Are you thinking of trying your hand at wildlife photography ? We know it can be quite challenging at first. As a beginner it can be difficult to understand who to turn to and how to best develop your skills. One of the keys to being a good wildlife photographer is certainly patience, as well as a good camera and good equipment for your shooting.
If you are reading this article it means that you are thinking of buying a new camera for photography .
You’ve probably arrived here after reading detailed reviews of dozens of different models on the web. You will have frequented social groups or forums looking for advice.
Now, after an overdose of different data and opinions, you will be in complete confusion.
Nothing strange, don’t worry. The Internet is a formidable means of knowledge, but if you are not sure what to look for, it is very easy for it to confuse your ideas rather than clarify them.
So if you have the idea of buying your first camera (or upgrading the one you already have), what you need is a guide to help you put it all together.
In this article, first of all, I will help you “think” about what you really need. If you don’t get it right on this point, you’ll never be sure you’re taking the right step.
Discover some useful tips to better make your nature shots.
What is Naturalistic Photography?
Nature photography is a photographic genre that seeks to document nature and the various animal and / or plant species that populate it. A good nature photographer often works alone and together with his camera always tries to show the intrinsic beauty of nature
Best Cameras for Wildlife Photography .
Best Cameras for Wildlife Photography 2022 |Guide
Do you know the fundamental characteristics of cameras?
It is an absolute law of wise purchase: if you want to buy well, you must know perfectly what you are buying. It may seem like a trivial rule, but I assure you that most people buy without really knowing the item they are going to buy.
For this reason, here I will explain, schematically, the main features of a camera. If you want to learn more about each feature, I invite you to click on the various links. In fact, each of them will lead you to other FotoComeFare articles that explain everything in detail.
There was a very long and sad period (which is probably not over yet) where camera dealers just pushed the resolution (megapixels) of the various camera models. The resolution seemed absolutely the main criterion to determine the goodness of a digital camera.
It was not true in the past and today it is even less so . Now even the cheapest cameras (among the new ones, of course) have a resolution sufficient to create beautiful photos to see on the screen and even on large prints.
Keep in mind that an 18 megapixel camera (very popular resolution today) allows you to comfortably print photos with the largest size 80 cm long.
So if you’re buying a new camera, don’t worry about resolution, unless you plan to print billboards to hang in stations or on the walls of buildings.
If you buy used, however, maybe avoid buying models with too low resolutions (under 10 megapixels, so to speak).
Digital cameras are basically divided according to the different sensor sizes. I have explained the effects of this in articles on the crop factor .
Simplifying the discussion, larger sensors are better . Of course, this involves a larger outlay of money.
Compact cameras have a sensor comparable to that of latest generation smartphones. The difference from smartphones is given by a whole series of additional functions, such as the ability to adjust the focal length of the lens or the most efficient ISOs (which I will talk about in more detail later).
Mirrorless cameras have larger sensors than compact cameras. Often these are APS-C sensors. Although the full frame sensor has also become widespread on this type of camera. The APS-C sensor is also present on a large part of reflex models intended for non-professional users.
Reflex cameras with larger sensors (called “full frame”) are usually of the professional range.
We find ourselves much more often than we would like to photograph in low light conditions. Photos at concerts, indoor sporting events, theatrical performances, parties, require high ISO values to get decent shots. And this risks making the photos too noisy.
You can already evaluate this with a smartphone: you will hardly be able to take quality photos in the evening or in all situations with low light.
Technology has evolved a lot in this field in recent times, but compact cameras still generate too much noise at low ISO values (for example 1600).
Of all cameras you can know the maximum ISO. Usually the cameras with the highest maximum ISO are those that allow better performance at high ISO, that is, they produce less noisy photos for the same ISO.
Mirrorless cameras return quality photos even beyond ISO 6400, but of course it depends on the model (and price).
The same concept is equally valid for SLRs. Do you think that there are professional range SLR models capable of going beyond ISO 12800 without having a great loss of photo quality.
Above all one feature differentiates the compact cameras from mirrorless and reflex cameras: the latter allow you to change the lens.
As you can imagine, this is a considerable advantage. Surely the compact cameras have a very extended and versatile zoom, but the specific lenses (wide-angle and telephoto lenses, for example) have a decidedly superior optical quality.
In fact, the electronic zoom of compact cameras simply enlarges the image captured by the sensor. Basically it is as if you were making a cropping of the image on the computer.
If, on the other hand, you use a lens with a longer focal length, the magnification will be done through the objective lens. This means higher quality and clarity.
So, if you are looking for high image quality above all from your camera, your choice shouldn’t be for a compact camera.
Adjustable or tilting screen
Often, unusual points of view (for example from the ground) make the photos really interesting. As it happens, these are points of view that make it difficult to observe through the viewfinder.
For this reason, a swiveling or tilting screen can make it much easier and more enjoyable to search for the best viewpoints for our photos.
This can be a very important feature if, for example, you intend to make videos in addition to photos.
Compact cameras usually do not have this peculiarity (because it would inevitably increase the size). The swiveling screen, on the other hand, is present on a good number of mirrorless and SLR cameras.
Today communication is also developed through videos . If your passion is not exclusively focused on photography, I advise you not to underestimate this aspect.
In general I would recommend that you look for cameras capable of filming in full HD (1080p). Many models now also record in 4k format .
Also pay attention to the maximum length of the videos . Many cameras prevent you from recording movies beyond a certain length. It is a way to preserve the sensor, which becomes very hot during video shooting. If you plan to make long movies, check this parameter as well.
Also make sure that the video recording format is standard, easily processed by the most popular video programs.
Almost all reflex cameras have a decidedly advanced video sector. On the latest generation mirrorless, however, it is a feature in a decisive phase of development. When it comes to compact cameras, unfortunately, don’t expect much better videos than you could make with your smartphone.
That is: JPEG or RAW ? This is a very important distinction. The RAW file is a kind of digital negative, that is a file containing all the shooting parameters. Conversely, the JPEG file is a compressed file (and the compression level is decided by the camera software) .
Translated into a nutshell, RAW allows you to perform many more post-production operations, because the file has more information than a JPEG.
Once you have read (and understood the importance of having a RAW file), know that usually compact cameras do not provide the RAW file, but only the compressed JPEG file.
As a result, if you’re planning on taking simple souvenir photos (and don’t care about postproducing), a compact camera may be fine. Otherwise it is absolutely necessary to point you towards a mirrorless camera or SLR.
What size should your camera be?
Small, medium or large? I’m not talking about beer, but the physical size of the camera.
Looking at the cameras on the shelves you will realize that as the price goes up, the weight and overall dimensions of the camera body usually also increase.
A reflex will never be as pocket-sized as a compact, of course. A reflex camera contains a series of mirrors inside. It serves to give you back, through the viewfinder , the image actually framed.
Compact cameras, on the other hand, usually do not have a viewfinder and allow you to frame only through a display.
Mirrorless cameras are often equipped with an electronic viewfinder. Basically it is as if there was a small display in the viewfinder.
These solutions allow to have much smaller dimensions than a reflex. If you plan to use your camera in conditions where lightness is essential (for example when traveling ), better not neglect this aspect.
Furthermore, bulkier cameras are also more conspicuous. If you intend to practice a photographic genre in which it is necessary to “steal” the shots going unnoticed, such as street photography , then better have a smaller camera.
If, on the other hand, you love to photograph landscapes , the sharpness that the sensor of a reflex or mirrorless can give you is certainly preferable.
How much money can you spend on your camera?
We all have dreams, but these often collide irremediably with harsh reality. Translated: that thousand thousand dollars camera is beautiful, but can you really afford it?
So it is imperative to decide on the budget you will allocate for the purchase of your new camera.
Camera prices are roughly divided into three price ranges:
- under 500 dollarss for advanced compact cameras, mirrorless and entry level reflex cameras;
- between 500 and 1000 dollarss for mirrorless and advanced reflex cameras;
- over 1000 dollarss for mirrorless and professional reflex cameras.
Once you have decided on the budget to allocate to your new purchase, you should n’t change your mind anymore . Because? Because I know the situation very well. You will be tempted to take the longest step of your leg and this is the first major mistake you can make.
Many times it is not necessary to spend over $ 1000 for a camera, especially if you are a beginner.
The risk is to buy something “oversized” compared to your needs . You may end up with a much more complex camera than you imagined. The consequence is to put it back in the drawer after the first attempts (unsuccessful) to make it work.
Or your passion for photography may simply fail. Passions come and go, so it’s better to start with a smaller investment.
Which camera model to choose?
Now that you have had a smattering of the technical characteristics of compact, mirrorless and SLR cameras , you certainly have more tools to direct you to what is right for you.
In this section I will help you in your choice, showing you some particularly interesting models also in terms of quality / price ratio.
For each type of camera, I have selected three models with increasing price and performance.
A few years ago compact cameras were, roughly, what smartphones are today. Basic and purely automatic functions, suitable for those who did not have any kind of photographic knowledge and pretension. Basically the so-called “point and shoot”.
In recent years, in fact, increasingly advanced smartphones have gradually conquered this kind of user. Consequently, the compact segment had to reinvent itself and evolve in order not to disappear .
Today, almost all compact camera models have advanced and very interesting functions.
In fact, in addition to the classic automatic functions, it is increasingly possible to manually manage settings such as aperture, shutter speed and ISO. They usually have a good video compartment and are equipped with wifi connection.
I have selected three models of compact cameras that have, in fact, the ability to set manual functions . This is essential to have full control of the machine. In addition, it allows you to photograph according to your personal style.
Over the past 5 years, mirrorless cameras have made great strides in the digital photography industry.
Their strong point is certainly that of having reflex qualities in a decidedly less bulky body (thanks to the absence of the internal mirror).
Today, mirrorless cameras compete with SLRs in the professional sector, with sometimes even higher performance. The increasingly massive presence of full frame sensors also on mirrorless cameras has cleared the last step from reflex cameras.
In this scenario, it becomes increasingly essential that you understand your real needs , before diving into an unwary purchase.
As there is a large availability of models, prices can also vary significantly. But let’s say that, unless you buy used, you will hardly be able to find a good mirrorless camera model under 400 dollarss.
Wi-Fi connectivity and the possibility of video up to 4k complete the package. The defect? Of course the price.
Here I schematically summarize the various features of compact, mirrorless and reflex cameras . Each camera has its own peculiarity, its strengths and weaknesses. The choice, therefore, must be purely personal, according to your needs.
PROS: portability, ease of use, affordable price.
CONS: non-interchangeable lens, slow autofocus, no viewfinder.
PROS: portability, lens interchangeability, RAW file availability.
CONS: excessive consumption of batteries, autofocus not yet at the level of reflex cameras.
PROS: interchangeability of lenses, presence of the optical viewfinder, efficient autofocus, availability of the RAW file, vast fleet of lenses.
CONS: generous dimensions, high prices for the more advanced models.
Now that you understand what the main features of cameras are and have discovered what the market offers, you will certainly have a clearer idea of what to buy.
The general advice is not to venture into expensive purchases if you are still not sure what you like to photograph and how much space your passion will take. The old adage “don’t take the longest step” is always valid, even in photography.