Lens for wildlife shots

edited February 2016 Posted in » Nikon D3100 Forum
I just got a Nikon D3100. What is the best lens for taking wildlife photos? I don't have a clue really what's best to get.


  • edited September 2016
    I have 55-200mm. I like it and does ok in water. I left it out in the rain for 5 minutes and it is still fine.
  • edited September 2016
    The 55-300mm is not bad as far as bang for the buck is concerned if you can find a rebate or a good used copy. It gets a little soft at 300mm, but is still not bad, and it's very portable. Like the 55-200mm, it's not terribly fast, either in aperture or in focus speed, but it's decently usable, and I have had pretty good luck with mine tracking birds in flight with practice. The 55-200mm is more of a bargain, but it's worth checking reputable used sources such as KEH.Com or B&H to see if a bit of use might narrow the difference. I got my 55-300mm new with a huge rebate and my wife got the same thing used from KEH. They're for all intents and purposes identical and there was really no downside to the used purchase.

    For wildlife, basically the longer and faster you can go the better, but money does kind of get in the way of the ideal.

    Much of your success in this will depend on practice and preparation. Focus speed will be helped a lot if you can anticipate where an object will be, so that the lens does not have to hunt all the way from one end to the other. Practicing with steady aiming of a single focus point (AFC, dynamic area works best for me) can help, and for things like birds in flight panning practice is essential. The better you can get at hitting and following a moving object, the better you'll do.

    We D3xxx family owners are at a small handicap, because the AF speed and number of AF points etc. are among those areas where higher models really do work better. But they're still not bad with practice.

    When shopping for used lenses make sure that you keep track of the terminology, as some of the 55-200mm family especially have gone through several versions. To autofocus on a D3100 the lens must be AFS with its own focus motor, and it's a very good idea to have VR. There have been versions with no VR, VR1 and VR2. The latest will give you more vibration reduction and allow slower shutter speeds.

    I think third party brands are often good though their VR may vary. My experience with Nikon's VR2 is that it's really really good.
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