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Lens Search for Wildlife Photography


Hello everyone,

I am getting into wildlife photography and I want to invest in a good lens. I currently shoot with a Canon R6 + 70-200 2.8 lens but for capturing wildlife I need a little extra reach. I am looking for something under $5k and it can either be a fixed lens or a zoom lens. I am trying to stray away from adapters, so preferably a RF mount. In a perfect world, I would love to purchase the 600 mm... 

Please let me know you're suggestions, opinions, experience, etc!



I think you are going to find 500mm and certainly 400mm wanting if you are truly after great bird photos. Of course the lens you have is always better than the one you wished you had.

As to cropping or more focal length and/or cropper vs FF all have their points and weaknesses. Use what works best for you.

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!


Like others have already said the RF 100-500 is a game changer for birds\wildlife photography. I often use it with the 1.4 extender. I shoot both video and stills. I've set the camera up so that with a push of a button I' can switch from photo to video mode--- most times shooting 4k 120fps when handheld. I also shoot 8k at times for smaller subjects(mounted on a tripod)--cropped and output at 1080 from FCPX it's like I had a massive telephoto lens on. It's amazing to me how far technology has come for wildlife photography, and not just Canon. I still have my Canon 5Ds with a number of ef L lenses but rarely bring it out. Still a great camera but using it with the 100-400 is II -- there is no comparison to the R5 with the RF 100-500. For photography other than sports or wildlife I'm not sure it would make a great difference. And that's just my opinion.

I have been shooting wildlife for four decades and when I moved to the R-series (I use 1xR5 and 2xR6), I went for the Rf 100-500 lens (Corrected Lens from error 100-400).  I recommend you look at the specs and other sources of information - there are good reviews by Justin Abbott HERE, Jan Waganer HERE and Gordon Laing HERE.   

My own experiences are that the focus is blazing fast, thanks to dual Nano-USM motors that are silent.  It works extremely well with the autofocus and IBIS of the R5 and R6 units.  I recently posted some images of birds at a local sanctuary here in Auckland, NZ - you can find that HERE.



cheers, TREVOR

Before you ask us, have you looked in the manual or on the Canon Support Site?
"All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris

Hey Trevor--I probably should have clarified what I wrote -- I was referring to the ef version of the 100-400. I have no doubt the RF 100-400 would be excellent.

Ha, the error is MINE.  Typo and at about 5:30am I had not had enough coffee... 🙄  I agree with you totally about the 100-500.  I have the EF 100-400 MkII and it's an awesome lens: I have used it for some years with my 7DII and 5DIV bodies and loved it.   I have used that on the R bodies and found it to work fine, but not quite a snappy as the native RF lens and of course, it's 100mm short on the long end.

cheers, TREVOR

Before you ask us, have you looked in the manual or on the Canon Support Site?
"All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris



Have you considered a RF 100~500 with a RF 1.4x extender?  I would go this route over the 600mm ~f11

Oops I missed the earliers posts...  Hands down a formidible combination.  Don't lock yourself in on a fixed focal length or non L series glass if you can help it.  You'll not regret this investment in the long run.

Bay Area - CA

~R5 C ( ~RF Trinity, ~RF 100 Macro, ~RF 100~400, ~RF 100~500, +RF 1.4x TC, +Canon Control Ring, BG-R10

~DxO PhotoLab Elite ~DaVinci Resolve ~Windows11 Pro ~ImageClass MF644Cdw/MF656Cdw ~Pixel 8 ~CarePaks Are Worth It


The Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1L IS USM would be my first choice. Sharp and versatile. Reasonable size and weight, too. And it works well with RF 1.4X teleconverter, if needed. And it's well within your budget. The only drawback is you need pretty good light for an f/4.5-71. aperture, but the R6 lets you use higher ISOs than a lot of other cameras.


Alan Myers
San Jose, Calif., USA
"Walk softly and carry a big lens."
GEAR: 5DII, 7DII (x2), 7D(x2) some other cameras, various lenses & accessories


I can suggest giving the 600mm ƒ11 a look.  There are pros and cons and each photographer has their own preferences as to what's acceptable, what's not, and what their needs are.  I've have an EF 100-400mm ƒ4.5-5.6 USM II for many years and I think it takes great images.  I've had and used the 600mm ƒ11 for about 2 years now.  I've used both on the same outings several times, and it's difficult to tell one is much superior to the other, given the nature of the shots.  Also, given that you need to blow up your EF 100-400mm 50% more to equal what you shot with the 600mm ƒ11, there's the inevitable degradation of the image, which probably makes any claimed/perceive by some "inferiority" of the 600 ƒ11 image about the same then.  If you are shooting mostly in the range within 100-400mm, and don't need the extra 200mm, then the EF 100-400mm is probably a better option, as it's more versatile.  If you are shooting dawn and dusk images of wildlife, you will probably run into the problem of lack of light for the ƒ11 (which can impact focusing) and having to boost your ISO way up.

Shooting on bright days, I call it a draw, given all the above.  Another factor, is that the 600mm is LIGHT!  Wow! And compact! (I suppose if you have porters to carry your stuff everywhere, "Light" and "Compact" are not of much concern, but for me, that's a consideration!😉). You can carry the ƒ11 around on your camera like a "regular" lens, and it won't strain your camera or your neck.

The 100-400 gives good immediate versatility, especially when the subject is moving towards you, and allows you to frame your shot quickly.  The 600mm will be great for those long-range shots, but if the subject is moving close or you suddenly want to include more, that will be difficult.

So, for me, I try to bring both and if I'm not sure what I might find, probably the 100-400 is the preferred option.  But if I know in advance what I'm looking for, and want to get in as close as possible, the 600mm is my preferred option.

I hope this helps with the discernment process...

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