Picking the correct gear for outdoor photography can be an overwhelming process if you don’t know what you’re looking for in a camera or in a lens for that matter. Our aim here at The Adventure Junkies is to remove all that pressure and provide you with a helpful guide for you to pick the best camera for wildlife photography and that will also fit your needs as a photographer.

The task is much less daunting once you know what you’re looking for in a camera and what your expectations of it are. Although there are many powerful functions available on today’s cameras from both the high and low ends of the pricing spectrum, there are specific functions that should be focused on when purchasing the best camera for wildlife photography.

 

 

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THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO FIND THE BEST CAMERA FOR WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY

PICTURE
CAMERA
BEST USE
FPS*
AF POINTS
PRICE
RATING
PICTURE
CAMERA
BEST USE
FPS*
AF POINTS
PRICE
RATING
Sony A77II DSLR
Overall
14
15
$$
4.6
Canon 7D Mark II
Overall
10
65
$$
4.6
Canon EOS 80D
Overall
7
45
$$
4.7
Nikon D7200
Overall
6
51
$
4.7
Nikon D500
Professional Use
10
153
$$$
4.6
Nikon D5
Professional Use
12
153
$$$
4.7
Canon EOS-1D X Mark II
Professional Use
14
61
$$$
4.6
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
Professional Use
7
61
$$$
4.4
Pentax K-3 II
Budget
8
27
$
4.7
Nikon 1 V3
Budget
20
175
$
4.4

*FPS = FRAMES PER SECOND

 

CAMERAS FOR WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY 101

 

4 THINGS TO CONSIDER TO FIND THE BEST CAMERAS FOR WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY

 

1. AUTO FOCUS

Auto Focus (AF) is one of the most important considerations when it comes to buying a camera for wildlife photography. When it comes to shooting wildlife, the AF system will help you capture sharper photos and improve your overall accuracy when taking the shot.

Having more AF points or a multi-point AF is beneficial because more information from cross-type points is being relayed to the AF processor. This then drastically improves the accuracy of focus during the shot.

The capability of the processor is vital as well when considering a camera for wildlife photography. Generally speaking, buying a camera with fewer AF points than other camera bodies is absolutely fine as long as the processor makes up for it with increased power.

It’s wise to keep in mind that the lenses you buy will also impact the overall performance of your AF system. Your camera body might be capable of a certain number of focus points or have a performance motor.

However, your lens could potentially change these factors due to its own limitations. As always, you should expect to pay more for a lens with superior performance.

In line with most technological advances today, anything on the higher-end of the buying spectrum or even newer models will offer improved AF performance by default. But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t lower priced cameras out there with adequate AF systems for shooting prime wildlife shots.

Newer cameras will almost always boast an AF system with better performance than older models even if the latter ones actually have more AF points than the former.

 

2. FRAMES PER SECOND

It’s no surprise that speed also plays a large factor in successful wildlife photography. You can’t direct the animal how to stand or what direction to face for the best lighting.

You also surely can’t convince them to stand still for any amount of time. As a result, the camera’s speed or frames per second is an important consideration for anyone looking to find the best camera for wildlife photography.

Imagine you’re all set up in the field and ready to capture shots of bald eagles that live on a lake. You see an eagle tuck into a dive toward the water. You focus your camera and begin to shoot at your camera’s max burst with the eagle only seconds from impact.

The eagle stretches out its wings, slowing its free fall, and grazes the surface with its talons, emerging with its catch within their grip. Capturing a bird of prey in such an act is very rewarding for any photographer.

So, you can imagine how disappointing it is to later find that the prime shot was lost between two frames. Having a camera capable of more frames per second will greatly increase your chances of capturing the perfect shot.

Not only is increased frames per second vital, but the speed of which your camera can store those shots is as well. Using burst mode to your camera’s full potential means providing your camera with the fastest memory card you can afford.

The faster the memory card, the more images per burst you can get. Your camera will be able to perform at its full speed as well. Of course, shooting in JPEG over RAW will help reduce the buffer time, but purchasing the fastest-rated card for your camera is a must when it comes to wildlife photography.

 

3. ISO EQUIVALENCE

If you already have some experience with wildlife photography, then it’s no surprise that your prime time to shoot is during the golden hours. This would be during the low-light hours of dawn and dusk when most animals are active and on the move.

Low-light requires higher ISOs. However, higher ISOs mean reduced image quality. So naturally, finding a camera with a larger sensor will allow for higher ISO equivalents due to the increased sensitivity of the sensor.

As you consider your options when selecting a camera for wildlife photography, make a wide ISO range one of your considerations. Even though the higher ISO means grainier, low-quality images, much of the noise can be removed during post production and it’s better to have a sub-par shot than none at all.

 

4. QUALITY & SIZE

When choosing a camera for wildlife photography, it’s vital you also consider the less technical aspects of the camera body itself. Speed and sensitivity are very important when it comes to catching the perfect shot. But what about all that down time in the pouring rain or gusts of sand and dust?

Your camera will be exposed to all the same elements you’re exposed to, so you want to ensure that it is weather sealed and resistant to the tough conditions of the wild. The same consideration should go for the lens you buy along with your camera body. As long as both are intended for outdoor use, they will be durable enough to withstand the elements.

The size and weight of your camera are also pretty important because a tripod won’t always be available or possible in some situations. When the time comes for you to hold your breath and keep your camera steady while waiting for that instant of action for the perfect shot, you don’t want to ruin it all because of camera shake.

Your arms will fatigue fast with a camera and lens. Know your own limitations and consider them in your decision. You want something that is an extension of you in order for you to shoot with confidence and reliability.

 

ideal camera for wildlife photography

Photo by istockphoto.com/portfolio/wrzesientomek

 

CAMERAS FOR WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY REVIEWS

 

BEST CAMERAS FOR WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY OVERALL

SONY A77II

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Beginner Photographers

FRAMES PER SECOND: 14

AF POINTS: 15

PROS: 79-point phase detection and contrast detection

CONS: One memory card slot and not water resistant

 

 

 

CANON 7D MARK II

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Professional Photographers

FRAMES PER SECOND: 10

AF POINTS: 65

PROS: Natural ISO expandable to 51200 with Dual Pixel CMOS AF system for fast focusing

CONS: Weighs 2.1 lbs with model release date in 2014

 

 

 

CANON EOS 80D

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Beginner and Professional Photographers

FRAMES PER SECOND: 7

AF POINTS: 45

PROS: Weighs 1.4 lbs with built-in image stabilization

CONS: Relatively low ISO range and fewer AF points

 

 

 

NIKON D7200

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Beginner and Professional Photographers

FRAMES PER SECOND: 6

AF POINTS: 51

PROS: Very extensive battery life of over 1,110 photos

CONS: Model release date in 2015, lacks built-in image stabilization

 

 

 

 

BEST PROFESSIONAL CAMERAS FOR WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY

NIKON D500

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Professional Photography

FRAMES PER SECOND: 10

AF POINTS: 153

PROS: 3.2″ LCD touchscreen

CONS: No built-in image stabilization

 

 

 

NIKON D5

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Professional Photographers

FRAMES PER SECOND: 12

AF POINTS: 153

PROS: High-performance sensor for low-light conditions

CONS: Weighs 3.1 lbs with no built-in image stabilization

 

 

 

CANON EOS-1D X MARK II

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Professional Photographers

FRAMES PER SECOND: 14

AF POINTS: 61

PROS: Up to 16fps in live view mode, extensive battery life, and overall weight of 0.66lbs

CONS: Higher end pricing

 

 

 

CANON EOS 5D MARK IV

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Professional Photographers

FRAMES PER SECOND: 7

AF POINTS: 61

PROS: High Optical Sensor Resolution

CONS: Fewer frames per second

 

 

 

 

BEST BUDGET CAMERAS FOR WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY

PENTAX K-3 II

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Beginner Photographers and Budget

FRAMES PER SECOND: 8.4

AF POINTS: 27

PROS: Dual SD card slot and weather resistant

CONS: Short average battery life with no flash

 

 

 

NIKON 1 V3

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Beginner and Professional Photographers

FRAMES PER SECOND: 20

AF POINTS: 175

PROS: Very fast for a compact mirrorless body, can reach up to 60fps once focus position is set

CONS: Mount adaptor isn’t included for flash

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