Handy equipment for wildlife photography

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The other day I wrote about some basic tips for wildlife photography; today let’s discuss some of the handy equipment for wildlife photography that you might want to get your hands on before going out there and shooting.

A dSLR. Like I said before, I’m not a camera snob and generally don’t care if someone prefers to use a point and shoot – whatever makes people happy! However, using a dSLR camera is very useful for photographing animals, especially because of the shutter lag issue. Every single point and shoot I’ve ever owned or used has a delay between the time that you want to take the photo and the time that your camera actually decides to follow through. It’s something that is incredibly annoying to me. With a dSLR, the camera takes the photo the instant you want it to which comes in handy for animals or birds who may be moving quickly.

Speaking of moving quickly, another bonus is that most dSLR cameras will allow you to shoot in burst mode, meaning you can take many photos in rapid sequence. This is a great way to keep shooting while and animal is running through the grass or as a bird soars overhead.

A tripod. I don’t use my tripod very often but I wouldn’t dream of leaving it at home if I wanted to take wildlife shots. Handheld can work in a pinch but a tripod will help to make sure your photos are sharp and steady.

Optional: Remote trigger. While I wouldn’t say that you absolutely need a remote, it’s a nice way to create extra steadiness. If you’re shooting at dawn or dusk and the light is very low, you’ll need a slower shutter speed. In that case, having a remote means you don’t have to actually touch the camera at all – you’d be amazed how much shake you can create just by firing off a shot.

A good telephoto lens. I’m a big fan of my Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III USM Telephoto Zoom Lens. It’s not one that I use in regular day to day situations but it’s a fantastic way to zoom in on animals while keeping a respectful – and safe! – distance.

A point and shoot with a good zoom. What if you really don’t want to buy a fancy dSLR and lens? It may not be in your budget right now or you might want to test the waters to see if wildlife photography is something you’ll enjoy enough to make it worthwhile. In that case, do go ahead and use a point and shoot but I strongly suggest using one with a good zoom. I have a Fujifilm Finepix S700 7.1MP Digital Camera with 10x Optical Zoom and that allows me to get in pretty close to the subject as well. Using this kind of camera will be better than a point and shoot that doesn’t have a strong zoom since you’re likely to be disappointed with the results if you can’t get in close enough.

(It bears noting: Please, PLEASE do not use the digital zoom on your point and shoot. Digital zoom and optical zoom are completely different. Digital doesn’t actually zoom, it crops and enlarges and thereby destroys the quality of your image. Please don’t do it!)

What type of equipment do you like to use for wildlife photography?

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