Finding the right camera gear can be a challenging task, especially when it comes to Wildlife Photography. This is a very specific type of photography, that presents many unique challenges and situations.
In this post we will be recommending some gear for all levels of experience. From camera bodies, lenses, and complimentary equipment – we have you covered!
Camera Gear Recommendations: Camera Body
Arguably the most daunting task when diving into the world of wildlife photography, is picking a camera. What is a Full Frame sensor? What is a Crop Sensor? The bottom line is, most DSLR and Mirrorless cameras available today are all capable of taking high-quality images. Personally, I would recommend a DSLR for beginners as they are much easier to learn with. Cameras from major manufactures such as Nikon, and Canon are a great place to start.
Here are some cameras that we recommend starting with:
How To Choose
First, determine your budget. This will quickly shorten your list to a few options. The better the camera, the better chance of getting higher quality images in varying conditions (poor light, rain, etc). This has a lot to do with the camera’s sensor capability and size (Crop sensor vs. Full Frame), which you can learn more about here. For beginners, usually starting with a Crop Sensor is most realistic. The focusing system is also something you want to keep in mind when doing your research. The faster – the better, especially when photographing moving subjects. Typically the higher the price point – the better the focusing system. This will make it easier to quickly lock onto moving subjects, increasing your chances of a high-quality image. Lastly, take the time to go to your local camera shop to check out a few in person! Compare sizes, take a look at the layout of buttons, hold the camera in your hand to make sure it feels comfortable to grip. These are all very important steps when choosing your new camera!
Camera Gear Recommendations: Lenses
I would say the most important piece of equipment you will need is a telephoto lens. To get great shots of wildlife you need to get close – however, that isn’t always possible. Ethically, wildlife deserve their space and shouldn’t be disturbed while in their natural habitat. Birds for example, can be very small and difficult to get close enough for a photo. This is where having a lens with enough focal length can really help you achieve great results. We recommend a focal length of at least 300mm. This will give you enough length to get a little closer than a typical “everyday” lens (e.g., 18-55mm, 18-140mm, etc).
Here are a few lenses that we recommend:
How to Choose
Now, it’s time to choose your lens. You guessed it, determine your budget. This will help you narrow it down to a few options. What do you get with lenses at a higher price point? Higher quality glass, extended focal length, and faster focusing – which will all help you create sharp photographs. When paired with a capable DSLR, both the entry-level and mid-level suggestions we made would be great beginner setups. Both the Nikon 200-500mm, and Sigma 150-600mm are capable of producing extremely high-quality images at an affordable price. Next, be sure to purchase a lens that has a Vibration Reduction (VR), or Image Stabilization (IS) system. These features ensure your photographs stay sharp even with some camera shake, which is essential when working with heavier, longer lenses. Check out this link to learn more about these types of systems.
Binoculars – Essential for locating and identifying birds and wildlife.
Recommendations: Nikon, and Vortex both make high-quality products at affordable prices.
Carrying System – Big cameras, and long lenses are heavy. There are many strap and harness systems available that are designed for outdoor and wildlife photography.
Recommendations: Cotton Carrier, Peak Design.Cotton Carrier CCS G3 Camera Harness System for One Camera – Grey
Tripods and Monopods – Many wildlife photographers carry either a tripod or monopod with them in the field for increased stability. While not necessary, some may benefit.
Recommendations via The Adventure Junkies.
Outerwear – As a wildlife photographer, be prepared to do a lot of hiking, and a lot of waiting around in every type of weather. Waterproof gear, warm clothing, moisture-wicking base layers, and comfortable hiking boots will help you stay comfortable in all elements for longer periods of time. The longer you can be out in the field, the more opportunities you will have!
Recommendations: The North Face and Patagonia are examples of high quality gear, that lasts!
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