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Which lens should I buy?

I would suggest there is four good, comparatively cheap walk around wildlife lenses on today's market depending on your requirements and budget available . They are cheap (compared to the amount you could spend on a lens) being around or under £1500 and portable. In other words they are mostly usable handheld without the need for tripod (A Monopod or tripod is always useful though) and they each have a focal length of use for wildlife. Of course there are Nikon lenses that fit into this category aswell however below I have only dealt with Canon or Canon fit lenses, listed below in no particular order with a few comments.

Update:
Other potential players in this price and focal length range include

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

Version two of Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS II USM is highly regarded

The Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD falls into this catagory and price range


Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Lens
This lens has had some good reviews

OS is Sigma's equivalent of IS, so this is a stabilized lens with a large zoom range.
It seemed too good to be true when I ordered one, and I found it's a definitely a case of getting what you pay for. I used it for a week and sent it back. Don't let me put you of if you're on a budget though as for many people this lens may be a dream come true and will produce nice but not brilliant images.

Positives: Good zoom range, stabilization and price
Negative: Image quality is not the best, and this is to my mind the most important thing. It's also the heaviest of the four and some may prefer to use it with support.

Canon EF 300mm f4 IS USM + Teleconverter - Canon 1.4x

Yes just a 300mm lens but being F4 it will work on all Canon DSLRs with a 1.4x converter, giving you a 420mm lens with auto focus and image stabilization. I have not used this combo myself but from reviews and info on the net I would suggest its well worth considering.

Positives: 420mm fixed, stabilization, lightweight
Negative: I Can't think of any but have not used this combo; I assume image quality it good.

Canon EF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 L IS USM

This lens has been around a while and available second hand. This is a zoom lens with a good range and stabilization, which up until recently I had used for many years. Overall it's a good versatile wildlife lens.

Positives: good zoom range, stabilization, good image quality
Negative: A little heavier than the fixed focal length lenses, but lighter than the Sigma, and at its best in terms of image quality stopped down which means slower speeds.

Canon EF 400mm f5.6 L USM Lens

A no frills prime lens that's not especially fast, which keeps it cheap.
Image quality is good at F5.6 keeping it fast (ish) and worthy of its reputation as a good flight lens.

Positives: image quality very good, light weight, price
Negative: No stabilization, but that would make it heavier; its lightweight makes it easy to handhold, though a monopod always helps.

Richard Ford