Cameras, Lenses and Accessories
Wildlife photography begins by selecting a camera and a set of lenses that are well-suited for the specific tasks they will be used for. Over the years, our gear and workflows have evolved significantly. Here is an overview of the current gear we use in wildlife photography, along with references to more detailed articles on related topics.
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Camera - Nikon Z6
First full frame camera, purchased shortly after this mirror-less camera has been released by Nikon. We acquired this camera because we were looking for a full frame camera meeting our needs for video recording.
Overall, we are pleased with the camera, in particular for video recording and macro photography.
There are a few annoying issues though:
- Not impressed about taking photos of birds in flight, we rarely get a good shot.
- Settings often are changed when in the field like focus point drifting into a corner or aperture value changed. Strangely just aperture, front wheel, and not shutter speed, back wheel.
- Internal Mic is useless. Mounting external mic on hot shoe interferes with view finder focusing while recording. We resolved it by using a sidebar to mount the mic.
In case, I have to reset the camera: Image Quality RAW, Image Size RAW L, White Balance K, Set Picture Control FL, Color Space Adobe RGB, Focus tracking with lock-on 5, try Apply settings to live view off, Attenuator on
Lumix DMC-FH2 → Canon PowerShot SX50 HS → NIKON D7100 → NIKON D500 → NIKON Z6
|2013 - 2015||Canon PowerShot SX50 HS|
|2015 - 2016||NIKON D7100|
|2016 - 2019||NIKON D500|
|2019 -||NIKON Z6|
No doubt, it is possible to take beautiful nature and wildlife photos with a camera like the Canon PowerShot or Nikon D7100. There is the question of probability though. Especially with the Canon PowerShot but also true to some extend for the Nikon D7100, focus is slow and makes you lose many opportunities of good shots. Concerning focus speed, Nikon D500 with 300mm prime lens is a power combo. Unfortunately not full frame.
The decision to acquire the Z6 has been made mostly due to the fact that the new mirror less line from Nikon is way superior regarding video recording.
As the most essential tip, if you are interested in recording wildlife videos, make sure that the camera you are using allows you to focus on the subject by viewing through the viewfinder while recording!
Currently Used Lenses
NIKKOR 100-400mm, our latest addition. We experienced issues with reach using the NIKKOR 70-200mm in most park settings around Montreal, so we were in search of a lens with a longer reach. Video recordings with the NIKKOR 100-400mm and TC2.0 will result in a final focal length of 400mm x 2 x 1.5 = 1200mm, with a minimum aperture of f/13. This is more than sufficient for daytime recording with the camera/lens mounted on a tripod.
NIKKOR 70-200mm is a great lens. It served us well while taking photos and video recordings of whales. We use the Z Teleconverter TC2.0 to extend the reach for small birds and frog recordings. With the TC mounted, 2 stops of light are lost but the 400m ($14k) or 800mm ($6.5k) are out of budget.
NIKKOR 28-70mm has been used temporarily for flower photography while waiting for the MC 105mm. With the long minimal focus distance not very useful for macro photography though. Now used for landscape photography.
NIKKOR MC 105mm is our macro lens used for flower photography and for macro video recordings. Works fine for macro photography. In particular we like the large focus ring allowing the switch to manual focusing when necessary.
Sound Recordings - Outdoors and Indoors
For in field recordings, we use Rode NTG2 and/or Rode NTG3 connected to Zoom F3 which is used as pre-amp and provider of phantom current, and which then is connected to the camera. Mic and recorder are attached to the camera using a handlebar (needs improvement)
For in field streaming, we use DJI Mic connected to iPhone. We used to work with normal iPhone ear plugs. DJI provides though better sound quality and more freedom in camera positioning.
For voice over recordings in DaVinci Resolve or OBS, we use Shure SM7B connected via CL-1 to Scarlett 2i2 which serves as pre-amp and provider of phantom current for the CL-1. Scarlett 2i2 is connected to iMac.
For more information see Sound Recordings Outdoors and Indoors
Accessories, Hardware, Software
- Manfrotto 290 Xtra w/ Video Head
- GoPro 10 w/ Bike Mount
- iMac M1, External Drive 4TB (2x), Lexar XQD Card Reader
- PhotoMechanic, Affinity Photos, DaVinci Resolve
No endorsement of brands intended. We paid regular prices in local retail for all equipment used and described.