When photographing wildlife, there are several main criteria that you should aim for with your equipment and we will summarise some of those in this article. The above image of the kangaroo has been captured with a Nikon 300mm f/4 lens, on a Nikon D700 camera.
There are a few important specifications to look for when attempting to photograph wildlife. We have more information on camera specifications for your perusal in our camera review section.
With wildlife photography, high shutter speeds are required, as the subject in many cases may be moving. Also long lenses are generally used and this will require high shutter speeds.
Cameras with the capability for high ISO are very good for wildlife as a higher ISO will give more capability for higher shutter speeds to be used.
FX Versus DX Cameras
The use of a DX camera compared to an FX camera can be a big advantage when using long lenses. The DX camera effectively gives you a multiplication factor of 1.5 times to your lenses and this will give a big advantage when using long lenses for wildlife.
There are several characteristics of lenses which will enable you to get improved wildlife images and some of these are summarised as follows.
When photographing wildlife such as animals and birds etc., extremely long lenses are required, especially with birds, when photographing birds, lenses never appear to be long enough. For wild life I would generally use a lens of 300mm or longer.
Low Aperture Lenses
Low aperture lenses such as apertures of f/2 to f/4 will assist greatly by allowing you to use your telephoto lenses at much higher shutter speeds.
Vibration Reduction (VR) technology can be an excellent addition to your long lenses, particularly when you are using lenses hand held. With VR functionality it is possible to use lenses with shutter speeds 3 to 4 stops slower than you would normally be able to do.
Tripods can be very useful to stabilise your camera equipment particularly when long lenses are used. The best types of tripod are the carbon fibre construction type and it is best to spend as much as you can afford. One of the better brands is Gitzo.
If a tripod is inconvenient to use, then an excellent fall back option is a good monopod. It is amazing how steady a monopod will enable you to keep your camera when you are using long lenses.
Cable Releases and Remote Camera Control
Sometime when wildlife frequent the same spot regularly remote camera releases can be used to capture the image. This can be done with nesting birds for instance if due care is taken to protect the subject.
Using a Hide or Blind
The use of a hide or blind can be very useful to help you get closer to your wildlife subject.