Obtaining the Perfect Wildlife Photo - The Equipment
Getting good photos of wildlife is a very difficult thing to do, it involves patience, guile, skill and quite a bit of luck. This shouldn't put you off as many great wildlife shots can be had, just by being in the right place at the right time, with any old camera, be it a snake lurking in your pond, or stumbling over a young deer when out on the Yorkshire moors. One of my favourite wildlife photos, whilst not in the UK, was a Thorny Devil Lizard I nearly ran over on the roads in Australia, out I hoped armed with a battered old 1 Megapixel Digital and a 35mm Film SLR, and the Digital Photos Came out better.
Whilst you can get lucky, good equipment helps, particularly a decent optical zoom, as it allows you to turn long range shots into quality close ups. It is all very well investing in a tidy digital SLR with a 200mm zoom lens, but if it's going to get in the way when you're out and about, chances are it'll get left behind and then you'll miss that perfect shot. If that's the case, go for a smaller hand held option, there are some terrific cameras out now in the sub £200 bracket, which provide great quality at an affordable price.
Don't get fooled by worrying too much about the number of megapixels and digital zoom, it's more about how the camera deals with the megapixels that matters, 5 megapixels is what you should be looking for, any more than that is generally a waste in the £200-£250 camera. I've got professionally printed 15”x10” pictures from my old 5 megapixel Minolta hanging on my wall and they're fantastic.
The Fuji hand held cameras always seem to make good buys at this end of the market, the bigger optical zoom you can get the better, a good suggestion is the Fuji FinePix V10
, a good zoom and 5 Megapixels make it a good buy.
If you're prepared to carry a digital SLR, then try and obtain one with and good length of zoom lens, as the 55mm often doesn't provide the close ups needed for wildlife photography. When you've spent the afternoon trudging round Dartmoor in the Great British weather the last thing you want to do is miss that perfect shot. A zoom up to 200mm can be obtained relatively cheaply and provide excellent options for getting wildlife photos here in the UK.
The two main contenders in the digital SLR market are Nikon
with their D50 and D70/80
, and Canon
with their EOS 350D/400D
. Both of these can be bought for under £450, and provide excellent pictures. The Nikon is the easier to use but the Canon has a a few more features, in the end it's much of a muchness, although a lens kit can be bought for the Nikon for a good price, which might tip the balance in its favour.
Whether it's an SLR or hand held you go for, remember the words of the great Robert Capa; “If your pictures aren't good enough, you aren't close enough”.
For some great wildlife images - check out our forum