4.5-6.3 Di III RXD.
Sony Camera Bodies
Sony’s camera line spans full-frame (A7, A9, A1) and APS-C crop sensor (a6000 family) bodies. While full-frame cameras are some of the best in the business, the APS-C cameras shouldn’t be ignored. The smaller sensor has a benefit when paired with a long lens, which actually increases the magnification by a factor of 1.5x. So a 400mm lens on a Sony a6500 will act as a 600mm lens on a Sony A7R!
When starting with wildlife photography, you must invest in some advanced equipment. When facing those costs, you need to consider functionality versus cost. First, using an a6000 body can save you thousands of dollars over full-framed bodies. And with the money you saved, you can invest in telephoto lenses that will work on any Sony E-mount camera. If you want to upgrade to a full-frame camera later, something to keep in mind.
We will review several different lenses at different budget points that would be great for wildlife photography. At the end of the article, we’ll give our final thoughts on the best Sony wildlife lens a6000 family cameras.
What Lens Features Are Important for Wildlife Photography?
Focal length – I find that a wildlife lens needs to have a focal length of at least 300mm (450mm APS-C), and that’s where I started. Once I got my feet under me, I moved up to a 600mm lens (900mm APS-C) and have not regretted it.
Another option is to look into using a teleconverter to increase the lens’s focal length by a factor of 1.4x or 2.0x. Unfortunately, teleconverters don’t play well with all lenses and may impact your camera’s ability to autofocus correctly. So do your research (or try renting one) before buying one.
Large Aperture – Maximum aperture is an important factor when pursuing wildlife images. Nature photography has you in the field at dawn or dusk, so you need a lens that works in low light. I would suggest a fast lens with at least f/5 or f/4.5 would be a good starting place.
Stabilization – A lens with a built-in Optical SteadyShot (OSS) capability is very helpful in the field. When you are handholding a heavy lens, you can get a lot of little movements that the OSS systems help to eliminate. Since this technology counteracts small movements in the lens, your images come out with less motion blur.
Weather Sealing – Nature photography is primarily done out of doors and puts you and your equipment in danger of getting rained on or placed in dusty environments. A well-sealed lens is critical for protecting your gear and keeping it safe from damage.
So with that being said, here are my recommendations for telephotos for you wildlife photographers –
Beginner Wildlife Photography Lens
The SEL70350G is specifically designed for the a6000 family of APS-C cameras. The lens covers a great range of telephoto lengths to a maximum of 350mm (525mm APS C equivalent), making it a great option for beginners when choosing wildlife photography lenses for the Sony a6000.
Like other Sony G lenses, the SEL70350G delivers excellent image quality in all lighting situations. It works seamlessly with Sony’s fast-focusing system to keep your subjects in focus.
Finally, built-in optical image stabilization (OSS) adds additional stability, much needed when working handheld in the field.
Who Its For
This product is for someone starting out in nature photography and looking for a light and easy-to-use telephoto lens.
Currently, the Sony Alpha 70-350mm runs $998.00 new (Amazon, B&H, & Adorama) or $650.00 used (Adorama)
The Good Wildlife Photography Lens
The 150-500mm F5-6.7 is TAMRON’s first ultra-telephoto zoom lens for mirrorless cameras that reaches the 500mm focal length (750mm APS C) Even when extended to the 500mm telephoto end, the lens is still compact enough for comfortable handheld shooting.
Tarmon has built-in both fast autofocus and vibration reduction (image stabilization) systems into this lens to allow for quick and easy use in the field.
While not a Sony native lens, Tamron has consistently produced excellent quality lenses. And this crisp image quality makes this a standout choice for wildlife lenses for the Sony a6000.
Who Its For
This product is a good choice for someone starting in bird photography
Currently, the Tamron 150-500mm runs $1,299.00 new (Amazon, B&H, & Adorama) or $1100.00 used (Amazon & Adorama)
The Better Wildlife Photography Lens
This lens provides high image quality throughout the entire zoom range. With an impressive reach of 600mm (900mm on APS C), this lens will be an excellent companion when looking for birds and animals in the field.
Sigma’s outstanding autofocus system offers both speed and precision when capturing images. Paired with built-in optical image stabilization, it can deliver approximately four stops of compensation, making it ideal for handheld work in the field.
Who Its For
This lens is for someone looking for great build quality and exceptional reach when capturing birds and animals in the field.
Currently, the Sigma 150-600mm runs $1370.00 new (Amazon, B&H, & Adorama) or $1270.00 used (Amazon & Adorama) (Retains it’s value)
The Best Wildlife Photography Lens
The Sony flagship SEL200600G is a flexible zoom perfectly suited for nature and wildlife photography. With a maximum zoom of 600mm (900mm on APS C cameras), this lens has the farthest reach of any lens in the Sony line.
The lens features a focus range limiter and a focus hold control, allowing for more intuitive handling and faster performance when photographing moving subjects.
Its dust and weather-sealed construction help keep it clean when using the lens in rugged shooting conditions. This is my go-to choice of all my lenses for high-quality wildlife images on the A7 and a6000 Sony bodies.
Who Its For
This product is for the advanced amateur or professional nature photographers
Currently, the Sony FE 200-600mm runs $1999 new (Amazon, B&H, & Adorama) or $1750 used (Amazon)
The Budget Wildlife Photography Lens
The Tamron 70-300mm F/4-5.6 Di USD is a lightweight telephoto zoom lens with a wide zoom range and an affordable price tag that offers high image quality.
At half the Sony FE 70-300mm cost, the Tamron 70-300mm F4.5-5.6 has a great build quality, especially for this price point.
Its outer barrel is made with high-quality composite plastic, similar to many more expensive lenses. Tamron added internal seals to keep moisture out of the lens and your camera.
Who Its For
The Tamron 70-300mm F4.5-5.6 is a great introductory lens with an impressive reach. This lens is a great bargain for someone starting out in nature or sports photography.
Currently, the Tamron 70-300mm F/4.5-6.3 Di runs $499 new (Amazon, B&H, & Adorama). Check now for the latest prices.
Saving Money on Telephoto Lenses
One of the drawbacks when looking at telephoto lenses for wildlife photography is that they can be very expensive. There are ways to lower the costs of exploring nature photography and keep your costs down. You can look at buying quality used equipment or just renting a telephoto lens for a specific trip.
Good places to find used lenses
Getting a used lens is a little like getting a used car – you can take a chance with a direct sale on Craig’s List or eBay, or you can go with a company that cleans and certifies its used equipment.
I prefer the latter when buying used lenses. I like to know if there is a warranty and return policy if the lens does not meet my expectations. Here’s a list of the firms I have worked with the following firms with excellent results –
Good places to rent telephoto lenses
Another great option to try out telephoto lenses is to rent one. This is exactly the route I took on my first trip to Yellowstone National Park several years ago. I wanted to be able to get some great shots, but I had no experience with telephoto lenses. So I asked a friend for suggestions, and he sent me to Borrow Lenses. I was able to rent an excellent lens for the entire trip for less than 10% of its cost.
So if you want to try out one of these big telephoto lenses on an upcoming trip, I suggest heading to Borrow Lenses and having them ship one to you.
We’ve reviewed seven different lenses that would be perfect for wildlife photography. Sony’s own FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS Lens is the best choice (and part of my gear inventory). With its fast autofocus and incredible zoom range, it outperforms all (well, almost) all the other lenses on the list.
If you are also interested in portrait photography, we have a guide on the best portrait photography lenses.
If you want a stylish way to carry your gear, look at our list of great camera bags.
Remember: always use ethical practices when capturing images and strive to capture images with these guidelines in mind.
“Use a telephoto lens and maintain enough distance to allow your subject to behave naturally.”Audubon society
“Long lenses give a sense of intimacy with the subject while maintaining a working distance”Art Wolfe
If you have questions about which lens might work well for your specific needs, feel free to reach out directly, and we’ll help you through the process as needed! Let us know what kind of wildlife photographs are most interesting to you or if other types of lenses interest you more than those listed here.
What are your favorite wildlife lenses for Sony a6000 cameras? Please let us know if you have any other questions about the best lens choices, and we’ll be glad to help! Thank you so much for reading.
If you liked this review, check the Reviews section for more lens and camera suggestions.
Why use a Sony a6000 series for Wildlife Photography?
Sony’s full-frame A7 and A9 series cameras are incredible. However, Sony’s APS C cameras are perfect for wildlife photography. The crop sensor in the APS C cameras increases the magnification of any lens you attach.
Save some money so you can buy more lenses!
What makes a good Wildlife Lens?
There are a few factors to consider when looking for good wildlife lenses for your a6000. A wildlife lens should be able to zoom in close to the animal while still providing a clear image. It should also be able to focus on objects that are far away. The lens should be durable to withstand being dropped or hit. It is also important that the lens is lightweight so that it is easy to carry around.
There are few things more important than having a high-quality lens when shooting wildlife photography because animals can’t be controlled or directed like humans who model for photoshoots. You need every advantage you can get when photographing animals. Typically wildlife lenses are long telephoto zoom lenses that allow you to get close to your subject without being physically present.
It suggested that wildlife lenses have a minimum focal length of 300mm and can go up to 600mm or more. Wildlife photography is also challenging because it involves getting close enough to capture the shot without disturbing the animal or its environment.
Aperature is an important factor when taking wildlife images. You will likely be out taking photos at dawn or dusk and need to gather as much light as possible. This means using a large aperture (aka shooting wide open). Remember, the lower the numeric value of the f stop, the larger the aperture opening (i.e., f/2.8 is larger than f/5).
You will be at the mercy of nature when out in the preserves looking for birds and animals. When it starts to rain or gets very humid, you’ll need to keep your lens dry so condensation does not affect image quality. Fortunately, most of the Sony Lenses are weather sealed. Even though that means it’s not 100% weatherproof, they will be capable of handling some rain without having issues.
Traveling out in nature for hours can be pretty tiring, especially if your lens weighs a ton. If you’re not in top shape, you may want to opt for a lighter-weight lens. Look at the Sony FE 70-200mm or FE 70-300mm lenses. They both have a good reach at half the Sony FE 200-600mm weight.
The final thing to consider when buying telephoto lenses for wildlife photos is if they provide image stabilization (OSS – Optical Steady Shot). In low-light situations, stabilization can allow you to handhold your camera and lens at a slower shutter speed and still get great shots.
Zoom or Prime Lens for Wildlife Photography?
When looking at wildlife lenses to pair with your a6000 camera, a telephoto zoom lens gives you versatility and provides you with various focal sizes. It enables blending your photographs with different image styles. The prime lens allows for only fixed focal lengths. However, the zoom lens typically has different apertures depending on the focal point as you move toward telephoto angles. Generally, prime lenses have much larger max apertures. Primes are usually cheaper than telephoto lenses.