Photography 101: What’s the Best Canon Wildlife Camera?

Stephen F. Dennstedt

Here we go again talking about gear. What is Canon’s best wildlife camera? Simple. The Camera you have with you. I’m talking about Canon because that’s what I shoot these days but Nikon makes equivalent (some would say better) photography kit.

When it comes to camera sensors I think both Nikon and Sony have it over Canon at the moment. When we talk about build quality I think Canon and Nikon are on par with one another. When it comes to lenses I think Canon still has the edge in both construction and image quality.

Sony offers feature-rich camera bodies with outstanding sensors (in fact Nikon uses Sony sensors in their bodies). But for a working professional or serious wildlife photographer I don’t think Sony makes the grade at this point. Build quality and reliability are in question and their lens selection is sparse especially at the long end that wildlife photographers need. Please understand, these are my subjective opinions only and we all know what opinions are worth. This is not a slam against Sony—and truth be told they are coming on strong so look out Canon and Nikon.

Canon EOS 7D Mark II with EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Super-telephoto Zoom Lens

So what’s the best Canon wildlife shooter? How much money do you have? If you have a spare $6,000 lying around I might suggest their flagship EOS 1Dx Mark II. It’s a fully weather-sealed full-frame tank of a camera that can shoot at 14 fps in RAW. Professional sports and wildlife shooters swear by it and for good reason. However, the beauty sitting in the snow (see photo above) is what I chose. It’s the Canon EOS 7D Mark II APS-C crop-sensor body with the EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM super-telephoto zoom lens. Like the 1Dx Mark II the 7D Mark II is fully weather-sealed (Canon says to the same degree as their flagship 1Dx Mark II). Impressive if true.

Canon EOS 7D Mark II DSLR with Optional Battery Grip

It can shoot at 10 fps in RAW (only 4 fps shy of the 1Dx Mark II) and shares the same State-of-the-Art focusing system as the 1Dx Mark II. It features two card slots (both CF and SD). Unlike the full-frame 1Dx Mark II the APS-C crop-sensor (1.6x) 7D Mark II extends the effective field of view (EFOV) on the 100-400mm lens to 160-640mm (FL x 1.6 = EFOV) which is a very effective focal length range for wildlife photography. Both camera bodies are constructed of magnesium-alloy metal (not plastic). The current retail price is $1,499 ($1,499 versus $6,000). Now that’s a bargain anyway you look at it. Basically you can buy the camera and lens combination for much less than the 1Dx Mark II body alone.

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 IS II USM Super-telephoto Zoom Lens


The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM super-telephoto zoom lens has extraordinary optics and its image quality is stunning. It’s also constructed from magnesium-alloy and is therefore metal not plastic. The lens is fully weather-sealed with an ass-gasket and can resist any harsh shooting environment it finds itself in. These are professional-grade pieces of kit designed for the working professional and serious amateur photographer and offered at reasonable (everything is relative) prices. I have been extremely pleased with the results I’ve gotten with this camera + lens combination. For closer work I will mount this lens on my Canon EOS 5D Mark IV full-frame camera body but when I’m shooting at longer distances I will continue to enjoy the 1.6x bump that my EOS 7D Mark II provides.

Roseate Spoonbill – Yucatan, MX (Photographed with my Canon EOS 7D Mark II and EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Super-telephoto Zoom Lens)




3 responses to “Photography 101: What’s the Best Canon Wildlife Camera?

    • I have a lot of photographer friends who shoot Sony and absolutely LOVE the platform. As a working professional shooting in really harsh conditions most of the time I need a platform that is incredibly robust and reliable. My friends complain a little about Sony’s lack of weather-sealing, battery life, plasticly feel and limited lens choices. That’s what keeps many professionals loyal to their Canon and Nikon platforms (very deep camera + lens eco-systems). However, my friends also say that Sony beats the pants off Canon and Nikon when it comes to feature-rich camera bodies, image quality and low light performance.

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