As mirrorless cameras close the gap, DSLR cameras are still the best option for nature and wildlife photography. DSLR cameras offer you the ability to attach an extreme telephoto lens and pull your shot in as close as if you were standing right next to your subject.
The key to nature and wildlife photography is the telephoto lens. If you want to reach out and touch something, you must be close to it. Nature and wildlife photography must appear as if you’re standing right next to it for it to have the impact that most photographers are seeking.
If for example, you’re using a 20-megapixel camera and you have a model that will allow you to magnify your image another 1.5X, you’re going to make the length of your focus more equivalent to 400 mm or 600 mm. Thus, it only stands to reason that the more magnification or telephoto strength you can get, the better.
Another important feature that you’re going to want when doing nature and wildlife photography is speed and accuracy. The higher your shutter speed, the better. Animals are known to bolt and run and you want to capture the very second they choose to stand still for the best possible photo opportunity.
Newer camera models tend to have more technology and thus offer you a better shutter speed and accuracy. High-end models often deliver more AF performance than the entry level models. Multi-point AF models will outperform the older models and you’ll be more likely to have an uncluttered background and be able to put your subject in the center focal point of the photo shoot.
The camera with a focus tracking capability can enhance the opportunity for success. Of course, nothing is infallible, so you’ll want to understand the technology of your camera and be able to manually set the settings as well as rely on the auto settings. Always become familiar with your camera and learn how to use it properly before you go out and anticipate that huge photo shoot.
The more time you take to experiment with your new camera, the better skills you’ll develop when you’re really counting on that important photo. Always remember that your choice of lens will have a huge impact on the autofocus of your camera. Pro super-telephoto lenses will have fast motors and smart AF algorithms. They’re durable and will have strong seals against the elements of weather and dust. They may cost you a bit more but it’s worth it when you consider the beating that outdoor cameras will be taking.
Understanding your frames per second and your max burst is critical to capturing that perfect moment. The faster you can capture the photo, the more likely you are to get that once in a lifetime shot. You’ll want to choose the fastest rated memory card that your camera will support in order to capture that once in a lifetime shot and make the grade for your expectations.
Keep in mind that when you’re taking nature and wildlife shots, you’re shooting in lower light conditions that occur near dusk and dawn. This is why you require higher ISO. You’ll want to consider the aperture requirements for the AF system as well as the flexibility of the various options for your specific camera. Keep in mind also that the higher the ISO, the noisier the camera. Don’t compromise noise for sharpness if you’re planning to get the shot.
The light will translate to less noise level and the larger the sensor the lighter in the surface area. Full-frame cameras are going to offer you higher ISO settings than that of the smaller settings.
Here are some of our top choices for cameras for nature and wildlife photography. You’re sure to find one that suits your specific needs and desires if you carefully consider how you’re going to be using your camera.
|Canon EOS-1D X Mark II||3.2 inches||30 Watt Hours||0.66 pounds||Check Price|
|Canon EOS 80D||3 inches||1 Watt Hour||1.4 pounds||Check Price|
|Nikon D5||3.2 inches||3780 shots||3.1 pounds||Check Price|
|Nikon D500||3.2 inches||14 Watt Hours||1.9 pounds||Check Price|
|Pentax K-1||-||760 shots||2.22 pounds||Check Price|
|Pentax K-3 II||3.2 inches||14 Watt Hours||1.76 pounds||Check Price|
|Sony a99||3 inches||2 Watt Hours||3.4 pounds||Check Price|
|Sony a77 II||3 inches||2 Watt Hours||1.43 pounds||Check Price|
You’ll love this option for nature and wildlife photography. With 14 FPS you can use the optical viewfinder or if you’re in live mode you can use up to 16 FPS. It also offers up 61 AF points or 41 of the cross-type so you’ll have impressive pictures no matter what your subject.
Featuring a 45 point AF set up, you’ll be able to select from a variety of lenses with this model. Your AF system will be compatible with the f/8 apertures or larger so you’ll have plenty to choose from. Just as the newer version of the EOS-1D X Mark II, this AF can also function in lower light settings. It can function in moonlight which is at -3EV. An ideal choice if you’re planning for those dawn and dusk shots.
3. Nikon D5
As Nikon’s flagship for nature and wildlife, this camera offers up fast and precise AF. You’ll appreciate the 153 points of which 99 are a cross type and the other 15 can function as apertures as small as a f/8. The AF also has a dedicated processor that will work very well in low light such as down to -4 EV. It captures 12 FPS with the viewfinder or an amazing 14 FPS with the mirror in the lock position.
4. Nikon D500
This version offers up the same AF system as the top of the line professional D5 and the EXPEED 5 processor. While not as fast as a D5, you’re sure to appreciate that it’s still very fast and offers up a maximum rate of 10 FPS. Featuring excellent weather sealing as the professional models such as the D810, you’re sure to appreciate the amazing ISO range of this Nikon model.
5. Pentax K-1
Ideal for outdoor photography, you’re sure to appreciate all that this camera has to offer. With 87 weather components to ensure a full seal, you’ll appreciate the enhanced telephoto reach as well as the maximum frame rate from the 4.4 FPS to the 6.5 FPS. It has a five axis shake reduction so you’re sure to shoot a stable photo regardless of the lens that you’re using.
Just as the full frame K-1, this K-3 offers great protection against the weather elements and environmental elements. It works well in lower light conditions down to -3 EV so dawn and dusk are no issues. With image stabilization built in even the shakiest cameraman can operate this successfully. It has up to 4.5 stops for reduction regardless of which lens you’re choosing to use.
7. Sony a99
While this model isn’t technically a DSLR, the a99 focuses on Sony’s Translucent Mirror technology. This ensures that it will pass the light to the image sensor and reflect a small portion of this light to the phase detector in the AF. Using full resolution, the a00 captures up to 6 FPS and you’ll have the option to shoot at up to 10 FPS resulting in cropped files of 4.5 megapixels.
8. Sony a77 II
Just as its sibling the a99, this model uses the Translucent Mirror Technology in a newer version. With many great advantages for nature and wildlife photography, you’re sure to appreciate how quickly it captures the speed and movement of the subject. The AF offers up to 79 points and 15 of these are cross types. It also has excellent weather sealing around all of the buttons, the controls and the camera itself so it’s an ideal choice for any outdoor photography as it’s well sealed against the elements and the weather.
When considering the right camera for your nature and wildlife photography, you’re going to want to consider where you’ll be using your camera the most and what your specific needs are going to be.
Will you be doing professional or amateur photography or will you simply be taking pictures as you go through life? How fast will you need your lens to work and how much weatherization will your camera require?
If you live in an area that gets more moisture than other areas you’ll want your camera to have the proper weatherization to ensure that all of the electronic components are safe from the elements of weather and dust as well as dirt.
Your next consideration is likely going to be your budget. We’ve included cameras in several budget categories to ensure that you have plenty of great options. You’ll appreciate that regardless of your budget these cameras are all top of the line high-quality cameras that will deliver.
You’ll appreciate the ease of operation and the many benefits that each style and version of these cameras offer. Whether you’re new to the art of photography or a pro you’re going to love how many great cameras there are to choose from. It’s not unusual for a photographer to have several cameras to choose from, a different style for each type of photography that they desire to do. Nature and wildlife photography is a great art and pastime.