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 Best Cameras for Wildlife Photography.
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 making 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 2022
Digital SLR cameras are now available in the market with numerous options. However, mirrorless SLRs are now being brought into the market as well. Navigating the minefield of camera technology is incredibly complicated, especially for beginners.
Even nature photography is difficult. We put our cameras in demanding environments and demand a lot (of performance) from them. Cameras have to cope with rapid movement, poor lighting, and the physical demands of an outdoor environment.
Best Cameras for Wildlife Photography | Comparison Table 2022
5-Star Picks | Great Prices | High Quality
|Nikon Z 6II FX-Format Mirrorless Camera Body Black||Nikon||Check Price|
|Fujifilm X-T4 Mirrorless Digital Camera XF18-55mm Lens Kit - Black||Fujifilm||Check Price|
|Nikon D780 Body||Nikon||Check Price|
|Canon DSLR Camera [EOS 90D] with 18-135 is USM Lens | Built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, DIGIC 8 Image Processor, 4K Video, Dual Pixel CMOS AF, and 3.0 Inch Vari-Angle Touch LCD Screen, Black||Canon||Check Price|
|Panasonic LUMIX FZ1000 II 20.1MP Digital Camera, 16x 25-400mm LEICA DC Lens, 4K Video, Optical Image Stabilizer and 3.0-inch Display – Point and Shoot Camera - DC-FZ1000M2 (Black)||Panasonic||Check Price|
|Nikon COOLPIX P1000 16.7 Digital Camera with 3.2" LCD, Black||Nikon||Check Price|
|OLYMPUS OM-D E-M5 Mark III Body Silver||Olympus||Check Price|
|Pentax K-3 Mark III Flagship APS-C Black Camera Body - 12fps, Touch Screen LCD, Weather Resistant Magnesium Alloy Body with in-Body 5-Axis Shake Reduction. 1.05x Optical viewfinder with 100% FOV||Pentax||Check Price|
|Panasonic LUMIX FZ300 Long Zoom Digital Camera Features 12.1 Megapixel, 1/2.3-Inch Sensor, 4K Video, WiFi, Splash & Dustproof Camera Body, LEICA DC 24X F2.8 Zoom Lens - DMC-FZ300K - (Black) USA||Panasonic||Check Price|
Best Cameras for Wildlife Photography | Reviews 2022Error: Unknown Link Type
What to look for while choosing the Best Cameras for Wildlife Photography 2022 | Ultimate Guide
Wildlife photography is like taxing a camera like any type of photography. More often than not, photographers don’t need to push the limits of their cameras. Photographing wildlife regularly takes advantage of all the speed, resolution, and build quality available.
In general, the best cameras for nature photos are the most expensive. Depending on where you are and what you plan to photograph, you may not need all the features. We will take a look at some of the best options at different prices.
The most important things to look for in a camera body are fast autofocus, high ISO sensitivity, fast burst speed and a large buffer, weather resistance, and telephoto lens compatibility.
Fast autofocus depends on a few factors such as the detection system, the number of autofocus points, and of course the quality of the lens you are using. Fast autofocus is essential for capturing moving animals and keeping them in focus across multiple frames. Newer cameras have quite high ISO capabilities. The larger the sensor, and more expensive cameras tend to have lower noise at higher ISO settings. High ISO sensitivity allows you to use faster shutter speeds and work in low-light situations.
Sprint speeds come into play with fast-moving animals. Your reflexes may not be fast enough to capture that perfect moment, so taking several shots in a second gives you a better chance of capturing the moment you want. The buffer is the limit to the number of hits you can take in a row.
Waterproofing is important when working in the field. You will likely have to deal with dirt, sand, rain, humidity, extreme temperatures, and wind. All of these things wreak havoc on electronics. More expensive models will have better build quality to defend against the elements. Finally, your camera body is only as good as the lens you use. Make sure you can buy or rent telephoto lenses that are long enough to reach the subjects you want to photograph.
Full-frame sensors are generally part of the more expensive professional-grade DSLRs. This means that the sensor is approximately 24 x 36mm. Because they are smaller, the crop sensors magnify the image (1.5x for Nikon, 1.6x for Canon) when using the same focal length as the full-frame counterpart. This means that a 200mm lens on a full-frame sensor measures 300mm or more on a crop sensor. While the cut sensors are not as high quality as the full-frame, they can reach a bit more for those on a tight budget.
The Nikon D4s is a 16-megapixel full-frame camera. It has 51-point autofocus and takes photos at 11 frames per second. It is an excellent camera for wildlife photography. Similar, to the full-frame from Canon, the top-of-the-line 1DX is an excellent 18-megapixel camera, with 65 AF points, and 12 frames per second. If you can sacrifice speed you can save a lot of money by getting the Nikon D810 full-frame with 36 megapixels, the same 51-point AF and 5 frames-per-second bursts,s or the full-frame Canon 5D MkIII with 22 megapixels, and 65 AF points. and 6 frames per second.
Professionals on a budget can opt for the full-frame Nikon D610 with 24 megapixels, 7 AF points, and 6 frames per second or Canon 6D with 20 megapixels, 11 AF points, and 10 frames per second.
Photographers who can’t justify the expense of a pro-grade camera can get great cameras for wildlife photography. High-end crop sensor cameras have all the necessary features, such as the Nikon D7100 with 24 megapixels, 51 AF points, and 7 frames per second. Furthermore, the Canon 7D MkII with 20 megapixels, 65 AF points, and 10 frames per second is a worthy contender.
For APS-C models, one of the biggest benefits for wildlife photographers is the additional crop factor. The 1.5-1.6x magnification of your optics can be extremely useful when training in the field, trying to photograph small birds or distant wildlife.
The crop factor also allows you to achieve a similar angle of view with a much smaller lens, helping to reduce the equipment you have to carry while still offering a large telephoto range. This is something that many photographers find to be a huge advantage, as they can minimize the size and weight of the equipment they have to carry in the field.
For example, a 70-200mm lens on a 1.5x crop factor body offers the equivalent of a 105-300mm lens. A perfect compact setup for wildlife.
The crop factor of APS-C cameras can be a big plus for wildlife photography.
One of the great advantages of a full-frame camera is that it has better image quality when shooting at high ISOs. The larger sensor means that in individual pixels (and in light-sensitive photosites) they are larger than those on an APS-C type camera. This means that, as a general rule, they are more sensitive to light, allowing for cleaner, noise-free images at high ISO settings – something that is fabulous when trying to work and photograph wildlife in low light.
Now with modern sensor advancements, APS-C models of recent years have made great strides in terms of ISO performance, being easily usable up to ISO 6,400. But if low-light usability is key to the subjects you’re working with, a full-frame camera is still king.
APS-C cameras can still achieve excellent results at high ISOs.
Shallow depth of field
When comparing full-frame sensors to APS-C models, one more thing to consider is the depth of field characteristics and how areas are made out of focus.
With the smaller sensor in the APS-C models, they give the effect of having a greater depth of field at equivalent apertures than a full-frame camera. This means that if you are looking for images that yield a clean bokeh and have a very limited depth of field to isolate and direct the viewer’s attention to the subject, a full-frame model will be more suitable.
Full frame cameras are ideal for shallow depth of field effects.
Of course, if you do a great deal of macro work and want to maximize depth, an APS-C camera might be perfect for you.
In recent years, technology has steadily progressed in resolution, with the introduction of cameras with 36-42 megapixel sensors. For the most part, ultra-high-resolution sensors have been used in advertising and commercial photography for years. But of course, now that they’ve been introduced to DSLRs, they offer photographers more flexibility.
High-resolution models are mostly full-frame sensors, as packing huge numbers of pixels onto small sensors can heavily affect their quality. High-resolution FX models offer a unique advantage, as they take full advantage of the benefits of full-frame models, but offer the ability to heavily crop to replicate the crop factor of those advanced APS-C DSLRs
Often a downside is that these high-resolution cameras are slower in terms of frames per second, due to internal data writing limitations. But this is continually advancing, especially with new forms of storage media that offer faster write times.
The high-megapixel full-frame cameras offer great all-around performance.
The full-frame camera with a high-resolution sensor can somehow be a perfect compromise for those who want the ISO performance and the benefits of full-frame bokeh rendering, combined with the ability to crop. Provided, of course, they don’t have to stand still on the need for blazingly fast shutter speeds.
One factor that always plays a role when trying to buy new tools is cost. Full frame bodies are inherently more expensive, with the chips inside harder to design and more expensive to manufacture. APS-C cameras are often found at lower prices, but this is down to the body design and extra features like speed, build, and technologies implemented.
Some full-spec APS-C cameras are significantly more expensive than full-frame models due to the advanced autofocus, frame rate, and build quality capabilities.
High-quality construction and weather resistance
Because sports and nature photographers are required to shoot in all kinds of challenging conditions, weather resistance is extremely important for both cameras and lenses. When shooting in crowded sports arenas or from moving vehicles, accidents due to collisions and drops occur from time to time, and it is necessary to be able to trust the build of the equipment to continue shooting.
Sports and wildlife photography consumes batteries faster than other methods of photography because the camera is always actively pursuing the subject, taking many images, and constantly accessing and storing the images it captures. Good battery life in the field is a must.
Size and weight
In general, high-end DSLRs with super-telephoto lenses are large and heavy. Systems with smaller sensors will be lighter and smaller, but will not offer the same level of performance. Each system should be evaluated according to your needs and budget. Keep in mind that the camera and lens combination must be practical in the field.
Photographing animals: tips and tricks for beginners
While landscape photography usually captures still landscapes, photographing animals is a little more challenging. The subject often moves or sometimes you have to wait until you have an animal in front of the lens: for this, you need a lot of patience and knowing how to calculate the right reaction times. For many, this is what makes wildlife photography so interesting and gives a sense of great satisfaction when capturing the perfect moment.
If you want to dive into the world of wildlife photography with animals, you can make these tips yours :
- For your first few attempts, you might want to go to the zoo or a wildlife park. Your pets or those of your friends and acquaintances can also be great subjects to practice on.
- In a photography class, you can learn the tricks of the experts and, at the same time, discover the best places to take nature photos in your area. You also have the opportunity to network with other amateur photographers who love to immortalize animals.
- Again, sunrise and sunset are the best times to meet animals in nature and to take pictures in soft light.
Always photograph animals at eye level for a better effect and an interesting perspective. You may also need to kneel or lie down on the ground
- In order to capture the fast movements of the animals, it is necessary to set the camera in advance and thus take clear photos. You can use the following values to orient yourself :
- Aperture: To focus on the animal, the aperture value should be as low as possible.
- Shutter speed: The faster the animal moves, the slower the shutter speed should be. For slow movements, a time of 1/200 is recommended, for fast movements up to 1/2000.
- Focus: To make sure that the focus is on the animal’s eyes, it is recommended to work with continuous autofocus (AF-C).
- ISO: a value of about 100-200 in daylight or use the automatic function.
- Use continuous shooting.
- Especially when you are on a stakeout in nature, you have to be careful not to disturb the animals. You shouldn’t try to feed or attract wildlife either. When photographing wild animals, you need to be patient to be able to take the picture at the right time. However, the effort will be rewarded by beautiful and authentic photos of animals.
Best Cameras for Wildlife Photography | Infographics
Best Cameras for Wildlife Photography | Video Explanation
Don’t be fooled by megapixels
Another thing is megapixels, we always think that the more we have the better. Also because the advertisements are always there to say how many megapixels there are in this or that other camera, especially in smartphones
In theory, this is true, but have you ever asked yourself the question: “ What should I do with 60 megapixels? “.
Here’s if you don’t know the answer, it means you’ll just need a 12 or 24-megapixel camera.
For the record I use a 24mp full-frame camera and, although photography is my job, I don’t know what to do with a 60mp camera, indeed for the type of photos I take it would be wasted.
That’s why I don’t invest money in a 60mp camera.
And in case you don’t know, usually having a camera with a lot of megapixels is very handy when you have to print giant-sized photos, or when you have to go and cut the photo in a heavy way.
Here these are generally the cases where it is good to have a lot of megapixels, in addition to other limited opportunities that certainly do not interest you if you are a beginner.
So returning to the initial discussion, it is important to understand what kind of photo you want to take because it will help you know what kind of camera you need and what features it must have.
Are you also interested in making videos?
Speaking of videos, I created one on our Youtube channel which includes what you find written in this article with other interesting concepts
This little question to ask yourself could be decisive about buying a camera.
Yes, because there are several cameras (even professional ones) that are fantastic from a photographic point of view but are really worthwhile from a video point of view.
This is why it is essential to ask yourself this question before buying a camera.
If you are interested in the world of video, then your camera should possibly have 5-axis stabilization built-in and record video in at least 1080p at 60 frames per second.
Having built-in 5-axis stabilization will help you record stabilized and less shaky videos, while having 60 frames per second will be useful when we want to go for basic slow motion.
How to choose a reflex? But above all, is it better to buy a reflex, mirrorless, bridge, or compact?
Here too, the choice varies a lot on the needs, if you want to take yourself to an already semi-professional camera, then a Mirrorless or a Reflex is the best choice because they usually offer excellent performance with the possibility of using interchangeable lenses.
A compact may be suitable when you want to carry a space-saving machine that can simply fit in your pocket. But nowadays maybe if you want to buy a compact, you might as well invest in a good phone and study how to take beautiful photos with your smartphone.
In recent years, it must be said that mirrorless cameras are making giant steps and are gaining more and more ground.
This is precise because, not having the mirror that turns to take the photo like reflex cameras, mirrorless cameras are more compact and can for example have 5-axis stabilization directly on the sensor, very useful for having videos and photos that are not very shaky.
In general, the advice I can give you is: if you can move towards the mirrorless world given the explosion it is having.
If you are interested in Wildlife Photography, nature offers you an infinite number of exciting subjects. You can start with your camera’s automatic mode and take your first photos in nature.
Over time and with practice you will gain more and more experience in image composition, camera settings, and the more technical side of photography. You will learn the tricks and different techniques and progress at your own pace, taking beautiful photos of landscapes and animals.