4 Great Lenses for Wildlife Photography in the Forest


Wildlife photography is about to get pretty fascinating in parts of the world with autumn upon us! Thankfully, so many cameras these days can help us find hard-to-see animals and birds in the forest canopy. Balancing low light needs with autofocus performance and build quality, while also keeping the package lightweight, is tough to do. So we’re rounding up a few great lenses for wildlife photography in the forest that we’ve used and loved. Take a look after the jump!

The Phobographer’s Various product round-up features are done in-house. Our philosophy is simple: you wouldn’t get a Wagyu beef steak review from a lifelong vegetarian. And you wouldn’t get photography advice from someone who doesn’t touch the product. We only recommend gear we’ve fully reviewed in these roundups. If you’re wondering why your favorite product didn’t make the cut, there’s a chance it’s on another list. If we haven’t reviewed it, we won’t recommend it. This method keeps our lists packed with industry-leading knowledge. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

How We Selected these Great Lenses for Wildlife Photography

Here’s some insight into how we selected these great lenses for wildlife photography in the forest:

  • Our Editorial Policies don’t allow us to speak about products we haven’t tried. Lucky for you, The Phobographer has done the most real-world reviews of lenses on the web! All the product and sample images were shot by this. And while this piece is done in part of a sponsorship with OM SYSTEM, they’re well aware of our hardened, transparent stances on things.
  • When considering the great lenses for wildlife photography in the forest using cameras like the OM SYSTEM OM-1, know that if it says “PRO” in the name, it’s their highest-end option. Luckily, they’re not beyond the budget of most people into photography.
  • ZUIKO is the name OM SYSTEM (and Olympus before them) chose for their lens lineup. It means “Light of the Gods.” Just a cool bit of history we thought you should know! M.ZUIKO stands for their mirrorless lineup of lenses.
  • The lenses on this list have weather resistance. Notice how we’re not saying “weather sealing.” Barely any products out there are weather sealed, but instead resistant to the weather. If you’re picking up a PRO lens, know it’s boasting weather resistance. Also, know this doesn’t only help with durability, it keeps your camera’s sensor pretty clean too. As it is, OM SYSTEM has great vibration technology that keeps dust off the sensor as best it can. The OM-1 also has a very good IP durability rating, and so do these lenses.
  • This is the Micro Four Thirds system. So, when you’re considering the focal lengths, you have to multiply them by two. This means a 14mm lens is actually 28mm in traditional photography speak. It makes for excellent photography of wildlife and for getting more of a subject in focus.
  • The OM SYSTEM OM-1 is a fantastic camera that’s insanely capable and has only gotten better with firmware updates. Overall, the system’s zoom lenses are what photographers mostly purchase.
  • The zoom lenses for the OM SYSTEM OM-1 listed in this roundup can be used with any Micro Four Thirds camera from Olympus and OM SYSTEM.

M.Zuiko DIGITAL ED 12-40mm f2.8 PRO II

What to Like

  • Weather-resistant design
  • Sharp image quality
  • At the longer end, it delivers a nice bokeh.
  • Good colors
  • Fast autofocus performance and good tracking on the OM SYSTEM OM-1
  • Small and lightweight
  • Comes bundled with the camera at a very good price
  • Overall a good price

What We Thought

In our review, we said:

The M.ZUIKO 12-40mm f2.8 PRO II can produce some beautiful image quality. Personally, I had the most fun using it with the camera system’s art filters. When they weren’t being used, it was still good overall. This is thanks to the new processor and sensor in the OM SYSTEM OM-1.

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M.Zuiko DIGITAL ED 40-150mm f4 PRO

What to Like

  • Very light and compact
  • Mostly metal build
  • IP53 rated dust and water protection
  • Simple to use
  • Sharp images with little barrel distortion
  • Flare is full of character

What We Thought

In our review, we said:

“The M.Zuiko 40-150mm f4 PRO is a compact yet tough telephoto zoom lens for Micro Four Thirds. It lacks the manual focus pull-back clutch of the similar f2.8 lens. An f4 on Micro Four Thirds isn’t very bright, pushing up the ISO more and delivering less background blur. But, this lens has some pretty fun flare and, despite being more affordable, is still sharp.”

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M.Zuiko 100-400mm f5-6.3 IS

What to Like

  • Superb image quality
  • Excellent overall build quality
  • Remarkable color rendition
  • Image stability makes this lens easy to handhold.
  • IPX1 weather sealing means this lens will face Mother Nature head-on.
  • It can be used with the MC-14 and MC-20 teleconverters to give a maximum focal length of 1120mm and 1600mm.
  • In great light, this lens focuses at a rapid speed, and it’s quiet.
  • Compatible with focus stacking modes in certain Olympus cameras
  • It’s fairly priced at $1,499.

What We Thought

In our review, we said:

“Telephoto lenses, at the best of times, can be a challenge to use. Super telephoto zooms can be even harder to control, especially at the long end due to the very narrow viewing angle they produce and just how much vibration is amplified at such long focal lengths. However, I have to say, the image stability in the M.Zuiko 100-400mm f5-6.3 IS is excellent, and it does make this lens easy to handhold, even at 800mm equivalent lengths.”

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M.Zuiko DIGITAL ED 150-400mm f4.5 TC1.25x PRO

What to Like

  • Insanely lightweight for carrying over time
  • Pretty fast
  • Weather resistance
  • Very sharp and beautiful image quality
  • In-lens image stabilization
  • Incredibly convenient
  • The built-in teleconverter is awesome.
  • Internal zooming
  • Beautiful colors and bokeh

What We Thought

In our review, we said:

With all the different AI modes, the M.Zuiko 150-400mm f4.5 PRO proved itself capable of capturing a lot of different subjects. Specifically, it did this using the Pro Capture Mode. If you’re using it in continuous burst shooting with the low setting, it’s going to be nowhere as accurate vs using Pro Capture Mode. There were a few times where Pro Capture Mode honestly saved the performance.

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This piece is presented in partnership with OM SYSTEM. We’ve independently and ethically reviewed all the products in this post already without sponsorship. And we worked with them to recommend a few key gems to you.





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