A few years ago, I went on an African Photo Safari to up my game and excel at wildlife photography. I wanted to create awesome pictures of beautiful animals and share them with the world. With that said, there is a lot of gear involved in taking photos, as you might imagine (there’s more than just cameras). In this blog post, we’ll cover what equipment you need, some of it may surprise you. Yes! I carry all this with me on all my African Photo Adventures.
Best Camera Gear for Wildlife Photography, Wildlife Photography Gear List
This is a list of what I would consider essential beginner wildlife photography gear and is my recommendation of equipment that most photographers will require for wildlife photography. Equipment such as tripods, camera bodies, lenses, and filters are some examples of essential wildlife photography gear.
A telephoto lens is a type of camera lens that has an increased focal length. A standard focal length for the human eye is about 50 mm, but using a longer-focal-length lens will make the subject appear closer. Telephoto lens allows you to get closer to wildlife without disturbing the animal or having them chase you. A good starter lens is a 300mm, you Eventually you will want to look for a longer telephoto lens, something in the 400-600 mm length.
Wide Angle Lens
Rarely used in wildlife photography, but it is still necessary to carry one in your camera bag. With a wide-angle lens, you’re able to introduce more of your surroundings into your photo. With this, you’re able to document the animal and its environment simultaneously. You can’t always do that with a telephoto lens. Pro-tip I often have 2 cameras with me at all times. One with a telephoto lens and the other with a 16-35MM wide-angle lens.
Extend that Focal Length With a Teleconverter
A teleconverter is an accessory that attaches between the camera and lens. It increases the apparent focal length without the added expense of a 600 mm lens or adding significant weight to your already heavy camera bag. It is like placing a magnifier between the camera and lens.
Pros, they are easy to use and inexpensive, so they are great for beginners who want to get into wildlife photography but don’t have thousands of dollars in their budget.
Cons, teleconverters block the light coming into the lens. Therefore, a 1X converter on average will decrease the maximum aperture by one stop, while a 2X converter will decrease it by two stops from its original value. It may also slow down the camera’s autofocus.
A Tripod or Mono Pod
Carrying a 25Lbs or more 600 mm Lens all day is a chore. Therefore, a good tripod is a necessity for wildlife photographers. The best way to find the right one for your needs, whether it’s a tripod or monopod, ask yourself can it support the weight of the lens. Another important question to ask what are you planning to photograph and where.
So yes, a tripod is an important piece of equipment. It may seem like an expensive purchase, but it will be worth the investment.
Fast Memory Card – A Must-Have
Memory cards are used for storing images. They need to be compatible with your camera, so it is important to know what memory card you need. Write speed determines how fast images are saved on the memory card. It is crucial to know if this is going to be an issue before making a purchase.
The best memory cards for wildlife photography are the ones that can process your files quickly. They should have a fast read/write access and high storage capacity. As a wildlife photographer, you will use burst mode often. The quickest way to find out which brands work with your camera and what the best read/write speed is to check your manual or search on Google. It may also be worthwhile to read the reviews of the memory cards.
Best Backpacks for Professional Wildlife Photography Gear
The camera backpack is an essential part of any wildlife photographer’s kit. It may be the most important piece of gear you’ll buy, and it should be a balanced bag with enough room for your camera and lenses.
A balanced bag is one where it allows you to place the heaviest gear closest to your back, while lighter weight gear goes away from your back. Frequently used items go on the top, and less often used items go on the bottom.
A good back pack will have padding on the straps and inside to provide comfort during long hours in the field and protection for your equipment, as well as straps to hold your tripod. Make sure your equipment stays safe from bumps or falls. Ponder on how large of a bag you need, a large capacity camera bag means that there’s plenty of space for extra memory cards, batteries, and other accessories. The larger the bag more you can stuff into it, and the heavier it becomes.
When shopping for a backpack, make sure it has adequate padding to protect your equipment from knocks or drops. You should also consider the size of your camera’s lens when choosing one – you’ll need a bag with enough room for this too. I love my fstopper
Extras – Non Camera Gear
Binoculars are an important piece of gear for wildlife photographers. They allow you to see more detail and contrast than if you were looking through the viewfinder on your camera. With a good pair of binoculars, it’s easier to spot potential photographic subjects in the distance.
The range of quality, size, and price is wide enough to suit any budget or need. Binoculars can be used for observing wildlife, birding or other outdoor activities.
Wear Comfortable Clothing
You will need clothing for both protection and comfort. For cold weather, wear clothes that allow your body to breathe and wick away sweat. If the weather is hot, consider wearing a hat or sun block.
Comfortable clothing is important when going out with your camera. If you are going on a long hike, wearing a pair of good hiking pants and shirt will make your trip more enjoyable. A good pair of hiking boots/shoes is another priority. I recommend staying away from jeans.
Carry a Headlamp
When you are heading out in the early hours and hiking to that perfect wildlife location in the dark, it is wise to carrying a good headlamp with you. Headlamps are also great when your hands are occupied trying to mount the lens onto the camera in the dark. They can also serve as a flashlight, allowing you to rummage through your bag without disturbing the surrounding wildlife.
Bean Bag for Stability
Bean bags are ideal for wildlife photography. They can be used on the windowsill of the safari vehicle where a tripod would be a pain. Want to shoot from a lower position. A bean bag can help level out the camera while shooting from a low advantage point.
A Ground Cover for Added Comfort
A ground cover is a must for a photographer out in the wild. It keeps you clean and dry and protects you while lying in the mud, snow or moisture ridden dirt. I often carry a canvas ground cover, but a garbage bag will also do the trick. It is light and easily expendable.
Rain Cover to Protect Your Camera Gear
A rain cover is a waterproof camera cover, almost like a bag that protects your equipment from rain, dust and sand storms. It should have two adjustable sleeves so you can easily access the camera while on a tripod. To save weight I once again just use a garbage bag. It works just as well and if torn or has damage, I can throw it away and get another one.
Final Thoughts on What Gear is Need for Wildlife Photography
Many people start out photographing wildlife, not knowing what gear they need. I wanted to help those who are new to wildlife photograph take better wildlife photos, and have a more enjoyable time while in the field. That’s why I created this blog so that new photographers will know what they need in the beginning, and will enjoy being outdoors more