A good wildlife photographer starts with the right gear. If you’re looking to get into this field, but don’t know where to start or what makes a good wildlife camera. I’ve put together some helpful tips so that when choosing your new DSLR or mirrorless you will have the knowledge in what to look for.
The key features in all cameras are pretty much universal across models. However, there may still be certain qualities worth considering depending on your shooting style.
What Makes a Good Wildlife Camera What You Should Know
Choosing the right camera for wildlife photography can be a difficult task. There are so many fantastic big brand models and specifications in the marketplace, which can make it hard to choose when it comes to deciding which is the best camera for you.
Wildlife photography can be seen as difficult when it comes to camera choice. We put our cameras through tough working conditions and demand a lot from them. Your camera needs to deal with many exceptional factors, such as fast moving wildlife, low-light conditions, and the rigorous demands of the outdoors.
With so many great choices, the key to the best camera as a wildlife photographer is to decide what attributes are the most important to you — its portability, lens options, shooting speed, absolute image quality, or price?
When choosing the best camera for you and your wildlife photography, there are a number of points to consider.
Things to Consider When Looking for a Wildlife Camera
Wildlife photography is one of the most challenging photography genres out there, so getting the right camera is essential.
Cameras come in three forms: Full-framed, cropped and micro four-thirds sensors. Full-framed is typically more expensive and offers certain advantages. But don’t count out the other 2 options.
Cropped sensors are cheaper, and they give increased reach for your lens, making the image appear ‘zoomed in’ at a given focal length, which is an excellent feature for shooting wildlife. The sensor is the most essential aspect of any camera — it’s also usually the most expensive element, with the full-frame sensor being pricey.
The best wildlife photography cameras have dual pixel CMOS AF technology, which provides fast and accurate autofocus performance, even in low-light situations. A megapixel full-frame sensor is usually larger on a full-frame sensor than on an APS-C or Four Thirds format sensor with the exact pixel count, and full-frame cameras usually have good noise control and dynamic range. High-end cameras have a higher number of AF points which also gives you the freedom to compose your shot, which helps with tracking the subject around the frame.
A fast burst speed is also great for wildlife photography. The ability to fire off a series of shots in quick succession will help you capture that split-second moment which is the difference between a good shot and an unforgettable one.
Wildlife Photography Camera Essentials
There are a number of features that make a good wildlife camera and include features such as:
Frames Per Second.
To get the perfect shot, you need a camera that can freeze motion and capture expressions at high-speed. Animals are naturally active and constantly moving, so they won’t stay still for a long, time, which means it might be difficult to take good quality photos at slow shutter speeds.
A higher number of frames per second will allow a greater chance at capturing those split second moments and pixel accurate focus within such a small amount of time! Besides frames per second, the number of frames that can be recorded in a single burst is also important. To take full advantage of your camera’s speed, use the fastest-rated memory cards that your camera supports.
Camera Buffering Rate
The buffer is a temporary memory used to store image data before it is written to the memory card. A camera’s buffer size determines how many images it can take in one session before running out of room and pausing the capture process in order to let the camera catch up with itself. The buffering process will temporarily save files as they are written to the memory card; however, if you don’t have enough space on your memory card, this will not work.
A camera’s auto-focus performance is important to consider when purchasing a wildlife camera. A good wildlife camera will have the necessary features and options for capturing sharp images of your subject in various situations, such as:
The more AF points the camera has, the better it will work.
Increased accuracy is possible with cross-type AF points that allow you to lock on subjects from different distances.
The amount of autofocus points is a main factor in determining the quality and capability of a camera. More autofocus points are considered better than having fewer points because it will be able to better track moving wildlife. A budget option with less than 12 autofocus points may not be capable of tracking moving wildlife as well as an expensive option with more than 24 or more autofocus points.
The best wildlife shots often have their subject filling the frame, so bridge cameras have huge built-in zoom lenses to help with this. In contrast, the more advanced DSLR or mirrorless camera has a range of telephoto lenses available. You want a lens with high-speed continuous shooting, as you might not always have a tripod with you when capturing images of wildlife in motion.
Types of Camera
A digital camera with a crop sensor is sometimes more affordable than a full-frame camera as they are significantly lighter and more comfortable to carry.
The best cameras for wildlife photography tend to have good ISO capabilities as well, which may mean looking at a full-frame camera. To determine how good a camera is at handling higher ISO speeds, perhaps you should research comparison images and keep your eye out for at which level digital noise tends to increase dramatically. There are different ways you can still photograph wildlife in low light but without having to pay exorbitant amounts.
The maximum ISO sensitivity level is 51,200, and the maximum frame rate is 10fps, which is just enough for the average shooter.
DSLRs and mirrorless cameras are also recommended for wildlife photography. There are numerous branded models, which are excellent options. When selecting a camera, you should also consider the electronic shutter, video recording and teleconverters available for the models you’re looking at.
Crop Sensor or Full Frame
If you’re looking to take great wildlife photos, it’s important to understand the difference between a crop sensor camera and full frame. A crop sensor is smaller than your full-frame camera, but will still allow you to get quality images. Crop sensors are perfect for taking photos of wildlife because they appear to have a much longer focal length. Because of the smaller sensor, your field of view is less. So a 200 mm lens on a full-frame camera would act like a 300 mm on an APS-C sensor.(200mmx 1.5 = 300 mm) APS-C cameras are fine for wildlife photography because they still maintain a high image quality with smaller, lighter lenses.
Are Micro Four Thirds Cameras Good for Wildlife Photography
Micro four-thirds sensors are great for getting close to wildlife, the camera and lens are less bulky, lighter and easy to carry. There are some great benefits to Micro Four-thirds cameras that you may not be aware of. For example, if your lens is 100 mm-300 mm in length, then with this system it effectively becomes a 200-600 millimetre telephoto! This doubling of the focal lengths, the micro four-thirds system is capable of really fast shutter speeds. As a wildlife photographer, it can give you the leg up on small birds and insects that move quickly through their shots!
Are Mirrorless Cameras Good for Wildlife Photography?
Mirrorless cameras are becoming more popular in the wildlife community, and are a great choice.
A mirrorless camera has the benefit of being smaller and lighter than its larger DSLR counterpart. A Mirrorless Camera also comes equipped with an Electronic Viewfinder, which sometimes makes it easier to frame your shots without having to use the viewfinder. It can operate in silent mode and most have internal stabilization, which allows you to hand hold at crazy low shutter speeds. Lastly, because there’s no noise when using electronic mode on a mirrorless camera, they are recommended for wildlife photography.
Cameras for Wildlife Photography -Decisions, Decisions…
So, as most wildlife tends to move a lot, the best wildlife cameras tend to have a good focusing point of the system — so, when choosing your camera, look at the number of AF points available to you — there’s unlikely to be a specific rating for them, but a higher number the better.
Other AF features to look out for are advanced focus-tracking and phase detection. Because the autofocus system needs to be fast and accurate, and capable of producing consistently good results in different environments, the most important factors include the phase-detection AF. You should take care that the lenses you use can also affect the overall performance and availability of your AF points, so ones that will help make the most out of your camera’s AF system.
Things like frames per second, sensor format, battery life, AF system, and ISO range are all important considerations when deciding which camera to buy.
There are several brands which offer great bargains… If your choice is Canon, the latest EOS 1D X Mark III, Canon EOS 1d x or the Canon EOS 90D are great for any kind of action photography where frames per second count, including wildlife, and the EOS 7D Mark II is an ideal entry-level option.
The Nikon d850, Panasonic Lumix, the Sony A7 III or Sony A9 are superb for low light performance and image stabilization. There’s a lot of choice of cameras for many wildlife photographers who prioritize speed, ISO range and the autofocus system, and access to a wide range of lens options.
Best Camera for Wildlife Photography in 2021
Wildlife photographers have a lot of camera choices, so, regardless of whether you decide on a digital camera, mirrorless camera, Full-Frame, APS-C or Micro four-thirds. These are just for starters (phew!), you’ll find there’s an abundance of possibilities to get you in the right frame of mind to create that masterpiece…
When choosing a camera for wildlife photography, it’s important to keep in mind all the factors that can affect your photo. Visit your local camera store and talk to the sales staff and get a feel for the camera as well. Try not to forget you may have it in your hands for many hours on that African Photo Safari.
Frequency Asked Question
What Is Wildlife Photography?
Wildlife photography is the capturing of wildlife with a camera in their natural surroundings., typically for the purpose of reporting on their behaviour. The field has a broad range of practitioners and encompasses many types of images, including close-up photographs of animals, and images of animals in the wild.
What is the difference between wildlife photography and bird-watching?
Bird-watching is an activity where people observe, identify, or study birds in their natural habitat. Wildlife photography has more to do with capturing photos of all wildlife in their natural habitat.
There are many ways to participate and help wildlife, such as donating funds to a worthwhile cause, or donating your time and taking photographs for educational purposes.
How Good Are Mirrorless Cameras for Wildlife Photography?
Mirrorless cameras are an excellent option for wildlife photographers. In this case, “mirrorless” refers to the fact that they do not have a mirror in the camera reflecting the scene into the viewfinder.
If you want to shoot top-level photos, while packing light, a mirrorless camera is the perfect option for photographing wildlife. As with a DSLR they’re equipped with interchangeable lenses and incredible image resolution.
What Makes a Good Wildlife Photo?
A good wildlife photo is one that has excellent lighting, a clear subject, and can be easily identified. The background should be blurred in order to avoid distraction from the main subject of the photo.
What Qualities Does a Good Wildlife Camera Have?
A good wildlife camera should be easy to use and simple to operate, have a fast burst rate and a large buffer. Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Sony all make cameras of this type, and their products are of high quality. It is also important that the camera has a good battery life, as many wildlife photographers are in the field for long periods of time.