I shoot a lot; I mostly focus on wildlife photography, followed at a distant second by architecture and portraits. A quick disclaimer; I know many people shoot Sony and some Nikon/ Fuji, but I’ve always only shot Canon, starting with a Canon T6i, moving to a Canon 5DM4, and now the R5. It would be disingenuous for me to review Sony lenses for example, so I’ll strictly focus on Canon in this article.

Canon’s RF lens lineup offers excellent options for wildlife photography, specifically designed for their mirrorless cameras. Additionally, Canon’s L series are the higher end line for Canon lenses (typically with a red line on the lens), but not all the lenses I mention will be from the L line. Here are some of the best Canon RF lenses for wildlife photography.

Canon RF-600mm f/4 L IS USM

The Canon RF-600mm f/4 L IS USM is a highly specialized piece of photographic equipment, designed for professional use by wildlife and sports photographers. Its long focal length allows for crisp, detailed images of distant subjects, while its wide maximum aperture ensures a shallow depth of field and beautiful bokeh.

In addition to its optical capabilities, the lens is built to withstand extreme weather conditions and rough handling, making it a reliable tool for photographers in the field. Whether you’re capturing images of endangered animals or athletes in motion, the Canon RF-600mm f/4 L IS USM is a top-tier choice for any professional photographer.

Another disclaimer, I’ve never owned one of these, as I’m not ready to spend five figures, but the quality of the lens is well known. This beast currently lists on B & H Photo for $12,999.00.

Canon RF 400mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens

The Canon RF 400mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens has quickly become known as one of the best lenses on the market for sports and wildlife photography. Its high-performance autofocus and stunning image stabilization allow photographers to capture even the fastest moving subjects with outstanding clarity.

In addition, the durable construction of this lens ensures it can withstand even the toughest shooting conditions. As more and more professional photographers switch to mirrorless cameras, the Canon RF 400mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens has become an essential piece of equipment for any serious photographer looking to capture the perfect shot.

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

This telephoto zoom lens offers a versatile focal range, making it suitable for capturing a wide range of wildlife subjects. It provides a long reach and excellent image quality. The lens features advanced optics, fast and accurate autofocus, and effective image stabilization.

It also has a compact and lightweight design, making it portable for fieldwork.

Canon RF 600mm f/11 IS STM

This super-telephoto lens offers an impressive focal length of 600mm, allowing you to capture distant wildlife with detail. Despite its long reach, the lens is relatively compact and lightweight, making it easy to handle in the field.

It features a fixed f/11 aperture, which contributes to its compactness and affordability. It also includes image stabilization.

I actually own this lens and I’ve used it in Africa and India for wildlife. I shot both these eagles with the RF 600mm f/11.

An important distinction is that the L series are USM (ultrasonic motors) while this lens and its compatriot the 800mm, are STM (stepping motors). The STM is cheaper and slower than the USM. Also these are not weather sealed which may matter to some people. For me it hasn’t been an issue.

Canon RF 800mm f/11 IS STM

Similar to the RF 600mm lens, this lens provides an even longer reach with a focal length of 800mm. It shares the same fixed f/11 aperture and lightweight design, making it a compact and affordable option for wildlife photographers.

It also includes image stabilization for sharper handheld shots.

Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM

While not exclusively designed for wildlife photography, this lens is versatile and can be used effectively for capturing wildlife in various situations. Its fast f/2.8 aperture allows for excellent low-light performance and beautiful background separation.

The lens features advanced optics, image stabilization, and a fast and accurate autofocus system.

Canon RF 24-240mm f/4-6.3 IS USM

If you prefer a more general-purpose lens that offers a wide focal range, the RF 24-240mm is a versatile option. It covers both wide-angle and telephoto perspectives, making it suitable for different wildlife scenarios.

The lens features image stabilization, a relatively compact design, and a useful zoom range for capturing a variety of subjects.

Remember that wildlife photography often requires long focal lengths to capture distant subjects, so the RF 100-500mm, RF 600mm, and RF 800mm lenses are especially well-suited for wildlife work. However, the RF 70-200mm and RF 24-240mm lenses provide flexibility and can be useful in situations where a versatile zoom range is needed.

Ultimately, your lens choice will depend on your specific shooting requirements, the type of wildlife you’re photographing, and your budget. Consider factors such as reach, image quality, portability, and lens features to determine the best Canon RF lens for your wildlife photography needs.

Of course, the number one factor for most photographers will be price.