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What to Consider While Buying a Camera for Wildlife Photography

Bindu swetha
Wildlife photography is one hobby that most wish to pursue, but are always confused about the right kind of equipment to start with. Here is how to choose the best camera for wildlife photography.

Did You Know?

The Zeiss Apo Sonnar T* 1700mm F4 is the world's largest lens ever. It is designed by Carl Zeiss especially for wildlife photography.
DSLRs are the best choices when it comes to wildlife photography. But you simply cannot walk into a store and buy any DSLR camera that is available on the racks. Factors like lens, crop factor, camera body, etc., are to be considered before you purchase the camera.

Camera Requirements for Wildlife Photography

Here are a few aspects of the camera that you must consider before striking the deal. After you have shortlisted cameras based on the given requirements, click a few pictures to get a feel of the camera before buying it.

Camera Body

In the wildlife photography, the 2 top brands are Nikon and Canon. Buy the camera and lens separately so that you can change lenses whenever the need arises. Both brands have cameras with separate lenses.
Normal digital cameras come with a 3x zoom lens, which is not a suitable option for wildlife photography. Next in line are fixed-lens cameras which are equipped with a 24x zoom lens.
But as mentioned, it is the digital single lens reflex camera body which gives you the freedom to change the lens to either telephoto lenses or telezoom lenses.


The most important aspect of the camera is the lens. The clarity, color, and sharpness of the image comes with the right kind of lens.
Telephoto lenses are still most sought after, thanks to their image quality. These lenses typically have 300mm F2.8, 500mm F4 or 600mm F4 zoom options. For shooting animals, a 300mm lens would be sufficient, but if you wish to shoot birds, it is advised to get a 400mm lens.


The sensors used in the lenses are not given much importance, but they affect the crop factor.
The crop factor is responsible for the neatly magnified images that we adore. The physical size of the sensor will decide the image area that it captures. Small-sized sensors will capture small area of the scene. This resulting photograph will look like it is taken from a longer focal length.
In photography, long focal length means high magnification and narrow viewing angle. So, if you have a lens that has a small-sized sensor, a long shot of an elephant will magnify its focused part, say, for example, the trunk. This is the reason sensor size matters.

Crop Factor

The crop factor gives you the magnification that would be achieved by using an optical converter. The in-camera crop feature, which is available in cameras with smaller sensors, will give the highest magnification.
So, if you are using a DSLR camera which has 2x crop with a 300mm lens, the camera will give you a focal length achieved by a 600mm lens. This is why you should pay extra attention to the crop factor.

Shutter Speed

While shooting a running cheetah, all you need is shutter speed to get clean images. All DSLR cameras have faster shooting rates than compact digital cameras. The common continuous shooting rate by any DSLR is 5 frames per second.
The longer the focal length, the faster the shutter speed needed. You can get lenses of different shutter speeds to get various effects. Basically, for shooting static objects, 1/500 to 1/800 sec speed is needed, while for slow-moving objects 1/1000 to 1/1600 sec is necessary. For shooting fast-moving objects 1/2500 to 1/4000 sec is needed.


There are a lot of 'features' that are offered by cameras best suited for wildlife photography. Manual focus is one such feature which allows you to focus on the image to deliberately create under-focused or over-focused areas in your picture.
Image stabilization is another feature that most people feel is essential for wildlife photography. Camera movement can ruin the best of images, and once the desired moment is lost, it is lost! So, image stabilization is necessary unless you are using a tripod. Look for an image-stabilized camera to reduce the vulnerability of the images.

Tips for Buying the Right Camera

  • Look for a small-sized, light-weight camera that will be handy when hiking or shooting in jungles!
  • If you are one who prefers manual focus over auto focus, it is advised that you look through the optical viewfinder (instead of the LCD screen provided). You will get a feel of the focus of the camera better that way.
  • If shooting with high ISO's is your forte, you need to check the camera performance for ISO 800, 1600, or above.
  • Budget can be the biggest decisive factor while deciding on the camera. It is advisable to go in for a entry-level DSLR if you are new to this field. However, if you have a high budget, go in for the camera that has speed, flexibility, and image-enhancing features. You can also look out for used or refurbished cameras.
Wildlife photography is a difficult job, and to click those perfect photographs an SLR camera over the point-and-shoot camera is essential. SLR cameras provide the much-needed flexibility and image quality for such type of photography.