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13 Best Super Telephoto Lenses in 2023 (Updated)

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Today we’re looking at the best super telephoto lenses. I’m a wildlife photographer, and I love taking close-ups of animals. But they can be pretty skittish, so I often have to shoot from a distance.

Fortunately, it’s much easier with a super telephoto lens. That means anything over 400mm… the point at which lenses start to get very heavy—and expensive!

After looking at all the factors, we decided the best super telephoto lens is the Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD. It performs to a high standard while also being available for an amazing price!

Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD Zoom Lens for Canon EF-Mount
Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD
Capture distant subjects in stunning detail with this powerful super telephoto lens.
Buy from Amazon

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13 Best Super Telephoto Lenses

We have divided our list into two parts:

Best Super Telephoto Lenses for DSLRs

There are plenty of zoom lenses available for a DSLR. Everything depends on your camera brand and on how far your budget stretches!

Lens Name
Why We Love It
Buy From
Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD Zoom Lens for Canon EF-Mount
Our Top Choice
  • Amazing price for its abilities
  • Very lightweight
  • Flex lock allows the zoom lens to be set in any position
Sigma 60-600mm f/4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM Zoom Lens for Canon EF-Mount
Widest Zoom Range
  • Wide zoom range for multiple styles of photography
  • Sharp and contrast-heavy imagery
  • Short minimum focusing distance
Sigma 500mm f/4.0 DG OS HSM Prime Lens for Canon EF-Mount
Best Prime Lens
  • Super-fast autofocus abilities
  • Wide maximum aperture
  • Great build quality and handling for a large lens
Nikon AF-S FX 800mm f/5.6 ED VR Prime Lens
Best Nikon Choice
  • Exceptionally sharp
  • Supplied teleconverter pushes focal length to 1000mm
  • Fast and near-silent autofocus
Nikon AF-S FX 600mm f/4.0 ED VR Prime Lens
Best 600mm Lens
  • Amazing image quality
  • Super-fast autofocus abilities
  • Great vibration reduction (VR) abilities
Nikon AF-S FX 500mm f/4.0 ED VR Prime Lens
Sharpest 500mm Lens
  • 4-stop vibration reduction with Normal and Sport mode
  • Fast and near-silent autofocus
  • Relatively lightweight
Nikon AF-S FX 200-500mm f/5.6 ED VR Zoom Lens
Great Build Quality
  • Sharp results from edge to edge
  • 4.5-stop vibration reduction with Normal and Sport mode
  • Strong and rigid build quality
Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM Prime Lens
Best Canon Lens
  • Amazing image quality
  • Fast and precise autofocus
  • 4-stop optical image stabilization with single-shot, panning, and exposure-only modes
Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS USM Prime Lens
Best Image Stabilization
  • 5-stop optical image stabilization with single-shot, panning, and exposure-only modes
  • Fast and near-silent autofocus
  • Wide maximum aperture
Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM Prime Lens
Best Canon 500mm Lens
  • Sharp results from edge to edge
  • 4-stop optical image stabilization with single-shot, panning, and exposure-only modes
  • Wide maximum aperture

1. Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD

Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD Zoom Lens for Canon EF-Mount
Brand Tamron
Maximum Aperture f/ 5-6.3
Focal Range 150-600 mm
Image Stabilization Yes
Dimensions 25.8 x 10.6 x 10.6 cm
Weight 1951 g
Best For Photographers who want a super telephoto for a great price

This Tamron lens is an upgraded version of the SP 150-600mm G1, first introduced in December 2013. The SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD provides better overall optical performance. And it has a faster autofocus speed.

It also features vibration compensation enhancements, fluorine coating, and a flex zoom lock. And it has an optional custom-made 1.4x teleconverter.

It’s designed for amateurs who’d rather not spend quite so much as professionals… but want to squeeze that last drop of sharpness out of their images!

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

Sigma 60-600mm f/4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM Zoom Lens for Canon EF-Mount
Brand Sigma
Maximum Aperture f/ 4.5-6.3
Focal Range 60-600 mm
Image Stabilization Yes
Dimensions 11.9 x 32.3 x 26.9 cm
Weight 1814 g
Best For Photographers who want a wide zoom range

Sigma’s 60-600mm f/4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM is the only lens with that range on the market. It offers such a huge zoom range. You could look at it as two lenses in one!

It also has a reasonably lightweight body. It comprises magnesium alloy, carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic, and a thermally stable composite. But the max aperture is a little narrow and gets narrower as you zoom in.

3. Sigma 500mm f/4.0 DG OS HSM

Sigma 500mm f/4.0 DG OS HSM Prime Lens for Canon EF-Mount
Brand Sigma
Maximum Aperture f/ 4.0
Focal Range 500 mm
Image Stabilization Yes
Dimensions 35.1 x 12.2 x 12.2 cm
Weight 3175 g
Best For Photographers who love prime lenses

The 500mm f/4.0 DG OS HSM is Sigma’s flagship lens for sport and nature photography. It provides sharp images with a fast and accurate autofocus system and a wide max aperture.

It has one Special Low Dispersion (SLD) and two Fluorite Low Dispersion (FLD) lens elements. They help minimize chromatic aberration and distortion and preserve image clarity.

4. Nikon AF-S FX 800mm f/5.6 ED VR

Nikon AF-S FX 800mm f/5.6 ED VR Prime Lens
Brand Nikon
Maximum Aperture f/ 5.6
Focal Range 800 mm
Image Stabilization Yes
Dimensions 46.1 x 16 x 16 cm
Weight 4590 g
Best For Nikon photographers who want the longest focal length

The AF-S FX 800mm f/5.6 ED VR is the longest Nikon lens. The sharpness of the images is outstanding, and it paired very well with my old Nikon D850. It comes with a 1.25x attachment.

It’s the one I owned until very recently. If you don’t mind the weight and don’t often need to handhold, this is the lens for you!

5. Nikon AF-S FX 600mm f/4.0 ED VR

Nikon AF-S FX 600mm f/4.0 ED VR Prime Lens
Brand Nikon
Maximum Aperture f/ 4.0
Focal Range 600 mm
Image Stabilization Yes
Dimensions 44.5 x 16.6 x 16.6 cm
Weight 5060 g
Best For Nikon users who need a wide f/4 aperture

Nikon’s AF-S FX 600mm f/4.0 ED VR is the slightly longer equivalent of the 500mm AF-S f/4G ED VR SWM. It’s aimed at professional sports and nature photographers.

It has a wide max aperture. It features a sophisticated autofocus system for good low-light performance. And it shows Nikon’s usual level of sharpness and camera build quality.

It introduces lighter fluorite elements at the front. This makes it much easier to handle than the previous version. But it’s still heavier than the latest 600mm Canon equivalent.

6. Nikon AF-S FX 500mm f/4.0 ED VR

Nikon AF-S FX 500mm f/4.0 ED VR Prime Lens
Brand Nikon
Maximum Aperture f/ 4.0
Focal Range 500 mm
Image Stabilization Yes
Dimensions 384 x 138 x 138 cm
Weight 3000 g
Best For Nikon photographers who want complete control over manual focus

The AF-S FX 500mm f/4.0 ED VR is a much lighter version than the older 500mm AF-S f/4G ED VR SWM. The weight of savings comes from a couple of extra fluorite elements at the front. It’s probably the sharpest 500mm lens on the market!

7. Nikon AF-S FX 200-500mm f/5.6 ED VR

Nikon AF-S FX 200-500mm f/5.6 ED VR Zoom Lens
Brand Nikon
Maximum Aperture f/ 5.6
Focal Range 200-500 mm
Image Stabilization Yes
Dimensions 19 x 19 x 43.7 cm
Weight 2300 g
Best For Nikon photographers who want a super telephoto zoom lens

The AF-S FX 200-500mm f/5.6 ED VR is designed for the “enthusiast” rather than the professional. Still, it outperforms the 150-600mm counterpart from Tamron. The Nikon has better focusing ability. And it performs better in low-light conditions or with a teleconverter.

It also has a constant max aperture of f/5.6. It’s an advantage over similar third-party lenses.

8. Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM

Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM Prime Lens
Brand Canon
Maximum Aperture f/ 5.6
Focal Range 800 mm
Image Stabilization Yes
Dimensions 46.1 x 16.3 x 16.3 cm
Weight 4500 g
Best For Canon photographers who want the longest focal length

The EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM is the longest lens in Canon’s current range. And it’s excellent for getting close-ups or distance shots if you’re a wildlife photographer.

I had a Nikon 800mm lens for many years. And I took around two-thirds of all my shots with it. It was about the same weight as this Canon one. But that meant it was too heavy to handhold for more than a few seconds at a time.

9. Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS USM

Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS USM Prime Lens
Brand Canon
Maximum Aperture f/ 4
Focal Range 600 mm
Image Stabilization Yes
Dimensions 44 x 16.7 x 16.7 cm
Weight 3048 g
Best For Canon users who need a wide f/4 aperture with a long focal length

The EF 600mm f/4L IS USM is another L-series lens. It’s great for sports, wildlife, or photojournalism. It’s also light enough to handhold. The new design shifts most glass elements to the back of the lens to improve balance and handling.

It’s the sixth generation of Canon’s 600mm f/4 series. And it’s the third version with image stabilization to help with camera shake. It encapsulates the very best in lens technology.

10. Canon EF 500mm f/4.0L IS II USM

Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM Prime Lens
Brand Canon
Maximum Aperture f/ 2.8
Focal Range 40 mm
Image Stabilization No
Dimensions 2.2 x 6.8 x 6.8 cm
Weight 130 g
Best For Canon users who need a wide f/4 aperture

The EF 500mm f/4.0L IS II USM is part of Canon’s premium L-series of telephoto lenses. This lens is designed for wildlife and sports photographers. It provides sharpness, fast autofocus, and exemplary performance in low light.

Best Super Telephoto Lenses for Mirrorless Cameras

There are very few extreme telephoto lenses available for mirrorless cameras. And Nikon doesn’t have a single one over 400mm! This will change in the next couple of years. But Canon and Sony are currently the market leaders.

Lens Name
Why We Love It
Buy From
Sony FE 600mm f/4.0 GM Prime Lens
Our Top Choice
  • Fast and precise autofocus
  • Great selection of lens controls
  • Durable and lightweight build quality
Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 ED G OSS Zoom Lens
Best Zoom Option
  • Wide telephoto zoom range
  • Teleconverter compatibility
  • Internal zoom design
Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1L IS USM Zoom Lens
Best Canon Lens
  • Sharp telephoto from edge to edge
  • Adjustable zoom tension
  • Lightweight and compact design

1. Sony FE 600mm f/4.0 GM

Sony FE 600mm f/4.0 GM Prime Lens
Brand Sony
Maximum Aperture f/ 4.0
Focal Range 600 mm
Image Stabilization No
Dimensions 70.6 x 44 x 36.5 cm
Weight 3044 g
Best For Sony mirrorless users

Sony’s FE 600mm f/4.0 GM prime lens belongs to the premium G Master series of lenses. It is the longest lens in the Sony lineup and the lightest 600mm lens on the market.

It’s designed for wildlife, sports, and action photography. And it boasts excellent image quality and rapid, precise autofocus. I already have the 400mm f/2.8… and this is next on my list!

2. Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS

Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 ED G OSS Zoom Lens
Brand Sony
Maximum Aperture f/ 5.6-6.3
Focal Range 200-600 mm
Image Stabilization Yes
Dimensions 51 x 18.5 x 20.1 cm
Weight 2114 g
Best For Sony photographers who want a wide zoom

Sony’s FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS is another lens designed for wildlife, sports, and action photography. It boasts excellent image quality. And its affordable price shows that it’s aimed at the “enthusiast” market.

3. Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1L IS USM

Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1L IS USM Zoom Lens
Brand Canon
Maximum Aperture f/ 4.5-7.1
Focal Range 100-500 mm
Image Stabilization Yes
Dimensions 23.1 x 23.1 x 23.1 cm
Weight 2291 g
Best For Canon mirrorless users

Canon’s RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1L IS USM lens is part of Canon’s premium L-series. It is a specialist mirrorless lens designed for sports and nature photographers. It gives you sharpness, fast autofocus, and portability. The weather sealing and lens coatings also make it a durable kit.

What to Look for in Super Telephoto Lenses

There are four main factors for super telephoto lenses:

All those come at a price, though. You might have to compromise in a few different ways:

Conclusion

If you shoot wildlife like me, I’d go mirrorless and pair a Sony 600mm f/4 GM OSS with a Sony a1. But not everyone can afford the best super telephoto lenses at any price. If your budget doesn’t stretch that far, I recommend going for the Sony 200-600mm with a cheaper mirrorless camera, such as a second-hand Sony A7.

Finally, do you already have a DSLR and can’t face trading it in? I suggest saving for either the Nikon AF NIKKOR 800mm f/5.6E FL ED VR or the Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM with a built-in extender. But most importantly, which is the best super telephoto lens for you?

Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD Zoom Lens for Canon EF-Mount
Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD
Capture distant subjects in stunning detail with this powerful super telephoto lens.
Buy from Amazon
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